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We Thought We Were Perfect For Each Other, But Society Didn’t

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Editor's note: This post is a part of #BHL, a campaign by BBC Media Action and Youth Ki Awaaz to redefine and own the label of what a 'bigda hua ladka or ladki' really is. If you believe in making your own choices and smashing this stereotype, share your story.

Co-authored by Prabhleen Tuteja:

The journey of two millennials who have gone through their share of infatuation, friendship, dating and finally marriage will never be complete until they face the dilemma of balancing life as per their rules and the rules of society.

There is a fine line between living life per the norms of society and acknowledging that there exist some rules in a society. Our formative years as individuals and as a couple went into convincing the society and more importantly our own conscience, that we were not doing anything evil or unnatural.

We started our relationship as young teenagers. And like all Indian teenage relationships, ours was also built on the strong pillars of guilt and social stigma. Every time we met, there was this strange nervousness that someone around us will sneak up and say the three horrendous words- “Beta yaha kaise?” Every moment we spent together made us feel guilty.

Every date was confined to a shopping mall’s staircase, as all the other places where one could share a personal conversation or moment was under the surveillance of snoopy aunties and uncles. Instead of knowing each other’s sleep patterns, we were well versed with the sleep cycles of the respective parents so that we could find a convenient time to call each other.

After completing college and bagging jobs in the same city, we thought our accountability to society has finished. Every box that the society presented was ticked by us:

  • Good School
  • Good Education
  • Good Marks
  • Good College
  • Good Degree
  • Good Jobs

           *Conditions Apply

All this while we thought that we are grown adults now, and are no longer answerable to society.  However, we realised that we, as individuals had grown, but society hadn’t.

Gradually our urge to spend time together, the mutual interest of hosting friends and creating our own space made us look for an accommodation. We thought by paying the rent on time and by promising to keep the house clean and safe, we would get a decent place in no time. But we didn’t know that drinking anything other than water and milk, eating non-vegetarian food and coming late would make us unworthy of a roof over our head. We were expected to deposit our integrity and self-respect along with the security money.

Things were going well for us. We were doing well professionally and we both liked each other a lot. So, things took an obvious turn and our friends and some family members reminded us of our intentions towards each other quite repeatedly. Getting married was supposed to be the next peak that we had to scale in the ‘natural’ progression of our relationship.

Somehow, common sense prevailed and we managed to have an extended courtship period wherein we saw happiness, sadness, tears, fights, illness and long distance. We decided to get married and being the naïve individuals that we are, we thought that we would be perfectly suited for each other because we:

  • Know each other
  • Love each other
  • Accept each other
  • Are comfortable with each other
  • Respect each other’s family
  • Respect each other’s work
  • Respect each other.

*Conditions Apply

Again, we were left with some more questions to answer, such as;

How much more does the husband earn than the wife? Would she work post marriage? When will she apply for a name change? Where would you go for the honeymoon? Which 5 Star hotel would have the wedding ceremony? Would she get along with the mother-in-law?

No one asked whether she will be comfortable, or if she will be able to travel to her work from their new house. Nobody asked if he would keep her happy or if they’ll be able to cope with the changes.

Till now we have shared our sob story of how we were judged, shamed and ridiculed at every junction of our relationship. But we have not shared our response and justification of earning the title of “Mr and Miss ‘Fit'”.

Firstly, we were honest with each other from the start and expressed our desire to be with each other for who we are and not for what society wants us to be. We decided to date for a considerably long time, go on trips together, stay together and to be answerable to each other instead of others.

We are a ‘misfit’ because she earns more and he likes cooking. We are a misfit because both of us continue to eat non-vegetarian food during navratras. We married outside our caste and we retained our surnames. She does not wear sindoor or mangalsutra, nor does she keep any fast.  We are a ‘misfit’ because we do not want something from each other, we want to be everything for each other.

We have been proudly claiming that we are a misfit, but do we really intend to be a misfit? Did we demand something extraordinary that would make our families heads hang in shame? Do we really deserve to be a misfit?

Are the norms of the society so fragile that these norms would be questioned by the actions of couples like us?

But maybe, we are not the misfits. Maybe it’s society that’s missing out by not fitting us.

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