“Look, if you want to get married, this is the right age, because all the good guys get married young.”
This was 5 years ago from surrounding aunties and even my mom was convinced.
“We have to get you married,” said my parents and even before I could fall in love, I fell into the trap. Not fair! I never had any boyfriends, not because I was not interested or my parents would have disapproved, but the people who tried to hit on me were either dull, or sad or kind of creepy.
Beware: All Indians, yes, all Indians are floated in the marriage
market, at some point or the other. Relatives and parents’ friends
are constantly judging and discussing and fixing you up. Some<
lucky ones don’t know about it because they find their ‘soul mates’
before their parents can set them up. Some may rebel. Some may
hide their affairs from others until they can be open about them,
and don’t have to bother. But for everyone else, the arranged
matrimony market doesn’t spare them.
The way it usually works is, parents ask relatives and friends to fix up their children. Statistically, it takes a few months to a year, and bang, you find yourself ‘married’! After they have attended your clichéd wedding, shared pictures on Facebook, WhatsApp or what you will, and watched the video, etc., nobody is interested in you!
“Why are you worried, find a job according to your husband,” I was told by all the aunties and grannies around when I was in college, that after getting the (imaginary) husband I can get a job, and skills and education have nothing to do with it! Or if I wanted to study overseas, I should go with the husband!
I have managed everything else, where is the ‘husband’, is what I want to ask them. I wasn’t even looking for this ‘husband’ person; it’s just that people offered to find me one, and I did not say no.
I was working as a university teacher when my parents thought I should get married. No need for you to try and calculate my age: I am 32 now, and frankly, I don’t hide my age, but tell people out loud just to put them off. “Yes, 30+ and not married. You have a problem with that?”
At one point, my aunt introduced me to a friend saying, “This is my niece, she is waiting to get married, it is such a problem.” I had left my university job because I was looking for places to start a PhD. I think that translated as “Oh, I am getting married, who needs a job!” That’s a problem.
But that phase only lasted a few months. I moved to Mumbai after that. I am a PhD student now and work in the field of public policy. I am a writer and also teach public policy courses.
I am still not off the hook. I have been living alone, away from my parents, for 6 years now. “You don’t have a household, my wife has one!” is what some of my older cousins tell me. And this, when I have a fully functional kitchen where I even bake oven-fresh cakes and cookies for myself.
“How are you living? What do you need to work for?” are common questions. People take a lot of interest in my private matters, because single people are not entitled to privacy.
Did I mention, I am an only daughter? This is another layer of
problems for my poor parents. “My wife is an only daughter,
and she is very spoilt, sorry, but don’t want my son to marry
a single daughter”. I don’t know about that, but I remember
reading somewhere in a Psychology textbook in college that
only daughters are more responsible compared to only sons!
Also, experts suggest that women are socialised to be caregivers,
men, not as much. Being a better spouse is attributed more
to parenting and the role models in our lives.
My parents also convinced me to use some technology (and they were surprisingly tech savvy when it came to using matrimony sites; for every other online transaction, they depend on me). And to my mother’s surprise, the representatives from the first portal we used told her that my pictures were not good. “So, shall I post Kareena Kapoor’s picture instead of my daughter’s”? My mom was offended and left the portal.
Paradoxically, even though people use the Internet to find matches, they also want to see if the kundalis are in sync. And, oh my stars, my kundali does not match with most people – apparently, my planets are highly placed! So, according to my astro-profile, I should either have been a prodigy or a celebrity – alas, I am neither.
I may take pride in my career trajectory, but it has no value for the marriage market: I don’t have any technical or professional degree. I am not an engineer, doctor or MBA, so my worth in this circle is very low! One lady actually told my mom, “But PhD is no job!”