Weddings are happy occasions and I've always enjoyed them. But at every Indian wedding, no matter the geography or culture, there is at least one pesky relative who will walk up to you, "You are next in line," between suggestive smirks and nudges. Unfortunately, they don't mean the line to the buffet counter. They are talking about shaadi. Yours.
Here you are, attending someone else's wedding. To commemorate the occasion, you may be swiping drinks worth your salary off the open bar or deciding which dish from the huge starter corner would best complement the green chutney on your plate. These are meditative moments, but your relatives won't care. They will interrupt your chain of thoughts, and with their shaadi proposals, make your poor stomach turn in disgust, making you lose all your appetite. Can't a girl enjoy her chicken tikka in peace?
The Shaadi Pressure on a Single Girl
Nevertheless, the pressure on a single girl to get married exists not just in settings where there are genda flower decorations in sight. This is a year-round ordeal that she has to endure. She is hounded by everyone - parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties - who advise her to get married and fulfill her matrimonial "duties". It is exasperating.
But there is a golden formula you can work out beforehand - so you are better prepared to face the music. It's called the Shaadi Shor Theorem. This theorem dictates that the number of relatives who make the noise of "you will be married next" is equally and directly proportional to what your age is. Hell, even toddlers who accidentally crawl towards each other are paired up by surrounding adults as "girlfriend-boyfriend". How then can you think that you, who are nearing the dreaded 25 years checkpoint, will be let off the hook easily? The shaadi shor is bound to be loudest around you.
What if I Don't Want to Get Married?
I am one of the lucky girls who have the privilege of being born to parents who are not pushy when it comes to the matter of matrimony. And I have already had "the talk" with them. We have made a pact to not broach the subject of marriage until I bring it up. Although that is not going to happen anytime soon, because even at 22, I can relate to the naive claims of "Eww, I will never get married" that I used to make as a teen.
But will society be able to swallow this outrageous opinion of mine? Social convention dictates that a woman must get married and like the "paraaya dhan" that she is, go and settle in her rightful place, her sasuraal. Obviously a woman will have to bear a child or two because she has a uterus inside of her. And of course, she should know how to serve endless cups of tea and make round rotis, because how else will people judge her worth? Well, guess what, I am a woman and I want none of those things. My rightful place is at home with the parents I was born to, my uterus belongs to me so I can leave it empty for as long as I like, and I can make spectacular coffee because that is what I like to drink.
I'm Happy Being Unmarried
Dear uncles, aunties - the thing is, I'm happy being single. There is a lot I want to still do - the solo vacations I want to take, the time I want to spend with my friends laughing till my stomach hurts, perhaps even a few more years of student life, to rent an apartment all by myself - this is what "settling down" means to me. So please, let me take the burden of stress about my shaadi off your minds because it is not your business at all.
Tanvi Akhauri is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. Views expressed are the author's own.