After the debacle of last year, I’ve learnt a few things. In fact, as far as lessons go, that experience has been a gift that keeps on giving. My mistakes give me better and better clarity on what it is that I really want. And perhaps life is nothing more than the unraveling of that great mystery.
It turned out that I wanted a wedding. Not marriage, I hadn’t been able to think that far. Not love, either, love had absolutely nothing to do with it. What I wanted, believed I frantically needed, was that contract to be finalized, that dotted line signed, that deal to be done. I can blame it on the regressive society I live in, my traditional environment, peer pressure and other things. But it boils down to one thing – that all my relationships and adulthood associations of this nature were (quoting from Ally McBeal) auditions for the co-starring role at a wedding. As focused and precise as that.
Last year nudged me to the fact that I didn’t accept easily and then was forced to, when it got too big to ignore, that I didn’t really want to be married. Was it just not to him or in general, not to anybody? I don’t know. I think it was probably the latter and he was if anything, the least bad path to that.
In retrospect, I can see how all my relationships began with, my getting dragged in kicking and screaming (well, at least in my head). I’ve never really had a thought for, made a place for love, in my life till now. The only reason I was in the game, playing the stakes was because I was pursuing the marriage goal.
Since the engagement ended, I’m finding it a lot easier to breathe. The pressure has eased up, socially and familially. It’s almost as if everyone has given up on my ever finding someone and has moved on to matters of greater interest. Which is a good thing since it gives me a chance to think about what it is that I really want. And I’m building the blocks slowly and articulating a fresh, albeit late thought.
I want love.
I want love, now. Not marriage. I’m not ready for that thought yet, let alone a discussion on it. A relationship? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s a discussion I want to have later. But I do want love.
I want romance. I want the sweetness, that fresh, breezy feeling inside of ‘I like this person SOOO much!’. I want the flushed cheeks, the nervous signals and tentative gestures, the catching each other’s eye by mistake and turning away instantly, the giddy shared smiles. I want that.
I want attraction. And sex that is love-making, instead of a power exchange or a release or a way to pass time. Well, it could be all that but I want it to be love-making in all.
There have been opportunities for these, bobbing up in front of me, like bubbles when I swim. But perhaps I haven’t been ready yet so they’ve brushed past me and vanished. I keep learning every now and then, of someone who felt that and even reached out their heart to me. But I was so busy, so focussed on that dotted line of the marital contract, I either never saw or just blazed past them in my frenzy.
I came so close, in recent times. Marriage got in the way twice. Once, last year. I know there was love, maybe still is. And who knows, perhaps it would have grown and been a nicer, warmer, richer love, had marriage not got in the way. And after that, another possible love that never was because the M-word turned up. I was clearer in my head about not wanting to go there and he chose the pursuit of the dotted line. So we parted.
I have no regrets about these. I know now that marriage is a complex thing, embedded in people’s fears and dreams and agendas. If there isn’t a match in attitudes, then you’re better of leaving it alone. Else love will be poisoned, destroyed and all lost. I chose to walk away from these possibilities rather than watch them rot into these sores.
The recent spate of reported gang rapes have cast a cloud on my desires, though. I’m not as sure about my right to my relationship choices. This is India after all, a culture that actively suppresses, harasses and mutilates women, for simply existing, let alone having independent opinions. I wonder now, in this country of honour killings, of forced arranged marriages, of dowry harassment, of marital rape, of abusive in-laws, do I have the right to look for love? Or is marriage the compromise I must settle for?
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