I suffer from social anxiety. I’m a feminist and an atheist. Short-statured (4’11” to be precise). Not working. To top it all, I’m a woman. Believe it or not, it’s a fatal combination. It can ruin your life.
Can I, a short-statured, non-working, mentally-ill atheist, dare to dream? Dream of finding love? I had serious doubts about getting the right guy through an arranged marriage. Nonetheless, due to my inability to socialise, I left that responsibility for my father.
I’ve had a horrible experience in the Indian marriage market. There wasn’t a single family who did not demand dowry. I was petrified by the spineless stance of Indian men. All they cared for was a biodata, some pictures and dowry. I wish, just for once, someone would care for me as a person and want to know me, to understand me.
Despite all this, I tried to compromise, but couldn’t. I’ve been warned by friends, family and relatives that I would end up alone. I often hear, “Tum bohot zyada bolti ho, ladki ko itna nahi bolna chahiye. Kaun si collector ho tum ki itne nakhre hain tumhare (You talk a lot, women should not talk this much. Are you a collector of some place that you can throw all these tantrums!)!”
It seems that working women have better bargaining power in the great Indian misogynistic marriage market. They can easily get a man for whom they would slave for their entire life. After a while, I asked my father to stop with his frantic search for my marriage alliance.
He hasn’t. He gets disappointed every time and says, “Bhagwan pareeksha le rahe hain, purva janm ke karmon ka phal mil raha h (God is punishing us, he is avenging us for the sins we committed in our previous life).”
I’m a distraught person now. I feel defeated in my fight against injustice in the name of gender. I often ask myself: can an ordinary, mentally-ill woman like me afford to be a feminist?