I attended a beautiful wedding this weekend. It started on Friday and ended on Sunday. Trust Indians to create three functions out of just one.
Being an unmarried Indian woman I dread these events.
When I was in my early twenties I was always hit with that vomit-inducing question: “So when are you getting married?”
If I knew, the invites would have been sent, don’t you think? But respect for my elders engrained in me by loving parents taught me to simply respond with a smile.
During my late twenties the question became more of a statement. “Don’t worry, you’re next my darling”. While I cringed, not only at being called a darling, but also at their Nostrodamus-like powers of foreseeing the future, I once again, smiled.
Now in my early thirties, that statement has changed and been replaced by a look. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a look of pity, constipation or indigestion after all that briyani.
During these phases of growth however, the one thing that hasn’t changed is that all my relatives still refer to me as a girl. No matter how old you are, if you’re unmarried and Indian you’re a girl who will be told by a relative that they have a “nice boy to bring over, to see you”.
This nice boy most likely will be their cousin’s neighbour’s sister’s son from a far off land they have never even met.
But the one thing that admittedly bothers me is that you are only regarded as a woman once you’re married. Until then you might as well still be seated at the table reserved for kids at functions.
Being married excludes you from certain things. Like sleeping on a floor bed, being asked to serve or clean up, and endorses that you are now grown up.
So never mind if I receive a degree – or two – open my own company or win a national sports title, I’m never regarded as successful until a man takes me as his wife. I could win a Nobel Prize but I would still be invisible.
It will still earn me those unnecessary whispers behind my back. “She’s become too independent,” they’ll say.
And the best one yet: “These career girls don’t want to get married.”
Sadly, it comes down to a gender issue, and it is the women in society who keep us at the bottom.
You will only be a somebody until a man says you are.
You must not become too independent because apparently men want you to depend on them.
You’re only worthy of respect until a man chooses you.
We’re still being told that we can’t stand on our own. Marriage should be – to me – about companionship. Not a race for acceptance.