A regular day at home starts with mother blaming father for not getting his daughter married. Cousins and friends who are my age and even younger are married with more than one kid. My parents, though supportive of my study and career aspirations, are not able to swim in a society where they have a daughter who has crossed the 'marriageable' age.
My neighbors' who watch me tie my shoe laces daily when I get ready to go for a jog seem to murmur: "She is overweight, that's the reason why she is not married yet. She wants to reduce her weight so that a guy would accept her." My uncle calls up and asks my father if his daughter is in love with an 'other-caste' person and whether the delay stems from any consequent disputes.
I walk into my cousin's wedding, but being unmarried I'm not allowed to participate in most of the rituals. Silently I sit back, trying to relax my over-worked mind. People gather around me to find out if I believe in the institution of marriage, in having children, and whether I'm at all interested in men. Before they get any answers, one of the aunties from the crowd advises me to try a facial so that my complexion should not be a hindrance for marriage.
Another aunty asks me to perform some vrata so that the goddess who is in charge of getting girls married would be pleased and the moment would come in my life. A few aunties and uncles go straight to my parents to suggest matches they find around. My ophthalmologist suggests that I go for Lasik surgery so that I can get rid of the glasses, and without glasses my chances of getting married would improve.
My parents thought of a better option: an astrologer. He says I suffer from kuja dosha; that's why I am not married yet. And, if I am not married before November by performing a special puja, I won't get married at all. Well, the reasons are pretty legitimate in this country not to get married.
But I am not married yet as I have chosen not to, yet. My reasons are personal, taking the many dimensions of my career into consideration. But, really, do I need a reason for not getting married? I just don't feel like getting married yet. Isn't that good enough? I would like to get married when I feel like it and when I find the right person when I have to.
I'm very clear about my objectives. I teach underprivileged kids for free in my leisure hours. I planned a city tour for them which I thought would be enjoyable and informative to them. But I had no idea my marital status would become a problem to the parents of some of those kids to send them along with me. The stereotyping of a 28-year-old unwed female was clear.
I'm left wondering: If a marriage involves a man and a woman, why isn't that a man is ostracized for being unmarried? And if the sex ratio is declining at this rate, logic dictates that men should suffer it manifold when compared to women! Wishing for a time when men sit down and perform vrata for marriage.
The writer is a journalist at The Hindu www.thehindu.com
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