The Marriage Folly

Hindu MarriageSome of your straight friends may want you to get married, but definitely not to a girl from their family; writes Sukhdeep Singh

The one tenet around which Indian society revolves around is probably marriage. Marriage is a concept that is taught to us from early childhood as the ultimate reality of adulthood. For an Indian man, producing an heir is a responsibility his parents prepare him for in many subtle ways, often joking around with him about his marriage at an age when probably he can’t even spell marriage correctly. For a girl, a mother starts preparing her for the day she will take over the responsibility of someone else’s house. The mother teaches her the household chores, and if the girl is unwilling to learn, she has to listen to her mother’s chiding remarks of what her in-laws will think of her. Things don’t stop here, even in school, at times when a teacher has to scold a male student (or may be shame him because he doesn’t pay attention to his studies and all punishments seem to have failed), the final weapon in the armory of the teacher is again marriage. “If girls don’t study well, they will get married and have their husbands fend for them. What will you do? How will you earn for your family?” This is something that wasn’t so uncommon to hear from teachers as I grew. And so, the silent message that gets passed (and impressed upon the mind) is that marriage is the ultimate truth of adulthood and giving grandkids to your parents the one responsibility this institution must fulfill (else, you are a failed son). Thus, like religion and God, the concept of marriage is one that gets sown deep in the psyche of Indians from an early period.

So, in the Indian context, even when you come out, the one question whose answer seems illusive to your friends is, “Does this mean you won’t marry? Won’t your parents be hurt when they hear this?” So, some (or may be many) of your ‘friends’ would still like to see you married the traditional way to a girl. One such “well-wishing” friend of mine recently tried convincing me to get married. Rather, he was more concerned about the pain my parents may feel due to my decision (haven’t we all heard this priceless line when telling some friend about the decision to come out to parents, ‘Why do you want to give so much pain to your parents?’) In fact, he told me that he had conveyed to his parents that he doesn’t want to get married anytime soon, and this led to a whole lot of emotional blackmail, with his parents crying fearing that he might marry someone against their wishes, to the usual rant of having the joy of seeing their own grand-children. My friend realized (and felt guilty) that he was causing so much pain to his parents (and of course agreed, and may get married this December). That is when the realization dawned on him as to how much pain will I be inflicting upon my parents and thus began his arguments and solutions for me.

His solution was simple, “Get married to a girl, father a child, and after a year or two, get divorced”. Yes, this was the win-win solution that he provided. However, it certainly didn’t go down too well with me and I wanted to tackle him on his own turf. I told him the complexities of divorce and alimony, and then asked him whether he would let her fiancée and I enter into such an agreement? He squirmed on hearing those words. I tried to calm down his nerves and explained to him how this whole arrangement could actually work, without affecting the life of the girl. I tried convincing him that he could certainly postpone his marriage for two years and with the confidence he has in his solution, he should be able to convince his fiancée too, who will surely be able to see the noble intentions of his. On my part I promised him that I won’t be cheating on his fiancée (which I sure won’t have a problem keeping). But his unease at the idea (of his fiancée being with someone else) didn’t go, and so, I relented and asked him to look for a match among his relatives. By now my friend was irritated to the core. He couldn’t understand why of all the girls in the world, I wanted someone from his family! I tried giving him my reasons, of how he was very close to me (in fact, I was in love with him once upon a time) and so wanted our friendship to be cemented to something deeper (remember those old Bollywood dialogues? I made good use of them) to how I could trust him and his family background. I also asked him, since this was his idea, why was he now opposing it?

My friend didn’t have any answer. He wanted me to get married to a girl, but surely not someone that he cared for or was related to him in any way. Since that day he has never again broached this topic with me. Yes, many of your straight friends might want you to get married, but surely not one of their relatives. May be, the next time someone tries arguing on these lines with you, you could use similar arguments, try to show them what they are doing to others through their ridiculous solutions.

Sukhdeep Singh