Thursday, 6 October 2016

The pressure cooker called “Marriage”

“So, why do you want to get married?” asks 28 year old guy.
She sighed! With lot of things going in her mind she just wondered what made him ask this question, the clear agenda of this visit was marriage, he along with his family had come here, to see her, rate her and decide whether she could be a suitable bride for him! So why this unnecessary question? She wondered.
The First Meeting
He again asked. She was confused as to whether she should tell the truth or give politically correct answer. Hesitantly she said, “I am of marriageable age, I think this is the right time to get married, this is an important step to have a partner with whom I can share my rest of the life. And…”
“And…what?” asked boy
“And also there is pressure from my parents to get married soon.” The truth just found the way.
“Yes! I can totally understand, there is so much pressure on me as well to get married. As many as 2-3 families visit every week to see me, interrogate me on various aspects and then for some random reason find me unsuitable for their girl” he said with impressive calmness on his face.

And at that very moment, the fear, assumptions, judgments and oceans of thoughts took back seat. She always believed that the marriage- the process before, during and after marriage is dangerously demanding for girls and boys have the privilege of doing whatever they want to do but she was seeing new perspective here.

The entire week before this marriage meeting was spent in chaos, everyday her parents kept insisting on how good is the boy, how well to do is their family, she should behave properly in front of them, keep dieting and exercise so that she lose weight (Yes! another pitfall for girl- she was overweight) this just added more stress and burden. She failed to understand that in spite of being well educated and having decent job, marriage defined her identity. 

She was getting ready for the meeting. “Should I wear suit salwar?”
“No, don’t wear that! It has small sleeves, your shoulders will look broad, in first meeting you should look slim, wear that full sleeves kurta and leggings. And please don’t forget to take chunni.” says her mother.
The pressure cooker called "Marriage"
It was some Shashtri ji who had fixed this meeting; before they could have arrived he came in and busted his own guidance on her, “Beti, just speak politely, don’t talk much, just nod your head, reply mostly in yes, you understand what I mean, rest you are intelligent enough” She was really pissed, she was sick and tired of listening to all these unnecessary speech, however she thought it’s better to keep mum otherwise she would be labeled uncultured too! One more speech, no ways! Finally the people arrived, her own home didn’t looked like her home, table was overflowing with eatables, and now was her turn to enter in the room where she would be subjected to all sorts of questions and judgments. She took a deep breath and went to the room; she was made to sit exactly in front of boy’s parents. She sensed that her first appearance didn’t appeal them rather they seemed disappointed.

After deafening silence, his mother asked, “So do you work somewhere, or just sit at home”. This question literally pierced her senses, she couldn’t take it and with all her confidence shared about her start up and that’s how the conversations finally started. She was at ease, before she could bask more in the calmness of the situation, Shashtri ji announced that the boy and girl should talk with each other in person. Till now so many questions were asked but the boy didn’t even make eye contact with her, she was really uncomfortable and she was surprised that at this point  no one asked her whether she wanted to be left alone with the guy or not?

Gathering all the courage, confidence and anger she went ahead and what happened next made her think about the other side of the story.  The conversation with the guy made her deconstruct the whole idea of marriage. “I am 28 years old, I have just started working with a Lawyer, my entire day is spent with him and criminal cases. On the other hand, my parents feel that that this is the right time for me to get married, later I won’t find a bride. I feel torn and yet after explaining my conditions so many times they don’t seem to listen so I have given up”

He continued, “I know a girl would expect me to earn good money, give her importance and time but I need at least 1-2 years for my own self, to build my status for the marriage. I know this is the main reason why I have been rejected so many times. For past 2 days I am down with fever and cold but I had to come here to see you because my parents had promised.” He was honest in sharing his struggles, salary, pressures and ambitions. She could understand and empathize with him because she was in the same situation. At the same time, she also realized that irrespective of the pressure build on her, she can’t succumb to it as this is an important decision and she needs to own it!

Choices and consent???

She was always accused of creating conflict, shouting and mess after these marriage meetings, this time she was calm and composed! On the contrary her sister who was 4 years younger was agitated, she couldn’t understand how a girl could be subjected to a situation which seemed like a trial? It was also difficult to see her sister in this situation where she couldn’t be herself. On one hand, both of them were working on breaking these structures and on the hand they were subjected and pitted against the same. At that very moment she promised herself, come what may she will not let this happen to herself!

It is something to ponder on as to how this social construct of marriage is demanding and pressurizing not just for women but also for the men at the same time; there is so much talk about consent and choices but when it comes to marriage – consent is restricted to saying ‘yes’ to the boy/girl for privileged people and for others- they just have to marry! In our society- choice is just a glorified word, because I doubt if privileged people can also implement their choices, be it around career, life, marriage or not getting married. I am still thinking !!!                  

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