Being a 29 year old woman myself, I loved living alone in New York City, running sometimes at 11:30pm, passersby cheering for me, or a person asking me if I was mad to run in the rain at 10pm. It would also include buying groceries and trying out new recipes, or meeting old friends who were visiting the City, occasionally missing family and the long-distance boyfriend. I loved living alone, on my own terms and not being answerable to anyone for anything.
But lo and behold! As soon as I come back to India, I have to attend a family function in which I have to respond a barrage of questions and statements. So here goes, the not-so-long-list:
When are you planning to get married?
Answer: I already have a boyfriend. I have been dating him for thirteen years. If I wanted to get married, I would have by now or maybe I will in the future. How does it matter to you? You might not even be invited to the awesome occasion to taste the fabulous jalebi-rabri I intend to serve at MY HAPPY DAY! Or maybe, just maybe, I love being single and not-so-ready to mingle!
You should get married soon, because your biological clock is running and you must have children soon, atleast one before you turn 30.
Answer: Well, you know what! I am never going to have kids. Have you looked at India’s population and the world’s population right now? We are going to surpass China in being the most populated country in the world. Not to forget the severe competition in getting into the best play way school, nursery school, junior school, high school, college, job, and then finding the perfect match, then getting married, and then doing the same for your kids, is crazy. We millennials are currently the most educationally qualified generation (most of us own a Masters’ Degree if not a PhD), and least paid people. We still dream of migrating abroad in hopes of getting a better job, better partner, and better work life balance. In India we get paid half of what our counterparts are being paid in the UK or the US and we work almost double of what they do, plus we work over the weekends as well.
Also, the fact that some of us dislike children. We love how cute they look from a distance, but that crying on planes, in theatre when you are missing out on some important dialogue, or washing poo and caca during the first few years, not to forget how extremely hard pregnancy is on a woman’s body, are somethings some of us do not want.
Most working mothers are ridden with guilt of not spending enough time with their children or whether the help is feeding them well, or whether it is too much trouble for her in-laws or parents to take care of the young ones.
Perhaps my partner or I have a health problem. We are desperately trying to have a baby, and you pointing the matter is really not helping our situation, but it is adding to our annoyance.
When will you settle down?
Answer: This is again, connected to the previous questions mentioned above. What makes you think I am not settled? This is exactly where I wanted to be in my life at this juncture. What makes you think I am not happy exactly the way I am?
You have such a pretty face, why don’t you lose some weight?
Answer: Thank you for fat shaming me! I already have major body image issues looking at Alia Bhatt and Katrina Kaif on TV. I do not need you to tell me that I do not look a certain way. And by the way, you do not look like them either. Do you really know how many hours I run? Do you know I am one of the fastest runners I have seen for my weight? Do you know I have PCOS/Thyroid/ other hormonal problems that do not necessarily have to do with my eating certain foods? Do you know I was the best debater in my school and college? Do you know that I am a fabulous cook and a Kathak dancer? But no, you choose to judge me on my appearance. What does that tell me about you?
I think you should not wear that skirt/top, it is a little too short for exercising /for your body! (in some cases, what will people think about the family you come from?)
Answer: Who are you? Why are you talking to me again? I could weigh 150 kilos, and still rock a skirt, and why are you having a problem with that? Because men are ogling at me? That is their problem not mine! It is not my fault that even if I am wearing a burqa, men in India would stare at me whatever be my weight and size. So, I might as well wear clothes I love and make me feel good about myself. I could have had a terrible day at work or at home, but these clothes make me feel sexy, and maybe that is the only positive feeling I will feel the whole day. Did you ever think about that? No, you only think about yourself!
This list is endless. It also includes statements and queries like, Do you just sleep around? Don’t you want a steady relationship? Why have you cut your hair so short? Do not put pictures of your boyfriend with you on Facebook, what will all our relatives think? Is career the only thing that matters to you? You should not date X, he is too old/young for you! Why don’t you quit smoking/drinking? Don’t you know it is very un-lady-like?
In conclusion, it would be really nice if people would just let us be! How does it matter to you, what we do, what we wear, whether we are married or are living with someone, or are just dating/tindering? We understand that it is unconventional and something you have never done or seen. Maybe just be open to new things, new ideas, new people, new ways of living. It might not be as bad as you think! And it might also make you a better human being, someone who accepts people and situations the way they are.