My friend who was with me as a classmate and roommate in my 12th grade is now getting married. The news of her marriage stirred mixed feelings in my mind. I was confused about whether I should be happy for her or be afraid that I might be the next in the line. The feeling of happiness for her new journey was cemented when I spoke to her and asked if she was happy with her decision.
The fear that I would be the next in the line made me uneasy. It forced me to hide the news from my parents whose talks start and end at marriage. If I would have shared the news of my friend’s marriage, my parents would get proof to justify their claim that it is time for me too to tie knots of marriage. But since I am not ready for marriage yet the best option I could find was hiding my friend’s marriage from my parents. Or tell them more about those who chose to remain single.
But is it fair to burden myself with a fear that my choice will mean nothing to my parents? Is it right to play the game of hide and seek when it comes to my friend’s marriage? Do I not have the right to fully indulge in the happiness of my friend?
The major problem behind this is the idea that parents are used to enforcing the marriage on their daughters. They rarely consider the choice and options of their daughters. Marrying late or not marrying at all is not seen as an option for parents who focus on the idea of daughters being paraya dhan who should be sent off to their “own house” at a young age. But when they have daughters who resist their enforcement and be adamant about their choice to not marry just because of their age or gender, parents find reasons to justify their own claims. And the marriage of a friend or any other girl of their daughter’s age gives them that.
“How good is that daughter who agreed to marry on time!” When she can marry then why can’t you?” “Does she look unhappy to you?” “Every woman of your age are getting married. What will society think if you don’t?
Parents raise these and more questions when friends of their daughters get married. But dear parents, for once can you please listen to the choice of your daughters? For once, can you stop defining marriage as a necessary goal post in life? Just because other women of your daughters’ age decided to marry doesn’t mean that your daughter is at fault for not following them. Marriage is a choice that women should be free to make. It should not be imposed on them by their parents or by the fact that women around them are getting married.
I understand that marriage of other women becomes a burden for parents whose daughters aren’t married. Society starts raising questions on the upbringing and character of their daughters. But is it right for parents to emulate society’s mindset and curb their daughter’s freedom to choose?
Moreover, If every parent starts listening and valuing their daughters’ choices then women will not marry against their choice or influence other women in their circle to do so. The marriage of women of daughters’ age will cease to be a burden on parents or the daughters to marry as soon as possible. Marriage will only be an optional journey that a woman chose to embark upon. And those who don’t will still be valued as valid citizens. It is then that daughters like me will share their happiness of friend’s wedding with their parents who will take part in it and not come back with a burden.
Views expressed are the author’s own.