KATHMANDU, Aug 8: When asked about her plans to get married, Saru Rai, a marketing student at The University of Hong Kong School of Professional and Continuing Education, says, “Perhaps at 30 or maybe even later.”
The confident 24-year-old puts to rest the notion that girls incessantly dream of their trousseau and plan actively towards The Day. While most girls won’t deny that marriage is definitely on the cards, it has simply not become as important a milestone as it, perhaps, once was.
These days most twenty something are either done with their studies or on the verge of completion. They’ll be settling in their jobs and enjoying financial freedom. Marriage is the furthest thing on their minds at this particular time of their life.
Many young women are now opting for the other side of the decade to enter matrimony. Saru says, “My parents get worried about me. But luckily, they haven’t been pressuring me seriously as they understand why I’m delaying. They won’t be very happy if I get married late though. My mother usually wonders if I’m ever getting married.”
But, she continues, “Nothing’s as important as knowing yourself. I want to explore more to the extent where I fully understand myself. I want to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. Getting married is no harm if you can continue with your plans. But since you start having so much responsibility in your life, it´s rare that you would actually give 100% to what was once so important to you. Somehow people lose that spark of individuality and independence once they get married. Only after being secure of who you are and where you’re going would be the right time to say that I´m now ready to let the new person in.”
Jyoti Gurung, 24, also plans to get married after 30 years of age. Currently residing in Manila, the Philippines, she’s a 4th year medical student at Emilio Aguinaldo College.
She thinks only after crossing the 30 mark will she be done with her postgraduate and finally have the time for everything else. She has already prepared her parents though it’s obvious her father would like it if she got married earlier.
She laughs as she recalls a conversation while on vacation last December when her father said, “You aren’t getting married till 30 and I don’t know when your brother plans to get married. When am I getting a grandchild?” She points out, “I think my big brother should get married sooner.”
When asked what she thinks about girls getting married early, she remarks, “I think it’s a stupid idea to rush into marriage so young. We aren’t very responsible at this age, and marriage is a huge responsibility, especially in a country like Nepal where you don’t just marry a person but his whole family.”
Saru has seen many examples that make her hesitate in giving the green light to marriage at a young age. She states, “I have only one friend who is happily married. She got married at 20 and has a child now. The others, who also settled down quickly, don’t seem to enjoy successful marriages. It’s sad to see some of them already divorced. Their immature decisions made bad impacts on their lives, and it looks as if they spoilt their entire lives for one unsuccessful marriage.”
Both Saru and Jyoti are in relationships and their partners understand the choices they have taken.
Jyoti says, “Well, he couldn’t agree more as he’s also a medical student and we share the same reasons.”
“He’s okay with it as long as it´s him even after 30,” laughs Saru.
Education and career are taking priority over our lives and it’s no wonder that rushing to hear one’s wedding bells has taken a backseat. And freedom has become important for us.
The patriarchal society that we live in still finds it difficult to loosen its grip on us: and we, having got the taste of freedom, balk at the thought of curfews and seeking permissions.
Dik Kala Limbu, 34, is unmarried and has no plans of settling down in the near future, either. She says, “I was involved in my studies and family responsibilities, so I never had the inclination to get married. I’m looking after myself and I don’t need anyone to do that.”
Malvika Biswas, 21, also doesn’t have marriage on her agenda at the moment. A Bachelor student in Business Studies at Caspian Valley College, she says, “I think the ideal age would be after 25, somewhere between your mid to late 20s.”
From getting a better grip on ourselves, including holding steady jobs, and not having to rely on our parents for every little thing, it’s time when most of us will have left the floundering in new waters behind.
But does every story of the girl who becomes a wife and a daughter-in-law quicker than normal end in melancholy and pity? After talking to Madhuri Maheshwori Shrestha, one thinks again.
Madhuri, 23, has been a married woman for the past five years. Though she was in love, she wasn’t really prepared to tie the knot at 18. However, she accepted the situation as it came.
She recalls, “Neither he nor I were really prepared for it but we went ahead. Life’s been good so far. We had the support of his family then, and my family has also been supporting us now. We continued with our education and there’s been nothing to hamper our life or set us back. He was only 20 then and he didn’t have to deal with the pressure of working to support us. I’ve just completed my Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Shanker Dev College and I’ll be going to the US for my Master’s degree.”