I have been blessed to be born as your daughter. You raised me the best you could, took care of all my possible needs. But as I approach my 26th birthday, I feel a fear gripping my heart, every now and then. And I need your help to get rid of this fear, which first pinched as a tiny dot, in the middle of my chest when I finished my graduation and the next door uncle was suggesting, how you should start looking for a well settled groom for me.
"Really? at 20? My career is yet to take off!" and you agreed, you supported.
But the tiny dot expanded when a relative tried to convince you and me, for a boy, well settled in London, working with a prestigious company and how I would be a perfect blend of modern dresses & traditional values, for him. And he insisted that we say "Yes!" right away, without thinking any further.
"But am just 22, why do I need to rush?"
"Because you don't find such opportunities everyday, silly!", he retaliated.
"First of all, I don't want to marry until I start earning enough to take care of a family. Secondly, THAT is a boy, not a business opportunity, am I just supposed to look at the money? And nothing else matters?" I announced my rebuttal and you agreed, you supported.
But then, the expanded dot of fear grew even bigger when a colleague told me her arranged-marriage story. She realised quite early in the courtship period that she shouldn't marry the boy because entire time his questions revolved around her father's property and money and her bank balance. She grew a bit suspicious about the boy's greedy character and asked her father & brother to run a background check on him. "You think we are fools? We have obviously found a good guy for you. Also, you are already 32, do you know how embarrassing that is? Getting married SOMEHOW should be your only concern", her father had told her. Anyway, the girl went ahead with the investigation about the boy himself and found out the guy was actually earning only 20% of the amount he had told her family. She immediately ran back to her place, informed her father of the blasphemy and her father looked at her for a second and then resuming his work said, "So what? You are earning quite well and after marriage, everything will belong to both of you!" She could not believe what she just heard but she did not want to bring anymore shame to the family, so she relented, got married to the man anyway. Soon after marriage, things got ugly, he wanted her entire salary to be transferred to his account every month, he started nagging her for her basic expenditures and then started asking her eventually to claim her share of property from her father. With every unruly demand, she was dying inside a little and the worst part was, nobody cared, not even her family. It was not a marriage; she did not have a relationship; she had become a mere ATM for her 'husband' and could not do anything about it because she did not want to bring any shame to her family.
I was baffled, 'what must be true for her father in his mind that he was satisfied with the tag of being married on her daughter's identity while completely ignoring her happiness, her self respect?'
And then, with each passing year, the fear in my chest just kept growing and growing. It increased when I heard an extremely well educated lady talk,"No matter what the ideals say. We are a part of this society and society has certain rules, certain norms. It is a norm to compromise your own career as a woman to raise a healthy family and to cater to your husband's needs. No matter how modern you get, or shout slogans for feminism, at the end of the day, your goal should be your husband's success."
Fear increased yet again, when I saw a cousin, who was in an unhappy marriage and had the courage to express it to her family but everyone told her how she was being too selfish and she must make compromises to make her marriage work. And she was forced to live with him until her husband's extra marital affair came to notice and he divorced her to marry his love. But by the time, she was deep into depression already.
And it increased, on 100 different occasions where I saw girls being married OFF for all the wrong reasons!
What is this society, Daddy? Who constitutes the society, Ma?
Who are these people who are making these norms for EVERYONE in general? Why are THEY keeping track of my age? How dare they have so much power over any girl's life?
I have learnt from you that marriage is a pious union that runs on the fuel of MUTUAL understanding mixed with love. Then how dare THIS society corrupt it? Why do they want to snatch away my right to marry at my own will; without undue, emotional influence? What do they have against independent women? How are they so dumb that they do not even understand that an independent, experienced woman adds way more value to the family?
I will marry when I would know that I am going to grow with the person. I will marry when I would know our values for life, match with each other's. I will marry when I would know that our relationship has MUTUAL understanding, MUTUAL respect, MUTUAL support, MUTUAL distribution of responsibilities, MUTUAL independence. I will marry when I know my career can support both of us.
I will marry when I would feel it in my bones. For me, my society is my parents and my close friends and my well wishers. Period. Yes, the definition of society is flawed; I refuse to accept random people around my eco system as a part of my society; I refuse to entertain their remarks or theories that they try to impose on me; above all I refuse their entitlement over my life!
I hope once again, you will agree and support me, Ma & Daddy!