I was just 21, fresh out of an MBA college, with big dreams and hopes for life ahead. Having stayed with my family all my life I had decided to go to Pune for post-graduation. I didn’t know that tasting freedom in Pune for two years would make the transition back to Ahmedabad so difficult. Everybody who visited us or knew I was back, wanted to know the next big plan. Well I just wanted to pursue a PhD in Philosophy at that time. Just when I was struggling to convince my father to let me pursue it, my father announced that he and his friend had arranged a meeting with a guy. Baffled, I asked him, what for?
The look on his face said it all. It was going to be an ‘arranged meeting.’ Even though I was shocked, I went to see the guy and just as I would have it, things didn’t work out the way everyone had expected or rather hoped for.
Further, adding insult to injury, I was officially getting introduced to the marriage market. If you have gone the arranged marriage way, you would know that the ‘marriage bureaus’ promise to help you ‘find the one or be found by one.’
So, just like registering a company, we went to register ourselves with the marriage bureau. And that’s when I got introduced to the concept of a “biodata.” I was extremely intrigued by this piece of paper we were to submit to the marriage bureau along with a close up, frontal, side (profile) and full-length photo of mine. Mind you, these photographs had to be professionally shot. Just when I was recovering from the torment of getting pictures clicked in weird poses, this piece of paper had become my identity that contained all the possible information from my horoscope, to my height, weight and even skin color.
Anyway, after a few first-hand experiences of the brilliant marriage bureau services, I had reached a stage where I couldn’t fathom the idea of meeting a person just by looking at a piece of paper with a lot of made up nonsense and a picture as a bonus.
Somewhere during the biodata number 17, I realized that everyone wanted me to conform to the ‘skinny and fair’ stereotype of beauty. It dawned on me when biodata number 17 did not want to go ahead with the “arrangements,” that I had no say in the matter. It was as if I just had to consider myself ‘lucky’ that someone wanted to get married to me. I also realized that it wasn’t my physical appearance, my family background or my financial status that mattered to or bothered the guys or their families. It was my innate need to work and be my own person that bothered them.
Yes, I did happen to meet a guy who actually motivated and inspired me to become my own person, but I guess I became too big a threat to the “perfection ideal” that his family was looking for. What followed was blame and self-doubt.
The thing is, the pressure to succeed in a competitive market like marriage these days is way too much for a girl still trying to figure out how ‘not’ to be herself. Having grown up in a loving environment, where individuality and independence were encouraged in all aspects, this particular battle became too tough to triumph not only for me, but for my family too. In the end, it just became a constant battle of fear v/s dreams.
During this entire process, my thoughts got clouded. I was lost. I also saw everyone else being happy in their lives, and this made me even more depressed. All I saw were people having their perfect vacations, perfect destination weddings, perfect post wedding lives, but that’s what the thing was, it was “their” perfect, not mine. Yes, I longed for those moments and those feelings but I realized I needed something ‘real’ rather than a glorious relationship approved by the society.
Today at 27 years and 30 biodatas later, I no longer regret not having found the “one” just yet. I am happy in my present because I stopped getting affected by the society’s definition of a perfect life. Today I still go to the marriage bureaus but without any notions of finding “the perfect one,” because finding or being found by someone is now an option to me, not my entire life. I am more focused on finding my own self, becoming my own person and not depending on anybody else to be happy. I have realized that the only person who can make me happy or sad is “me.”
Today, I see my parents' content faces when they see me return home to them. They understand that I am perfectly capable of making my own “perfect,” because while searching for the “perfect” I found the “perfectly imperfect me.”