This article was first published here in Round Table India and has been translated by Rahi Gaikwad
What exactly does this mean? When a girl ‘comes of age,’ she is deemed too young to engage in romantic relationships or friendship with the opposite sex, but capable enough to marry and lead a married life. Her father or a male head of the family (yes male, because women do not have this right) looks for a groom… Of course keeping caste and ‘status’ in mind. (The mental, emotional, and physical status of the girl herself be damned!) The use of matrimonial websites in the process of finding a groom is not as much as the involvement of uncles, aunts, and random persons such as the cousin of the brother-in-law of the older sister’s father-in-law’s sister. Anybody and everybody really! Wonder what joy they get out of this! Maybe they derive a ‘sense of pride’ that they saved a girl who had come of age well before she faltered. The prospective groom-hunters may be alcoholics or womanisers themselves, but it is their “innocent” wish that the girl does not look for a husband after her own preferences. Anyway….
Once they start getting marriage proposals, things move fast and decisions are taken arbitrarily. If, by chance, the girl is employed, then she makes some excuse at office and takes a day off to be ‘willingly’ present at the ‘seeing’ ceremony where the boy comes to see the girl. Uncles and the brother-in-law are consulted to fix the dates. Everything is decided as per the groom’s job situation and convenience, because his job is important! If the girl is unemployed, she would be asked only one thing: “Which sweets would you like, child?” The only choice that she gets is to pick the sweets to be served at breakfast for the boy and his family.
The father does not even say the full name of the boy, lest the girl finds his Facebook profile. What if she unnecessarily digs out something? Facebook shows not just your photograph, but also your friends, likes, thoughts, and much more. The girl has no business knowing these things beforehand. If she rejects the boy, it is an insult to her father and invites censure from the society about allowing such superpowers to the girl. The mother and aunt has the responsibility of dressing up the girl. Anyway…
The guests have arrived to see the girl. Finally, she picks a sari to wear. She is neither upset nor curious. She only waits for the whole thing to end. For the last few days, she has been in another world. She does not want to get married. She has no interest in the romantic notion of prince and princesses. Some time ago, she had called off a wedding and she is still hurting from it. She is wondering if the new groom would harass her like the previous one had… Her earlier wedding engagement had been broken off. The boy wanted a virgin. The first thing he asked her was whether she was a virgin or not. She told him about her past relationship, but he was only interested in her virginity. She told him she was not a virgin. The boy was initially shocked, but said they could spend the night at a hotel since their wedding had been fixed. He insisted on this even before they shared anything else. Resolving never to get attached such a person, she rejected him. When she told her family, they downplayed the gravity of the issue. Instead, they said his ego might have been hurt because his wish was thwarted. This is what concerned them! None of her relatives supported her, but some friends stood by her and they kicked the boy out of her life.
So much happened. And in two months, her father started looking for another boy. The same cycle began again. But I am stopping here, because the boy has come to see me.
Vidya is a young professional from Maharashtra.