I heard my friend who is just twenty years old talking to her mom. She said, “In the next three years? You may be married by then” as part of a conversation we were having related to life and career. I was astounded. Though I could not say a word in reply I had a pile of thoughts that immediately built up in my head right at the moment; the most bothering of all being the question, ‘why in our society do we get married when our families are ready rather than when we ourselves are’. I looked around; there are so many young people who are getting married without actually being ready for it. There are people whose life plans are completely oblivious to marriage. Yet, they have to get married at some point since it is essential in our society. Why? Why is marriage so inevitable? I myself am not sure of whether I want to get married or not, by then. I do want to marry, but not in the near future atleast. But who will explain that to my family? The saddest part of the story is many times marriage is imposed on people who don’t care about getting married. People who are least interested in getting hitched and hardly believe in the institution of marriage are often forcefully made to surrender to the societal and family pressures while there are many hundreds of couples who do want to get married but are forcefully separated under the same pressures. It is a ridiculous scene altogether. To get married the basis is not love among the individuals or readiness of the individuals or even acceptability but the readiness of families and baseless notions like caste and financial compatibility of families. While we Indians preach love as an essential element in our culture, for example, the way we celebrate festivals and the extensive families we have, I keep wondering where it all goes when we talk of marriage.
The most disturbing thing about how marriages take place in our society is all that is needed is the families must be ready. They have ideologies of right age, right time etc and once the individual in question reaches that phase of life, regardless of his or her personal will they are condemned to get married. While all through their youth they are constantly reminded that they should focus only on their career, not get into the unholy concept of a ‘relationship’ or ‘affair’ and then suddenly one day all that they should focus on becomes marriage and settling down with a life partner. While the young individual is constantly guided by the whole family and society to make a good career throughout youth, once the ‘family’ is ready, wedding becomes Hobson’s choice for them. I cannot stop myself from pondering that in this scenario how helplessly difficult can things gets for me in the near future. More importantly, I wonder with a bated breath how all those young people who have conceded to marriage, who were at the first place neither ready nor looking forward to it able to make sense out of their life thereafter. Ironically, this surrender of individual will and giving up of personal ideologies the society unfortunately assumes as maturity and the damned individuals also become subservient to this eventually. Marriage is certainly one significant deal of life and therefore it should be made a more rational institution. There is no sanity in letting go apart two souls who really want to spend their lives with each other on futile conventions like one’s family worships ‘Allah’ while the other worships ‘Bhagwan’ and neither is there any logic to egg on people to get married because the families are ready for it. ———— About the Author: This article is contributed by Ojaswini Srivastava. Ojaswini is a Respect Women’s contributor and a student of English Literature at the University of Delhi, who looks forward to study and work on gender issues. Believing herself as a feminist, an agnostic, thinker and writer, she aspires to become a respected writer someday!