“Your daughter is having a lot of sex”

After the first monsoon rains are over, me and mom go foraging for mushrooms in our backyard which seem to blossom overnight, similarly when a girl or boy comes of age in India there are a lot of people who seem to appear in their lives like these monsoon mushrooms. It is almost like you are graduating in life from a learner’s license to a real one and you are somehow starting to figure out which way to go but suddenly one day, you are shoved off in a hurry from the driver’s seat and they take over and drive off seemingly having discussions and arguments among themselves. You just end up being a spectator of this strange dance.

Back home we collectively call them uncles and aunts, not that our parents have so many siblings, its just a polite way of addressing a disparate group of people united by the single most aim of getting you into that wedding dress.  They include real uncles and aunts, neighbors, your friends’ parents, your postman, the person who comes to read the electricity meter at your home and in a lot of the cases an astrologer.

sheldon

An astrologer and I have a lot in common, we both are keenly interested in the motion of the moon and the planets. While my interest is more curiosity driven and includes a lot of Python programming, an astrologer gives out more of a Prof. Trelawney vibe. “You have the GRIM Harry arghhh”, not exactly that, but you get the picture, right?

Depending on where your parents stand on the atheist-religious-theist scale, a visit to an astrologer can have lasting effects on one’s  life. A lot of my friends were married off at the age of 21 because otherwise their planets aligned only when they were 32 which is of course code for too old to to be in the wedding market.

When it comes to matters related to religion my father is a firm believer in everything and my mother is also somewhere around that ball park. Since I am 28 and as single as a person can be, they decided to take my horoscope to our family astrologer (yes we have one). He told my mom outright that “your daughter is having a lot of sex”.

Now, this is no joke for my parents and a lot of Indian parents for that matter. When you look beyond the glitz and glamour of westernized big urban Indian cities there are a lot of places where dating is still not part of the vocabulary, where talks about sex is always done in hushed tones and sex before marriage is still a taboo. Virginity is a measure of a girl’s honor and worthiness. Almost all religions celebrate delayed gratification and in this case a girl who can’t wait to have a husband for sex is deemed loose and if she has had more then one sexual partners then by all definitions of that word a ‘whore’.

My mom didn’t even ask me if I was in a sexual relationship with someone, she just assumed I was not. Because I was raised to be a good girl and good girls never dare do anything out of the behavioral checklist that society shoves on them.

Should I tell her that I stopped being a good girl a while ago?

Love,

Jo

How we arrange love!

 

” I did it, your brother did it, then why can’t you?”, asked my mother holding up the photo of a prospective groom in her hands. “Come on, look at his face, tell me one thing you don’t like about it? ”

“ Amma, it is not about this guy, I am just studying now, what if I don’t…..? “, I started talking hesitantly, but by that point, she had taken off her headphones and was trying to bring the photo of him so close to the webcam, that all I could see then was his extra red tie!

I tried yelling at the top of my voice to get her attention for a couple of times and then got tired and hung up!

It was a typical Sunday morning Skype conversation with my parents, a conversation that does not move an inch without bumping into the topic of my wedding!

I have seen successful arranged marriages up close, my brother’s for instance, he had  talked literally for ten minutes with my now sister in law before saying his capital Y-Yes! I am sure he wasn’t apprehensive, he said it with gleaming eyes and a smile he couldn’t wash off! And my parents, even after thirty-two years of arranged married life they cannot seem to spend even a day apart.

So don’t get me wrong, my disagreement is not towards the concept of arranged marriages, but towards a system that shows utmost hostility to anyone who refuse to follow the set rules of a religious, patriarchal society. A system where it is considered okay to break ties with a child because he/she did not think religion has the power to dictate their love, a system where a girl is asked to give up her studies or career at the glimpse of a rich, qualified husband, where a boy is not given the choice of pursuing his passion because having a ‘steady’ job is prerequisite for boys to enter the wedding market.

I got a call from my best friend this morning.

“What are you doing”, she asked?

“It is 6.30 in the morning, what do you think I am doing?” I replied half asleep!

She was unusually chirpy, “Check your WhatsApp! You are going to love this, she couldn’t stop laughing.”

I hung up and checked my WhatsApp, she had sent me a screenshot of a newspaper column, I zoomed into the picture to read.

Hindu Parents invite proposals for their daughter 26 years, fair, 5 ft 1′, doing Master’s abroad seeks good alliance from well to do and settled boys .

There it was, I described in 20 words or less.

I am here waiting for the love of my life to take a scan through the pages of his Sunday newspaper, and get swept off his feet.


 

The above text is an excerpt from one of my older journal entries. In India, along with the Sunday newspaper, there is a supplement sheet where you can give matrimonial advertisements. Giving a picture below so you can get the gist.

wedding