The age of a girl is a matter that concerns our society greatly. If a girl is unconcerned about her age (or ageing), it will unmistakably become a concern for the neighbouring ‘auntie’. Even if the parents of the girl are not anxious about the growing daughter, someone else might take it up on themselves to do the worrying on their behalf.
As a female growing up in this sub-continent, I am not outside this reality. My story starts from quite an early age. It might entertain you or distress you; but there is a lesson to be learned for sure.
I wanted to tell my story through a conversation. This is for them who think that “thirty” hammers the last nail on the coffin of a girl’s youth. I think thirty signifies experience; thirty is the amazing time when maturity and confidence come together to make the woman we strive to be. At least the process starts.
But the story took place before my 30th birthday, when I got married. The marriage was well within the conventions of the society in terms of age; after 25, before 30. We decided the same thing about trying for a baby – we were going to wait until we give enough time to our own relationship first. We would try for a baby later.
One of the reasons was that at the end of the day, a child is a responsibility for the rest of your life. You should not take up that responsibility just because you have to. You should prepare and wait for the right time. Hence, put that off and started to spend time together; going out, dining out, all the fun stuff.
I happen to think there is no real difference between ‘arranged’ marriage and ‘love’ marriage. Hanging out with someone at a restaurant eating ‘shingara’ or pizza provides little insight into whether or not the person snores like a volcano. Rikshaw rides together do not reveal anything about how the person uses a common toilet. I don’t know... I’ve always thought you can’t know a person this way. I think it is best to take some time to know a person. If you have your first child within the first year of marriage that might, in my mind, create a sort of concealed distance between the partners.
Our society creates and almost nurtures the necessary conditions for giving fuel to the creation of this gap in a relationship. After a while a husband and wife do not really talk to each other except for things related to daily responsibilities. They stop spending time together. All their energy and dreams culminate into looking out of the window and sighing. This is not something anyone should want. We can live for other people, but giving up your life totally to fulfil someone else's is illogical.
My decision caused predictable anxiety. From friends and relatives, close people to people you seldom see, no one missed out on the opportunity to dish out some advice.
Advice: Have a baby now or you’re gonna be too old to take care of it.
My answer: Who’s to say I’m not gonna die young? Also you sound like if I have baby at 30, I’ll be heading straight towards the gates of heaven before I'm 40.
Advice: Have the baby, it’s going to cry all night.
My response: It'll do that no matter when I have it.
Advice: You’re going to have problems if you leave it for when you are older.
My response: Wow! You see the future? How do you know I’ll have problems? (I didn’t have any problem, by the way).
Advice: It’s been five years. Shouldn’t you have had a baby by now?
Answer: Is there a particular rule that says you have to have baby within five years of marriage?
Advice: Why aren’t you having a baby? Aren’t you being too career-centric?
Answer: Who told you I’m not having a baby because of my career?
Advice: We had our baby in the first year of our marriage! Why you aren’t having a baby?
Answer: I can’t really live according to your life-planning, can I?
Advice: Haven’t you had enough holidays? Have the baby now!!
Answer: Because it’s our lives. We want to live the way we want to.
Thousands of women are living with this reality, having to face these uncomfortable questions on a regular basis. This is particularly true for women who are nearing 30 and haven’t had a child yet. To have to live under such scrutiny is a challenge. After a child is born the parents are going to take care of it. The “aunties” are not going to do it for them. They are not going to cook your food or wash your cloths. So, it’s quite absurd to have them manipulate how you should live your life. People should do what works for them and it’s always best to have a baby at the right time when you are ready.