In my religion, the country of my origin, and even in popular culture, marriage is deemed a sort of glorification of the self. From childhood we see marriage being a time to rejoice, party, get together, have fun, wear the best clothes, hold functions in the best venues with the best food where everyone is laughing, dancing, smiling, and acting like this is as best life can get. For this reason everyone, especially girls, start thinking that marriage indeed is a happy endeavor, something that will complete them no matter what.
As a child I used to have similar views about marriage-especially “love marriage”. I adored my parents’ before marriage story. My dad saw my mom at their university and sent his parents to her house to ask her hand in marriage. They went with a ring and finalized things at my mom’s house. Pretty romantic and smooth for a culture I come from, and that too thirty years ago. They had a grand wedding, my dad was beaming from ear to ear (his photographs and video are proof), and it was a dream royal affair that I idolized till teenage.
After that I started waking up to the real face of marriage. I think our parents’ relationship is the closest one we have as an example for us to learn from and base our feelings about this relationship, and these feelings are one of the strongest when it comes to exercising ourselves as spouses in the future. Consciously or unconsciously, as a partner, we are a direct product of what we have experienced so far in life with the only other husband and wife we see as soon as we open our eyes.
So the most “in-my-face” reality of my parents’ marriage was the fact that THEIR parents belonged to not only different ethnicities but also different religious sects. One may think but hey it was the twentieth century, my parents were both educated belonging to educated families, they would all have had the sense to sort this issue out before marriage in a civil and humane manner to enjoy a blissful married life right? So wrong. The biggest dilemma we STILL face in 2015 for most couples who dare marry out of choice and that too someone with such vast differences is that while they can enjoy their one day of wedding festivities but pay the price for saying “I do” for the rest of their lives. Like my parents did.
To make it worse, our religion preaches marriage to be the best relationship in this world, one that all other relations spring out of. A happy home yields happy generations. But no one is putting this into practice for real. Put in egos, pride, superiority complexes, materialism, and the satisfaction of not letting others live in peace, and there you have it, generation upon messed up generation who eventually grow up despising marriage and everything to do with it.
My mother was treated as an outcast by her in laws for as long as she was in front of them. Even today that hatred for her in their hearts is still alive. She is still the home wrecker who took away my father from his parents and his sisters, the one who brain washed him to go settle in a far away country just so he could be torn apart from his family. Why? Because hey she is not the first cousin my grandparents originally chose for my father to be his bride. So what if that girl wasn’t educated enough for my dad or would have had zero compatibility with him. Thirty years down when my own parents are grandparents, my mother is still being treated like an outcast and a villain because she was not family, she was not my grandparents’ choice, she belonged to a different sect and her parents spoke a different provincial language than my father’s. And to make matters worse there came a time when my father, the one who initiated this whole affair, sided blindly with his family, making her life a living hell for a lack of a better term.
Today because of this unwanted hatred attributed to reasons that my mother had no control over (mother tongue, religion, etc.) we are not too fond of my father’s family, and neither are they of us. They have blamed even this at my mom, that she, even though was the only one who lived with my dad’s family for fifteen years in his absence when he was abroad, trying to make a living for ALL of us, being the only son of the house, she did not want us to be close to his family so she planted our brains with resentment towards them. Way to make me feel retarded for not having an emotional quotient of my own!
My parents never forced either me or my siblings to choose one of their ways in any walk of life. I was always given a choice-to trust my instinct to choose what I felt right, and then they trusted my decision, whether it was studies, work, or when it was time to get married, and I plan to do the same. But in a world that is still breeding hatred and this black plague in people’s hearts firmed by pride and baseless superiority I fight a daily battle as to how, how do I go about knowing the environment I grew up in where both my parents’ families had to fake smiles in the once-in-a-blue-moon family gathering that we had where everyone would be present. Where “family gatherings” and celebrations were only for my dad’s family and extended family, while we had to wait to go celebrate with our mom’s side. And this isn’t just my story. People raised in the same time era can relate. Dad’s family first, mom’s family later, or even never in some cases.
Even today I yearn for a genuinely happy environment where I could have cherished both my mother and father’s families. Where I would have learned to love both grandparents equally and so much that when asked who is my favorite grandparent I could choose because I was so attached to all of them. Where all my uncles and aunts were the ones who treated me like royalty and pampered me. Where I felt true warmth at both ends and when all families were in one room there was the sound of heartfelt laughter or tears, genuine concern, and real connection. I miss not enjoying grandparental love. It is a necessary relation for any child and I was deprived of it because of my elders’ egos.
Its a bit too late for me but from the core of my existence I pray my children get to experience all these beautiful human emotions so that when they are grown up enough to understand relationships they know that family is the only most powerful relationship that makes you, not breaks you, even though it has the power to do so.
May I be able to pass on an unbroken, clean, and pure looking-glass to them. Amen.