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.