Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Jun 2018 12:54:26



By shweta patwardhan

Sangeeta Kushal, 24, an MSc student never believed in a love marriage. A bright student, she was looking forward with excitement to the matchmaking process when it came to short-listing an ideal candidate for her marriage. Unlike many of her friends, who detested the thought of going through the chai-poha process to get consent from the boy’s parents, this frail, tall, and beautiful girl was ready to accept it as a part of life. “Why make such a fuss. After all, my parents went through the same process and are happily married,” was her simple logic. One summer Sunday, draped in silk sari, holding a tea tray, Sangeeta went through the ordeal, serving strangers tea and snacks with bowed head. At the end of the 20-minute show, enacted perfectly as per the age-old script, she heaved a sigh of relief. But minutes later she was asked to walk down the drawing room, by a relative from the boy’s side, insisting she hold her sari above her ankles. “I was amused, wondering whether my would-be father-in-law was hiring me as a fashion model.” However, much to her horror it turned out the boy’s side wanted to ensure she was not flat-footed, as they believed it was inauspicious. Even after eight years of being happily married, Sangeeta has not been able to forgive her in-laws for the ‘ramp walk’. She swears that if anybody tried the same with her two daughters, she would reject the marriage proposals outright.
“I have taught my daughters to say no. Being a science student, I just cannot come to terms with how an educated family like my in-laws could inculcate such outdated beliefs. I have no rationale to justify it. I never protested against the marriage, as it would have hurt my parents. My husband admits he was sweating at the thought of being ‘rejected’,” she says. These days, however, girls are enjoying more freedom of choice, when it comes to picking the right groom. They no longer have to say yes, when they mean no. Thus putting the boys on the back foot even in arranged marriages. Pranati Khare, a manager at a multinational company, recalls a high-profile proposal from a district collector in Vidarbha. The well-suited collector, accompanied by his uncle, kept boasting about how they have a sprawling bungalow and half-a-dozen maids to do house work. “Your daughter will be like a queen. All she will require to do will be to answer the incessant phone that never stops ringing. You can imagine the post of collector receives a lot of calls.” Pranati, who was listening to the conversation, said: “Why can’t the collector keep a telephone operator? You don’t require a wife to attend the calls.” Shell-shocked, the boy went red in the face and hurriedly walked out. Pranati remembers how the entire family disapproved of her behaviour. “Do you know you have lost a good proposal?” However, she has no regrets: “I could have never adapted to such an egoist and gender- sensitive human being.”

Gen Y, exposed to the world outside the four walls of home, are beginning to exercise their freedom, not only on the career front, but also in relationships. Amit Sinha, an advertising executive, says, “I can now understand how a girl must feel when she is forced to go through the proposal routine and is rejected by the boy’s side for trivial reasons.” Sinha remembers how his one-sided love for Shubra left him shattered after she said no to marriage. “I never imagined Shubra, who was my constant companion, would refuse to marry me.” Shubra repeatedly explained to me: “I can associate with you as a good friend. I don’t share the same feelings like you have to make a marriage commitment.” Sinha says, “The feeling of rejection is so overwhelming that it transforms into anger, and hurts the ego. Honestly, a man cannot accept a ‘no’ from the woman he likes.”It is probably this deep-rooted prejudice that has given rise to the sexist maxim: When a woman says no she means yes. The Gen Y woman has proved the writing on the wall wrong. For her, no means no.

Shravani Ganguly recalls an interesting marriage proposal that ended with an ugly encounter within 10 minutes. Her dear friend, Probir Chatterjee, often walked her to the hostel late at night in Colaba. One such evening, he stopped her in the middle of the road urging her to give an honest answer to the question he was about to ask. She agreed, wondering if he was trying to test her general knowledge. But much to her surprise, the first question was: “How important is a bungalow and car for you?” Sharavani wondered if Probir was drunk. “Well, I am not a materialistic person,” she managed, and tried to change the topic. But Probir insisted he wanted an answer right away on whether she would accept a husband like him. Sensing things were getting a little more serious, she replied bluntly: “Marriage is not on my mind. So there is no question of considering the proposal.” Shravani recalls that her simple and honest answer may have helped her wriggle out of the situation. But Probir could never swallow the word ‘no’. She now feels proud that finally women have reached a stage where they can express their true feelings. After all, why should women always say yes, when they mean no.
(INAV) l