I have recently read, with interest, articles both by Scribblemarks (aka Mira Saraf), as well as Maggie, a fellow blogger, on the skewed facets of the institution of marriage in the context of today’s world. I have often wanted to write on this subject, but actually would like to start with the subject of what we blithely call love.
A caveat at first. I have been married to the same woman for 43 years. Although we have had our ups and downs, like all married couples do, I could never have wished for anyone else to have married, given that ours was a so called “Love Marriage”. In the Indian context that phrase itself implies something illicit and not normal. But then, who gives a rat’s ass. If it had not worked out between my wife and I, I would have only myself to blame for it.
But I digress……back to love and marriage. But let us look at this absurd and abused word called love.
Of course the word love covers a multitude of sins that can encompass a person’s love for food, his or her love for a particular chair, or a house, a street, a city or a country. It could be a dog or a cat, a friend (now we are getting warmer), and of course someone of the opposite sex whom one is attracted to.
Now the strange thing is that we all misunderstand love to be anything from a crush, or lust, to a “I want to marry you” love, and a zillion shades in between. But are any of these accurate descriptions of the word love in its purest form? Then there is the difference between loving someone or “being in love,” such a romantic concept, that it makes my toes curl in delight. But the variations do not end there.
How about love at first sight? Without knowing anything about the person in question, one glance is all it takes? I mean if I saw a piece of cheesecake I might fall in love at first sight, but a girl (sorry ladies, I use girl because I am a guy), who could be an axe murderer or a psycho of some other variety but has elfin beauty? How long does that love last? Till the second sight?
Not to be outdone is the result of adding the adjective “true” to the word love. Woo Hoo, this is true love. Yeah, yeah all other kinds of love are obviously false, aren’t they? But this is true love. So what does true love mean? Then sop artists add that true love happens only once in your lifetime. Huh? Why? Who wrote that in the rule books? Was it in the Bible? The Bhagwad Gita, the Torah, the Qura’an, or the Guru Granth Sahib? This only goes to show that if there is anything that is in oversupply it is bull-shit artists who come up with crap like this.
Why can you not experience true love a second time, a third time, and so on? Who decided that one is the limit? And who decided that you cannot love two girls (sorry again ladies. I could do a sex change operation and write about boys, but that seems a little extreme.) at the same time? Who writes all these rules? I think it is perfectly normal to have feelings for more than one person at the same time. I have seen many live examples of this, and reassured the “guilty parties” that there is nothing wrong with them, only society’s perception of right vs wrong.
And now before we go to marriage, how about another much abused word. RELATIONSHIPS!!!!! My status “In a relationship” (could have been “in a jail” or “in a coffee shop”, or “in England” for that matter). What exactly does this word relationship mean? Can 2 people in a relationship said to be in love? Or are they like husband and wife without the marriage license? Are they somehow tied to each other in a manner which I am unable to comprehend? Is there love, or is love not necessary?
Now, on to marriage, the ultimate goal of every civilized man, woman and people of other shades not covered above. A monogamous semi-legal “relationship” that declares that these two poor schmucks are tied for the rest of their natural lives to be devoted to each other “till death do them part”. According to most religions, monogamy has been dictated by God himself (er…herself?). Okay where was I when that circular came out? Then there are the embellishments added by church officials, such as “to have and to hold, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others” (forsaking? why forsake others? what did they do?).
Monogamy in its original form was invented thousands of years ago. The book Sapiens would probably have a more accurate timeline. Much like institutions in those days, as well as the scriptures of that time, what relevance do things invented then have today? We make a simple concept like a Government of the people, for the people and by the people fail on all 3 counts, and that concept is not even thousands of years old. How does marriage remain sacrosanct?
In traditional Indian Hindu society a girl is prepped for marriage starting when the umbilical cord is cut. Or else, she may become a “kandhe ka bhoj” for the father (a burden on a father’s shoulders for you schmucks who don’t know “Indian”. Ha ha ha ha, sorry I mean Hindi). Once the boy has qualified in some field and is “earning”, he is then put on a weighing scale to see how much he is worth in the marriage market. Much like eBay or other auction sites a deal is struck eventually which may mean varying amounts of cash and kind.
The boy could be an asshole, the girl could have been totally involved with and in love with another guy, but the deal is struck. Another unhappy marriage is born. Kids may also follow making the marriage an even unhappier one, because the chains become stronger. Why is monogamy so important? You know why? I will tell you why at least in the Indian context.
Boy marries girl. Hopefully they beget lots of boys (potentially marketable) and very few girls (sigh! just think of the dowry). There are all kinds of earners in the family so that when the parents are old and infirm, there is money pouring in to support them “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health”. If there is no marriage, that means the parents are basically fucked! The “vansh” (the family seed) disappears. And that is a tragedy?
How so? Once you are dead, do you give a rat’s ass who carries on your bloodline? So what does all this mean?
In today’s context, be it in traditional Indian society or in the so called “modern western world” marriage as an institution has lost its relevance totally. If I were 25 today, I would say no to marriage and spend time with girls, friends, dogs, adopt children who need a home, if I need to. If I wanted sex, it is much easier to do this without the other party claiming a headache isn’t it? Just find someone who needs it as much as you do, and bingo, you are done. Worse comes to worse, call on the Palm Sisters.
You want companionship? Live with a bunch of people or live with one. Spend time together, have a (sic!) relationship, if you want to give it a label. Why must you marry? Who benefits in this process?
1. Boy and girl – basically they are screwed for the rest of their lives
2. Parents – Spend tons of money, and hear a lot of complaints about the arrangements and food. Kill themselves saving for dowry, marriage expenses, keeping up with the Joneses (or the Patels, as in India).
3. Guests – Eat awful food, pretend like you are having fun, while inside you wish you were dead. Spend money on gifts and clothes and grooming.
Yes, everyone else does well. The priest or church or pandit make money. The caterer makes out like a bandit, the wedding organiser makes a killing, and so on and so forth.
Monogamy was not created by God. It was created by man, to control man. Man’s biological instinct is not of monogamy (sorry ladies, here man is like Homo Sapiens, not just the male). So monogamy is an unnatural act for man. It is almost doomed from day one. Yes it may not end in divorce. But rarely is it a happy ending. (Again, apologies to my dear wife of 43 years).
Urban India, along with the western world is marrying later and later, or not at all. Rural India and small town India, basically driven by a conspiracy between the patriarchs and the silently more powerful matriarchs, still drive marriage. The boy from a very young age is told by his “Mommy” that he is God’s gift to women, and by the time he is marriageable he believes it. Enter the bride who has been groomed to be a second class citizen ever since her umbilical cord was cut, becomes a perfect fit for him.
Inside her, she probably hates the system, and curses her luck in being born as a girl, but when she comes to the age when she is mother-in-law material, her thought is, “Screw this, if I had to put up with this shit, I am going to make some poor hapless girl pay for my bad days. And I will sit back and gloat when I see her squirm”. So the system is propagated.
Marriage is outdated. Period! It has little to offer today’s young people except pain. It needs to be discarded.
With due apologies to believers in the marriage system.