I was checking out Facebook when I stumbled upon this friend who I had lost touch with since high school. There she was looking demure and I must say quite pretty in a traditional red saree and dollops of vermillion on her parting. I left a message for her saying congratulations for getting married. She replies in seconds saying, “Hey I got married ages ago! I just became a mom!” Oooookkkaay then…I manage a sheepish ‘oops!’ and leave her more congratulatory words and Xs and Os Gossip Girls style! In the last two month I have heard of at least twenty-five girl friends’ weddings and half a dozen others embracing motherhood. Add to that another fifteen odd friends who have been married for at least four years! Slowly, the number of single women in my age group is dwindling. It is a borderline case as I can recall only about a handful that have still been able to maintain the ‘single’ status including me. We seem to share this strange and deep bond even though we are miles apart physically. We understand how each of us feels at the prospect of getting married, how we cherish our freedom and how we all look up to Carrie Bradshaw as our Godmother.
It isn’t easy being on the wrong side of twenty-five, single and a Bengali! And especially when you, owing to the job scene or the lack of thereof, have camped in your parents’ house till a suitable opportunity comes along (read indefinitely, again considering the battered and bruised economy). The occasional jabs and jeers at not being married yet, albeit subtle, become the stuff of your worst nightmares. The craving for a cigarette turns into a stoic acceptance of your curbed independence. But worst are the times when even your old friends, who are now ‘happily’ married, make you feel like an outcast. Like the psychological bond which we single women share over airwaves, fibre-optic cables and even telepathically, these domesticated women, who you think are your friends, too share. Obviously they outdo us by large numbers- the terrifyingly small minority that we are! It was apparent when I had called up an old friend married for the last two years. I was about to give up for the third time when she picked up her phone on the fifteenth ring. An apology is imminent. An when it has to do with the ‘household’ and told with the ‘what-would-you-know-you-are-not-married-yet’ tone, you understand that it’s probably time to hang up. But I was in a mood to take this game a little further! We talked about mundane things and how are everybody back home blah blah when I asked her if we could meet on so and so day for a drink or something. Pat comes the reply in the negative and I understand why: An aunt-in-law’s son’s wife’s father’s sister is coming to visit her so…I told her that even if she wouldn’t come, I would love to get a drink on my own. I also asked her if she quit drinking after marriage and if her husband allows her to wear western clothes at all. Yes and no were the answers respectively. The inner bitch in me suddenly stirred up and I commented: I know…the last time when we met was at a common friend’s wedding…and I was wearing this sexy backless number and you sooooo wished you could wear it…don’t you feel suffocated? And I promptly heard a muffled sound and: Oh okay…I gotta go now…bye. Poor little married girl. Yes I snigger and smirk at them! But come on, this was my way to get back at the domestic community!
(INSIGHT #1: The weirdest thing that I have noticed is, once you get married and you would be welcomed with open arms into this domestic community. You would then be at par with members of this community which include the maashis and the pishis and the boudis and the didima, thakuma, jas, nonod etc. It doesn’t matter if you are twenty five or nineteen or thirty four. You are now a respected member of this seemingly bovine community. Even people on the streets seem to notice that. You have been branded with this invisible mark that you are now somebody’s bou. You can choose not to wear the recommended but not mandatory shankha and pola. You can even do away with sindoor. But inevitably the local grocer calls out to you: BOUDI! The DIDI is now how you would address only Mamata Banerjee.
INSIGHT # 2: In this domestic community, the boudis are the worst types. In an apartment complex, whenever there is a get together, they will sit far from their ‘drinking’ husbands in a group talking obviously about household or ‘sangsaar’. But make no mistake, they can hear every word their husbands say, every woman they mention and analyze every glass of whisky they gulp down. Once the party’s over, back in their flats, the post-mortem begins. I almost feel sorry for these husbands.)
The point is what makes you decide to turn from ‘single’ to married? At which point do you decide to give up your highly deemed status? When you find Mr Right? Is that when you decide that okay, this is it?
My friends have often asked me why have I kept my Facebook status as ‘single’. Well it actually fluctuates between ‘single’ and ‘it’s complicated’. To tell you the truth, I have a boyfriend I am dating for almost six years now. So far things have gone very smooth. But why haven’t I decided to apply for a ticket to this domestic community yet? Simple: I am not ready to give up my ‘single’ status yet. Believe it or not being single is the single most powerful tool a woman can have. And no I don’t mean you can go around flirting and sleeping with everyone you meet! It is just the way you feel so free and there are no domestic responsibilities weighing you down. You have no ‘expectations’ to meet except your own.
Like Beyonce sings:
I got gloss on my lips
A man on my hips
Got me tighter in
My Dereon jeans
Drink in my cup
I can care less what you think…