As she stood there, passport and boarding pass in hand struggling to control her tears and act strong – hugging her family and smiling, she was preparing to go far far away, to the Land of Opportunities for her MS in Engineering. Her stomach tied in knots thinking of how she would manage all alone, her brain wrought with tension at the thought of her first flight. Her heartbeat thumping away knowing she would be miles away from the people she loved – among all this, the last bit of advice from her mom after a long hug was “Do not do what your Uncle had done. Do not break our trust in you”. She just smiled – bid her goodbyes and walked away to a wonderful world awaiting her. That was 2011.
But as fate would have it, she has now done what her Uncle did many a years ago. She knew of the problems that had been going on in the family. She fought a bitter battle within herself and finally decided she was doing nothing wrong. She was merely taking her life into her own hands. It wasn’t easy to say NO. She……. HAD FALLEN IN LOVE!!! She did what her Uncle had done a decade ago – he too had fallen in love. He fought for approval from the family and had to walk out with his girl to carve out his own life – all because she was of a different religion and his folks would not agree to their union. His sister had ensured that everyone in the family stood by the same decision of not giving their approval. That was 2004.
It’s 2014, so many things have changed. Way of living, work culture, governments are changing, heck even the climate is changing. But when it comes to Indian mindsets-there seems to be no change. Education seems to be of no help to people. We tend to think that by now people would have been exposed to the changes around them and imbibe and accept the inevitable – Change. These are the middle generation and one would expect them to be a little more open minded than the older generation of grandparents.
Even today in this age and time, caste and societal pressure plays a major role in families, specially when it comes to marriages. It is blasphemous if the family members fall in love – worse still if they fall in love with members of a different caste/religion. Kids are taught never to interact with strangers. But its all ok to get married to a stranger, jump into bed with him and have children at the first available instant..oh and even that should be at an auspicious time too. It is enough if the “to be wed” couple are from the same caste (most important) and have a good match through their horoscopes. Of course later education, work, etc also comes into play. But however good the person is, educated, broad minded, comes from a good family – if the horoscope and caste does not match, then they are just no good. The horoscope would also reveal whether the prospective person had had a relationship previously!! Such blind faith! But if the spouse turns out to be jerk, the family ill treats the new member, the marriage gets into trouble – the girl will have to bear it all and stay put – WHY? Because the horoscopes matched and what will people say if they want to get out of the marriage!!! Besides, the horoscope can also say whether they will live together and for how long too. Wow!! Sounds magical, ain’t it? Harry Potter and his folks had their wand. We Indians have our horoscopes and we can see our past and predict our future with it. Doesn’t matter that for some it turns out to be the “Horcrux”.
I do not understand the craze and mindset of these parents who want the so called extended family, neighbours and their extended family to be happy with the match, rather than the happiness of the to be weds. Why don’t they understand the most important thing here, which is the most simple truth – the happiness of their children is more important than the so called people around? All through the years parents keep doing everything possible to keep their children happy. The best schools, clothes, food, toys, etc. Even food prepared at home is mostly what the children like. But when they become adults and its time for marriage – what the children want is of little or no concern. It is here that the parents want to please the society and all the other relatives whom they would normally bump into only at some marriage or the other.
As soon as a child confesses that they are in love and want their parents blessings – all hell breaks loose. The first question asked is not who the boy/girl is. It is not what their education/family background is. It is not how good the boy/girl is. The first question is “Is he/she “our” community? Are they of the same caste? Pandemonium begins if it is not and hell descends on earth if the boy/girl is from a lower community/caste. It’s a shame to even think of such a union. It’s unthinkable. It’s breach of trust.
Why don’t parents understand the LOVE does not happen after scrutinizing caste, community and religion? It is a feeling that comes across when a boy/girl meets another who has the same thoughts, ideas, similar values and get along as great friends and soul mates. It’s a feeling that develops when once realizes that the other would make a perfect partner – would stand by their side, would love and protect and cherish them. Why don’t parents understand that if they accept their kids choices, then the society would fall into place and accept them too?. Why don’t they understand that it is because they do not accept, that the society and relatives would try and make an issue out of it?. Why don’t they understand that their children have also matured and have their own way of thinking and can make good decisions and choices?
Till their 20’s children are reprimanded with “You are a kid. You don’t know anything. Just listen to what we say”. When they are ready for marriage it is “We know what is best for you”. After working and taking decisions at work and being independent, after marriage and having their own kids, it becomes “Just because you are married and are a parent does not mean you know everything. We have more experience”. So when is the right time for the young ones to spread their wings and try to fly????
The battle has just begun for that young girl – it was a jolt when she realized that nothing has changed in the mindset of her parents. It was difficult to swallow that her happiness is least important when compared to their ego of being a higher caste, their need for approval from the so called society and questions of what will happen to her own sibling and cousin sisters when its time for their marriage. Shouldn’t this be taken as a God given opportunity to rectify the mistakes they did a decade ago?. Now it also boils down to the guilt/shame “we did not agree for my brother’s relationship. How can we now agree for our daughter”? She has a long drawn battle ahead of her. I truly wish she is able to convince her folks and have a happy life with her partner.
Should this be taken as Karma? What you do unto others comes back to haunt you.
And yes…if you were wondering who I am in all this drama – I am the one for whom her Uncle had to walk out from his family and yes it was predicted through our horoscopes that we wouldn’t last a year together……never mind it’s going to be our 10th Anniversary this July.