If you are a Indian woman above 25 and unmarried, there is something wrong with you. I don’t want to generalize and I know things are changing but most Indian women have to go through this. And the worst part about all this is that you don’t have anybody to look upto. Sure, there are women who are standing up for themselves, but they are rare. Lack of strong female role models in your family makes things really different (atleast for me).
The interesting thing about this post is that while I was writing this post, my cousin (who is younger to me. Sigh!) emailed me pictures that she clicked for ‘suitable’ guys. And the whole arranged marriage process is weird. I am not saying it is wrong, if it works for you, good luck. But I personally find the whole idea dehumanizing to a large extent. I have vowed to never get into this arranged marriage drama but it’s tough. Atleast for me, more than the societal pressure, it’s my own mind which loves guilt trips. You are made to feel guilty since childhood especially in India. I keep thinking, “Oh my God! I’m hurting my parents, they have done so much for me.” Of course, they have done a lot for me, but to marry someone just to make them happy? I will be very blunt here but I find it ridiculous that you are not even allowed to meet people of the opposite sex but one day, you are expected to sleep with them?
Intellectually, I understand that there is nothing wrong with making my own choice but emotionally it drains you. What’s ironic is that you are fighting this battle for your dreams, for your passion, for freedom. But this battle drains you so much that you actually become listless. Sometimes, you just want to give up. You can read all the feminist books in the world and question everything but emotions and conditioning are completely different things. Questioning and using your brain is important early on but after a while, your brain can’t help you because human beings are emotional beings. I mean, when you see how attached your parents are to society’s opinion about your unmarried status, you will feel bad for them.
I guess what keeps you going is a sense of responsibility, not just to your own authentic self but also to the girls who will be in the same place as you are, today. Also to women who are presently fighting the same battle. You might not know who they are, but in your heart, you feel a sense of belonging. You feel responsible because many women fought for our freedom and it is easy to take that for granted. You might even start enjoying the fight.
I am not saying that those who get married through the arranged marriage system cannot be role models or cannot be authentic or cannot find happiness or freedom. They certainly can. But if this doesn’t work for you then you really need to realize that the battle is not going to be easy. You REALLY need to have a lot of self-love to survive and also, you need love for others too. Yes, even those who are ‘against’ you. Yes, that very society which tortures you with endless questions. If not for them, atleast for your own sake, you can’t get too angry with them because it will only affect you. I mean what’s the point of fighting for peace and freedom if you are going to be bitter most of the time and be a slave to your emotions? Plus, you do need to empathize with people because at the end of the day, they are human beings like you. I am reading this book called ‘Art of happiness’ by Dalai Lama and some other writer and His Holiness says, that once you remember that everybody is just trying to be happy and avoid pain, you will feel empathy. I don’t follow this, atleast not often, but I hope I won’t have grudges against them and see them as my ‘enemies.’
There is this activist who says that the best form of activism is living life the way you want without apologizing to anybody (of course, he doesn’t mean you hurt others in the name of freedom). I guess this is what young women in India need to remember.