Year 2009 has been the toughest time of my life, so far. Maybe it’s because I am settling into a new life and also because my decisions may be dependent on many people. This is frustrating ; I thought I had the right to decide choices in my life and like everyone I justified it with my principles. Suddenly I don’t see it happening. This does not make it annoying enough. What makes it frustrating is the fact that I am constantly reminded that marriage is a compromise (contract is what they wanted to say). ‘A woman has to be submissive and obedient’ quoted many from bible and now a days I see more of these people around and seem to be stuck with them.
Fortunately I am marrying someone who understands my plight and the very fact I can put my views out here is the net result of that fortune. But, he being the strategic planner asks me to be patient and ignore things as long as people don’t interfere in my life.
As I watch the whole game helplessly, I see things go out of control. Everyone except me gets to decide how much gold and what kind of saree I should wear (though I can hardly drape the 5mtr cloth), when and where things should happen and how I should live my life. Only choice I made was the guy whom I should marry to (which I am thankful because many don’t have that option either).
Yes, I am talking of the 21st century. I am an overeducated dumbo who thought she conquered the world. Sadly, my degrees fail me in front of people who flash out the biggest degree “marriage certificate” which gives them the right to advice people (Hope I don’t catch the same fever after mine). “Men want things this way”, “be submissive, that’s our aim in life”, “learn to use the right make up”, “how about lingerie shopping?” the advices go on and on. “Ask him to get a saree above 15k, after all its a societal affair”, said some, “honeymoon in India, what the hell”, said others, “You should get it written on stamp paper that the kids will go to our church not theirs”, ”why can’t they marry here, why should we travel to their place”, “learn to take the control in your hand, girl”..... So you got it, before I can open my mouth, I am shot point blank, without a trial.
“Why do you bother”, asked Mr Who initially, but slowly he is facing similar realities. Now the process is a drag and the end is the only hope. Ridding oneself from the clutches of the concerned messiahs is a lucrative dream. I think of girls who take this silently. I can at least hide here in the name of research. There is nothing I can fight over anyways. “After all marriage is a sacrifice at the altar and we are scape goats all dressed up and adorned”, said another friend.
This is also the worst period in my research life. Research scholars are not well paid, and we are humans. Every 4 months we pay fees, so practically if you work hard to save, you can manage, without borrowing, to pay for your next fees and I am among those fortunate souls who doesn’t borrow but then unexpected expenses (like wedding) throws you off guard. It is not easy focussing on work too with hundred calls from relatives and friends, all of whom expect you to be equally excited. Now I am not a commercial that repeats with same intonations, so sometime some people feel hurt. “Hey we have been married and went through this stress”, says some (though most of them would be sitting home with kids). Thanks buddies for the support I say but I guess you were not doing a PhD at IIT, then. You had all the world’s time to shop and decide stuff rather crash land three days before wedding to save leaves. And mind it scholars are not meant to have a personal life. So those who venture for one has to pay a price. “You should have thought before joining, after all what good is a PhD for a woman”, said some irritating fool. I save a few plates at least by offending them :)
I apply for a fellowship but my paper gets stuck. I apply for a new ATM, my pin number does not reach the branch, I walk up and down the bank for days and I can’t get a five min job done. I try for an accommodation at a conference and I don’t make it. Anything I try doing boomerangs at the same speed. I need to top up, credit low on the guy’s mobile and because of rains there is no stock in Adayar. I post a letter it does not reach on time. I call someone he does not pick up for a week. Pen drive gets virus infected, Doctoral committee passed a repeat review meeting (which is like a court hearing) and my mess bill reflects excess amount which I can never ratify because the officer is never in place when I reach the concerned table. I am told after 3 years of study that I did a course that was unregistered in the institute.
In the midst of all this I am haunted by superstitions. People who visit the groom’s family should be in odd numbers. Wedding and engagement should happen in one year to be auspicious (though vacation period was suitable to groom and bride). Bride should not step out of home after engagement (we got two weeks break before wedding and I was hoping to save some days by going back to chennai).
I am advised to do yoga but I cannot fathom as to why are things turning a drag and aversive. I try believing that everyone goes through this but that’s not good enough for me.
“You guys are nuts, you decide what you want?”, said a guy and I stare back at my ‘self’ from five years ago – carefree, happy-go-lucky, feminist, on your face, creative, assertive, tom boyish, imaginative, in control and with the world under my feet. Yes, now I understand that marriage is a compromise, yes sir it is, not with others but with oneself.