Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What Society?

I was talking with Omi a few days back about the issue of women getting married early and generally about the practice of marriage - the dynamics in the relationship, the respect factor and the impact of societal views. We talked broadly, without going into details, about the situations that exist today in some places. We basically agreed on many points, though there were a few points of disagreements.

My views are a bit stubborn and if anyone feels they are better off not reading them, Id recommend them to stop now to avoid any misinterpretation or accusations of malice.

I have seen women getting married straight out of Engineering school. While I am not questioning someone's choices, it makes me wonder about a few things. I have known girls who had marriage on their minds, even as we were in Engg. Why must one go through a degree for name's sake or with an objective of getting married without working? I feel that is a waste of a scarce Engineering seat, which could have been better used to educate another almost equally deserving lady or gent, who might respect and make good use of the opportunity to do good for themselves and their families. We protest against Reservations, but is anyone tracking such wanton wastage of education?

It's not even like these have been love-at-first sight instances, where people might move into marriages for various reasons. This was pre-planned and well thought out, which makes atleast me wonder the point of going through four gruelling years of Engg to end up married.

Some people will raise their hands threateningly at this point and tell me: "Hey Slim, you don't know a thing, do ya punk? Do ya know how many of them continue their careers? Do ya know what you talking boy?"

Probably I don't. Maybe I do. But my view is that, stop telling the world that you do this coz society feels it's to be done that way. I also think one should learn to live by one's decisions instead of regretting them in hindsight or complaining about the hands that life has dealt us (where in my opinion, people walk into marriages with their eyes open or atleast they should)

I fail to understand this carping of the word "Society". To me, society comprises of all the wrong people, saying all the wrong things and basically taking pleasure out of someone else's misfortunes or bad luck or something such. I have never heard one good situation where "But what will society think..." has meant that the person is not doing a good deed.

This is the same society where (as Omi and myself concurred), women are treated as wallflowers and men act as dominant brutes. On the overall picture, the women are required to be "tall, fair, goodlooking, virtuous" and the men are presumably supposed to answer to the call of "well-settled, rich, educated at a fancy institute." As Omi very rightly pointed out, it seems like it is a cycle that deserves both ends.

I had a discussion once in college, where a girl told me that if you weren't married by a certain age, people in the community would question the girl's parents, asking why isn't she married yet? While I respect any community's practices, I think I am allowed to question the relevance of community in our lives. Rather, the "community's opinion" on something so personal as spending the rest of my life with someone meant to be special. In this modern day and age, must we bow down to what 10 people will talk about or rather more pertinently, "gossip about" at social functions? We say that we are an educated, modern, empowered society. Sadly, we are none of all that we claim to be. We are nothing more than a self-pompous set of hypocrites, who blindly do and blindly believe that we have boldly gone where no wo/man has gone before.

If a woman studies further, her parents are met with the fears that she will be "over-qualified", whereas the more educated a boy is in certain communities, the more the dowry he can command... I have nothing but contempt for such thoughts or behaviour and guess what! I am not even ashamed or afraid to say so. A lot of the "diplomatic" people will say: "Hey Slim, pipe down, will ya punk? Live and let live brother. Peace." Well, peace is the goal ultimately, but hypocricy is hypocricy. I can't help it. I am not built to look the other way.

I feel that a lot of my attitude towards life is shaped by the way my parents are, as is the case with almost all of us. My mom is more qualified than my dad. She's a BSc, MSc in Mathematics and a BEd. My dad is a BSc Engg.(Hons) My mom is a housewife, while my dad is in service. Mom teaches kids at home in her spare time now a days. She gave up a (possibly)lucrative teaching career to look after me and my sister. My dad was 33 when he got married and my mom 26. Pretty late even by current standards. However, I bow with reverence to their ways even though they never put on the pretensions of being a "truly modern, emancipated, worldly-wise" couple. True, my mom gave up teaching, and I have asked her many times why she did that? She has a gift with children that is inherent to women and even more so with teachers. She said that since, in those days, dad was posted in remote townships and she, being a girl from a small town, she wasn't confident of what to do. Also, since we were born, and with us being in remote parts of India then, there was no one to look after us and a small gap in career ended up being a permanent one.

