The question invariably creeps up. Women are more direct, while men try not to be direct. But ask all will once they get comfortable. And why not, since concern about other people’s marriage or marital status remains a national obsession.
Like my alteration tailor who often chats up with me.
Tailor: Aapke ghar mein kaun kaun hain?
When I tell him about my family, he asks: Aur Bhaiyya?
Bhaiyya here means husband and not brother, he clarifies when I looked confused.
Like the BCom pass farmer in Gadchiroli.
Farmer: Aapka ghar kahan hain?
Farmer: Aap kahan ke ho?
And then he starts listing out the states in order to guess. When I tell him where my parents are staying, he finally talks straight.
Farmer: Ghar ka matlab, aapke husband kahan hain?
Though it’s a common refrain among married women in urban areas, lately I am beginning to hear the same from some rural pockets too.
After the day’s work, I was sipping ‘lal chai’ with Pooja, a young mother and her maternal aunt Shilpa in a village in Gadchiroli. The inevitable question came up.
Pooja: Didi, aapki shaadi ho chuki? (are you married?)
Me: No, not yet.
Pooja and Shilpa together: Didi, don’t get married. There is nothing in marriage. You are good being single.
Me (surprised and super curious): Why do you say so?
Pooja: In a marriage you can’t be your own, you can’t do anything for yourself. You only have to listen to others.
Shilpa: After marriage, I have always been stressed. About my children, my life. Look at me, I am 35 and marriage has made me lose my health and beauty. I wanted to do so many things, study and I have not been able to do anything.
Marriage is an institution created and perpetrated by patriarchy – so says the feminists but that has not stopped many of them from going ahead and getting married anyway. Some have done it the traditional way, some have retained their maiden names, some call each other partners instead of husband and wife while some just live together.
In the urban areas, this institution or rather the idea of relationship is changing. Whether its distrust, ego, one- upmanship, space, equality, boredom or something else, relationships have altered dramatically. Like a fast changing society, people are also not sure what they should hold true or important.
The ancient Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang carries a universal truth, interpretable across all areas of life but more so in relationships. High cannot exist without the low, light cannot exist without the dark, man cannot exist without woman or vice versa. What is lacking in one, the other fulfils. Different yet complimentary and coming together to form a whole.
In an era where the self rules, this concept perhaps is too difficult for people to understand.