Where I come from, we have this expression which says marriages are not between individuals but between families. Where I come from, marriages are also arranged and paid for by parents. Where I come from, love marriages are not advocated.
Just in case you’re still in some kind of a doubt, let me reiterate, it’s a big NO to love marriages.
Especially, if the boyfriend/girlfriend is not from your community.
Does it sound medieval to you? Because it does to me; in spite of the fact that I grew up here, haven’t been anywhere else and the biggest cultural difference I’ve experienced is eating Roti for lunch instead of rice.
But, the thing is, I find it illogical.
At the tender age of 3 or 4, we’re sent off to school; where we’re encouraged to mingle with all the kids. Nobody asks about caste or community or religion before making friends.
When you turn 17, parents vie with each other in sending their children to the farthest possible college. After all, the best educational spots are all these large campuses cut off from the world and all with their own diverse communities.
Then, when you’re finally churned out by the system, degree in hand and dreams in your eyes, ready to integrate yourself into the world, suddenly, everybody’s asking questions that you’ve never really been asked before.
I mean, if I’d wanted to be defined by the hometown, by my parents or by my surname, why on earth did I spend these last 20-odd years slogging my rump off? I want to be a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, an artist, a writer. I want to be a person. I want to be more than my name and that’s what I’ve been taught to want. So, why is this job application or that nosy uncle at the wedding asking about my caste?
It feels like parents and teachers spend all our lives bringing us up on a healthy diet of the loftiest of values. But, when the time arrives for all that theory to be actually practised, it’s like they can’t pedal back fast enough. And you could reason it away any which way- you could tell me that these divisive practices have been around forever. You could tell me that I was wilfully blind and deaf to it; that it’s my fault I didn’t notice what was going on around me. But, the fact remains that when these concepts begin to take the centre-field in your life, it’s feels sudden; like a drunken whammy out of nowhere!
So, you can blame my ignorance as much as you like, but, I can’t stop being proud of having friends from any and every community. And I’m proud of my friends for willing to be my friends. And in the future, if the impossible happens and I fall in love, then I’ll be proud of my partner too; irrespective of where they’re from and what their last name will be.
You see, I came into existence before my name did. So, as much as I like my name, my identity extends far beyond that…and that’s what I want the world to know.