Archive | November, 2012

The Fear of Eloping

5 Nov

I am currently watching, The conversation with Amanda De cadent, a powerful interview series, which encourages stimulating conversations with women from different facets of life. Most of the women,speak about how they overcame their various identity issues. How they were down in the ditch, as addicts, or as people with eating disorders, with body image issues and about how they grew to overcome it. Or about how they are still struggling , but getting better at handling them.

This being an international program, most of the guests  are  from the western, read developed countries.Most of what they share, makes a lot of sense to me.However I wondered if this series would make any sense for the people in my country/religion, where growing up, in itself is looked down upon.

Recently one of my teenage relatives uploaded a lot of celebrity male pics in her facebook account.Ranging from Surya to Ranbir Kapoor.  By normal teenage standards, it was pretty common. It was her age to adore young guys in popular media. It was her age, to have a celebrity crush. But in my society, this kind of behavior puts her on an *elopement* alert list.  She seems too interested in guys, don’t ya think!!

And what is the elopement alert list. Back in my childhood days, “eloping” was possibly the biggest crime a girl child could do to their family. Falling in love with someone of a different religion, and then chosing their own partner, and running away from home with that man. So what  parents chose to do to save themselves from this disaster was, 

1) Make  the girls promise on the holy book that they WILL NOT fall in love, thereby effectively building a  deep sense of shame for liking  a boy

2) Reduce any kind of temptation, in the first place, by getting the girl married as soon as legally (or even otherwise) possible, to a man of the parent’s choice. Especially if like my said relative, she is openly seen to show an interest in the opposite gender.

I do not have a teenage daughter. So presumably I cannot fathom the concern and worry a teenage daughter’s parent has. However, not long before, I was a teenager myself. Hence maybe I can voice the concerns. Seeing too many young girls suffer. Seeing too many young girls being pressurized to be something they are naturally not inclined to be. Or trying hard to fight off emotions which are just part of being a teenager. Being ostracized for doing something people in their age group are SUPPOSED to be doing.

Can a teenager actually bring disgrace to the family name? Can the mistakes any of us make as teenagers or children, come to define who we are as individuals? Does it define us as good or bad? Does falling in love at 17 mean we are a BAD person, who were bought up by BAD parents?

There are a lot of ideals, we need to overcome as a society. This could include, accepting falling in love as a normal course of events. This could include, being OK with a daughter  texting a lot. This includes not tying a parent’s good name, with how a child is faring  or judging a child/teenager, and inturn judging the parents of a child/teenager, who are  in their growing years .

But mostly the basic attitude that should change, is to let teenagers make mistakes. While praying and believing that these mistakes are not life threatening. The mistakes we make in our growing years are just that, they are mistakes which lead us to growth. Which lead us to who we are. Which probably comes with a lot of pain and hurt. But which also defines how we will behave as adults to avoid the same pain or to avoid making the same mistakes. If this mistake involves falling in love with a guy, so be it. Most times, young people have enough and more to fight about that they will probably go their separate ways, even if the parents do not get involved, –Especially, if the parents do not get involved.

The commonplace solution ,as I have mentioned above, is getting the girl married BEFORE she makes a mistake. Before she defines an identity for herself. Before she  gets opinionated. Does this help?  It might help with eloping. It might help with her NOT falling in love with a man of another religion,( though not necessarily). But what I have increasingly seen happen around me, is her devaluing the relationship, which was thrust on her, which as perfect and fairytale as it seems to a third eye, she doesn’t realize the importance of.

Why would a  woman who is presumably married to a perfect man and have perfect kids, feel like she could do better? Or feels like she didn’t get the chance to live life on her own terms. I am not trying to say that marriage is a stop shop, that there is no growing up once we are hitched. No. We are learning and growing as long as we are alive. However marriage is a life altering decision in a person’s life. A lot of what happens to a person, especially women, depends on when and who they marry. And a lot of life lesson’s are learnt in the process of finding the right man. And while a parent does it for their children, the kids lose out on one of life’s best learning curves.  

When we look back at the generation of our mothers, we see that most of them never had such ideas. They didn’t think of what could have been. This I could say was because, they rarely saw anyone in their surroundings or in popular media, having a “good” life by chosing their own life. And as long as we do not have examples, most of us do not wish for it. Now things have changed. Cable TV, and most importantly few families, which do give girls the freedom to grow up, has caused the other lot to compare. To wonder, if given a chance to make their own mistakes/choices, where would their life have been . What would they have become? Would they have better husbands? Would they have fancier careers.  What if? This causes a general course of discontent. Which from a bird’s eye, seems less disastrous than eloping. But from a personal perspective, if you ask me, its in fact more dangerous.

 Letting a woman grow, letting a girl find out who she really is and what she wants from life. Is it as disastrous as its made out to be? Does this always end up in disgrace? Not really. Its obvious that she will make mistakes, get hurt, get her heartbroken (in mendable) ways, it’s true that she may suck at her first career choice. But eventually once she finds her course, out of her own choice, she will be a wiser, better and more complete human being. At that stage, she may or may not have chosen her own life partner. Chosing a life partner is also not the start/end of her life. She knows its just a part of her whole life. Then when she does eventually settle down, she knows what she wants. Most importantly,she realizes the value of what she’s got. She cherishes her life, and her family. She doesn’t have too many What if’s. Though that part cannot be completely erased off either. (We are always going to have What If’s, as long as we are human).

 So let them grow up, let them have a crush on Prithviraj, let them put up Ranbir Kapoor’s posters. Actually you should be worried, if they don’t.

 P.S: The conversation with Amande De Cadent, is not being featured in India. However, with the blessing of the internet, we all can watch it!