The Knot Now
by Kiran Jhamb
Whither romance? Whither change? In the last thirty years no change, rather a change in the negative direction has come up. I had thought with women education and empowerment and the lot there would be better chances of personal happiness while tying the nuptial knot for both the genders. But surprise! Surprise! Both are disenchanted, disgruntled and dissatisfied. One can use many more adjectives with dis-and un- to sum up the situation.
“I have no reason to say ‘Yes’,” says my niece to a proposal, “but then again I have no reason to say ‘No’.” What a sad comment! In the ‘arranged’ channels this was her response to the nth male being considered. She has an MBA and a lucrative package. Since during her teenage she was study/career focused - she didn’t pick up the mating games that she was supposed to pick up. She has a great sense of humour, which often proves detrimental to budding dalliances.
The fantastic thing is with increase of education among the ‘down to earth, fun loving boys’ looking for ‘convent educated, slim fair homely girls who are professionally qualified’ (who like furniture should be adjustable!) - the tribe of horoscope-hungs has also increased. Perhaps the parents who had to take a back stage while the career was being shaped, suddenly get to the center stage position and they like to carry the traditions of glorious Hindutva. And since the horoscope horrors are there in easily available software having acquired a digital dignity, a scientific garb (nobody is bothered about the time of birth being accurate, with the hospital clocks as my experience tells me always being either slow or fast) – the younger generation too goes along with them. ‘Parents’ mumbo jumbo!’ ‘Confidence building measure!’, ‘Elimination criteria!’, ‘Let them be satisfied’, etc. rule the mindset of the younger generation. And the result is lethal for their individual aspirations. This particular niece is also being stopped from taking the next rung on financial ladder because there is still another niece in her mid thirties with a fat package but single. Talk about glass ceiling at work place!!
I’ll share the woes of nephews also. This nephew went from IIT to US and armed with an American Ph.D. and top bracket job in finance, he brought his multicultural, analytical notions into ‘arranged’ channels. He has acquired the western notion of compatibility (a notion truly foreign to Hindu marriage!) that life partners must have similar views. While meeting a girl through arranged channels, in all sincerity he asked her, “What do you think of elections in Delhi?” The girl like an average Indian youth had no firm political opinions. Her lackadaisical approach to politics upset him. The nephew’s answer was, “I am sorry. It’s very important for me that my partner should share my views” and enlightened her on the evils being caused by such uninformed citizens, impressing her with his encyclopedic range of knowledge. Both the pairs of parents meanwhile had formed a mutual admiration society - but all their efforts to convince him were of no avail. Back home he flew to negotiate his sub-prime factor. The fact that the girl was good wifely material (attractive print and guaranteed durability) had failed to impress him.
These youngsters feel that they are entering a frozen tableau, as if the status quo is going to be maintained, as if they are not going to change, grow and evolve. Their constant refrain is ‘One or two meeting are not enough to judge each other’s personality.’ Now who is to tell them that even a lifetime is not enough to understand the other? A relationship has to be nurtured. As it is, the reel romances add to their confusion. The conveniences and advantages of living alone make them push the decision making into nebulous future. In fact the knot now has become 'not now'.
In nutshell, like their parents these youngsters too are entering marriages which are disenchanting but for different reasons. Here we are in the 21st century and still no socially sanctioned channels have been set up for interaction between adults who are to tie the knot. Unless in the definition of ‘good boy’ and ‘good girl’ (while they are growing up) we include romantic interest too as Opal Mehta’s parents had to at the insistence of the Harvard Dean.
Ignorance being bliss was true in 20th century and so the couples set on their perilous matrimonial journey at least with some happy dreams. Ignorance is still bliss but the youngsters are no more ignorant and the conjugal bliss escapes them.
I am no agony aunt. I am a real aunt. ***