For the 1 or 2 people who haven’t heard my mother’s huge sigh of relief reverberating around the globe, I got married on the 22nd of March 2014. After 10 active years of dismissing proposals, arguing with my mother, looking for love, being despondent, being angry, being lost and finally being resigned to being single, I gave up.

I gave up thinking that my single status is something that I could change. I gave up thinking that I was in charge of my destiny and I truly left it to God.

This is easier said than done. I know because for the past 2 or 3 years I had been saying that I had ‘given up’ and that ‘God knew best’ but deep down I didn’t truly believe it, deep down I was still scrambling to control my relationships.

Whether or not anyone else saw I was still desperately hoping that I could do something to change the course of my fate.

This is not at all to negate my favourite hadith which encourages you to ‘have faith in Allah swt but tie your camel’

It did bring home to me that births, deaths and marriages are truly in the hands of God. simple hadith is so powerful.

We are living in the greatest age if human intelligence and advancement and it’s so easy to forget that we are not our masters.

That we are merely a speck in the greater infinite universe of God’s creation. When we lose sight of that bigger picture it becomes impossible to have blind faith in the fact that God will take care of me.

And when that happens we scramble like crazy to dating sites, speed dating venues and our ‘bio datas’ do the rounds of aunties. But I digress. There is a lot I want to say on this subject – get it off my proverbial chest so to speak.

The start of the beginning

The moment you are born a Bengali/desi child, your parents begin to worry.

They worry as you grow up, they worry as you start school, they worry when you get to university but none of that compares to the worry that begins when the first person casually mentions to them, ’She’s all grown up now! She’ll be getting married soon.’

And there goes a peaceful night’s sleep for the parents of a Bengali girl.

From now till the day she says ‘I accept’ every waking moment is haunted by, What will happen to my daughter? Who will marry her? Is she educated enough? Pretty enough? Good enough? Talented enough? Religious enough?

And it isn’t long before this worry and sometimes frustration finds its way, displaced or directly, to the child in question. And that my dears is when a girl truly becomes a woman.

It’s not when your body changes, it’s not when you begin to notice or like boys, but it’s when you start realising that you parents cannot sleep because they are so worried about you. And that brings with it.. Guilt. lots of guilt.

The beginning

Two things happen at this point.

The very select lucky few women on this planet find their prince charming (or their prince charming finds them) and they can happily dispel their parents anxiety and work towards their happily ever after. If that’s you. Pat yourself on the back. Good job. Now go away.

Because for the rest of us your life is just as dreamlike and just as elusive as Jasmine and Aladdin and Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. We don’t hate you.

We ARE genuinely happy for you. But seriously.. don’t tell us your life is hard ever again because what we go through, that you are spared from, is much harder.

The rest of us are primped, primed and positioned to an inch of our lives as we are dragged to dawats.

Any remotely nice picture of us is tacked to a bio data which is a resume for marriage purposes listing your life history, hobbies that show what a good girl you are (gardening and knitting anyone?), your family tree and their respective occupations to show you come from good lineage.

And the worst part of all of this is that every single family friend is now eligible to ask you, ‘When are you getting married?’.

People will delight in projecting your life for the next five years including who you will marry, where you will live and more often than not these ruminations from an overactive imagination become firm fast rumours doing a marathon around your respective social circle so the next time you are out you have to start every sentence with, ‘No I am not getting married. Where did you hear that from?’

If this is you, in the latter situation, please sit down with some chocolate and give yourself a hug. You will need it.

This is only the beginning of a process which will define your womanhood. It will thrust you into the reality of social circles, it will enlighten you, quite harshly at times, to who your real friends are and it will teach you how to deal with unwanted attention, grief, guilt and depression.

But know through all of your turbulent emotions, that your parents are doing this out of their love for you.

A desi parent has no other avenue of showing you how much they care and trying to find you someone who will love you anywhere near as much as they do is their sole ambition in this elaborate and sometimes painful process.

So strap yourself in, thicken your skin and buckle up for the ride. It gets harder before it gets easier.

This is part 1. Part 2: ‘That ONE dude’ will be in the next issue.

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