Being married for seven months makes me an old hand at this marriage thing now. However, my theory that marriage is an unnecessary blot on society remains.
Make no mistake, meeting Mian was the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me. Not a day goes by that I do not fervently thank all the gods, universities, friends, and airlines that made it possible for us to meet. Rather than my options closing after marriage, Mian has opened up possibilities I did not know existed, and taught me to aim further than I had ever dared to. Rather than increasing stress and negotiations, Mian is a place of refuge for me.
But that is him, not the institution of marriage. I am lucky enough to not have a TV at home, and so was shielded from the new phenomenon that is sweeping India- Reality show marriages. These are shows where a group of women compete for the attentions of a man. They are put through tests, evaluated, and exhibited like so many succulent steaks. The man on the other hand, shows off his fancy house. In the last series, the would-be groom had a history of domestic violence. Despite that, otherwise sane women fought on television to marry him with the blessings of their proud parents. Four months down the line, the ‘lucky winner’ is displaying her bruises to the media.
This is an extreme case. But ‘normal life’ is not so different. Too many of my friends- intelligent engineers all- have had their faces bleached, their teeth straightened, their cooking skills tweaked. And the lies and the grovelling! I went through the matrimonials for a short while, to make my family happy. The day I put my foot down and refused to play along was the day I overheard my mother apologizing for me. I forget what it was she was apologising for- either my salary or my language skills. But that was the last straw.
And today, I am glad. The thought of where I would have been today had I played along terrifies me. Continually apologising for my existence, suppressing all that makes me Chicu. Telling myself ‘love does not matter. Atleast he does not beat me’ as I’ve heard my friends tell themselves. Structuring my life in such a way that I minimize contact with the man who is my husband. Lying. Cheating.
The heavens bless this man I am with. He is loving, considerate, fun, supportive. And he would have been even if I were not married to him.
I am still mystified by the importance marriage is given. It is not the goal. The goal is to spend one’s life with someone you love so much you cannot imagine not being together. If we find someone like that, it is wonderful. If we don’t, living alone is better than putting up with someone odious just for the sake of public appearances.
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