Love, Life Stories

To my Desi family, my value lays in who I’m able to marry

It’s clear that you still harbour this age-old belief that women are merely baby-making vessels.

I’ve just turned 22, and you’ve suddenly decided that it’s “time” for me to find a suitor.

Up until a few months ago, when I was still 21, you considered me a child and told me to study well and make the family proud. I did just that. I did well in school, and you announced it proudly to everyone on Whatsapp. Now that I’ve made you proud, you decide that it’s time to sell me off to the next “prospective” bachelor-in-line.

You sat me down and gave me a three-hour lecture on the importance of serving my husband and that it’s my only purpose. The fact that I recently secured a great job right out of college is of no importance to you. You tell me to make the most of the year I have left at my job, because I may not be able to work and handle a “married” life at the same time.

I understand now why you wanted me to study well; it would make me a competitive bride on matrimonial websites, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The degree I just got would paint the image of an educated family willing that is open and forward, and attract only the best prey. After all, we’ve been raised like sheep preparing for slaughter. My life has become a painfully long episode of The Bachelorette, except I don’t get to choose who I want to spend the rest of my life with.

You’ve consulted an experienced astrologer about the right time and date to fix my marriage.

It’s customary in India to consult an astrologer who looks at your stars to see how your life lines up in terms of career, marriage and other shenanigans.

Apparently, he makes those decisions better than I ever could.

You believe every word the stranger says, and you shush the girl you’ve seen grow up for 22 years, when defends herself.

When he says that I need to get married before the age of 24, you tell me that I can only pursue my masters’ degree after getting hitched. This makes me feel threatened and disappointed that you put stereotypical traditions before my education. In your mind, you think it’s wise to tether me to my husband so I won’t have any “wayward” intentions during my degree abroad.

When I say that I’m going to wait for a few years so I can focus on my career, you say that it will be too late by then.

When I ask you why it’s too late, you simply nod and say that I will only know after I’m married. It’s clear that you still harbor this age-old belief that women are merely baby-making vessels. When I ask why my 24-year old cousin brother isn’t married yet, you say that he has enough time, and needs to focus on his career. When I wait for you to realize the irony of what you just said, you disappoint me by staring blankly ahead.

Apparently, having double standards is not a two-way street.

My Facebook feed is filled with tasteful pictures of my classmates’ fingers entwined with their fiancés, announcing their engagements with the hashtag #propertyofhis. I cannot help but roll my eyes whenever I see this.

I’m sorry.

I’m not willing to become anybody’s property, even if my life depends on it. I’m not an asset that can be written off on a mere piece of paper. I’m much more than that. I’m a woman of my own making, with dreams, aspirations, and goals.