Sara's Secret Fear: Marriage


Recently, I talked to one of my neighbors. She is a single Indian woman in her early forties. She shared some of her life experiences and it left me thinking.

It was the day of her sister’s wedding. She was enjoying the haldi (turmeric) ceremony. All the relatives were applying haldi on her sister’s face, as per the Indian tradition. Suddenly, her great-aunt approached her and tried to put haldi on her face.

‘Next is your turn,’ she said.

It stunned Sara. She frowned and left the place in a huff. Her sister approached her after sometime and said,

‘Please do not get angry and just do as our elders say. Put a little haldi for their sake. No harm in keeping them happy. You know, next is your turn only as everyone else is still young in the family.’

Sara did what her sister said, but it upset her. This incident came as a shocker to her. She was in the third year of her college studies and was entirely focused on her career. Relationship or marriage was not even on her mind. Rather, she used to believe, as her sister is five years elder to her, she would at least have the next five years to be independent and live her life her way before getting married. But now it seemed it won’t be so. She realized the moment she graduates; her family would start looking for a suitable match for her. They would not wait and she would have no time to live for herself.

From that day, even the thought of marriage made her anxious. She was always an obedient and disciplined child and had followed her father’s guidelines since childhood. She had studied hard all throughout her middle and high school years and gotten admission into a good college not to become someone’s wife at an early age. She wanted to grow in her career, she wanted to be independent and live her life her way. Marriage, being a big commitment and a huge responsibility would have been a big hindrance to it. She had big dreams. She wanted a name of her own rather than being just somebody’s wife or mother. She did not want to hand over reigns of her life to husband, in-laws or kids. Maybe some extraordinary women can manage everything very well, but she was not the one. However, in a society where traditions rule, it’s difficult to follow one’s dreams, especially for a girl.

Before the incident, her aim was to do a Master’s degree immediately after the bachelor’s and she was preparing for it. But after that incident, she was perplexed. Should she study further after the bachelor’s or should she work? Will she get some time to work after the Master’s or she would immediately be pushed into a marriage? She was puzzled, nervous and petrified and as a result, she could not concentrate well on her preparation for the entrance exam and failed badly.

She started working after graduating and enrolled into a part time Masters course from a well-known institute, a year later. Since then, she has been running away from marriage, sometimes making an excuse of further studies, sometimes of international travel for work, sometimes rejecting the guys her parents found, for petty reasons or sometimes something else. Wherever she goes even today, there is only one question asked–her marriage. Nobody cares about her wellbeing; they only want her to get married, as if marriage solves all the problems in the world and would give her all the happiness in life. She has been independent for a long time now and has never asked for even a single penny from her parents, but they still consider her a responsibility.

This behavior of the society always made her wonder, is marriage a want or a need? How can marriage solve all the problems in the world? How can marriage make her happy? How will her problems reduce? What about the other person’s problems, will those not get added to her problems? What about the extra cooking she will have to do? What about the extra cleaning? What about the extra laundry? What about frequent arguments? What about the frustration of not having her own life? What about the frustration of having someone 24x7 on her head? When her family is interfering and judgmental enough, what good would the marriage do by adding another family to her? Are all married people happy? The list goes on and on. Now that she witnesses so many divorces happening, numerous fights over alimony, several disloyal people around, and many people getting duped over marriage proposals, her interest in marriage has reduced further. One might call it a negative thinking, but this is the reality of today’s world.

People repeatedly advise her, she would need someone by her side in her old age, but what if she is not alive to see her old age, or he is not alive? What if he is not around when she needs him the most? What if they do not get along and part ways before their old age? Why should she ruin her present worrying about the future? What is the harm in being single? She knows she is taking a chance and might be alone in her old age, but everything in life has its own risks. Single, married, divorced, kids, no kids, every choice we make has its own pros and cons.

Many suggest girls should marry on time because of their limited fertility lifespan. But what if she does not want kids or what if a miracle happens even after she marries late? Everyone has their own body, and she knows so many females who got married at an early age and still do not have kids. Nothing is guaranteed and she will always have an option to adopt one. Why to add extra one or two people to the world’s population? Is seven billion not enough?

She never liked the idea of an arranged marriage, or I should emphasize she still does not. When she tried finding someone on her own, she ended up making two major mistakes of her life, two failed relationships. Some people call her career oriented, some bad influence, some picky, some reckless, some selfish, some stubborn, some immature, and the list goes on and on. They judge her for being single. She does not receive any respect in her family. She is never appreciated for whatever she does. Does that bother Sara?

Yes, it used to bother her a lot a few years ago, but not anymore. She has chosen this life for herself and is happy about it. She might change her thought process a few years later, but that’s how she thinks right now. Good or bad, who knows? Right or wrong, who knows? Nobody knows what lies in the future. However, she has understood one thing for sure; problems do not go away with marriage. Marriage is a want and not a need. Single or married, life is life, and it happens, no matter what. Life is unpredictable and can slap you hard when you expect the least.

Our Indian society’s demands are never ending. First, they push us to marry, then to have first kid, then second, and the list goes on. It’s a never-ending vicious circle. They never stop judging others. They never stop interfering in other’s life. Instead, they forget to focus on the most important thing in life 'Happiness'.

On the other hand, as per Sara, we should do what makes us happy and stand by it. We should be content with the choice we make. No one has the right to judge us for who we are. We have all the rights to live our life our way. It’s us who should decide where we want to go. We do not need responsibilities to live life. There is so much else to do. I ask our society, what’s the harm in this thinking?

Today, after so many years of that incident, Sara is still single, but has no regrets. I won’t say she does not feel lonely in family gatherings, I won’t say she does not feel lonely with married friends. She does. She does feel lonely but that’s only for a while. She also feels lonely at her home sometimes; maybe once a month, but the rest of her twenty-nine days are wonderful. After a stressful day at work, she loves coming home to peace. She enjoys being herself. She enjoys her hobbies and her own company. She travels whenever she wants and does whatever she needs to do or wants to do. I will not say she has a great career or is famous or something but she lives for herself, has always lived her life her way and wishes to continue doing that as long as she wants. She does not see any harm in living like that, and nor do I.

I support Sara and her thoughts. I have heard similar stories from many others as well. Married people are respected more in our society. Rather, I would say there is a hierarchy for them as well. Married people with two boys or one boy and one girl, claim the top most spot. On the second rung are the married people with one boy. Third rung, married with two girls. Sometimes they are even forced to have a third child, just to have a boy. Fourth, married with one girl. Fifth, married but no kids. Then come the single males. Next, the single females. What a life!

I must say we as a society have an awful thought process and it is really high time for us to change. Let’s allow everyone to make their own choices in life. Stop interfering and stop judging. We are here to live our life, so let’s focus on that and not on someone else’s.




Happy reading!!

  Dated: Aug 2, 2020

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  • About Preeti

    Preeti Narang is the author of the book 'Prodigal Love?' and 'Yeh Kaisa Pyar?'. She has a Master's degree in Software Systems and has been working in the IT industry... (continued)