My mom was doing her grocery shopping and ran into an old acquaintance who normally wouldn’t talk more than a “kem chho” (how are you) but this time was very excited to share the good news of her daughter’s marriage to a “NRI chokro” (Non resident Indian bridegroom). After my mom congratulated her, she started questioning my mom about me. When my mom told her about my single status, she expressed shock and anguish almost as if she heard that I was diagnosed with swine flu or something much worse. My mom, by now a pro at this, told her that she doesn’t view it as a problem and that marriage will happen if and when it has to. But you see; to most Indian mothers, getting their daughters married off is like a B-school placement – so if you don’t get placed in slot 0 or slot 1, there has to be something terribly wrong with you. My only problem with this thinking is while you can get companies to come on campus according to slots, you don’t necessarily meet the right men early on; i.e. slot 0 or slot 1.
If one believes in the “six degrees of separation” theory, then the right person for each one should not be more than 6 degrees away – i.e. your friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend could be the right one for you. But in reality meeting that right person may take ages. And what if you marry the person you think is right and then meet the right person – ouch, absolute disaster! In most parts of the world, you marry IF and WHEN you want to marry and if things don’t work out, you go your separate ways. But in India, you are almost pressurized to marry because your parents or extended family wants you to marry. If you are among the lucky ones like me, wherein your parents have left it to you when you want to marry, it still doesn’t signal the end of problems – because there is an entire army of people there right from that old family friend to the relative of your neighbor to the sister in law of your aunt who have all taken it up on themselves to find you the right person!
Things can get so irritating that after a point one may stop attending marriages of cousins, social functions to avoid the inevitable question – “beta, lagan kyare karavane che?”(When will you get married?) A simpler solution would probably be to smile and say “time che” (there is still time for that) but then you run the risk of being viewed as too western, too modern, too rebellious, etc, etc. While I get away with all this not even being present at most such occasions, it’s my mom who charmingly fields all this questions – so sweet of her.
While it is still understandable to expect the older generation to think in a certain way, what surprises me is that some of my girl friends after getting married started assuming some kind of superiority over me because of their marital status. While one is tempted to laugh at such idiocy, a single friend recently captured this very well when she said “all my friends who are in relationships or marriage have problems while I get to enjoy my life on my own terms, in fact I feel they are jealous of my single status” – well, the grass is always greener on the other side. My only contention here is it’s unfair to judge people based on their marital status and to believe that it’s customary to be married by a certain age or else it’s an aberration. Its time we let people be!
So while we send the Chandrayaan to the moon, make the maximum number of movies in the world, excel in software; I still wait for the day when we are able to break free of the stereotypes of marriage and age to get married at!!