Saturday, June 02, 2007

The season of marriages

With a friend recently married, and another - more a dear child to me - getting engaged and still another rafting the pre-marital excitement towards the drop, it does seem that marriage and getting married has taken a tinkle quite unlike what it rang in my ears a few years ago. Then it was someone's discomfort in the glaring lights of a video and incessant demands of "Smile" while I got to meet people and play around before the "barjaaragar" (chief cook) would slyly slide a few freshly fried potato chips - still damp with oil - towards me and warn me never to ask him again else he would lose his job. It was when "maamis" (older ladies of the house) would grab my chin-n-cheeks (they always grabbed as much as they could) and kiss into the air before remarking "My god! You are as dashing as the groom tonight!" and I would casually say, "He is the groom only for one night!" It was when I got a chance to be subservient to the men of the house and do their bidding, and my chance to sit at my grandma's feet so that she had a head to pat while she swelled with pride.

That is when I realised that a wedding and a marriage are two different things. I still let my tongue slip and say "I attended a marriage" and then quickly correct myself.

"So do you want a love marriage or an arranged marriage?" the eager voice gushes in my ear. I continue looking at her while others jump in - "High time you got married, E", "Are you telling me you haven't found a single person yet?", "What on earth are you waiting for?" and my candid friend's "Missile launchers don't work after an age, man!". I smile at this pretty face and ask, "Why would I want to get married?" Wrong question.

"Come on, E. Marriage is so beautiful. It is so much fun. So much togetherness. So much fun. You can find someone to complete you. It's so much fun."
"You need that person in your life."
"Because at 75 you don't really want to wake up in an empty bed."
"You need to create dreams and build a family together with someone."
And my candid friend's "Boss, you need the real thing some day."

I still don't understand. I hear beautiful stories of people married to each other and as many (if not more) of people who lived together and also called it a marriage. I see people doing what they did before a marriage with minor modifications. And more often than not, I see marriage growing into a case of "Familiarity breeds consent" - people living their lives without a thought or a sense of fulfillment. Probably, that should suffice in most cases.

When I say that a marriage should be fulfilling and nourishing the soul, people either sleep off or shake their head, or sleep off while shaking their head. When I say that a marriage should bring in life and create a zestful life between the two people, most people continue to do the same or, like in a few cases, I am asked "What is zestful?"

Binding ourselves together...So a friend seated me down at a recent wedding and asked me, "I remember what you had once written. Are you still the same?"
"That was a piece of fiction, yaar."
"Hmm. So are you still the same?"
"Kinda"
"And you hope to find that girl?"
"Nope"
"And you are fine staying unmarried forever?"
"Boss, what is with getting married?"
She smiled her usual smile and I really wished the world was filled with more such smiles.
"You will realise that later, but it might be too late."
"So one needs to get married in order to have the artillery in place?"
"I didn't understand a word of that!"
"You did."
"Hmmm."

Sometimes, esp. in India, marriage is a thing that must happen at a particularly "apposite" time in one's life. In the practical scheme of things, it does make sense and promises a more secure way of leading life. In the emotional scheme of things it might work too. In the physiological scheme of things it is probably fine (height of youth, right time for bearing a child, etc. etc.) too. In the spiritual sense, it usually isn't, IMHO. So that is 3 versus 1.

I watch the groom and bride whisper things into each others ears and smile or giggle. How did that happen? As in, they hardly know each other and they feel that bond? Amazes me. I have often said that love (and most other things) is just a decision, but here are people who believe that so and so is their soul-mate, the person who has made life meaningful, who is the reason for everything good in their life, and all I get to do is shake my head or fall asleep (of course, I get my turn too). How would one know without having attempted to know? What brings people together always makes me wonder.

And then I ask them (in my head) as to what they ever wanted from a marriage. Isn't that a vital question to ask oneself? Why do I want to get married? And wouldn't the next question be: What can I give to life after a marriage? No, this is not a mental exercise nor is this a call to create checklists. It is about being aware of these things. It is about realising the importance and perhaps vitality of the inclusion of marriage into one's life. Am I the only one seeing a lack of this? A successful marriage is not a case for establishing the pointlessness of this exercise. There was this story about a soldier who escapes somewhere and hides in a maiden's house. That maiden is all romantic and admires this soldier's general who had bravely attacked the enemy, although his battalion had only few weapons. The general had won, but the soldier gives the maiden insight into the stupidity of things which had lead to an accidental victory.

