There are certain things in life which are bound to happen. They’re totally inevitable and unavoidable. For instance, being heartbroken; running into your ex; finding them with someone hotter- What can we really do in such a case? We can prepare ourselves to face it, put our most stylish foot forward, and still hope to never have to face them!
‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!’
This is the exact quote that came to my mind, while I was getting dressed to attend my cousin Rishabh’s wedding. He was one of the most eligible bachelors of our family- 27, good looking, caring, sanskaari, and his start up was doing immensely well too. Today was his day! He would get to live his ‘dream’ of getting married to his almost perfect girlfriend Arpita! After all, they had planned this day for years. But like they say- one person’s dream, is another person’s nightmare! This was MY nightmare. What could I do? Dress the part!
Clouded with thoughts of what all I might have to hear from my ‘concerned’ relatives at the wedding, I carefully slipped into my black and gold dress; that did seem to make me appear a few kilos lighter. It was the perfect outfit; not too lose, not too tight- just right! If only it was as easy to find Mr. Right, I wondered! Turns out, I was not the only one wondering!
As I reached the venue, and greeted everyone, with the widest smile I could put on that night; I couldn’t help but fear the topic of my wedding cropping up. As petrified as a single girl at 26 could be in a room full of relatives; I sat on an empty table to check my work mails on the phone. Once I was done checking my mails, the table wasn’t empty anymore.
Before I could move from there, my dear Bhabhi started a fun conversation, pointing out how I was the ‘next one’ to get married! I could only smile in response, but Buaji had words to respond with. She exclaimed- “Do you like anyone? Are you dating someone? Come on you can tell your Bua, I can help you talk to your parents!” I get it! Buaji was trying to help, but she had too many assumptions. She assumed I was dating someone, she assumed my parents were orthodox, she assumed I couldn’t speak to them, and she also assumed I needed her help! Before, I could wrap my head around all of that, Fufaji decided to give his 2 cents as well- “Is he from a different Caste? Or does he have the Boy problem?” I knew I’d regret asking this, but I went ahead and asked him what the ‘Boy Problem’ was! Turns out, he was referring to ‘Gay men’!
Why would I date someone who was Gay? More importantly, why would someone who’s Gay, date me? What was Fufaji thinking? Clearly he had it all wrong. What problem do all of them have? Why is it that if a girl is single at 26, people assume she has to be dating someone or that she’s standing in some sort of virtual queue to get married? Is it hard for the society to accept? That a girl can be single, and happy, and not looking to settle down just yet. Or are they just jealous? Considering single people don’t have to pay for two, change diapers or even be held responsible for the actions of another person! Whatever it was, the lack of acceptance or the inadvertent jealousy- I decided I’d had enough; I needed a drink.
As I walked towards the bar, I could feel a 100 judgemental eyes looking at me. I reached out to the bartender and ordered my Scotch. One sip, and the world had already started to seem a tad bit better. But that was until I saw Vinay mamaji walking in my direction. As a reflex, I very quickly hid my drink at a table conveniently situated right behind me. ‘What are you doing here?’ – he asked; with an authoritative tone. ‘Looking for you’- was my sly reply! Mamaji wasn’t one to believe my words, or my actions. He immediately decided to tell me about how Rekha mamiji (his wife), always told the truth, no matter what the consequences may be. He went on to further praise her by saying that she had her life together at the ‘tender age of 23’ when he married her. At 26, as per him, my clock was ticking! Because mamiji had already had two kids by the time she turned 26. And her life was then COMPLETE!
Just when it had started to become clear, that the purpose of my life was to get married, pop some kids, and have a doting husband who praises about me to his niece after 30 years of being married; mamaji decided to share some more pearls of wisdom. Perhaps he had seen my not-so-nicely hidden drink; when he went on to tell me how Rekha mamiji had never even touched alcohol till she was 23; which is what made her ‘marriage material’! He advised me to concentrate on getting married instead of being a workaholic.
I wanted to draw a comparison to the 1980s (mamiji’s era) and 2016, but really who would I be explaining? Was it even worth it? Trying to defend myself and my lifestyle to a bunch of relatives whose minds were already programmed to judge my character by a glass of alcohol that I probably enjoy only like once a month, seemed like fighting a war. What is marriage material, really? Is it that sanskaari, saree clad girl who goes to the temple every morning? Can’t it be the skirt wearing sassy chic that goes to work every morning? Why is it that the society has fixed norms and patterns to choose their ‘bahus’; while the daughters may do as they please? What is with this double standard of the society ? I wondered if mamaji was right.. What if my clock was really ticking? What if my Mr. Right had gone by and found someone else; since you know the workaholic me was busy working when I was 23? All these thoughts made me laugh, but helped me reach a conclusion!
There is no clock! There is no ‘right time’ and ‘right age’! Not just to get married, but for anything at all. And there definitely isn’t a virtual queue, in which ‘you’re next’! Then how do we know when to get married? The answer is simple. We marry when we want to, when we wish to- and when, we find our Mr. Right!
As I came back to reality, and stopped dreaming about finding my Mr. Right just yet; I decided it was time to hit the dance floor. What are weddings for, if not shaking a little booty? But the dance floor was occupied; by just one person- my absolute favorite- Rekha mamiji! I watched in awe as mamiji set fire to the dance floor with her signature Naagin dance moves! Before I could enjoy the complete act, mamaji took her away and apologized to everyone for the embarrassment mamiji caused! In my opinion, he didn’t have to- she was just having fun. Turns out she was a little tipsy!
As I strutted my fabulous, single, 26 year old ass to the table where my cousins sat ; I thought to myself- Maybe, just maybe, if mamiji had had a drink when she was 23, she would’ve known how to handle one now!