On Sunday, a junior of mine from college Ritu, gets married. She is barely 21. While I am happy for her, I do feel sad that she would never get an opportunity to grow as an individual. She like many girls who have got married at her age, will never get to enjoy the freedom of being a single working woman. It is only when a girl starts working and become independent that her real personality emerges. The work atmosphere, responsibility and people who treat you like an adult unlike college and home, liberates the real you that is subdued and pruned by a sheltered upbringing an Indian girl undergoes.
Since I have been working for a couple of years now, I can see the changes in me. What I thought was bad feels good today, what I thought was good doesn’t feel so good anymore. What I thought was cool feels uncool today and a lot of other changes in the way I look at life and deal with people. If I had got married soon after college I would never have discovered the real me or completed my growth process.
Ritu’s parents like most Indian parents are worried that a girl if left unmarried too long will become too independent and will hence be unsuitable for marriage. And I suspect this is the reason she is being married off so early. A girl with individuality will not be a subservient wife which portends bad tidings for the marriage. Every effort is made so that the girl does not get to taste freedom and that she is transferred from the guardianship of her parents to the safekeeping of the husband. There is also the fear that the girl may not want to marry after being independent for some time.
While it was imperative for girls to marry a few years back due to the security blanket it provided, nowadays it is totally unnecessary to push a girl into marriage; especially since she will anyway grow as an individual and may soon find that her husband and she think in different directions. By getting a girl married early, parents are only increasing the risk of divorce as ‘divorce’ is not a dirty word anymore.
Indian guys on the other hand don’t face this problem and more or less retain their individuality while growing up while girls are taught to conform and willy nilly bought up in a "certain way". It is all about conforming, personal happiness be damned. When will parents learn? After the society is strewn with the carcasses of marriages? Why do we learn lessons the hard way? Why don’t we change with the times?
I wish Ritu a happy married life. She will need my wishes and a lot more in the coming years.