Twists of Life … How I understood Marriage 2

The time it happened it was already one year in the organization. I was completing my Fellowship. My Job was going great and I was looking for other aspects of life when I met her in one official meeting. She was from Karnataka. She was quiet most of the time but attentive. She was not much interested in getting along with the group. It was me who initiated the conversation and after two days we were spending evenings together.
Shopping with her really helped me to work on my patience, she was not shopaholic neither use to spend too much. Her preferences were mostly small ‘thela walas’ or locally made ornaments and clothes but she use to go to each one of them till the end of the lane and see every item carefully. I think this was one of her best aspects exploring things but not getting attracted to the pomp and show of market.

Within next few months we were in relationship. As it was long distance one, most of our time was spent on phone after office hours explaining our daily incidents. I won’t say we were satisfied but I will accept that feeling of it was different from everything else. We use to wait for each other’s calls. Things began to move slowly. Whenever we use to have hard day we use to share it and believe me listening to each other was like the best part of our lives. We use to make lots of plans for our next meetings and I will accept we began to look for excuses to attend certain events of our organization where we both could come. Many time it happened that we participated in such events which were totally not related to our roles I still find them worthy and if I have to do it all over again I will do it. Days passed and it was now almost a year.

We decided to tell our parents about each other and if possible ask their permission to get together. This part of our life was the actual hurdle. As in my family new generation already took initiative to break the boundaries of caste, so for me I just had to follow the path. But her family was very traditional and rigid in that term.
She use to share her discussions and conflicts with family about our relationship nearly every day. After certain period it became really hard for us to talk about her family. I still remember she use to ask me why her family and relatives have suddenly started disliking her. She use to tell me about how everybody has started commenting on her every activity, how relatives have started taunting her. Often she cried over phone. Question in our mind was that is it wrong to make our life choices. Why families want their children to do exactly what they want. It is the question for many children in this country.

Days were passing. One day she asked me to talk to her aunt. She told me that aunt supports her. I called her aunt. After greetings she directly asked me about my caste. I said whatever my caste is does that matters? She said yes it is the only thing what matters. I asked, “Is it really the only thing what matters” then she said no she also wants to know how much I earn. I said aunt I will answer all your questions, please explain why these two things matter so much. Is it not important what kind of person I am? Do I have bad habits? Am I violent or abusive or selfish? Do I love the girl? Will I keep her happy? Why caste and money matters so much. Hearing this she started talking to me in calm manner. She said these things are important. But what will we tell our community where caste is the most important thing. Money is important because her (my girlfriend) family his having some trouble in money matters and they want her to be husband to be stable so that he can support them. I was totally clueless.

I began to think about the priorities of people while getting their children married. As I was desperate to convince her, so that she can support us I told her about my salary and my caste which was definitely not as per her expectations.

This experience of my life left so many questions in front of me to ponder over. Many of those questions gave me sleepless nights. Is it really true that parents love their children the most? Then what is the definition of love in our society? I began to pay attention to all the incidents related to love and marriage in our society.

Well, that conversation ended and I can tell our last hope too. But still we had faith and love for each other. I kept trying. One day she told me that she is going to her village for some local festival. It was a common thing for me. But next day I tried her number and her phone was off. After two days I received a call from her, she was crying. My heart sank and I began to prepare myself for some misshaping. She said that she got engaged yesterday. I was shocked. I asked how that happened. She narrated the incident which I am putting in her words here – “The day she went to her village everybody in her family was good to her. They were preparing for celebration. She thought it is because of festival. Next day in the morning she was asked to get ready, which was usual for such occasion. Around 12.00 PM some relatives and other people came to their house. In those people she recognized one person. He was the guy who came few days back to see her for marriage. She immediately understood what was happening. She denied to get ready and come out of her room. Then her parents entered her room and began to force. They got into a heated argument. After some time of argument and discussion her father went out and brought a glass of water and poured some liquid into it. Showing her he said if you did not get ready I will drink this and after my death you can marry whoever you want.

I didn’t  know how to tackle this. I never prepared myself for anything like this. Till today I keep asking myself can parents be really that ruthless to their children. What should I call this? Where should I put this in terms of social behavior? In last few months whatever I heard in news, from friends and other sources about the incidents of couple’s committing suicide, honor killing, couples getting beaten up everything began to go through my mind.

That was the last call from her. After two days her phone went off. I got the news from another colleague that within 15 days of her engagement she left the job and within one month she got married. Her social networking accounts got deactivated. But after three months I received a call. It was her she asked about me. I had no answer because for me it did not matter anymore. She said that she does not want to live with this guy. She said he is also very conservative and he was the one who forced her to leave the job and deactivate all the social networking accounts. We talked for some time. Then I asked her not to call me again. She asked me why, I said “I have no answer for it, doesn’t matters how much I want to talk to you but it’s just that I don’t feel it right”.

After this call for next few months I stopped picking up unknown numbers and eventually calls stopped. But since then I am trying to understand “What is marital rape?”

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Twists of Life … How I understood Marriage

In daily routine there would have been incidents where it would have really been hard to determine whether to feel angry, get sad, get distressed or laugh like hell. I am just sharing my views on one of those incidents. As it is from a context which might be alien for many so specifically speaking you need to have some knowledge about a middle class family of Uttar Pradesh. It might be a case for many other states but as I am from there I am sticking to UP.

