One day, when I came home for the weekend, the hottest piece of news awaiting me was, ‘one of our friends is getting married!’. I wasn’t the least bit surprised because we all know it’s coming and most of us would just frighteningly be on alert like for the impending doom or a death row verdict. After a certain age, when the 21st century considers it to be really-really-young to tie the knot, we – from this other weird half of the world – just have to get in our time machines, travel back through time to the 18th century, sit through a hundred embarrassing – humiliating would be a more proper word – encounters until we get the last word.
No matter how much you rebel, the household wouldn’t even care that you might have a brain and heart and one day, you would want to become something that you have always aspired to be and accomplish something that you are actually proud of; other than getting married off in the prime of our lives and being someone’s family’s help and a baby-making machine. (Believe me, even as I write, it feels like ancient folklore).
There are about a 100 people who’d get a say in the life of a girl, possibly from the rural parts of India, devoid of herself. May it be what she’s supposed to wear, how her hair should be, how much of her face can she reveal, at what time and whom she can go out with, which subject should she choose as her major, how much can she go on about doing what she likes to do, or – the most disappointing of all – whom and when she should marry. I am sure there are many more tragic and absurd notions that roam around us, which can’t even be labelled as passable concepts.
There are often 100 different reasons ready on their sleeves too, to justify the fact that they would rather put our signatures down for us, making us non-existent in half a second; that we are so endangered, so much so that we can’t just wander around as we please; that we aren’t meant to make huge decisions that define our lives, but to sit on the sidelines and watch them outline a ‘safe’, insured life package for us; that the entire point of their lives has been to make us sacredly secured in every way by sending us away to some faraway kingdom to a rich prince of a suitor. I actually can’t believe the circumstances aren’t changing a bit and my conscience is compelled to write about this, even in this day and time!
I empathize with those thousands of girls who are urged to get married way before they are legally entitled to vote, who don’t even get a chance to see the face or to learn the last name of the person they are contracted to be wedded to. I wish prior to roaring protests for equality in legislation and in pay, our culture would take a second look on our perception of marriage and our freedom to choose and to live our lives on our terms.
I wish there was a plausible way to educate the uncivilized half of the world’s second largest population, so that we can break out of our metaphorical cages. I wish there comes a day here, when we are not a responsibility that our folks can’t put to rest until they get us hitched. I wish there comes a day when girls like me wouldn’t have to flee to our metro cities just to get away from such nonsensical arguments and sexist comments that make us wanna throw up. I wish there comes a day, when being a girl is not a disadvantage, but a treasured advantage.
And I wish one day, when I come back home, I’d get to watch our girls happily being whoever they are, wearing whatever feels like themselves, hanging out with whomever they like, marrying someone when they are actually sure; setting out to do something they dream of and to own everything that the society tells us we can’t, out of being ‘just girls’. I wish someday we can be the last word in things about us that matter, and that someday would be really soon.
Quoting Steve Jobs;“Your time is limited. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”