Don’t be stressed by ‘shaadi kab karoge’ kind of questions. Smile at them.
Okay, Christmas is over. Kya yaar, I mean the elections. Take the ­saffron, green, white, whatever cap off, put that permanent fixture to your hand, called mobile phone, aside and listen to me. I need your help in advising Niraj Seth, who has written to me, asking me for calmness tips to deal with the pressure to get married that young people face, from parents and society.
Let me tell you Niraj my unfortunate friend, that all those who insist that you should get married in the first place, are not wishing well for you, they are actually wishing ‘the well’ for you, since they’ve fallen in one themselves. Fine, that was a poor joke. I’m entitled to one, we’ve just been through several, during the ­elections. Even elected some.
I genuinely think this whole thing about someone else ­deciding when is the right time for you to take key decisions in life, is so, so silly. I get so many mails from young people who are stressed because they are reminded, repeatedly, that it’s the right time to get engaged, get married, make babies. For ­heaven’s sake, I thought we’ve crossed the era when societal pressure made life hell, but ­clearly not.
A five minute chat with my ‘young and progressive’ team ­jolted me to the reality that even today, the pressure to get ‘settled’ begins when your age has the prefix 2, gets worse when it’s 3 and downright nasty when the first digit of your age is 4. It’s another thing that by the time it reaches 5, the well-wishers are too busy ­collecting their boarding passes to heaven, and have given up on you.
I can see many parents gearing up to curse me now, because the standard argument is that elders put pressure to see you settled only because they want the best for your life. They do it only ‘with good intentions’. I totally buy that thought. The only problem is, their good intentions can’t ­magically turn up a good life-­partner for you. You’ll have to kiss the frogs to figure out your prince. And that may take time. Or you may not even want to get married ever, which also, believe me, is not such a big deal as we make it out to be. So this pressure is just needless stress.
Making the most important decisions of your life in a hurry, under duress of someone’s ­constant nagging, could turn out to be the biggest regret of your life. Please remember that the ­person you’ll marry will have the face you’ll see first thing in the morning for the rest of your life.
Well, exceptions, like Chaddha ji who wears a pirate-like eye patch while sleeping, to avoid starting his day with Mrs Chaddha’s face, don’t count, of course. What if the Mr or Ms Right you choose under pressure, just because your friends have started to get ­married, turns out to be a Mr or Ms you-can’t-stand’?
The decision on when to start a family is equally important and of course, irreversible. You should never be taking it because someone else tells you it’s time. Yes, there are medical issues about the ticking body-clock etc, but I am assuming you are responsible enough to be ­factoring those while charting a course for life.
So here’s what I have to say if someone else is ­giving you grief over how you should be living ‘your’ life.
1 Know the difference between those who are really ­concerned, and those who have nothing else to say when they meet you. A lot of us are so busy meeting our Facebook friends across the screen these days that we don’t meet our real-life relatives often. So when we do indeed meet up at Diwali or ­certain occasions, people have nothing much to talk about. And hence, generic questions float. If you are in your 12th grade, you’d be asked – ‘How’s the ­preparation...it’s the most crucial year.’ If you are in college, you’d be asked, ‘Ab aage ka kya socha hai?’. If you are working, you’d be asked, ‘So when are you getting settled? Koi dhoond rakhi hai yah mom-dad se kaam karwaoge?’ And if you’ve been married for a year...the usual... ‘When are you giving the good news?’ These questions are the Indian ­equivalent of small talk, packed in the wrapping paper of fake-concern. People don’t even realise that their loosely tossed question is invading someone’s privacy. But the one in whose life this may just be a pain-point takes it as a serious stress. I would say just one word – IGNORE. Not the rishtedaars, but the personal remarks. Actually sometimes even the rishtedaars, if they are too intrusive for comfort.
2 Don’t ever be impolite, but be firm in your retort to someone who constantly nags you about things that are going to impact your life forever. Say, ‘I appreciate your concern for my well-being. But I would like to wait till I feel it is the right time. Constant reminders on the same topic would not alter my decision, but would only affect my relationship with you, which I do not want.’ This should tell them to back off. Don’t feel guilty for ­saying it. At the end of the day, your life is your journey, and yours alone. As they say, ‘someone else might walk it ‘with’ you, but no one else can walk it ‘for’ you.
3 In situations when you just can’t answer back out of respect or family ­compulsions, at least don’t let the pressure get to you. Just smile and say — "May be God told you that it’s the right time, but He hasn’t told me yet. When He does, I’ll let you know."
The matters of life are too important and complicated to be put on a timetable. Don’t let ­anyone turn you into one. Stand your ground.
Sonal Kalra is glad she could advise someone in need. Now it’s time to write an article on whether Aishwarya Rai is pregnant again. Does anyone have any inside ­information?
Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra