Like always, my morning started with updates from the Facebook world. After scrolling for a while, I turned down my laptop and yelled, ‘Mom, where is my tea?’ I realized she was busy in kitchen so went to get it myself. One of my aunts had come and they were busy in their own chitchats. She is a hilarious woman and often reminds me of Indian daily soaps’ typical mother choosing most eligible Bachelor for her daughter and left over to any other girls in the family.
I grinned with a Namaste and as expected she scanned me from head to toe first and turned towards my mom, ‘It’s high time for her to get married; the perfect age, time and condition. I will update the list and contact you soon.’
I interfered in a polite tone, ‘Aunt, look at me. I am still quite young, just completed my Bachelors. I will do my masters first and then think of getting married.’
She gave a disgusting look and asked suddenly, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’
I replied innocently, ‘No. I don’t!’ Then, she started to convince saying, ‘What’s the problem? You need to get married now. It’s going to be late!’
The discussion was never ending. Later, I turned taciturn because it was pointless to discuss with her. Moreover, I don’t want to be rude to her. I had to lie to escape from her saying I have some assignments to complete.
She was busy talking with my parent explaining how hard it has become to find a good guy. And her famous ‘funnel’ theory was, the more a girl has higher degrees, lesser the chances of getting a guy according to her academic level. For instance, if a girl has finished masters then she would need a man of at least Masters degree and a man with Masters degree will obviously less in number than the boy with Bachelors degree. Forget about PhD, you will only find old men. Hence, Bachelors is the perfect qualification to get married.
This has become my daily routine these days. Every day, I am showered with marriage proposals; He is engineer in US, he is a government job holder, he is this and that. Sometimes, my parents try to lure me and sometimes they signal as if I won’t have any boy left for me to get married if I reject all of them. I have been also accused of disheartening my relatives who are so much concerned to find a better match for me. Man can get woman of any age but woman’s life is quite delicate like a glass. Often I hear from my relatives that woman’s life is always on an edge; a small mistake and everything is ruined. The most important thing is her character which is directly linked with virginity to offer for her mate. She has to be decent, demure, modest, benevolent, civil, home maker, conflict resolver if there exists any, submissive plus much more characteristics. Nowadays, there is much more pressure on women as they have to manage office as well as home unlike past days. Undoubtedly, girls have to go through more nagging; however, men are also less devoid of such family pressure.
Parents want their daughters to get married sooner the better to get rid of the responsibility. Daughters are usually regarded as the keepsake and need to be returned to their real owners. So, it’s better to get rid of the burden as soon as possible. In addition, they are also insecure about losing their pride in the society; what if she elopes with a boy from lower caste, what if she becomes debauched. They are plunged into the quagmire of doubts and insecurities.
But what about all those dreams I have, what about all those small happiness that I want to gift them in return? The smile that they had holding me for the first time in their hands, those standby fingers that didn’t let me fall or held me when I was about to fall. All those knowledge, life-long lessons they instilled in me can’t be washed away that easily. I have whole world to explore, to at least be independent enough to support me and my family. It would be unfair to pass me to somebody else all of sudden as if I am a toy you are tired of playing with and gifting it to somebody else. That toy has a life and she wants to live life on her own terms. I have much more to achieve before getting married and I can’t let them choked to suffocate.
It is quite strange where one part of the world is celebrating its victory on same sex marriage, the other is still struggling to decide for oneself either to marry or not. We are still crippled by the age-old malady based on caste, class, gender etc. I wouldn’t deny the fact that the situation has been ameliorated than it ever used to be but it’s equally unjust to judge a woman for not having a man in her early twenties. Many of us would be more than happy to share what we have learnt, accomplished or been pursuing by now rather than complaining for being deprived of man in our lives.
I would plea to every family to at least give your children liberty to make choices for themselves, to explore the world, to stumble yet to rise on their own. If they don’t want to marry doesn’t mean they are having affairs or they have problems but they are pursuing their dreams and will settle later or do what makes them gleeful. In addition, I do have a strong hope that our society would perceive woman on the content of their character over sexuality.
(The writer is a recent forestry graduate from Nepal. She works in the field of conservation science; loves running behind birds and animals. Apart from them, she loves to express herself via writing about her travelling and her confrontations about being a woman in a patriarchal society. )