I am a single woman and I have been living alone for the past ten years; now of course, I am of “age” (actually I have long crossed it) when I should consider “settling down”— i.e. get married. Well, while I do not have issues about getting married (provided I come across someone who is perfect for me), but in the process of finding the perfect someone, a whole new world opened before me; especially people’s attitude towards single, independent women even in today’s so-called “progressive” world.
A thousand times or even more, I have heard people discussing why a girl like me finds it difficult to get suitors. The reasons are pretty obvious. I am:
Single and independent
Yes. I have been rejected several times in the arranged ‘marriage market’ for reasons like dark skinned, not good-looking enough etc., and there have been times when I could not hold back my tears. Some times, I had to face questions like “are you religious-minded?”, “how often do you go to the temple?” from the boy’s side of the family. And sometimes when the prospective grooms appeared on the scene, it actually became too awkward.
I remember an instance where a guy, in our second telephone conversation had (mind you, we hadn’t yet met) the audacity to enquire about my virginity! I was too flabbergasted to react.
After hearing lot of malicious comments from people (‘she’s too smart and too outgoing for any man’), I too have broken down. There were times when life felt burdensome and I couldn’t find a way out of its meandering alleys.
“Societal pressures made me feel that having a single, feminist daughter
is a nuisance. There were times I felt really sorry for my parents.”
My faith in the overall institution of marriage even in the twenty-first century was shaken. Are relationships still based completely on physical attributes; skin colour, height, weight and vital statistics? Is it a life partner that we are looking for, or are we buying some thing from the market? Isn’t emotional bonding, intellectual compatibility and respect for each other more important in a relationship?
Factors like love, faith and trust seemed to have vanished into thin air. And I was finding it too difficult to make people around me understand that I am looking for a partner, a companion, a life-long friend whom I can trust blindly and vice versa.
Sometimes I wonder, is being independent, self-reliant and confident a crime for a single woman? And does possessing such personality traits mean that I hate men? It’s just that I want equality to prevail; my desires, wants and choices to be respected by the society and people around me.
But, a few years down the line, today I gather the courage to open up to the world about myself and my identity. Yes, I have the courage to take such ‘nuisance’ in my stride and bounce back to life with positivity. I am determined to be happy and not let such pressures take its toll on my mental and physical being. I will not feel ashamed, nor will I feel depressed for being ‘rejected’.
Today, I am thirty-one, still single and living each moment on my own terms. I have my dreams, aspirations and sky-high hopes. I start each day with a vow that I will create value in my own life and my surroundings. And I refuse to plunge into the arranged ‘marriage market’. I continue to laugh at matrimonial advertisements that seek alliance from “convent-educated homely girl; modern girl with a traditional outlook”.
No, I am not against marriage; rather I would love to get married some day and have a family. I would love to spend quality time with them, sometimes cook for them as well, go to exotic places for vacations and celebrate Durga Puja. However, I would love to have a partner who respects my individuality; respects and loves me for who I am and the values I hold on to; someone who commands respect. Is that asking for too much?