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The Scourge

Last week's Outlook carried a cover story about Indians who are choosing to shun marriage and live life single. I've always maintained that marriage should be a choice. But for many Indian women, we do not have that choice. For us, marriage is never an 'if' only a 'when'. People featured in the Outlook article live in metros, have successful careers and are reasonably sure of what they want out of life. Good for them. Unfortunately, they represent a tiny, tiny miniscule of the population.

For a large percentage of everyday Indian women, we are told that we MUST get married. Some of us (self included), resist this notion and go on to pursue careers and live our dreams at least for a short period of time. But at every turn, the question looms -'when are you going to get married?'. So eventually, we succumb. Because often we are so tired from the questioning that we just want to put an end to it. If truth be told, we are not brave enough to remain unmarried all our lives and be called 'that' spinster aunty. We want to be accepted. Do the things that society/family/parents expect us to do. So we marry the guy they want us to marry, have children, set aside career, cook, clean, wash, iron and get sucked into a domestic vortex.

One day, many years later, we ask the daughter, 'So, do you want to get married?'. When she answers 'no', we shake our heads in dismay before coaxing, cajoling and ultimately threatening her into submission. After all, if she didn't marry, what would the society think? Besides, this is just a phase she will grow out of. Whoever heard of a girl who didn't want to marry? Can't she see her parents are getting old and they have a duty to do? Does she want to grow old alone? She won't find a man when she wants to. Look at so-&-so's daughter who's happily married and expecting a baby soon. Of course, she can study and pursue her career after marriage! But first, let her meet this lovely boy from...

Thus we tighten the noose. Repeat lines from our past. Clip wings in the name of culture. We get our daughters married against their choice. Because that is the done thing. And we don't dare otherwise. More's the pity.

p.s. This is just an anguished rant and does not reflect on my personal experience of marriage.


tilotamma said…
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KM said…
Before I write anything, I want to compliment your blog and your style.

What you say is right. But we want to be accepted in the society, because we are living in it. Marriage is customary in our culture. Why? So that we can procreate and continue the family lineage.

This is the rule but there are always exceptions. One of my friends does not want to get married. He says that might live with a partner, but not marry. There is one more friend of mine who could not get married for no reason, so far, even though he always wanted to. The problem with this is after some time all your friends are married and you are the odd human out. When you are old you have no one to care for. This is the biggest fear.

I agree that you should get married when you want to, whom you want to and how you want to. But in a Society like India it is always not possible to swim against the tide. Not many have the courage of conviction to do that.

Premalatha said…

I just read this post of yours. My chithi stayed unmarried, by her choice. yes, everyone tell that she is too adament and high headed and all, but she managed to live a life, amazingly enough, maintainaing an upperhand whereever she goes.. She is well accepted, and well respected in the circle she moves.

In my home town, there are few women living like this. I won't say it is just normal for us folks, but there are few such cases, and they can live a *life*, when compared to what they would have got if it were to be a different place..
childwoman said…
I dont want to get married to a stranger. But I want to be loved, and love in return. My parents will never understand. its my life. Dont I have a say in it??

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