I was only twenty one when my mom started talking about my marriage. And this is when I was not even studying “home-science”. I had just finished my engineering from IIT. Unbelievable, right? I somehow managed to sneak away for my post-grad to the U.S. But I was back two years later, and by now my parents had started serious groom hunt. My parents believe in ‘try-till-you-succeed. I was born within ten months of their marriage. As expected, I got married within a year. I was twenty four and my husband twenty five. I agree, it was a child marriage. Especially when I see that today, girls and boys are not married even in early thirties.
Curious to know about the current generation’s views on love, sex, and marriage, I talked to a young Indian girl studying in Singapore. She was a friend’s friend’s friend’s daughter. At twenty, she already had a startup running, and was working on her next idea while on an exchange program to Japan from her college. When I asked her about boyfriends, she said she doesn’t have a steady. She believes in random hook-ups like in a bar or a club. You know, just for the night, in the heat of the moment. If you happen to bump into each other next morning in class, you just behave like nothing happened. She doesn’t believe in Friends with benefits. It’s too complicated. She wants to do so many things at the same time. And life is so short. Why taste the same flavour of condom again?
I hate to admit but I was shocked. I actually called a friend and asked if she thinks we had missed out on all the ‘FUN’ by marrying too young.
I of course talked to many more college kids after that. So while not everyone in college has an FBuddy, it’s surely not a taboo. Fair enough. If you want to have sex with someone, best to get it out of the way. It’s a basic need in Maslow’s hierarchy after all. So I concluded that this twenty something gen perceives relationships (and sex) like extra-curricular classes. You learn and grow with each, but you don’t sign-up for a lifetime. It’s ‘Shudh desi romance’ for early-twenties, irrespective of sex, status, and the size of the town.
Talking to some people on the wrong side of twenty five revealed that many of these not-so-current-gen-now believes in what is termed as CLTR – Committed Long Term Relationship. So you start off dating. You have sex (of course). You hang around. You travel together. You may even live-in. You don’t marry but you are committed. The relationship is not open to random one-offs. Cheating is unacceptable. So you are kind-of sort-of looking to get married. But hey, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. There is heartbreak, and crying, but there is plenty of fish out there.
You are young. You are working. You are independent. You have freedom. No one is bossing you around. You can have sex as per your convenience. Divorce rates are increasing. So as Amitabh Bachhan asks Piku, why marry?
I don’t have an answer but I have a feeling. I think marriage is very much like buying a house for me. We all grow up with a dream to have one of our own. But finding the right one within our constraints is not easy. I have been looking for the right one for seven years now. I have stayed in different rental apartments, much like a CLTR, to get a feel. Some house is too cold in winters, while another is too hot in summers. This one is too noisy and that one is too far away from the city. I haven’t found the ‘ONE’ but am still trying. There is always a hope that I might find something with a bigger pool or a better location and price. Of course, I am picky. I will be stuck with what I buy for a lifetime. The intent to buy is there, but the idea of lock-in is scary. I think this is how youngsters feel about marriage today.
I don’t know if there is such a thing as a right age or a right person to marry. All I know is that life becomes more meaningful with a companion by your side. Love doesn’t make life easy, but it makes it worthwhile.
About Parul Mittal
Parul Mittal is the author of the best selling, Heartbreaks and Dreams! – The Girls @ IIT. She is an engineer from IIT Delhi with an MS from Ann Arbor university. She quit the corporate world after 12 years to begin writing and start her own venture. Read more about her on her site.
Her writing style is simple, funny and surprisingly grounded. She creates characters that are real and can be related to. Her latest book, Arranged Love, explores Suhaani’s dilemma about marriage and relationships and how she negotiates her way through the maze of parental advice and peer pressure when nothing seems to be going right.