What It Means To Be 30 & Single In The Indian Society
Preeti Sarkar is a Delhi-based lawyer. Nearly 40, she hasn’t yet found a suitable match as a partner. The reason: parents of boys who she met are apprehensive that once she becomes a bahu, she might take legal action against the family on the slightest pretext. That is not all. Some people find her too skimpy, others too tall, while others dislike her broad forehead.
Take the case of 36 year old Sangeeta Mehra a post graduate in medicine and posted in a reputed private hospital in Delhi. People find her either to short or too fat. Yet others crib because she doesn’t hold a government job. Other prospective candidates want her to quit her profession and settle down as a perfect bahu.”
Meet Aruna Singh, a 30 something garments quality controller. Twice earlier she had agreed to negotiated matches, was twice engaged but both matches fizzled out. Aruna laments, people begin to suspect there is something fishy about her or else, why is she still single?
In a tradition-ridden, orthodox society that promotes early marriages, career oriented women like these often become eyesores, a family (read social) burden which must be gotten rid of. The sooner the better.
As it is, no sooner than an average girl finishes high school, than the ‘friendly’ neighbourhood aunties, hawk-eyed matchmakers, pompous grannies embark on a marathon session of advices, groom-hunting, drawing up her verbal curriculum vitae, keeping an eye on her movements, you know the drill.
The distressed girl and her family may at best hold on for three odd years, on the plea that graduation is mandatory. However the moment she graduates, the volunteers bounce back, this time with renewed vigour, since she now has an extra feather in her cap. For girls pursuing medicine, engineering, law etc, folks set an age limit of 25/26 after which the pressure escalates.
Once a girl crosses the age of 30, heavens help her! Even the highly educated and enlightened members of society, are likely to treat her scorn mingled with pity. The parents get bombarded with queries to such an extent that they unleash their frustration at home, and voila! Domestic conflicts erupt often. Nauseating. Revolting. Unfortunately there is not much you can do. On a personal note, I have faced similar situations and I am sure many others must have too.
What is life like for a single, career-oriented women? Preeti faces too many suggestions and queries wherever she goes. To avoid this she now confines herself to her family and a few selected friends. Everywhere that Sangeeta goes, the same topic is raised, much to her dismay. Hence, she prefers to concentrate on her work and mixes around with like minded single girls.
Swati Mitra, 32, is a media person possessing multiple post graduate qualifications. The guys she has met so far are either mama's boys or downright orthodox, she divulges. Therefore, she can’t visualize even a so-so life with any of them. According to her, matrimony involves mental and emotional compatibility and camaraderie, rather than just physical compatibility.
Consequently, even though she has received offers from well settled professionals, she can’t bring herself to say yes blindly. Not even for the sake of her parents who are under tremendous stress. Lately, Swati had a brainwave. To avoid raised eyebrows and gossips in undertones whenever she moves around in her biradaari, she has relocated to a small town!
Why does our society emphasize on marriage as the ultimate and cherished goal of life?
Particularly in the present day milieu where marriages are no longer sacrosanct - judging by the spiralling cases of divorce, dowry deaths, adultery, extramarital liaisons and what not.
Well, the underlying rationale is the worst part. Firstly: wedlock provides companionship while it lasts. After all, not all marriages end in tragedy or separation. Isn’t that highly optimistic and positive?
Secondly: With advancing age, men and women begin to grow weak, infirm and lonely. At this juncture, your conjugal partner will look after you and care for you - in a far better way than a hired (read trained) nurse or devoted domestic help would be able to.
Despite so much hype about timely shaadis there are copious examples of good looking, educated and successful women who either tied the knot fairly late or chose to remain single for good. To the first category belong Bollywood belles like Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Vidya Balan, Rani Mukherjee. They waited patiently for the right partner, who finally did arrive.
The other category too has many bold and beautiful women, the glitterati as well as powerful women – from melody queen Lata Mangeshkar to actresses Nanda, Asha Parekh, Tabu, Sushmita Sen to the late Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee…the list is endless. It would not be erroneous to say that their single status helped all of them to succeed in their respective spheres.
Blatantly speaking, spinsters miss out on physical pleasures (read sex) - the ‘perks’ of matrimony. True, sex is a vital experience. However, there are innumerable ways of gaining similar experiences without the grandiose stamp of marriage. Moreover, a woman’s private life is nobody’s business. Absolutely.
All said and done, there is no dearth of gutsy women who are educated, confident and settled in lucrative professions. They deliberately opted out of matrimony and not due to lack of suitable alliances or failed relationships. The society couldn’t intimidate them, instead they cocked a snook at it. So there they are, happily single and enjoying their freedom to the hilt!
This article has been written by Ruchira Ghosh, our SHEROES community member.
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