“We are very liberal in our mentality. We allow our daughter to do anything she likes. But I have told her, always to marry a Brahmin”
“You can do whatever you like as long as the girl is from our caste. We are being very open minded about your marriage”
“She’s a very nice girl, when will you marry her? Looking at you, I will die before I see my grandsons”
“He’s a nice boy, and both of you love each other. Why doesn’t he marry you soon?”
There are innumerable such tales one hears being an Indian. However liberal your parents are, however much they support you, they still are unable to let go of age old traditions. Girls are still seen as a burden and a liability. In my long years as a student, I have had a number of friends, many of whom are girls. Today most are married or being pressured to marry. Very seldom am I seeing girls who are able to stand for themselves and their dreams due to this crushing pressure from their homes. Emotional blackmail has always been our parents’ favorite weapon to swat any judgment in their favor. Recently, I have been reading a lot on this and had a thought – why can’t people just be allowed to be themselves, live their life as they want? Let us hear a story first to understand it.
India is a developing nation, we Indians are still trying to mix the best of eastern cultures with western cultures. It is a country of smart cities and fighting politicians. A nation of youth and development hiding in the folds of progress and advancement. It is a nation of liberal thinking with girls being pressurized to marry as soon as possible. So, in one of the metropolitans of the city, there lived a boy A and a girl B. they both met in office and after a few dates, took a liking to each other. The boy was studious, ambitious and very obedient to whatever his parents would say. The girl also belonged to a liberal family in the same religion and caste, and listened to her parents but was lesser ambitious than the boy. The boy had many interests – music, travel, writing and playing. She had other interests such as painting, clay modeling and making handicraft items. Though they did not have much in similar, they were comfortable with each other and happy. They went around seeing each other for quite a few years.
However, the young lovers had lot of challenges in store. They were both studying one of India’s toughest course and were taking time to clear it. Though A loved B very much, he couldn’t do much for her since he was just another unemployed unqualified student. He was always sure the girl’s parents would disagree to such a match and did not bring up the topic much. Years went by. A was a dreamer. He built castles in the air, hoped to have a happy ending to his love story. He was unsuccessful with his exams and he dared not give false hope to the girl he loved and wanted to ease her pain. After a few years of being unsuccessful, he decided to act again and acquired a few more qualification. He got a job with a US MNC, for a respectable salary. He was finally happy. He had some financial and mental security to ask the girl out in a relationship, looking to perhaps marry her in a few years. He even discussed it with his parents. His parents agreed to his ideas and looked forward to meeting B.
B in the meantime also found a small time job. She kept appearing for exams hoping to clear it, but luck alas always went against her. After a while, she discussed things with A and A decided to quit the relationship. A hoped that both of them could take the time off to improve their standings in front of their parents. He started dreaming of a life together and wanted sometime before discussing marriage. He wanted to live life a bit more, and he wanted to share his emotions and feelings with B.
So, A and B are now aligned to a path of financial and mental stability and are discussing about their future. Since both are new at their job, A asks B for just a few more years to save up for their lavish and grand wedding. But B is paranoid about something, A doesn’t pry very much into it. He’s content that B also understands the necessity of the wait and the security in marriage. It was all peaceful and amicable. But the storm was just breaking. Soon B informed A that her parents were pressurizing her to fix a groom and fix a future date for marriage. A was petrified and shell shocked. His world broke, he spent sleepless nights weighing his options. He was still new at the job, still on probation. How could he confidently ask B’s father for her hand in marriage. As far as he knew, given the tumultuous economic situation, he could very well be fired any day. A and B were in a fix – their love story was suddenly shattered. B was devastated, she was contemplating suicide. Tensions were high on all side. B’s parents started looking for prospective grooms and had started inviting them for talks. They were lost to liberalism. The storm broke it.
How does the story end? Who knows. The girl may agree to an arranged marriage and the guy became a hermit. Or did they go their own ways – leaving their fates and accepting reality. This is a case in many houses throughout the country. It is a sad reality but reality none the less. Liberalism stops at the door. Say what we may being open minded Indians, liberalism never crosses the threshold of the drawing room. It is always and forever be a utopia – everyone has limits they are unwilling to cross. For parents, it is seeing your child soar great heights and not making the mistakes they see happen around them all the time. It is wanting the best for their children without knowing or asking whether the child is okay with it or not. After all, isn’t that correct Indian culture to love and respect our parents above everything and everyone? Life is not an Indian movie. It always end with the seven circles around the fire.