Since I wrote that one post, I have had a lot of time to think about what exactly I could possibly write about. But in the words of Patrick Maitland, one doesn’t always get around to it. But yesterday or day before or somewhere around that very narrow spectrum of time, I had a sort of brain-wave. I will write about the truth. That’s something right? It won’t be necessarily about important world events or even national events. It will be about anything and everything. It will be my opinion, and this is important for me, I will only ever say the truth. It’s important because somehow or the other I always seem to be skipping the Truth especially if certain subjects come up. I’ve begun already, seeing as I’m admitting for one of the first and very rare times, that I actually lie.
One of the things I’m supposed to be doing other than writing on my pointless, but hopefully-soon-to-be-full-of-points blog is to be reading a certain article on Family Law about the restitution of conjugal rights. For those of you who are not in law school (very few most probably) the restitution of conjugal rights is a provision given in the Hindu Marriage Act wherein if in a marriage, if one party (it could be the husband or the wife) leaves without any “Reasonable excuse”, then the other person can go to Court and demand for Restitution of Conjugal Rights. Basically, the Court will serve an order to the leaving, escaping or abandoning party (whichever way you want to look at it. Being a cynic I prefer the last one generally) asking them to come live with their abandoned spouses, or else.
Well, or else what? Basically, or else, according to a certain Order 21 Rule 32 of the Civil Procedure Code, the Court takes away any property of the leaving party and holds it for a certain period of time wherein said party is supposed to see sense and go back to the abandoned spouse. If he or she does not do that, then his or her property is left at the hands of the Court. The Court then, like a shmarty, sell off whatever property it is, and give most of the acquired money to the abandoned spouse, as a compensation for not having been able to bring them back their abandoning spouse to them. A certain amount of the said money acquired – a balance – goes to the abandoning spouse too. There’s a Rule 33 of the same Order which is specifically for men. In this one, the Court after a period of time in which the husband has to come back to his wife (after the court has ordered him to do so) if the husband in fact does not return, then the Court can order the husband to pay the wife a certain amount of money at periodic intervals.
Overall, not such a bad law. I will never deny that there is in fact a great need for such a law, even if it is a colonial hangover law. What with more than 70% of the women in India still completely dependent on their husbands in one way or the other, there has to be some mechanism wherein they can get their way to a decent living, if not a sort of strange justice that sadly has to involve them begging their abandoning husband’s to come back to them. It is disgraceful that this is the only remedy available to a woman, but it is. There is nothing else the average, rural, lower middle class or lower class woman can do except to ask for her husband to be returned to her, or for some sort of compensation instead of his person. At least as of now, that is the case.
But what really worries me is something about this institution called marriage. The most cynical person would say it is one of the only ways two people can have sex in any society without any form of condemnation from anybody, and so people who can see that they like each other enough to try and have sex only with each other for the rest of their lives exchange a certain no. of vows in order to have said sex on a regular basis, albeit with the same person every time. A normal, practical person would say it is a bond of sorts two people who are mutually attracted to each other and love each other make in order to commit themselves in the eyes of society, and to declare that they at some level or the other belong to each other. Well, that I think sums up the general world view on the institution of marriage, at least as far as a reasonable person is concerned.
What worries me is simply that marriage as I see it in India is very different from that broad definition. Marriage is not between two people, it is between two families. It is not a choice made by the said two people; it is more often than not, one made by their families. Any sort of attraction, let alone a shared mutual attraction between the guy and the girl is hardly of any concern. And let us not even get into the subject of love being of any importance as far as the Great Indian Marriage is concerned.
What a marriage should ideally be is a business between two people alone. Whether they love each other, or if they ever fuck, or if they want to have little monsters, anything at all is the business only of those two people and no one else.
Strangely enough, as modern as we are “accused” of being too modern for our own good, my generation seems to be largely apathetic to this point of view. Sure, we fuck around, we do what we want, especially the guys since they don’t have their hymens to lose, we have as many “relationships” as we want, and somewhere, we may even fall in love. But the question to ask is how many of us stick it out when the going gets tough? Especially when the toughness is the creation of one’s family? How many of us actually stick to our convictions and marry those we love, and how many decide finally, that our parents know us better than we do. That their experience can tell us something more about us than we can find out ourselves? Sadly, very few. When things get tough, when either or both the families disapprove, someone usually ends up giving up, and the other gets left in the dust.
Speaking of which, the whole deal about marriage is something I just do not understand. Back in the days when I had considered being a psychologist, I used to frequently listen to radio shows giving advice, read the agony aunt columns, and all the rest, just to see how sucky reality was. A frequent question was- I am married to a person I don’t love. I loved and still love someone else. This person still loves me, and we talk often. We couldn’t get married because of “certain circumstances”. What should I do? The usual reply is – you are married, and that’s a fact. So stick it out.
At first glance, it seems like a proper response. If you are actually stupid enough to marry someone you don’t love, then honey, it’s your problem. Till here, it makes sense. But the question is, is that marriage sullied where the parties to the marriage, or one of the parties, let go of it? Or is that marriage sullied, where either one does not like the other, does not love the other, and is not happy with the other?
For all practical purposes, in India, sticking it out would perhaps be better, considering the legal problems, the sullying of the “family name”, and all the whispers that will eventually and inevitably follow you. But at the end of the day, all of these are in fact, concerning the rest of the world. Not considering the two separate individuals who are party to the marriage. Again, we come back to the question, should anything but the way these two feel about each other matter in a marriage? All the things which constitute a marriage, living together, making decisions together, having sex, and making little monsters are all things which should be of any concern to these two alone.
Sure, there are those who feel that love is not a necessity for marriage. I am inclined to agree with them, but if they wish to apply that to themselves, they should have the insight to not fall for someone else, an when they do, then that is a problem that can have a thousand different solutions- mutual extra-marital affairs, divorce, a single extra-marital affair, plain boredom and sadness in married life. Resigning to something less than what you wanted, and/ or the rarely seen result of suicide. Take your pick. As bhai keeps saying – whatever makes you happy.
It ends only in this- which marriage is sacred? The one that is based on everything but compatibility, mutual respect and/or love? Or the one based on nothing but compatibility, mutual respect and/or love? Good luck answering that.