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September 27, 2017

State Of The Union: Moment Of Truth

Text by Ranjabati Das. Illustration by Swati Sinha

Copy Editor at Verve, Ranjabati Das, urges every millennial out there to wake up and say good morning to a new idea of marriage that will certainly make theirs more sustainable

Hey, have you heard the one about the husband and wife who lived happily ever after? That’s it, that’s the joke. Happily-ever-after, as a concept, belongs in the realm of fairy tales, not in the real world. Are you thinking, ‘What a cynic’? Well, think again.

I was one of those incurable romantics till I started living in with the man of my dreams, my Prince Charming. That’s when I realised why a woman who is employed is called a ‘working woman’. It is because she is always working – before she goes to work, at work, and also after she comes back home from work. Before I leave for my one-hour commute to office, my days start with picking up the things strewn lovingly all around by the prince, a veritable night owl. There are glasses and plates to be rescued from under the bed. I normally try to avoid venturing into the kitchen where I’m likely to find the counter overflowing with spoons and ladles, halved veggies, utensils, spice mixes and more – as His Highness likes to cook. All these developments occur post my bedtime, after the cat has gone to sleep so to speak.

And after I come back home from a long day at work, there are socks to be taken out from inside shoes and the bed to be made over incredulous screams of ‘But you’re going to sleep there!’ If I ask for help with any kind of cleaning, I usually get a ‘I think it is fine the way it is’ accompanied by a smiley face. Once I even got a ‘I don’t think it qualifies as ‘housework’…it’s something you’re doing for you’. The gall! Why don’t you zip your mouth, I had mimed, before demanding to know why he hadn’t retrieved the portable grill from the loft yet – a request that had been ignored coolly for about a month even after I had sellotaped a paper to the wall, stuck a Post-it on the fridge, left notes on the bedside table, and flooded his phone and email inboxes with about a 100 reminders…. “Stop grilling me,” he had smiled crookedly in response.

Is it all an illusion? Where are all those things that make marriage so suitable, especially in India? The holidays, the kids, the house, the 24-hour help, the Indian dream? Without all this and with this male propensity to hang on to some convoluted notion of bachelorhood, does it really work? One thing is for certain: now that I know what it’s like to have a teenager at home, I’m sure as day not getting a kid! In this day and age, when we are all pressed for time, love is overrated. That is, if you nurture traditional expectations, which are just not realistic by today’s standards….

Rather, you could marry late after adulthood has been attained, or go with an arranged marriage where you can tick off all the right boxes. Expect barriers, but you can also expect some peace if not always passion. And if you are to enter the lion’s den in search of an amorous entanglement and opt for a love marriage, make space your priority. If it seemed unnecessary while you were dating, it’s every bit as necessary as grown-ups sharing a house. Don’t buy those stories spread by the Sooraj Barjatyas of the world. A family that eats together likely comes with a best-before date. Rather, go for holidays, solo or with friends or family you’re living away from. Take a sabbatical from your partner. Pursue your own social life. Be in the other room. Try a long-distant marriage for a bit; if you get a great job opportunity in another city, make the move. If you’re still single, you could include all these points in a pre-nup no matter how you choose to ingest your poison – with love or practicality.

And if it still doesn’t work, forget about who’s getting the teak table and that fancy Italian moka pot you scoured all of Firenze for. Let the hefty security deposit go to hell – you don’t want finances to come in the way of your sanity. Bear in mind that losses go way beyond the finances as you reclaim your life.

What most of us hope and live for is some amount of peace, contentment, support, companionship and appreciation. So why is it so difficult to break away when we find that our wishes and demands are not being respected and met? In true Meredith Grey style, let me burst your bubble: as humans we love to hold on to things and fight for people; we love to pamper and hope and be mollycoddled, while the truth is that it’s just as difficult to live with someone, anyone, as without. Because we are all flawed and life itself is futile, an illusion.

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