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No country for single women

印度容不下剩女

 

 

 

 

 

For many young people, India is a land of opportunity. Male or female, if you're well educated and resourceful there's the chance of a well-paid career. Just one problem, says Suruchi Sharma - if you're a woman, you must marry by your mid-20s.

"Single? Why, what's your age?"

"28"

"Okay, that's too bad. How are you managing it? Couldn't find anyone?"

Welcome to the conversation that a single woman in India, in her late 20s faces, almost all the time. Yes, it's a big deal if you're 28 and unmarried. You're looked upon as a big failure. I am serious.

I live in Mumbai, the biggest metro city in India. I belong to a typical urban middle-class family. My life is same as that of many young women who move away from home and pursue their dream of an independent life.

How does it feel to be living in the city on my own? It's awesome! I'm independent with a lifestyle I used to dream of. Indian women are getting the chance to grow, to prove their worth and shine. We struggle with gender bias at every step of the ladder, but we find a way out and advance.

But there is one pressure that just refuses to leave us alone, a question that follows us everywhere: "What are your marriage plans?" In India, a girl's identity revolves around her marriage. As children, we are all raised to understand that we must end up with the right partner, and must go to a nice family as a daughter-in-law.

Even today, arranged marriage is normal in India. Parents find you a suitable match and you get married. In some cases the bride and groom don't have a say. In some cases they get to meet once or twice. In a few cases, they can take time to get to know each other and decide. In all cases, you are a part of a tradition where you have to try to like someone.

Everything we learn is taught to us bearing in mind our future role as a wife and daughter-in-law. We learn how to cook, how to do household chores, to behave ourselves and maintain the right image. The moment the "image" part gets problematic, our prospects of getting decent grooms are affected.

If you look at any matrimonial website (a common trend in India these days) you will find the terms "family-oriented", "homely", "not too much into career" - these are the qualities in a bride people most often look for.

Everyone wants a wife who will be a home-maker first and a career woman second. Every family wants a daughter-in-law who will respect elders, and give up on her career the moment other more important things like her husband's transfer, children, and other emergencies pop up.

To be an ideal woman in a man's life, you must have the best education possible, a pretty face, and a sound career and yet be willing to put it all on the back burner.

The reason I am single is quite simple - I have yet to come across my Mr Right.

I might sound like a person who is against marriage. I am not. I love the idea of being married. I believe in this institution and I look forward to being married one day to the right guy. This is where the problem starts, with that phrase "the right guy".

At 28, ideally I would have been married for a couple of years.

By Indian standards, I've left it late and I am probably at the bottom of the pyramid of eligible women. But I still don't find the idea of "settling for" someone appealing.

Everyone reminds me how I should make compromises and lower my expectations. As long as the man has decent looks and a respectable career and family background I shouldn't complain.

I don't see it that way. Everyone around me may tell me a man is perfect for me, but I feel it's me who gets to decide.

He might be earning a lot, might belong to the best of families and might be a nice person, but if I don't find him compatible to talk to or to be with, I can't picture being married to him. I don't subscribe to the idea of striking a compromise right at the advent of my married life. The adjustments and compromises should be made in the marriage, not while finding the person you want to be with.

There is a stigma associated with a woman who is single. When a woman says she is single by choice, it's more or less assumed that she is not respectable.

There have been many occasions when I have tried to rent an apartment in a good locality and been refused. People don't like to rent apartments to single, professional women. They are afraid that someone like me will behave immorally - have loud parties, have men to stay overnight, be a bad influence on the surrounding families. No-one can imagine that I might be an ordinary person with a perfect social life and a normal, healthy lifestyle.

Property owners are always looking for a chance to evict us. The slightest of errors and we are asked to leave. We can't live a normal lifestyle. There are rules and regulations for everything. And if by any chance it happens that a male friend comes to drop you home one day, you're immediately branded a prostitute.

Essentially, if a single woman lives an independent life, away from her family it's assumed she may have loose morals.

The more I keep living this life, the less chance there is of finding a good husband from a well-respected family. At times I wonder whether I should just give in and marry the next guy who is more or less suitable, in order to spare my parents.

I am lucky that my family is extremely supportive. My parents stand by me when it comes to waiting for the right guy to come along, but they too face extreme pressure from relatives and everyone in their circle. "When is Suruchi getting married?" They get asked this question every day, and it makes them anxious. They begin to wonder if they are doing the wrong thing by letting their daughter make her own choices. They worry about my well-being. They are not sure that Indian society will allow me to live happily if I remain single.

There were cases where people told my parents that educating their daughter and letting her become an independent person had been a grave mistake. Now their daughter has high expectations and getting her married has become so difficult! I can't thank my parents enough for shouldering that burden. They are a great support but I keep wondering what to do to make it easier for them. I am much less worried about myself. I know that being with the wrong man would be far worse than being by myself.

As long as I remain in this society, the pressure will only keep increasing. To be honest, I have thought about moving abroad if I end up being single for another year or so.

Going away from society's prying eyes is the only way to be left alone and allowed to live a peaceful life. People won't question my marriage plans if I am in a foreign country. Surprisingly, Indians then become quite open-minded. Everything is OK if you're living abroad.

At the end, it's not easy being single at 28. It's a struggle I face 24/7. I have decided to live with it.

對許多年輕人來說,印度是一個充滿機會的國度。無論男女,只要接受過高等教育,能隨機應變,就有機會獲得高薪工作。只有一個問題,Suruchi Sharma說,女性必須在25歲左右結婚。

“沒結婚?為什么?你多大了?”

“28。”

“這,這可不行,怎么回事?找不到對象嗎?”