My parents were insisting continuously for marriage and I wanted to stick to my plan of not getting married in as early age as 27 (I my opinion it is an age to enjoy and explore life, making mistake and learning from it but not a mistake of lifetime). Any way, one fine morning of Holi holiday my parents were on a mission to take my agreement on meeting some people whom they were calling Ladki Wale. As I wanted my time at home to be peaceful I thought its just for today once I say yes they wont say anything else and by the time they will call somebody to meet me I will be on the train to my work place. I said YES and moved on. In the very evening I was sitting with my friend really far from my house. We were discussing old days and enjoying pakodas when I received a distress call from home to reach as soon as possible. I returned in hurry only to find that its a trap. Some 6 people (5 retired and 1 in late fifties) were waiting for me. My maternal grandfather asked me to sit with them, I prepared myself for the worst conversation possible considering my view on these type of meetings, strangely none of them initiated any conversation with me, they all were discussing various randoms incidents of marriages and their pros and cons. After waiting for 15 minute I was done and stepped out of the room with an indication of dissatisfaction. I don’t know what irritated me more their discussion on marriages or them not talking to me or forced to come early from a really good going evening. As I came out of my room my grandfather followed me and asked the reason for my leave. I said you people are doing great without me then why do you need me, he consoled me and took me back to the group and finally introduced me to the people and explained the reason of this meeting. Then finally the interview started –

Person 1 – Beta! what do you do?

Me – (Thinking how to explain them what I do, it is so because to build the concept of Civil Society work for Non profit purpose in this context was as hard as explaining Quantum Physics and its relation with our life to a toddler). But I knew they were not interested anyway in my profession, they were more interested in determining where to put me in category of Social class. I explained roughly and they nodded which was a sign for me to stop speaking.

Person 1 – How much do you get?

Me – In my head (someone please stop this man or he is going to get a good one from me, asking about salary from a person who is trying to make space in his profession is like asking a person how many kilometers a person has driven while that person is learning to drive or asking a student his rank who has passed the exam with grace) My answer was – “enough to survive”. this answer was also a signal to reject me as “enough to survive means, enough only for me not for anyone else. But what can you expect from a person from that society where “Ladki paraya dhan hoti hai (Daughter is somebody else’s money) and the person holding that “Dhan” thinks that he is paying interest for taking care of somebody else’s property.

To my surprise it was the last question. That’s all seriously! But yes that’s all. One can imagine how marriages are fixed, obviously it cant be generalized but then if even 1% (actually it is more than that in my experience) is such case, just think about the upcoming life of people directly related to that marriage. Here even I am not touching the issues of Individual’s Right to choose, house hold violence, killing of female fetus and marital rape.

Well lets now move to what happened next. I was asked to ask questions if I want to know something. My first question –

Me – What your daughter does?

Person 2 (Mama of Girl) – She stays at home.

Me – Why? How much she has studied?

Person 2 – Se has done Masters in English.

Me- Then she can easily get a job. Why she stays at home?

Person 1 – Beta you know in our community working girl is not appreciated. She was teaching in a school but we asked her to leave that job, because we were having a conversation with a family regarding her marriage and the boy did not want his wife to work.

Me – In my mind (how insane these people are. Only on the basis of conversation which was not even close to finalization they made the girl leave the job. What else they can make the girl do if there was a chance of marriage getting finalized. No doubt marriage in this situation would be a mental and physical harassment. Here one think in my opinion to consider is that the female has ‘no’ say in it and is completely being dealt as an object which can be modified or molded as per the desire of user/handler or in this case bridegroom and his family. One can definitely disagree from my view) I asked – does she go out as my job has lots of traveling and for 10+ days in a month I am out of city. She will have to live on her own during those days. Will she be able to do so.

Person 1 – Son! my daughter is a cow (meri beti to gaay hai – it is very commen phrase used in our area to indicate how calm, non questioning, accepting every situation without argument type a female is).

Me – Respond to this statement nearly came out of my mouth which I very forcefully suppressed to come out (I thought your daughter is a girl).

Person 1 Continues .. – She has never gone out of house alone. In fact for her entire study life her elder brother use to drop and bring her from school and college.

Me – Then how will she handle things on her own? As she has no experience of outside world.

Person 1 – Once she will get married to you she can adjust. She will learn.

Me – In my mind (SHOCKED! for 25 years of life a person has got habitual of certain type of life. Now suddenly she has to adjust and modify herself as per need of some one else whom she barely knows. I always knew the torturous life of females in our society but for that moment I was feeling lucky to not to be a female member of this society. I yet don’t know how right I was but this was enough for me to make a decision). Sir, I assume your daughter is a great woman. But I think you are choosing a wrong guy for her because you are looking for a person in your caste and I am out of your community because two most important woman of my life my Sister and My Mother both are working woman. They are self dependent and every day go out of house on their own and as you said in your community girls don’t work or go out of house on their own and I am proud of them and I want my wife to be the same as them (by her choice not by force), so basically I do not belong to your community.

Person 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – Shocked!

Me – (I don’t know on which of my point they were shocked neither I was interested to know)

My Grandfather – Calm and head down.

Me – Watching my grandfather and thinking ( thought in my grandfather’s mind – This boy is moron. His future is messed and he will never settle down)

After this I just wished them well and left ….