If people believe in accidental victories, I wonder why there is an ever-growing population which insists on "love" or "conscious choice" or "free will" pre-meditating any marital arrangement. If people are fine with entering a marriage with a general sense of comfort and thereafter tackling life as and when it arrives at their doorstep, that is cool (and my hats off to them for being so beautiful). I haven't seen that work very many times nor am I sure I have met a person who can effortlessly make me feel right about associating through marriage. (Another question would be: How does one recognise such a person?) Given that I believe that a marriage is forever and that a marriage fulfills the couple as well as the individual, it is crystal clear that one needs to understand what one realises a marriage to be like (not in exacting terms but as a fairly robust framework) and having realised that, ponder over whether one should get into a marriage even though it might not satisfy completely (ok, so is 50%, basic minimum? Is 70% acceptable enough?).

Another take would be to accept that marriage is just one thing in the entire scheme of things and one needn't break one's head so much over it and accept it the way one accepts one's mom/dad/sibling/relatives without much thought. But I didn't enter into a relationship with them consciously!! So how much does consciousness matter?

So this season leaves me wishing the best for all those entering holy matrimony while I continue to sit in my hammock exclaiming "Holy **it!"

11 comments:

  1. Parvati12:57 PM

    :-D.
    If "you are what you think", you must be a jumble bee.

    #To me, marriage is a way that enables me to live with the person I want to spend all my life with, without society, the world biting my head off for doing so, as would be the case if I hadn't married him. This is the first principle. While all else that you have spoken about here is a lot of derivatives cushioned by rules of society, biology or companionship, and will never fulfil a mature human being with a rich personality.

    # Actually, without mentioning the word "marriage", I would say that we as human beings, who will be living on this earth for say, a period of 70-75 years, should live with at least one person who is the one who fulfils us, brings us joy all the moments that s/he is with us, as against all the other people that are thrust down our throat by fate or God...

    # Either marry for fulfilment, or for children or for companionship, or for the parents' sake, or ideally if one woman suits all these at a single stroke, grab her and "never let her go, day and night let her know that you love her so!"

    # You are a person of conflicts. How do you manage to live with the different persons that are teeming inside you, I wonder? If I were thus, I would be raging mad, which also means that you have an immeasureable inner spiritual and mental strength to handle all these personalities and contradictory thoughts and emerge out of it as a confident decisionmaking individual.

    # Interesting. Makes me smile, your considerations and concerns regarding marriage. Hope peace prevails once the decision is taken by you, inside your head and outside in your life! Best wishes!

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  2. If you're looking elsewhere for a justification of marriage, you're looking in the wrong place.

    Choosing to marry is like moving to another continent - you can read all the guidebooks you want but they aren't going to tell you what the experience is like.

    Togetherness, love, waking up to someone are just words - copied endlessly from one person, one blog, one article and one novel to another - yet to each person the experience of this will be quite different.

    The decision to explore (as well as the decision NOT to explore) must be entirely your own; and must necessarily be made with limited information. That's the mystery of life. Not everything can be decided by reasoning.

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  3. interesting and though provoking post. specially all that about the artillery. hmm.

    :D

    "So how much does consciousness matter?"

    do we even know what consciousness is? if anything? what if it turns out to be like 'ether', soul or 'heart' ...

    dunno.

    marraige is a contract. you need some form of commitment between a man and woman to succesfully make babies - given the kind of babies we make (ie: born helpless and needing care for many years to survive), being only one (probably the original) example

    i dont agree with the company in old age theory - because chances are one or the other of the two will die much earlier, or run away with someone else, or become such a pain that you will pray not to have his or her company ;)

    that's the practical point of view. on a more personal note, i think wether someone would get into it - or indeed any 'relationship' whether or not it is thus formalised - would depend either on their seeing any sample marraiges - or available candidates impressive enough by to tempt them, or on wether they need any other form value addition that it would bring

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  4. Dear P,
    Marriage is for society and a notion of marriage devoid of society appears meaningless to me. I realise that marriage is for a sense of fulfillment, but... Dunno. :-)

    Dear M,
    True points you raise here. I am not looking for a justification for marrying. You are a mature and very intelligent person. If a marriage adds nothing to your inner self, why would you consider marrying? That is my point. Aah, the mystery of life... :-)

    Dear R,
    Planes of consciousness exist not because they exist but because we overload the word "consciousness". It surely isn't ether and the like!! :-) You sure have a rosy picture of a marriage!! :-D I think the "sample" marriages thing is usually aplicable for people who get into a marriage because they didn't know what to do and had to pass time. Most others feel a lack in their lives, a void which they feel a person would fill and they would like to marry that person (the lack could also include that of physical intimacy ;-). Point is, what if a person doesn't have a lack, or it is a lack that can be filled by other means? Second issue is, what if the person is unaware of this lack or void and enters into a marriage only to realise that that void is not filled?

