So there I was, sitting with my friends, munching away to glory.
I and Takshi decided to check out the other block’s night canteen. We’d heard great things about the masala toast there. We ended up having the veg rolls, and a couple of sandwiches too. We loved it. Why wouldn’t we? Its human tendency to like what cannot be ours more, right? Plus the food was like food. Hostel highlights! (so girls, go on to D block!)
We met Tara and D halfway through our sandwiches, and it was gossip time.
I started with Mrs.G’s announcement of the day at the breakfast table: She decided I had to marry in a year and a half at the most (I’m 22 and umm, I’m 22?)
Why? Because someone told her that she wouldn’t live beyond 84 (so yeah, do the math. Her birthday is day after) and her first eldest pet had to get married before that! But of course the boys could take their time! Who wants them to marry now? They have to establish their careers, stabilize their incomes! Women have a greater responsibility. Ugh. My one ally had used her greatest weapon against me.
Takshi: Arre reee
Tara: *eating on*
On with the narration:
Mrs.G: Girls have to marry by 23 or 24; should have kid by 27 maximum.
Me: Umm, but I can marry at 25 and have a kid way before I hit 27! It takes but a day, a month tops right?
Mrs.G: Shush, you need more time with husband! You have to enjoyyy (Of course I do!)
D, Tara, Takshi: Buhahahahahaaaaaa
Mrs.G: Girls should deliver before 27. Other wise medical problems later in life.
Me: How about letting me study or work or live life a little longer? I could pay for those medical treatments in the future then!
Tara, D, Takshi: buhahahahahhaaa!
Me: How about what I want? I need to find myself, my path, figure life out!
Mrs.G: Oh, do that after the baby.
Me: When? 3 years after the baby’s born?
Me: *Highly suicidal thoughts*
Tara, Takshi, D: What! At 30 we take a break to figure things out? Whaaaat! We know we won’t have time for that! We wouldn’t even remember to figure things out! We’ll be busy surviving life, not living it!
Me: Well. Fullstop.
Me: So is this all about having a baby? That’s why you want me to marry?
Mrs.G: Not really. Marriage is good. (Clearly she wasn’t thinking about our generation. I mean, “marriage is good”?) But yes, baby is important.
Me: How about I just adopt instead? It makes more sense.
Mrs.G: Noooo! No no no! (vehemently)
Own blood important! (Like as if I was Einstein and want my DNA passed on to save the earth in case of alien invasions in the future..Okay, I’ll stop)
Me: But why not? I could adopt a baby with my friend! (who was conveniently sitting next to us on the table)
Mrs.G: You cannot be serious! You aren’t…you know…
Me: Lord no, I’m straight!
Me: So you are trying to tell me, I’m not being ‘forced’, but I HAVE to marry soon?
Mrs.G: I’m glad you understand beta!
Me: What exactly did I understand?
Mrs.G: That its all according to your wishes!
D: You know what to do right?
Me: What exactly?
Tara: Use the education excuse!
Me: I don’t know what I want to learn man! The education system is all fucked up anyway!
Takshi: Ya well, so is the marriage system!
Me: Sigh, I really want to understand what I want to do, and not rush into yet another course!
D: Well then. You won’t need to until you are 28 or 30 anyway.
Me: Shit! I’ll start filling up the applications! And registering for all possible exams!
(Indians, and girls? I bet at least 10% go for higher studies blindly and without proper dedication, interest and love for the subject taken up. What can they do? By the time it’ll hit them in the head they could be knocked up).
Me: Why do you like guys so much? Not all of them are good you know. They aren’t the solution to women and life! I mean, why force your kids to marry them? What if the boy wasn’t good?!
Mrs.G: All that won’t exist if young girls marry when they are told to! At 22- 24!
Me to group: I think female foeticide isn’t a very bad idea.
D,Tara, Taski: Gulp. Yes man. True that!
PS: ‘Foeticide’ used here is an attempt at ironical comparison. For even if we know our elders mean the best for us, though we know deep down that they are right, we have to rally against them. We have to, for it’s in our very nature to. We rally up against these fixed conventions and rules and rigidity because we want to understand the reasons for these fixed notions. We want to believe you have good reasons for it; not just because ‘it’s how things are done’. When you nonchalantly tell us that we can study 2-3 years after having a kid, which is a year or two after marriage, you need to give us a hell lot of more reasons why it’s done. We will give in to your constant pressures and annoying hints, and emotional badgering. a tip – Sometimes forcing people to do something before they understand it, is a really bad idea. People finding out about it and figuring it out is better, it’s magical even. Don’t make something beautiful a mundane rut, where all we think of is how to get out. Give us space, the world ain’t gonna die in a few years, neither are you or all the guys, or the families attending our wedding.
PPS: Again, for those of you’ll who misunderstood the female foeticide comment, it’s an ironical comparison. Please don’t go around thinking I promote it. I’m a girl and I love my life, I love myself. And every baby girl born deserves to feel this good. Every baby girl deserves to live.
Every baby girl deserves to live her life her way. Even when she reaches 22 years of age.
Because she will find her own path. Soon. Even if she just appears to be whiling away her time, soon, she will find her path.