Welcome to the diary that every single, urban Indian girl has written and will continue to write for as long as her parents want to shape and be involved in her future.
Before the commencement of this series, there are a few basic assumptions that one must make, for without those assumptions and generalizations this article and the ones like it will not hold water. The first of those assumptions is that “most marriages are arranged,” the key word here is most. Sometimes, parents do allow children to have their way, but who are we kidding. If they can help it, parents will run the show anyway and make it look like they came up with the idea in the first place!
The next assumption is that once a young woman hits the magic age of 20, around the time she finishes a bachelor’s degree, the only thing she should strive for is being perfect bride material. Every year since the age of 20 is one year spent in killing time while waiting for the man. At this point in time, parents also assume a whole other persona. To them their success and social worth comes from having arranged their daughter’s marriage to a suitable boy. To this end, parents will introduce their daughters to strangers at weddings. They will ensure that their daughters are accompanied by them at all relevant social gatherings and garner a reputation as a girl who has strong family values but is also modern and independent.
When a young woman is in college, just coming into her own in terms of looks and personalities, discreet inquiries are made as to who she is, who her parents are, where she is getting an education and other such questions that will single the girl out as a “good match” for some suitable boy somewhere. Once a girl has been established as eligible, there is no way that she can escape that label. She has to grit her teeth at all times and put up with references to her impending nuptials and completely unsolicited advice such as how to be coy.
Practically every girl who lives in Indian cities, who has well-meaning parents, is put through this husband-finding process at some point of time, with varying degrees of intensity and madness. From dragging unwilling daughters to weddings, to putting advertisements in newspapers, to making a profile on matrimonial websites, parents will attempt just about every method there is to make sure that their daughter is “happy and settled.”
It is into this setting and context that a story of husband-finding, over-involved relatives and some strange encounters begins…[To be continued]
For other parts of this six-part Kalyanam Chronicles series, click on the links below.