Can we talk about that phone call? One that crashes all over you one evening like the innards of a wardrobe you haven't arranged in half a year. One that's marginally less annoying than a zip stuck halfway it's length up your dress.
It begins thus: "How long will you go on like this?"
At this point of time, 'like this' is a fairly ambiguous phrase. It could mean how long will you continue sharing the bed with a heap of clothes that need to be ironed? It could mean how long your work targets will be completely devoid of humanity? It could mean how long will you travel alongside Delhi drivers who don't value human lives and intelligence much?
Unfortunately for you, the question pertains to none of the above. Instead, 'going on like this' refers to the fact you haven't committed yourself to a relationship with a man and haven't let the world know via #truelove Instagram posts, Facebook updates and mushy, pouty selfies. That's a shame, you're told.
'Going on like this' refers to the fact you haven't committed yourself to a relationship with a man and haven't let the world know.
Since this makes you want to pull out your hair--which doesn't deserve such violence--here's a simple breakdown of how that logic works.
Fact: you're a woman in India. Which means, on the face of it, most people you know maybe okay with you living in a different city than your parents, getting a drink now and then, driving, planning your own holidays, going on some of them alone and mingling with men etc. But you are still a woman. And the guidelines to being a 'smart, independent woman' right now -- crowdsourced from neighbours, aunts, uncles, cousins, their in-laws, tuition teachers, parents' colleagues etc -- still has some broad reservations. For example, your life, can't entirely be your business. And your ovaries, most definitely, are objects of collective social anxiety.
Which means, if you are single at an age that most elders and some of your peers agree you must be changing nappies at, you are made to feel guilty about a few things.
If you are single at an age that most elders and some of your peers agree you must be changing nappies at, you are made to feel guilty about a few things.
And like that phone-call must have informed you several times, one of them apparently is the 'fact' that you don't care about your parents enough. Now, you can ask them, how a man they don't know can possibly contribute in caring better for them than you alone? Unless, of course, he is one of the Avengers. Hell, even those guys can't do a small thing like saving the world properly these days.
You are immediately smacked down for being insensitive. You don't need to 'care' for them -- you just don't care about the trial-by-uncle-aunties you have exposed them to. Your parents, you are told, have been accused of two things primarily.
First: they don't worry about you, your ovaries and the children they could produce, to have let you stay unmarried for this long. Since you aren't exactly Angelina Jolie, you can still perhaps believe the said relatives are bored of your face or something.
Since you aren't exactly Angelina Jolie, you can still perhaps believe the said relatives are bored of your face or something.
The second is very disturbing. Actually, more disturbing than vegetarian sushi. "You are completely out of control," one of them, usually the mother on a bad mood day, hollers. You are tempted to retort that your are not blood sugar, or Salman Khan's car, or a fart - you shouldn't have to be controlled in any conceivable situation. But then, that would be taken as irrefutable proof of your supposed uncontrollable-ness.
When you contend that you pay your bills on time, have mostly managed to keep your limbs intact, haven't robbed, killed or maimed anyone, eat human food and often fold clothes before dumping them inside the closet, you are told that you don't pass muster. Your having stayed unmoored -- a moor obviously can't be a job or financial stability, but a man -- has convinced a lot of people that your parents have no control or influence over you. And a woman who is not even pretending to hold up an illusion of being under control is a very bad person. Like on a scale of zero to Taylor Swift, she is Kanye West. And possibly also evidence of failed parenting.
You can follow your heart and all that jazz. Just don't follow it all the way till the end.
So you can follow your heart and all that jazz. Just don't follow it all the way till the end. And definitely not without societal supervision. Now that's a bargain you are expected to make to continue enjoying the privileges you have been given and you earned for yourself, without arching too many eyebrows on your way. And if you don't, 'you are having too much fun' (must be uttered in the same tone as 'a comet's about the hit earth and we are all going to die').
The truth is, your parents have done a good job with you. Occasionally, however, they fall into the clutches of 'the girls are alright, and under control' narrative. Little casualties of having a social life, you can say. However, before convincing them that you've both done well, stop feeling guilty. Honestly, you don't need to apologise to anyone for the life you lead.