The other evening, after a ‘hard day’s life’, when I decided to kick off my sandals and put my feet up on the couch, I was surfing channels with my TV remote when I caught a part of an ad on Titan watches featuring Katrina Kaif wherein she asks in the end, “When is the right time to get married?” And answers, “When you find the one who deserve your time.”
Now these were words that truly caught my fancy and I was transported a few decades back in time when the do all and be all of every young Indian girl was to grow up and find a suitable boy to get ‘settled’. The girl may be the prettiest amongst per group or may be the most talented badminton player in her school or college or the best cook in her family or the best…you get the gist…but no matter what her talents or qualities were, everything took a back seat over getting married and getting settled and the most proffered advice was that “You can always continue to practice your hobby or sport or activity of interest if your in-laws permit. But, first get married!” Hell, when I was younger, I was literally considered as ‘off the marriage shelf being well past my use by date’ at the tender age of 24…now you know what I mean?
Some might dismiss this as being a truly Indian phenomenon but then the inimitable Jane Austen, who is amongst one of my favourite classical authors, wrote about the Bennet family in her much acclaimed work ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in the early 18th Century Britain. Mrs Bennet, the matriarch’s prime agenda in life was to ensure that her five daughters got married and ‘settled’ in life and all of Elizabeth’s (her second daughter and the novel’s protagonist) wit, grace and intelligence was made ever more worthwhile owing to her marriage with the heart throb Mr Darcy, whom every lady worth her salt had set sights upon.
Even fairytales like Cinderella climaxed at the point when the prince decides to marry ‘the girl with the glass slipper’ at the ball and the poor little orphan girl’s life changes into a ‘they lived happily ever after’ phenomenon thereafter.
The question that then arises is that why is marriage seen as being so vital for a woman’s redemption? And most importantly when is the right time to get married as the Katrina queries in the ad in question. Biological clock ticking; very influential and wealthy match proposing and you are tempted to help yourself to the ‘goodies’ before it’s too late; getting tired of ducking random aunties’s questions at every function asking, “Beta shaadi kab kar rahe ho?”; best friend getting married or ex-boyfriend getting married (completely no-no); younger sister waiting in line for you to be married first; feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day or worrying about ageing alone? Are these or similar reasons for a woman of the 21st Century enough to decide and take the plunge?
I am not denying the fact that marriage is a wonderful institution and deserves to be adopted by every man or woman who so desires, but it should happen only to facilitate a union or bonding between two people who wish to be together for reasons of love, bonding, mutual respect, friendship and shared values and life expectations. Marrying under any kind of social demand or duress or familial obligations or peer pressure is not merely a disservice to one’s own self-respect but also to the individual whom one is marrying and to both extended families.
Possibilities in terms of individual growth and career options abound in this day and age and women from all walks of life are emerging winners and achievers in their chosen vocations and are flying high in their quest to excel. If these flights are cut short and curbed mid-air merely because ‘it’s time to get married’ as per our jaded and unreasonable social conditioning, then it is a real shame.
Every thinking, educated and wise woman and also man in contemporary society should not get swayed from their personal goals in life in order to get married because a marriage should organically flow with the scheme of things and not restrict or slow them down. A marriage between two unhappy individuals, or for that matter even if one partner is unhappy, can never be successful and hence, and it is imperative that the person one chooses to marry is equally desirous of you and the idea of being with you in all its entirety. Love, trust, caring, respect, bonding, and so on will ensue thereafter but only if the reasons are right in the first place. Clichéd as it may sound, but every building needs a strong foundation and only then will it weather the ravages of time and age…same holds true for a healthy and robust marriage that ages gracefully and glows with each passing year as mine has. Touch wood!! So the next time someone turns around and quizzes “Why are you not married as yet?” just look straight in the eye and coo “It’s all about timing and right choice baby…”