歡迎加入印度28歲左右女性面臨的無休止的談話。是的,28歲,未婚,這可是一樁大事,在他人眼里,你是個不折不扣的失敗者,我可沒開玩笑。

我住在印度最大的大都市孟買,出生于一個典型的城市中產階級家庭。我和許多年輕女性一樣,搬出父母的家,過著獨立的生活,追逐著自己的夢想。

獨自一人住在大城市是什么感覺?棒極了!我很獨立,過著曾經夢想過的生活。印度的女性正獲得改善自己、證明自己的價值和散發光芒的機會。在抗議性別歧視的階梯上,我們每向上爬一步都得奮力斗爭,但我們找到了出路,不斷地前進。

可是還有一種賴著不走的壓力,一個和我們如影隨形的問題:“打算什么時候結婚???”在印度,女孩的生活圍繞著結婚展開。從小到大,我們接受到的觀念是我們一定得找到門當戶對的另一半,找個好婆家。

甚至是在現在的印度,包辦婚姻還是常態。父母給你找個般配的對象,安排好婚事。有時,新娘新郎都沒發言權;有時他們只見過一、兩次面。他們很少有時間認識彼此,無法自己做出決定。不管怎樣,你是包辦婚姻傳統的一部分,你必須試著喜歡上某個人。

我們學到的一切都告訴我們要銘記我們未來的身份是妻子和兒媳。我們學會做飯、做家務,舉止要得體,形象要合宜。一旦“形象”出了問題,我們找到好夫君的可能性就會降低。

點開任意一個婚介網站(在印度,最近婚介網站是大勢所趨),你會發現諸如“以家庭為重”、“顧家”、“對事業不太熱心”等要求,人們往往希望新娘具備上述品質。

大家都希望討個把家庭放在第一位,事業放在第二位的妻子。每個男方家庭都希望有一個尊敬老人的兒媳,一旦出現其他更重要的事,如丈夫工作上的調動、孩子或其他緊急情況,兒媳會放棄自己的事業。

要成為男人生活中的完美女人,你必須接受過最好的教育,相貌出眾,事業有成,并且愿意把事業放在次要位置。

我至今單身的原因很簡單——我還沒遇到我的白馬王子。

你看我的文章也許會覺得我反對婚姻,其實不然。我喜歡結婚這種想法,我相信婚姻制度,我渴望有一天嫁給對的人。問題就出在這——“對的人”。

我今年28歲了,理想的情景是我已經結婚多年了。

按照印度本地的標準,我已經是剩女了,很可能處在適婚女子金字塔的最底層;不過我并不認同“找個一起過日子的人算了”這種觀點。

所有的人都提醒我,我應該做出妥協,降低期望。只要對方長相得體、工作體面、家庭背景不錯就行了,我不該發什么牢騷。

我可不這么看,也許身邊的每個人都跟我說他和我是天生一對,但我覺得做決定的人是我自己。

也許他收入高,來自上層的家庭,人也很好,可如果我和他談不來或合不來,我就無法想象自己會嫁給他。我不認同結婚之前就做出妥協的看法,找對象這件事容不得妥協,調整和妥協應該在結婚以后。

在印度,單身女人和恥辱聯系在一起,一個女人如果說自己選擇單身,或多或少,人們會認為她不是個值得尊敬的女人。

有很多次,我想在一個風氣好的居住區租一套公寓,都遭到了拒絕。人們不喜歡把公寓租給單身的職業女性。他們害怕像我這樣的人會做出傷風敗德的事——舉辦吵鬧的聚會,留男人過夜,給周邊有家室的鄰居帶來壞影響。沒有人能想象我也許是個社交生活正常、生活方式健康的普通人。

業主總是在尋找機會趕我們出門,稍有不慎,就叫我們走人。我們無法過上正常的生活,凡事都有條條框框。一旦有一天有男性朋友送你回公寓,你馬上就會被貼上“妓女”的標簽。

基本上可以說,一個單身女人若不和家人住在一起,而是獨自一人生活,人們就會認為她道德淪喪。

要是繼續過這種獨立的生活,找到受人尊敬的婆家和好丈夫的機率會越來越小。有時我會想為了讓父母少遭罪,自己是不是該做出讓步,嫁給下一個和我差不多般配的男人?

我很幸運,因為我的家人極力支持我的做法。在“等待對的那個人”的問題上,我的父母和我站在同一戰線,但他們也面臨著來自親戚和朋友圈的巨大壓力。“Suruchi什么時候結婚???”每天都有人問他們這個問題,這讓他們十分擔憂。他們開始懷疑,把選擇權交給女兒,是不是做錯了?他們擔心我會不會過得幸福。他們不確定在印度這樣的社會里,單身的我會不會活得開心。

有時,有人會跟我父母說,送女兒上學,讓她們變獨立,是個大錯誤?,F在女兒有了高期望,結婚變得非常困難。我很感謝我的父母承擔著這個負擔。他們很支持我,但是我不由得想著該怎樣讓他們的日子好過些,我倒沒那么擔心自己。我知道和錯的人一起生活比自己一個人生活要糟糕得多。

只要我留在這個社會中,壓力只會越來越大。老實說,我想過要是再過一年,我還是單身的話,我就搬到國外去。

逃離印度社會愛窺探的眼睛是不受人打擾、過上平靜的生活的唯一方法。如果是在國外,人們不會問我對結婚的打算。出人意料的是,那時印度人也變得非常開明了。住在國外,一切都會很好。

總之,28歲了,還單身,真不容易,我每時每刻都為此掙扎,我已決定要忍受下去。

(來源:中國日報網愛新聞iNews 譯者:易文婷 編輯:丹妮)


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