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  5. Eroteme,

    yes, thats the value addition angle, is it not? (the void)

    "Point is, what if a person doesn't have a lack, or it is a lack that can be filled by other means? Second issue is, what if the person is unaware of this lack or void and enters into a marriage only to realise that that void is not filled?"

    These are things designed by evolution and nature. We do most of these things without realising what or why, anyway. So chances are if you drift into it for whatever reason you might end up satisfied.

    If you dont have a lack or a void, or you dont have a conscious need, then there is nothing to be filled and you will be happy even without getting anything specific out of it, no?

    "Planes of consciousness exist not because they exist but because we overload the word "consciousness"" I did'nt get that at all :)

    Surely isn't ether and the like ... yes lot of people would agree with you. Just like lot of people once thought the earth was flat and space was made of ether :D

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  6. E,

    Thanks for the compliments but I hardly deserve them :) Not sure about your question. By inner self do you mean the soul? If so - nothing that you do - or don't adds or takes away anything from it, right?

    If you mean inner self as a person, if marriage adds nothing to me personally, I would not consider marrying. However, the point to be considered is - how do you know if marriage will add anything or not until you try it? Hence comes the mystery and the exploration.

    Personally - I feel with marriage (or indeed, any deep and committed relationship) there must be personal growth because your sense of self changes - and therefore expands (since you view yourself in a different way). Singles and doubles tennis cover roughly the same court area - but the doubles game is fundamentally different in dynamism than the singles one... and I feel a similar case is true of marriage - you will still live a life but coordinating it with someone is a completely new challenge/way of life/experience. This if course, is just my take!

    Happy ruminating on marriage :-)

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  7. i like P's comments "we as human beings, who will be living on this earth for say, a period of 70-75 years, should live with at least one person who is the one who fulfils us, brings us joy all the moments that s/he is with us,

    interesting thoughts, no matter how much we discuss this topic, or even battle it out in our own little head the views will always differ until we find our path into or maybe outta marriage .. dunno if i ever find that path but i try to believe what P said to be true

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  8. Dear R,
    Technically he can do without anyone or a person who cannot offer anything significant, but that is not the issue. The issue is ... forget it! :-)

    Dear M,
    I wouldn't waste time flattering someone so you probably deserve them all and more! :-) I like your analogy! I am done ruminating!! I hardly last more than one night over a topic! ;-)

    Dear S,
    Parvatiji sure has an ardent fan following here! :-) Yes, it is something for which one can never expect universal agreement.

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  9. May be I am not the right person to comment on this subject, but couldnt resist giving my two pence worth:

    Marriage/relationship: Do it when you are ready. There will be changes in your life post marriage, but why worry if they bring in new experiences, let you grow as a person and experience life in a new way. As long as the person is right it will be worthwhile.

    Nothing, not even marriage is permanent. People change, people die, anything can happen. Enjoy the times you have without holding on or planning too much for the old age so to say. That will make the present beautiful and the past memorable. The future..one never knows.

    Being married is more to me a personal individual experience. You give uncontitionally and are happy in giving. If every one enters marriage thus, there may be no broken hearts!

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  10. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Hi E,

    Very nice blog,enjoyed reading it!!

    I dont know if its too late to comment on this post about marriage..

    To decide to get married itself is a big decision and maybe its easy for those who've found their better half and are comfortable to spend the rest of their lives with the chosen one,but then in the case of an "arranged marriage" so to say..on what basis do you choose somebody??Its really scary to get married to a stranger whom you have never met in your life and its like taking a big risk...marriages should not happen just because theres pressure from family,society,because you're getting old or whatever other reasons that can be attributed to it..i completely agree with your thoughts on this..its a tough decision to make and im still searching for the real meaning to get married!!

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  11. Dear Anon,
    It's never too late! :-) If I agree with what you say (which, you say, is in agreement with what I said ;-) then I would need to turn a blind eye towards the centuries of arranged marriages (and their success ratio is much higher) happening in India. So I think it is less about arranged or designed, but more about individual and collective clarity. This is what I see affecting the affairs of a marriage.

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