|By Tanya Pinto, Canada [ Published Date: July 25, 2004 ]|
“Guess what?” my friend asked me excitedly over the phone. “Nisha is getting married!” she said rapidly, not even waiting for my response to her question.
The news was entirely unbelievable to me. As far as I knew, the last guy she was introduced to by her parents she did not like much because there were no sparks between them. Besides, he lived in the States in some suburban area where to just get into the city centre she would have had to drive for two and a half hours. She was interested in pursuing her PhD in Chemistry and needed to have easy access to a centre with higher education. Living in suburbia would make it difficult for her to pursue her goals. Not to mention she would have to leave all her friends and family in Toronto.
“To whom is she getting married? Its not that guy is it”? I asked, hoping for a negative answer.
“It is that guy in that States. The one with the catering business!” my friend said emphatically. “Can you believe that? She has agreed to marry him.”
“But why? Why is she getting married? And what about her studies?” I asked and all my friend could say was “I don’t know”. I was asking the wrong person. I had to talk to Nisha.
“Yeah she did not seem excited when she told me about it. You know her parents are putting a lot of pressure on her to get married. She is 28 and will be turning 29 soon. I guess they figure it’s her only chance.”
“What rubbish! So what if she is still unmarried at 29? It’s not going to ruin her life,” I said to that comment. And I was surprised at Nisha. Her parents had always put pressure on her, probably ever since she turned 22. So why get married now, to a guy we all knew she was, just a month ago, dismissing as a marriage candidate. It didn’t seem like they had much in common. She was all science. Always lost in a world of molecules. He seemed like he was all business. What was she thinking by agreeing?
I waited for Nisha to call me up, rather than call and congratulate her. She did call me up a day later. And my friend was right. She did not seem at all excited.
“The wedding is going to be in the States,” she informed me. “It would be nice if you could come.”
The question was burning a hole inside of me. I wanted to ask her why she is getting married to this guy, of all guys, and was thinking about how to approach the subject more tactfully. In the end I gave up after a rather ridiculous long pause between the two of us as she was waiting for me to respond and so I just asked her.
“Why are you getting married? I thought you didn’t like him”
“He is not that bad,” she said simply.
He is not that bad?!? Is that how one thinks of the man you are just about to marry. There must be a more enthusiastic response than that in a bride-to-be.
“Oh come on Nisha! We are talking about marriage here. Don’t you think you should have more positive feelings towards him?”
“My parents like him.”
“Right. That’s nice that they like him. What about you?” I asked her.
“Look I am just fed up with my living situation right now. My family wants me to get married. That’s what they have been harping about for the longest time. You know that. They don’t think there is any point in me pursuing higher education. My mom had two babies at my age. My nana keeps reminding me of that. This way I do what they want and I can do what I want. And he seems supportive of me going to school. I am frankly tired of everything. I hate explaining myself and my actions to my family every time. This way I will be free of them and he is not that bad. I could live with him. He has no problems with me studying further.”
“But he lives in Booneville,” I said. “Its going to take you hours to get to a university and you are moving to the States. Away from everybody. Is he agreeable for you to live apart from him while you pursue your studies?”
“No,” she said. “I am going to have to live with him and his parents. I will commute from their house.”
“You will commute for two and a half hours?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes if I have to. He is not keen on me living by myself. He wants me to live with him and his family. It should be okay,” she said sounding more hopeful than sure about her fiancée’s position towards education.
Living with his parents and him. So, this was going to be a joint family situation. Now she would be expected to contribute to the housework, the catering business etc? Could she really just pursue her studies? I was not sure. If he was really supportive, would he not have encouraged her to stay closer to the university, where she could read in the library or do her experiments leisurely instead of rushing back home to do this or that. It sounded like she was getting married just to get away her from her own family and not for any of the right reasons to get married. She was just trading one form of confinement for another. She was trading her family’s expectations for her new family’s expectations. Each wanting her to do what they thought was right for her. But never allowing her the freedom to do what she thought was right for her.
For her sake, I hope this decision is not something that she will regret for the rest of her life.