I’ve noticed this sickening trend in India. Every woman who’s 25 or 26 is asked whether she’s married. The question is popped in a very casual manner, but the implications are the same: “You’re 26, are you married?”
Often, the question, and my answer to it is pregnant with unspoken judgement. According to Stone Age ‘norms’ – God knows who made them – an Indian girl is expected to be married by 25. She’s expected to sacrifice everything – career, dreams, hobbies – to settle down and rear children and tend house. She’s expected to be a meek, docile bahu who will toe the line and follow ‘Indian culture’– a sugarcoated way of saying, be at the beck and call of her husband and in-laws.
If she’s not, she will be subject to the worst kind of judgments; she’s either a slut or a hag whom no one will marry. She’s selfish. Her parents and siblings will be taunted, subjected to the worst kind of questions.
I’m 26, going on 27. And I have no plans of hitching my wagon to another person’s ride, any time soon. There are two reasons for that:
To elaborate on both points:
I’m, you could say, self-centred. For me, I come first. I have rejected society’s patriarchal diktats that require me to kill my originality for someone I don’t even know and am expected to be submissive to.
I blame my feminist credentials that tell me I should claim equal rights as that of a man.
I’m ambitious and independent. I want to build a career abroad. I want to see Eastern European and Scandinavian nations. I want to become a successful author and scientist. I want to have an identity of my own. I want to have a house, car, bank balance and social circle of my own. I want to be financially and socially independent – I do not need a man to give me that.
The system of arranged marriage practiced in India, in my humble opinion, is a system built on gender inequity. I cannot kill my dreams and my originality, cannot give up my independence and my identity.
Continuing from above, I cannot erase my individuality for someone I don’t love. I’ve seen loveless relationships, and what happens to the people in them. I cannot be happy with someone I am living with for the sake of societal diktats. I need to fall in love with someone for whom I can give time, energy and space. Someone who can bring me out of my comfort zone, someone who can bring out the best in me. Someone who understands that my career and identity is as important as theirs, that I cannot sacrifice my dreams or subsume my identity to be with them. I believe in choosing my own life-mate, and in a way that not only fulfils my relationship goals but also leads to personal development. Not in terms of money or prestige, mind you, but in terms of being a better person. Selfish, maybe? Pragmatic, yes!
But most importantly, I cannot be happy with, love and fulfil someone unless I’m happy with, love and fulfil me. I need to fulfil certain self-goals first, establish myself, have an identity. This is very important to me. Then, and only then, will I consider getting into a relationship.
I cannot choose when to fall in love. But I can choose when to get into a committed relationship with the man I love.
If I’m not careful, if I make commitments without thinking of the future, it will lead to a lot of resentment later on.
These are the pragmatic realities of career-oriented millennials of the 21st century.
As of now, I’m happy being single.
I’m perfectly happy with myself, and ready to wait for the man I love, till he comes along, and till I’m ready to get into a relationship.