‘Hum dekhenge’ of a happy marriage

‘Hum dekhenge’ of a happy marriage

Midlife Musings

Indu Anandgives melancholic one-star reviews to marriage, motherhood, most men, and midlife@Indu.A.Anand

A few weeks ago, in a rare PDA (public display of affection), I posted a picture of my daughter’s father and me together on social media. Amongst the many complimentary comments it received, the most interesting one was, “Did anyone tell you that the two of you have started looking like siblings?” This well-wisher dug in further, adding insult to injury with a set of amused emoticons. The truth is that my emotions weren’t amused. I felt challenged to prove our persecution, and compelled to provide documentation, beyond the picture, that we are legitimate citizens of this country of commitment called the ‘Happy Marriage.’

Like the nation-state, marriage has established enormous utility — as a method of ensuring managed ownership and transfer of wealth and property, guardianship of children and caregiving to elders, a sharing of all other labour, a commonly understood standard of rights and responsibilities, and the unbroken reign of patriarchy. But marriage is also that proverbial border that you only cross when you come to it. My daughter’s father and I came to it, giddy with both hope and fear, stumbled across, only to realize that, instead of firm land, we had clambered upon a bridge, a pontoon, the kind that the Indian Army was made to lay on the Yamuna’s eco-sensitive river-bed for Ravi Shankar’s ‘Cultural Festival’. Like him, our marriage had rented space in a fragile zone on something that shifted and swayed. Our ‘festival’ too was bound to leave a trail of some garbage and much damage.

This social media incident occurred bang in the middle of this winter of challenge. The number of times I have come across Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s ‘sab taaj uchale jayenge’ (or ‘all crowns will be tossed up’) in the past weeks, in every shape and form, defies all logic, and all common sense. Almost every single one of society’s ‘sacred cows’ has now been milked. Then how could poetry, the poison of many a pained pen, be spared? In fact, now, a particular genre of spoken word poetry is not only considered audacious but also plainly seditious. Speaking of ornamental headgear, why should the ‘sehra’ (a piece of adornment typically made of garlands of tiny flowers worn on the head by grooms in North India) of holy matrimony be left uncriticized?

As controversies go, marriage is undoubtedly older than any other, and besides, this column too has been in the making for eighteen years. That’s also the time it has taken for us to break the myth of our ‘happy marriage’ so that it doesn’t end unhappily. But of course, there are many perfectly legitimate reasons for divorce. Marriage itself tops that list. The problem is that my daughter’s father and I spent the worst part of last year finding one proper one, that would stand the scrutiny of our in-house jury of various vintages and vested interests, and couldn’t. So instead, we decided to uncouple ourselves from our marriage and become refugees in our own home. We agreed as Avis did, and all immigrants do, legal or illegal, persecuted or not, to “Try Harder.” Amongst other things — best friends, co-parents, householders, caregivers, confidants, holidaymakers, laundromats and lovers — we also decided to pretend to play siblings, choiceless but never for a moment voiceless. The peace, although precarious, is nevertheless peace, and holds the promise of some prosperity. Compared to an expensive divorce, our decision has been very economical in-home therapy.

As I watch our country’s two main religious communities’ time-tested relations be tested anew by the ongoing protests, sometimes as friends, sometimes as enemies, sometimes together as if against a firm father’s fickle rules, sometimes against each other as Papa’s pets will do, I wonder if they, like my daughter’s father and I, could stop being governed by history’s rules and be as siblings do?

After all, they are but choiceless citizens of the same ‘happy family,’ never really able to escape their shared everyday comedy and daily tragedy.

Maybe. Hum Dekhenge. We Shall See.

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