DateApril 7, 2009

holier than thou

I’ve been asked through out the years to blog my thoughts on marriage. I haven’t for a variety of reasons. A whiles back I decided I wasn’t going to blog about politics or religion or other things. Marriage falling into that other things category. I didn’t want to blog about these things because I felt I’d come off sounding “holier than thou”. I hate sounding holier than thou. If I really let out on the topic, the post would probably be full of fury and swearword-laden, but I’ll play nice. The “blog about it” rumblings have started again, and also Owl blogged about it. So I figured that I’d chime in too.

I am a 26 year old unmarried male (soon to be married, inshallah (did I just announce that on the blog even though I said I wouldn’t?)). Please don’t hold my male status against me, I was born this way. I have a problem with the system of marriage, or at least how it seems to function. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against marriage as an institution. I find the idea of growing old with someone very appealing and humbling. But there is a problem with the system and the process (or maybe with me). I might exaggerate my descriptions of said system, but you will let me know if I’m going overboard.

For me, this starts when I was somewhere in my early teens. I was in India, around a dining table where elder family members were discussing potential marriage candidates for my uncle. I was around in the periphery playing with one of my baby cousins but I was listening to the conversation. The comparison amongst potentials consisted of (among other things) things like their height and skin colour. All through out I kept wondering whether I should say something, these were my elders and if I spoke I would be directly going against things they were saying. Then at some point someone said something to the effect of: “I saw the girl’s feet and they seemed darker.”

What? WHAT??? Are you serious? This distinct pounding started in my head. It happens generally when I’m about to say something that I’m unsure I should say. But it never stops me, I end up saying it anyway.

“Kaise baatien karre aap log?” How can you say something like that?

All heads turned towards me. I tried to make my case about how their discussion was belittling and inappropriate. I said what if so and so uncle or auntie had darker skin colour, should that make them less marriageable? These are our brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts, how would we want to be treated? I did get the flurry of “you don’t understand because you’re a child” etc etc. But the conversation dragged on for a bit.

Someone then asked me this: if I were in a situation where I had to choose between two girls and they were both the same in every way except that one had dark skin and the other had white skin, who would I choose?

What? WHAT??? Are you serious? I said that the question was inappropriate and I refused to answer it. But I’m sure the point was lost on them. (In fairness to them, I’ve seen this attitude decrease as time has passed.)

I believe that we as people are greater than the sum of our parts. The marriage process, as it were, in the South Asian community dehumanizes people into their parts. I find this infuriating. I find the idea of comparing people like that absurd. We owe better to ourselves as human beings.

So when people say there’s a shortage of good people, I don’t doubt you, no. I’m a believer in Sturgeon’s law. But I question whether maybe he was okay except wasn’t tall enough for you. Or perhaps she was okay but didn’t have the culinary skills to feed your appetite. So don’t come around saying there’s a shortage of eligible men because they lack the necessary qualities of height (tallness) and hair on their heads, because we all now how ragingly important those are.

Which brings me to other absurdities. What’s with this cooking thing? “Well I don’t want to die of hunger!” some guys will say. Yeah? Then learn how to cook or eat out you ungrateful piece of no goodness. Or hire a cook. Seriously, if you want someone to clean after you and make your food, then hire a maid and a cook. Or yeah, go hungry for a few days, might do you good.

We are greater than the sum of our parts, the marriage process practically encourages us to split ourselves into our parts and remain that way. This has to stop. Maybe we think if we can match this against that then it will be a better match. You know, if the guy is 5’ 7” then the girl must be around 5’1 at least, and people with X degrees shouldn’t marry people with Y degrees, because we know that just won’t work out. I’m sorry, but when did you become a tarot card reader? Tell the future much? I’ll take a paragraph right out of Owl’s post:

But then, there’s one over everyone’s head. No one is promised matrimonial bliss. Marrying young is no guarantee for happiness. Neither is waiting. Going for the ‘arranged’ seems to work as often and not as the ‘love’ variety. Marrying in your culture is no foil to divorce, but then neither is marrying out. It doesn’t seem to matter also if you’ve married someone much older, younger or the same age. Nothing is a sure-fire bet for matrimonial success. That’s life.

Unless of course the purpose of the process is to get the pretty girls together with the rich guys. Is it?

There are more absurdities. Some of the language I hear around the process. “We’ll let her do this and that”. What? You’ll let her? What does that mean? You’ll let her? Does she not have a mind of her own? Did you lose the ability to converse and reach consensus? Do you own her will? Do you own her? You should be ashamed of yourself. Learn how to talk and discuss things instead of throwing around directions and being controlling. This language needs to die off.

Yes, this is a rant. This is a rant about the absurdities of the process. Things are absurd because we let them be absurd. We are complicit when we simply watch people do stupid things and do nothing and say nothing. At the very least you should say something. If not you (us), then who?

Sure, I get it. We can’t simply make the suggestions I’m making here (“language needs to die off”). Yes, things need to be handled with tact. But, please, say something.

[Oh I am not done yet, there will be more.]

life’s life that.

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