Lately my Facebook wall has been flooding with status updates and pictures of friends, friends of friends and their friends getting hitched. They’re either my age or a year or so older. Some even a year younger. No I’m not someone who doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage and who never wants to get married. The extravagant ceremonies, colourful legengas, happy faces, the groom all groomed up, the glow on the bride’s face, everything looks beautiful. Finding a partner for life is great. Getting married to them and sharing a lifetime is perfect. But that’s not the point here. What’s upsetting and has triggered this post are the underlying reasons and choices I’ve got to know from some people I’d closely known as independent, rational, level-headed women who, I thought, were capable of taking sensible life decisions and making better choices. But do girls these days marry only to find a man to buy them a diamond ring and pay their bills?
Someone I know got married earlier this year. She was 22 then. A University topper in the subject she graduated in. Little did she know that tying the knot to her beloved boyfriend of four years would mean the end of her career which was still in its nascent stage? What’s appalling to me was the fact that she gave in to her chauvinist husband’s demand that she quit her job. The reason – men in the family earned enough and the women have never had to work. We’re talking about a family residing in a plush locality in Western Mumbai. As if that weren’t enough, I learnt of a distant cousin who’s getting married early next year. A 24 year old qualified graphic designer based in Pune, who recently resigned and is now serving her notice period. No prizes for guessing the reason here. While inviting me for her engagement, she sounded absolutely unapologetic about her decision to quit and in fact, basking in the attention her ‘man’ was showering her with! But here’s the news that takes the cake – a school friend of mine already has a 3-month old baby!
I was absolutely bummed out on hearing this as I was always of the view that people with such obsolete mind-sets who still believed women belong in the kitchen existed in what we call as backward areas with no exposure or access to education and development. These revelations have debunked the pseudosophistication of the modern urban class for me. And a chance meeting with Navli Kumari at the recent foundation day function of my host organization also broke a major stereotype I had. Navli Kumari is a Team Balika member (community volunteer) of Educate Girls. She belongs to the Garasia Tribe residing in interiors of Abu Road, Sirohi. It is a difficult terrain with little or no access to education and development. I urge you all to watch Navli Kumari narrate her own story on Stree Shakti, a talk show that brings forth stories of women who’ve risen above life’s challenges and set an example for many. The video also features Safeena Husain, founder of Educate Girls who talks about her journey. They are undoubtedly two of the most inspiring people I’ve come across during the course of my fellowship.