“Smile please,” said the photographer as he captured the lovely beaming wedding couple, Jiya and Rehaan on the beautifully decorated stage. Along with her were the rest of the alumni of the 2005 batch of Notre Dame Academy, a girls’ convent school in Dehradun. It was almost a school reunion, attended by various teachers, parents and family members of the once classmates.
A second picture was being taken, this time all the ladies with their respective husbands. I distanced myself, and started walking down the unsteady pedestal trying not to stumble in my sari and heels.
As I looked up, one of my other school friend’s mother, Shukla Aunty was patiently waiting to get on stage. She looked at me with an Aww kind of sympathy. Grabbing me by one hand, the other one firmly holding the envelope, she whispered in my ear:
“You are the only one left from the group who is still single!” She stated the obvious, just in case I did not realize.
“You must settle down soon!”
I smiled politely, not in the mood to have THAT discussion. Everywhere there seemed to be couples. Ahh, finally a child – another friend’s daughter. I started interacting with the kid until her mother, and father came to pick her up.
“Give a goodbye kissie to Aunty,” said the mother.
“Aunty is pretty,” remarked the child shyly, as she planted a wet kiss on my cheek.
“Ofcourse she would look pretty, she spends all her time and money on herself, unlike your Mamma who has to clean up after you!” Replied her mother instantly. “She is not married!”
“You are not married yet?” Overheard my class teacher of Class V, Mrs. Sengupta.
She joined the conversation, fascinated.
“Why? Too picky! You were always like that!” she added with raised eyebrows.
Mrs. Sengupta was my favorite teacher who had greatly influenced me as a child, who taught me English and is responsible for my inclination towards writing and journalism. Back in school, she inspired us with stories of women of substance all along –Rani LakshmiBai, Sarojini Naidu, Kiran Bedi, Kalpana Chawala, Bachhandri Pal. Independent, ambitious, self-sufficient women. Yet, I was surprised that upon meeting me after 10 years, she only cared whether I was married.
It seemed my ‘single’ status got more coverage than the wedding itself! I left from there, feeling exhausted. Let me call Mom and tell her how pretty Jiya looked…
“Even a gynecologist is married now! She completed her PG, her studies, got a good job and a good husband! You are not the only one building a career!” said my mother, unable to even pretend that she was happy for somebody else and not anxious about me for once.
I went to office the next day. Work. Finally no more wedding drama..
We were having lunch and one of my married colleagues started narrating how she made pasta and her husband just loved it. Out of nowhere, she started staring at me, horrified! Randomly, she enquired,
“Who do you talk to once you reach home? Don’t you feel lonely?” she asked in bewilderment.
The following weekend I traveled to Delhi. Home finally! It was nice to meet relatives after so long. They haven’t changed though. They don’t ask about my work, or the places I have traveled off late. Just the usual..
“Chacha, chachi worry sick about you. If I were you, I would have got married atleast for the sake of my parents.”
“What if you never fall in love? Atleast have an arranged marriage before you turn 30, soon you won’t even have that option anymore.”
“You need somebody to grow old with. Your friends will all be married and have their own lives. You will end up alone and miserable!”
I would have been a millionaire by now if I got a dime each time I heard all this! No I am not anti-marriage, but I would like to say this to all my well-wishers ONCE AND FOR ALL:
I am 28. I am single. I do not have a boyfriend or a fiancé.
Maybe I do not want to get married at all. At this stage of my life, I do not wish to take responsibilities. I do not like the thought of being committed or being a daughter-in-law and serving and taking care of 10 people. Maybe I love my sleep way too much to have a baby. Maybe I am just lazy. Or unromantic. Selfish. Philosophical. Dreamy. Unrealistic?
I know that I am missing out on a lot of ‘couple things’. Maybe I would find the right person after 10 years. Maybe never. I may not have any companion in my old age, and I could die alone too.
I am aware of the potential disaster the society perceives that my singleton status would inflict on my life. Still, I choose not to change it. I am happy.
I know that if I do not have a child in the next few years, there could be complications and I could never have one biologically. Big deal! The rest of India is anyway married, and the population has been rising exponentially. If I do not procreate, the society, the caste, the nation will not become extinct.
Please spare me the horrified reactions — the sympathy, concern, outrage, disbelief, judgment or the recurring unsolicited advice. It is my life. Please let me be.
I am exploring my life and discovering myself. It’s a fulfilling journey that I have embarked upon, and I do not need anybody else to complete it. Yes, I do feel lonely some times. My life is not perfect. But whose is? I do agree with you that sharing my life with somebody would be a beautiful thing. But I have not come across such a person yet. And my life and happiness is too precious to just “settle” for something. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings by not getting married immediately but again, it’s my life, PLEASE let me be!
Author’s Note: “If you are not happy being single, you will never be happy in a relationship. Get your own life first, then share it.”
Originally published at akkarbakkar.com on November 6, 2015.