Now, it would be the easiest thing in the world to call me a blackguard, a hypocrite and say: "Look into your house before pointing fingers." My arrogant retort, as usual, would be: I did. My mom didn't study with one eye on getting married to a rich, well-settled boy. My dad hardly had a rich background and was broadminded enough not to accept any dowry. Infact, as my mom said, the only reason grandpa accepted him was because he was well educated(Studied on a scholarship and stood 2nd in his State). Infact, he used to accompany her and drop her to her BEd classes at her college himself and was pretty supportive of her all along.

Not just that, my mother has retained her maiden name after marriage and till this day, she is Mrs. P.S.Annapoorni. My dad always addresses her as "Neengal" meaning "Aap" in Tamil and they share a special bond, which someday I will be privileged to have with my companion.

To me, this is what a marriage is. To me, it isn't about looks, education, attitude or anything else. To me, it isn't something you go looking for. It isn't about impressing someone with my educational degrees or bank balance or charms. To me it is a meeting of souls.

To me, it is and has always been about truth in it's purest form. Probably, this is the immature mind of a 22 year old speaking. But, no matter what I become, I hope I never change this dream of mine...

It's like something just struck me right now: "One shouldn't learn good lessons to forget them..."


Hashim said...

I see u have many questions and many theories to each question. Your searching for that one enlightening moment.You want to carve your own future and you are very meticulous about each step. You want to keep improving yourself, you want to reach the paradigm of perfection but only God is perfect and a day will come when all those unanswered questions will have just one simple answer.Till then you have to keep soul searching and I admire this quality of yours to find out the ultimate truth.Very few people can find harmony with their day you will!!!

Anonymous said...

in any marriage, or any relationship for that matter, what is most important is respect and a sense of equality. and that ought to come from both sides. More often than not, it's one-sided.
However readign that bit about your parents was extremely heartening. there is hope.... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, i am a girl who has done her engg in computers from Mumbai and i am working but i would like to answer your question about y do girls do engg when they eventually want to get married.....n u specially seem to have a prob with the girl not working....well....let me tell u that every human bring on this earth has a right to make their lives secure - both financially and emotionally with all the resources they have....if a girl is a bright student in school...she should take up the best option available at that point of time and my question to u is why not?? noone knows what is gonna happen tomorrow...even if the girl knows that she is going to get married the moment she leaves she sure that her life is going to be fine n that she muight not end up being another batterred girl....u have no idea how important it is for a girl to "have" the satisfaction of carrying on her own two feet if thigns don't work u know how many women continue to live in an abusive marriage? n mind you...the reason is only because they don't have the qualification to earn money n stand up on their own two i think that if a girl has the means n support n brains...she should make sure taht she is secure be able to face the world on her own!

Maverick said...

@dipti: wow! you sure found a long-lost post. wonder how you reached it!

personally, i believe in what you have written. im not questioning the need to be financially or emotionally secure at all!

what i am questioning in this part is why someone would aimlessly get married without even entering professional life, after going thru a professional course? THAT route doesnt guarantee any financial security, does it?

and its no use saying: its my life. yeah sure it is, but i have seen girls who gave up a chance to have good careers just like that.

i know the point you make regarding women in non-ideal marriages. but "feeling" secure by having a degree and "being" secure by having a job is two different things, imho.

i understand when you say that women have to stay in bad marriages for the sake of their own lives and their children. most of these women do not have skillsets that are employable and are dependent on their husbands for emotional and financial fulfillment. many of them did not have the choices offered to the women i talk of.

the women i talk of are urban women who grow up in metros. they have had access to the best facilities and grew up in households where they had the freedom to decide their paths.

in short, my point is, qualifications are alright. but if you dont use your skills regularly, they get rusted and lose their value. thats the point im trying to make.

Anonymous said...

Hi...well you are questioning the girl's decision to get married without having a job and making use of her degree....have u ever questioned guys who do their engg only to sit at their father's shop...have u questioned them as to y r they wasting a technical degree only to handle a garments/jewellery business ....

N about girls who get married without going for a job, well as i said that there is no valid reason of not taking up the best available option at any given point of time, be it taking up engg if u have good scores or getting married to a suitable boy....thr is no reason to ask them to take a step back n pick up a wrong the veyr same way there is no reason to ask anyone not to make themselves secure on all fronts when all means are available......if someone does that, that person is nothing but a fool and i think u might know that this world doesn't have time to stop n help fools!...cheers! :):)