Thursday, July 24, 2008

Single and Dreading to Mingle

I read an article today in CNN about the low marriage rate among blacks in the US. As is wont, I connected to the topic instantly! (Not being black ofcourse, my interest was in the 'low marriage rate' thing) The writer was a 30 year old black woman, well educated, with a few past relationships that never resulted in marriage. Was proud to wear the 'Single' crown for long, but wavering a bit now. Not because she feels a genuine need to get married, I presume, but because of this question below:

'Why are you still single?'

Alex, a colleague at office, asked me exactly the same question yesterday. Alex is 34 years old, and his eldest kid is 11 years old. He has been married only once, almost a minority in Moscow in his age group, built a house recently and built most of its interiors on his own. The plumbing, the wallpaper, the entire kitchen, the windows... all built with his bare hands! He has been working on his house for the past 1 year and is taking a fortnight's annual leave to complete it. An ideal family man! May be a bit more too. But that's not our topic now anyway.

The question was 'Why are you still single?' Because I don't want to get married! I get panic attacks when any girl friend of mine makes dreamy eyes at me. The moment a girl shows the slightest interest in me beyond the short term, I hallucinate about rabid women, obsessed with getting married to me, in classic-white christian bridal gear, flower bouquet et al, chasing me down narrow, RGV-style, dirty, side-alleys of ancient european towns! (Ok, I cooked up that european town scenery, because Dharavi isn't sophisticated enough for a white costumed bride)

But the crux of the matter is, I panic at the very thought of marriage. And I simply summarized it for Alex, 'Because I don't want to get married!'

An Indian married colleague who was sitting there, heard through the conversation, wisecracked immediately. 'See Alex, that's what all guys say if they are single at 28! He may be looking for a girl actively, but never succeeded in getting married! Which is why he's not admitting it!'

What the......??

I minced no words in vehemently denying the preposterous charges!! Except for a momentary lapse of reason that is regretfully still haunting me, I never wanted to get married at all! I was expectedly offended! A mortal wound from a worthy adversary, I welcome, but not thy sly arrows in the back, dipped in the poison of falsehood!!

But I thought about it later and realized that this is what will drive me to get married one day, if not anything else! Like that writer of the article. She mostly enjoys being single, but is too uncomfortable to answer that 'Why still single?' question. That may be the only motivation to get married for a lot of singles! If you don't, one day you'll run out of all convincing reasons to tell people. 'I don't want' isn't an answer anyone will take! Then someone will say, 'The truth is, he never got married, coz he COULDN'T!!" Followed by ugly smirking faces, crooked smiles, villanious laughter in the background, people pointing large dirty fore fingers at you (in semi-dark, unlit alleys of ancient europe, if you are particular about scenery)!! Oh, My God!

Will this society ever spare the singles? What's wrong if someone doesn't want to get married? That doesn't mean, even for a moment, that I don't respect the institution of marriage! Or that I'm not interested in the opposite sex! (Or any kind of sex, to be politically correct)

If I have to benchmark myself against Alex, I see that there is a lot to his life that isn't there with me. He got married at 22, had a kid at the age of 23 and twelve years down, he is building a loving house for his loving family! Pretty. Almost like a bollywood film of the 70's! Only the mandatory 'family song' is missing! In 10 years from now his eldest daughter will probably get married or get out of the house one way or the other. If I ever manage to have a kid for myself, given the legendary 'losers' reputation of unsuccessful singles like me, I'd barely have gotten them out of primary school by the time Alex lived a lifetime and got ready for grand children!!

But the other side of the story is, what is it that I have that he doesn't? I say, what I have is a unique, powerful concept that drives revolutions, evokes dreams of peace, causes bloodshed, conjures up images of greenery, angelic faces and white pigeons - 'Freedom'! Yes, that is what I have! Freedom. Of thought, expression, dressing, travel itinerary, and toothpaste brand. I intend to preserve it until the last dying breath of my bachelorhood, whether or not coinciding with my last biological breath!

Not convincing enough for you? Umm.... I....... well, you know! To think of it, even I'm not as convinced about it now, as I was two days ago!

This bloody society! Now the fear of a loser tag is looming larger than the fear of matrimony!! I sincerely hope it will pass... Pray with me friends! No, pray for me! (not in a religious way, if you read my previous post)

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