(An affably prejudiced view)
Been there, done that; yes I too, at some unquestioningly-norms-embracing point in my life, succumbed to the connubial Shades of Grey. Ever since, i have with a mixture of amusement and unabating stupefaction, seen others go down that dubious sluiceway; some emerging disturbingly scathed and others not so much. But all, significantly drained of their essential sense of self and of the salubriousness of the soul. And yet, like the Pied piper of Hamelin, the Nuptial Chains jangle millions on into their tortuous embrace.
There is that diminutive window allowing prudent rethought. It is dismally small though and those reaching through it are oft labeled wayward, nay, freakish eccentrics incapable of weaving themselves into the normal Matrix of society. The pressure to fit in with the Joneses and the Karamatullahs of the community, is still quite unrelenting.
The journey to the aisle or the Dholi* usually begins with these crazy, frenetic bonding hormones, insidiously plotting and planning and then dividing and conquering every sane thought in one’s head. You’re left a soppy, whimsy mess. And if you do not err on the side of caution and lawfully Un-encumbered togetherness, the only light one can see at the end of that emotionally aqueous tunnel is le marriage. And then for a while, the ‘pain’ of maidenhood or bachelorhood as the case may be, ends….
Until a whole new torment takes root. Creeping like a flagitious ivy from some J horror movie plot, straight into your heretofore wonderfully humdrum life.
So what happens to those who follow the Maker of Marital Maladies into the maw of contracts and legalese?
A good number, fairly early on, take the ‘red pill’** – the damned things are quite quintessentially absent when that new-love Oxytocin is doing its merry pre-marital jig inside ones left ventricle! This set then, quite quickly, develops new found enthusiasm for the mundane, the inane, the irrelevant and generally, most things non spousal. And thus they bide their time until they’re hit head-on, hard, by some long subdued memory of delightful, legally uncoupled days gone by; or are convulsed by some other similar anti-shackling epiphany. And so, the debilitating contract perishes as the awareness of it’s fundamentally caustic nature is revealed with the clarity of daylight.
(Yes! Sinister plots unfolding!)
Then there is the intrepid ‘Legally Tethered’ who begins to test the waters outside the matrimonial pool of Spouse and Co++***. The wheeling and dealing and wily deceptions become a part of life. The once upright character dissolves in a mire of treacherous double agency. The MI6 and CIA agents of the world could take a scholarly page or two out of the books of these home grown specialists in duplicity and chicanery. And thus another contract expires amidst copious betrayal, mortification and indignity.
Last but not least is the ‘traditionally wed’- the couple set up by parents and other family seniors who are fully convinced that their progeny, at 30++**** is entirely incapable of having an opinion, living on their own and of course choosing who they’ll share the bathroom with for the next 50 odd years. These highly complex attributes are the specific domain of their elders, praise be to Allah/ Bhagwan/ the Lord, (and to stir-crazy traditions that continue to thrive). The longevity scale here can tip either way depending on how well trained one or both incumbents are in the art of defeatist self delusions.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t add on the odd little outliers- the couples (with special powers!) who actually achieve the “happily ever after”. ‘Tis a myth I still maintain! But I’m willing to doff my Skeptics’ Hat to them; mostly because I know each one has an identical doppelgänger who ensures the other gets copious breaks from onerous spousal indenture. But yes, there are those mightily evolved spirits who have, despite it all, connected on a higher plane and are making it all work. May karma always be good to them – (we need the incidental shining examples even if they are only to indicate that the system once worked and indeed, functioned well).
Safe to say, then, in ending, that through the ages Marriage has become a formidable institution, but also, that few of us in our right minds really want to be institutionalised. However, there is also that inexplicably intoxicating pleasure in being mad which none but madmen (and the pre wedded couple!) know.
So here’s to sense, sensibility and the capability to love, respect and partner without drawing up laborious, counter-intuitive contracts. Here’s to actually embracing the complexity of the human spirit to ensure genuineness, depth and fidelity. Here’s to leaving a Relationship legacy based on emotional and spiritual maturity to our future generations.
Here’s to loving, wise and dignified companionship, with the only affadavit being that of sincere good intentions and an evolving sophistication of mind and spirit.
De Khudai pe aman.
*Dholi = a decoarated palanquin used to carry the bride to the wedding venue, usually held aloft by her brothers and other male relatives.
**Taking the Red pill = opening oneself up to the unpleasant truth vs. taking the Blue Pill to remain in blissful ignorance.
***Spouse and Co++ = Child ++. If the incumbent is an eager beaver orthodox fiend too, that plus plus can be close on a bakers dozen.
****30++ = this marriageable faction includes ‘children’ that are in their 40s and their 50s.