Dating in the 21st century has become as easy as buying groceries from your nukkad wale Sharma uncle’s store. Everything is made available to you at the click of a button, at the tap of your finger or the swipe of your thumb. You can choose from thousands of options across innumerable dating platforms. Bumble, Tinder, OkCupid, happn, grindr, and the list goes on. Online dating is a world by itself.
So, a couple of months ago, I decided to explore this exquisite world of online dating. Being a 24-year-old girl with braces, a tom-boyish attitude and sarcasm in her blood, you don’t get a fair chance at hot guys. So, I installed Tinder (as any newbie would and the only dating app I was aware of that actually worked in my locality), and got right to the task. I updated my profile, uploaded my photographs and started swiping. At first, it was a dull start, but as I dug deeper, I started enjoying it. It was like a new high for me and like a kid in a candy store, I found myself surrounded by so many delicious options. I started chatting to a bunch of guys and scheduled dates with them.
After a few dates, I kind of became a pro at it. I knew exactly how to make my way through it all. I got to be with creeps, pure gentlemen, chivalrous boys, you name it, and I have met them all. I became so engrossed with it that some of my friends started referring to me as Miss Tinderella. I became an unofficial dating advisor for my friends. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every part of it and weirdly enough; I was even proud of it for some reason.
But here’s another side to my story. My bold, carefree, extrovert personality was merely my alter ego that existed only for the online world. At home, my family had no idea about this bold avatar of mine. You ask me why? Well, my parents, particularly my father, is quite orthodox and like many Indian fathers, he does not approve of or believe in the concept of dating and the so-called free spirit associated with it (if you’ve got a father who does, good for you!). My mother, on the other hand, being quite close to me, is aware of my dating life but only to a certain extent. What I do behind closed doors stays behind closed doors!
And this is just not my story; it is the story of every girl who belongs to a conservative family. We might have paid a visit to the moon, and our parents still ‘won’t allow us to stay out after 10 p.m. The other day, I was on this amazing date that I had to cut short because it was past 10 and I had missed my curfew. When I reached home my parents were literally waiting for me at the door, my mother squeezed in the dialogue and I quote “Log kya soch rahe honge ki Kapooron ki ladki raat ko 11 baje ghar aati hai” (What would people think of Kapoors’ daughter staying out till 11 p.m?) and my jaw literally dropped. I had no comeback for that. I was just staring at my parents in utter shock; all I could do was apologise and head towards my room.
I stayed up all night thinking about how deeply embarrassed my parents would be if they were to find out about my alter ego. And I was so angry at this because though my parents want me to be an adult, yet they would not let me act like one. I had been the ‘man’ of the house for quite a few years, but when it came to making choices, my parents refused to acknowledge the fact that I might have an opinion of my own, desires of my own, choices of my own.
And it’s not just my parents whose way of thinking bugs me; it’s the society as a whole. We may have moved to a digital era, but mentally, we are still stuck in the stone age. Our society’s perception of us controls our lives. I have committed the ultimate sin of losing my virginity before my marriage, and I might be paying for it sooner or later, because “logo ko pata chal jayega toh kya hoga” (What would happen if people found out?). You are not entitled to pleasure unless it’s with your husband. Period.
I am a grown woman who works hard by day and likes to engage in some fun at night. Yes, I like to get intimate with men and no, I am not ashamed of it, but my parents would be, and this makes me angry and sad at the same time. How do you tell your parents that their daughter is not who they think she is. This is my secret that I might never be able to share with my parents, whom I love the most in the world, because as my mom said, “Log kya kahenge?”.