kittens, i’ve specifically chosen to avoid being all preachy and political on this blog. i guess i figured that cracking inappropriate jokes and using the f-word a lot would be more fun. (i was right, by the way.)
but i had a conversation last week that was slightly more on the preachy/political side that i have to share with you.
my office has a cute little balcony where my 4th floor cubicle is and sometimes my colleagues and i (miss j and mrs s) take breaks out there to watch the afternoon storm clouds roll in.
miss j is sweet – she’s my age, is pretty western-ized, speaks perfect english, lives at home and is unmarried. frankly her life is a bit like mine was at 14: her actions are mostly informed by the will of her parents.
as we watched the clouds become increasingly ominous, my wedding came up – as it often does. after answering a few questions about my family, i had the nerve to ask miss j if, when the time came, she would have to take an arranged marriage.
she said, smiling coyly: “i don’t know. i guess we’ll have to see. maybe in a year i’ll ask my parents.”
a little shocked, i said: “well, do you want an arranged marriage?”
miss j answered: “i’d prefer to find someone on my own, but where would i find them? my parents still have to approve so why would i waste my time on someone who they might not like?”
mrs s piped up at this point. while also very sweet, she’s shy about her english so we communicate mostly in a series of smiles and wild hand gestures.
she said: “either way, in the end you still have to do what your husband says.”
miss j, nodding seemingly in agreement said: “this is why girls go to work or study in america – so they can have the freedom to date who they want and live how they want.”
while stunned, i nodded in agreement and proceeded to get lost in my thoughts.
listen, generally i try not to have overly defined views because i truly believe that life is fluid and can’t be understood through static opinions. but in regards to this arranged marriage stuff, it does blow my mind that miss j – a 27 year old woman with an mba and a promising career in finance – is leaving her future happiness in the hands of her parents.
at the same time, i guess i can’t blame her either.
arranged marriage has likely worked for her parents and their parents before that. and though not everyone forces their kids into this type of union (mr. s for example won’t need to take one), it is a socially acceptable way to roll here.
culture takes a long time to shift. and while things are undeniably changing in india, we can’t fault people for upholding their traditions in the meantime.
(i should point out here before you go all nuts on me, that this post is in no way meant to condone or address marriage or women’s issues in india that hinge on human rights violations.)
that being said, miss j proves that some people remain perpetually un-excited by the concept. does she want to choose her own mate? hell yes. but if her parents decide that arranged marriage is her path, she will have to oblige.
and until she has that parental tete-a-tete on the science of marriage, the delightful miss j remains in romantic limbo.
this morning she proudly tapped me on the shoulder and said: “allison! have you ever been to brazil? no? well i’m going there on my honeymoon!”
i replied: “hey, at least that’s one thing sorted.”