Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Taught not to talk to strangers, but suddenly asked to sleep with one!

Saw a status message from one of my former colleagues on Facebook. The message was simple, which many times I had discussed with my friends during my college days and they had dubbed me as a feminist then. Later, whenever I tried to discuss it with my friends outside college, they too had laughed at my view. Yes, there was no Facebook then to share the ideas or ask the opinion. And now, the message brings me back so many memories.

Oh, let me tell what the message was. It read: “Arranged marriage is a funny concept. All your life you are taught not to talk to strangers; suddenly you are asked to sleep with one!”

As I write this, I see 37 of her friends, including me, liking the post and 21 comments, including mine, on it. Within an hour of her post, one of her friends says: “im gonna copy this now ryt away.”

Then another says, “superrr”, the next one says, “BRILLIANT!!!”

In between asks a friend, “who asked u to sleep ;)”

Then, my friend replies: “The 'babies' that are expected to be delivered after getting married cannot come magically, no? :)” and I reply to her adding: “that too, delivered within a year of the wedding ;)” for which she replies: “Hahahaha. You said it!”

Another friend of my colleague comments: “if u think of it literally... its true.... :)” and the next one says: “BANG BANG Ms…. SHOT THE SYSTEM DOWN !!!” to which another friend adds: “lol....super thought....”

One just laughs at the comment, while another says: “nice… take a bow... Awesome Awesome observation :D” and another says: “hahaha....s…n me used to say the same thing b4 v got married ;-)” and one of my other colleagues comments: “Thats exactly what I told my Dad at 15 and instead of a reply got a resounding hard slap across my face....”

And to this, my colleague who posted the comment replies: “Hahahahhahaa. That's exactly why I'm just posting it on FB and not even thinking of telling my Dad/Mom this line :P”

Yes, how many times have we ever thought about this? Don’t our parents and elders not teach this? Don’t talk to strangers, don’t take anything from strangers, keep a distance from strangers, etc, etc. Most women even change their surname and tag a "stranger's name" or his/his parents' surname with theirs!

I have sometimes wondered how is possible to sleep with a stranger and deliver a baby within one year of the marriage. Whenever I ask this question, my hubby laughs at me, rather say at my “stupidity”. I have seen so many people getting married and within two months telling everybody that she or his wife or his/her daughter or his/her daughter-in-law is pregnant!

So I thought of asking a few of my friends who were online while writing this. One senior friend, who was my colleague earlier said: “great thought..i hav just one take on this: arranged mrrgs r nothing but mrrgs r suicide,” and continued, “but i admire ur also suprised how india is synonym to arrngd marrigs.”

Then, I turned towards another friend who works in Doha. She always admires my feminist thoughts and I often get support from her for my views. Or maybe, we are two feminists sharing and discussing ideas ;) She couldn’t stop herself from laughter when I asked her opinion on the subject. First she said: “Let me first get done with laughing. What a pick… And what a statement.” For a moment I got doubt, if she’s making fun of me. I asked her: “Don't u think it's a fact?” She continued: “Loved it.... suddenly u r asked to sleep with one… Ha ha ha…” “Of course dear its a bitter hard fact,” she consoled me and said: “I've been trying to explain the same to my parents, family, relatives, freinds, neighbours..and who not...... THE SAME THING.”

Yes, I did ask my mom the same question and had dared to even know how did she feel to go with a stranger? And yes, instead of slapping on my face, she was nostalgic about her days. My father was still studying his degree when he married my mother and he stayed in the hostel, while my mom stayed with his parents. And she didn’t forget to mention that I was born after seven years of their marriage and they had sufficient time not only to understand each other but also to settle before even thinking about kids! How can I deny after seeing bundles and bundles of letter they wrote to each other while my father was in the hostel?! They discuss almost anything and everything under the sun, from politics to art to literature to law to science to love... I find most of them amusing, yes. They really had a lot of time to understand and know each other, discuss things with each other, like and dislike things and attitudes of each other and to adjust and compromise with each other. And now, there I get that gene, the gene of feminism… from a woman who always stood behind the success of my father, who always supported him in good and bad times, who saw ups and downs in life.

Hats off to the lady, who had the guts to reject so many other wedding proposals. She accepted my father’s proposal not because he was handsome, but because he was studious and would continue his education. My father fondly remembers that they married after six months after first seeing  her. Will tell about their marriage in some other post.

Coming back to the point, maybe my mom had got a clue that maybe her daughter would not go for an arranged marriage, but neither she nor my dad ever forced me for an arranged marriage. Yes, they did try to look out for a guy for me, but fate had other plans. They allowed me to continue my studies, which I’m doing till now, and encouraged me to work. And One day when I suddenly told her that I was in love with a Malayali and wanted to marry him, she was shocked. But that shock didn’t remain for more than a day or two. Though she told me to reconsider my decision, she stood by me, even to the extent of breaking the promise given to her dying father that she would give my hand to her elder brother’s son! And I think, by this time my feminism roots are much more clearer.

Ok, I’m going astray. How many couples have we not seen who are into arranged marriages and get a kid within one year? Do they get time to understand each other? Marriage merely seems like a license to have sex and getting children. If the woman gets pregnant within two months of the wedding and when she’s five months, if she moves to her parents’ house for delivery, where is the time for the couple to know each other, understand each other? Then comes the baby and all the attention and time goes towards the kid and its upbringing. What about understanding each other? Knowing each other?! And if they don’t have a kid within one year, people will not allow them to live peacefully. As I have said in one of my earlier posts, they make the life literally a hell.

Here I should mention another incident. We had English professor by name Uma Murthy who taught us Shakespeare, Hardy and others in my degree classes. One of her relative’s daughter was newly married and was thinking of divorce. Not because her husband or in-laws were torturing her, but because she thought marriage would be like films. Going for shopping, watching movies, walking hand-in-hand on roads, sitting in the park, etc, etc. A simple girl’s simple concept of marriage. She couldn’t digest the idea beyond that. She couldn’t imagine the concept of a man and a woman within four walls. All she wanted was a happy life which she saw on TV and in films.

So I keep questing myself would it have been that easy to go with a stranger had I married a person of my parents’ choice? Would have I been happy? Don’t know. I don’t have answers for that, but all I can say is it’s really strange to move with a stranger and life would have been more strange with him, without Vij :) 

1 comment:

  1. Thats india for you. And sleeping with a known partner (in case of love marriage or intercaste marriage) is a big shame and taboo.