I visited her place in the beginning of November to ask about Sohan, her son, not coming to the school for a while. And a class 3 kid, Nikesh leads me to his place, i was urging to go for so long. When I visited no one was there but Maggu aunty, carrying fuels for her home. She is generous. She has big eyes filled with compassion, no ornaments barring her big smile. I decided to stay there for one night, and kept staying there for 13 more. And i have learnt to make rotis there.
Throughout my stay at her place I have been asked about why i am still not married or engaged to someone. By Maggu aunty, kids and older people from other households. That made me think and write a piece on marriage from both the perspective of Maggu aunty and her relatives, as well as of my family and friends staying in the city.
Maggu aunty, the mother of one of my school kids
Maggu aunty, asks too many questions a day
More than her kids do.
She is curious to know the world
Beyond her restricted worldview.
One thing that surprises her the most
In my country people marry, when they get old!
When the old couple of the house age faster
Carrying remorse in their sight,
Imbibing the pain of never being in a classroom
Tears leave me, thinking of the many opportunities I got.
In my country, my mother’s brother stops having meals
To change the decision of my cousin to be in a relationship
With a girl who has a dark complexion
To my uncle she is not up to the mark
She is thin and having brown skin
is a reason of worry to some of my kin!
My mother keeps worrying about me
Her fear that i am going to marry someone inferior.
My papa thinks my questioning harms my prospects.
My society waits to weigh the gold the bride has worn.
Wedding in my country is a way to show
The excess money saved in the bank,
Hiding the in-affordability underneath.
My country’s women turn into witches, after marriage
When they expect equal share of household chores.
My country is mute at the scene of domestic violence
Behind the close door.
Men put to death, honor before love!
*Priya’s father accused her lover
Threatening to take them to the court
For she dare not love his daughter.
My friends are fighting together
To get married in the same sex.
Our struggle stories are still stuck in our plight of ‘2 States’!
Your ‘country’ has a very different story to tell
I have come here to sail on the boat, you ride everyday.
When I meet you, fathers and mothers of my school-goers
Talking about marrying them off.
In your ‘country’ I found a 15 year old
Who has no idea how old he is, Father to a toddler.
The old couple of the house I have met,
The parents of my kids at school I have met,
Want to marry off their child.
They get old and in need of someone
To take care of the household,
To take the goats to the graze-land.
They want to marry of their son
Because they need someone’s hands to share work with.
Sarma, my 13-year-old girl in class
Was talking about her engagement.
Keeps cracking adult jokes.
When I reminded her that she is still only a child
And she should continue this journey of learning.
She laughed out loud, “Didi, teko pata nahi hai kya, shadi kyu hoti hai?”
*Names changed to protect identity