Are those two people your parents only because they are married?

 

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With Yazhini and our awesome ob-gyn Anshu Bansal

 

We write this to those friends who responded so to the news of our baby, Yazhini, “OMG! When did you get married?” and to those friends who quietly assumed that we are married.

NEWSFLASH: Yazhini’s parents (Muthumoorthy and Me) are not married.

What does making a baby have anything to do with marriage? Marriage is, after all, a social contract. And weddings, the face of marriage, are displays of social status. This is why the interpretation changes with religion, government and culture. One can decide whether they want to get married or not. This has nothing to do with creating themselves a family. Sadly, most people find this hard to believe.

 

Sex, similarly, is also a choice. Consensual sex is an erotic and biological act, which has to surpass many societal judgements about body-image and body-joining to become enjoyable. In case you didn’t know, there are people who engage in premarital sex, extra-marital sex, swinging sex, orgies, non-monogamous sex, queer sex, masturbation, geriatric sex, and even no sex at all. There are all kinds in our beautiful species. Married people are not the only ones doing it.

Basic biology teaches us that sex (sometimes protected and most of the times unprotected) can result in a pregnancy. Feminism 101 teaches us that a woman can before, during and thereon choose what is done with her own body.

 

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After the fourth pregnancy test turned positive pink, I made it clear to Muthu with a strange and silent stare, ‘This baby is going to happen. You can be as involved as you want to be.’ This is a line that could confuse even the very feminist boyfriend, because life plans will be changing. We had a short argument and decided together to learn how to do this day by day. Before that, we had to tell our parents!

My parents are cool, okay. But, pregnancy is always a bomb of a news. We asked a family friend for some advice and she wanted to cushion the fall. She said that the man must first ask for the girl’s hand and then reveal the news of the baby. We did so and parents were so happy. Maybe, it was their drop out, job-skipping, kind-of-artist girl baby finally settling down in life that overjoyed them or also the prospect of a grandchild. They did have their worries about this choice of mine, but they kept their disapproval to themselves and spread joy.

Both of us never wanted to get married, but we decided it wasn’t a very bad idea if it could  allow us a peaceful pregnancy with both the families support. However, what we faced was long days of drama on how live-in-relationships imported from Western cultures cause such unwanted mess, on whether we should simply register or have a ceremony, but how could we have a ceremony with my baby bump, then should I just anyway get an abortion and avoid stressing out others, and were we just throwing our lives to the dogs. Meanwhile, I was growing bigger, gassier and sprouting my own species of mood swings.

The need to get married started sounding stupid to us. Who were we trying to make happy when the baby and us were pushed in to such distress? Pregnancy, by itself, is difficult. So, we endlessly postponed the marriage and gave vague answers to those family members who tirelessly inquired us.

 

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The Family at the Valakaapu

 

Around the ninth month, we agreed to my aunt’s request of a valakaapu (a traditional baby shower). She said it would be an auspicious event for the baby. We know jack-shit about auspicious cos-pee-shee-yus things. But, I did tell Muthu that celebrating the coming of the baby would do us good after so much tension. I was insanely scared if the baby would be fine and if I could actually survive the ordeal, and felt a few good vibes and pampering would do my pregnant soul good. Muthu warned me that it must not involve any rituals. We made it clear to everyone again and again that it would be a celebration and a house-warming ceremony. But, there were some societal demands. Some were smartly subverted (men and women drew moustaches and beards with sandhanam on me, and my sister embraced Freud and garlanded me instead of Muthu). Some chances were missed (apparently, I could have dressed goth, because pregnant women get to dress anyway they want). This was followed by a vegetarian ela saapaadu that everyone enjoyed, but most friends gave me a disappointed look, “We expected biryani and beer from you.” Left to me, I would have arranged such a feast. But, my grandmother was the chief guest.

She came with her own demands. She gifted me a karugamani maalai (mangalsutra worn by some Muslim sects and certain North Indian Hindu sects) and asked me to wear it. I should have said no, but you don’t say no to gifts. I wear it when I meet her and she knows this. She also informed us that she will tell all her friends that we had registered our marriage, because she finds it very hard to explain our choices to them. Again, I should have said, ‘No, Paati.’ I was, like, even if I say no, you are anyway going to go ahead and say so, and I also don’t really hang out with your friends and maybe this shouldn’t matter. Until…

Last month, we went to Muthu’s parents house at Peravurani for a wedding. Everyone there also believed this fantasy register marriage; parentheses with the belief that I am a Brahmin city girl. I must write about this latter part later. Muthu tried telling one of his grandmothers that we are not married and was immediately reprimanded by a sister who lives there as she did not want to receive the clout for it.

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Yazhini and the saree-clad me ready to rock Muthu’s cousin’s wedding outside her grandparents house in Peravurani

Sad part is that your discomfort with us not being married in the current social situation is understandable. How would you explain it to yourself or others? So yeah, most of our families lie to themselves and others that we are married. Once in a while, they sigh that how nice it would have been to have a wedding and do all of this with so much peace.

Ever since we returned to Chennai, Muthu has been asking me to write this and tell the world that we are not married. In fact, he has been asking me to write down our entire story beginning from one random November night that we met for the first time in our lives. Umm.. but I am a well-seasoned procrastinator. I write this now, because I am actually supposed to be editing something else.

We are never going to get married. Hell, we don’t even think we will be monogamous. Now, how is Yazhini going to deal with this and what societal pressures will she experience because of our choices? I suppose, she is going to learn that she can make her own choices.

When I was a little child, I used to tease my father that I would just for the sake of it rebel against them and have an awesome garish ritualistic wedding. He would try to reason with me and I would insist with my silly arguments. He just patiently let me come to my own senses about it. Today, sometimes he is confused about my choice, but somewhere trusts me or in liberty to let me be myself. (Now, we are arguing about homeschooling vs schooling. This too, I shall write about later.)

 

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Throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood, we anyway go through a variety of identity crises. This is good. There is no point in trying to protect your child from all the possibilities out there thinking that it is going to confuse her or cause her societal pressures. It is more important to be there when she is confused and explore that territory with that same confusion. Read with her, travel with her, question the world with her, sit with her and tell her to go ahead, take her time and make her own choice. I just got to make sure that she can handle a crisis. There is no point in avoiding crisis or simply waiting for the rest of the world to become an accepting and peaceful place. That is not going to happen until we first make our choices and continuously challenge status-quo. Indirectly, this is what my parents gifted me, though they sometimes interpret it as failing to protect me.

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24 thoughts on “Are those two people your parents only because they are married?

  1. Beautiful is the lived life,
    Beautiful are the words which come from these lives,
    Beautiful is the soul which tries and lives independent of society’s restrictive norms!

    खूबसूरत है ज़िन्दगी के एहसास,
    खूबसूरत होगी ये ज़िन्दगी तुम्हारी,
    बहुत कम शख्स जी पाते हैं समाज में समाज की कैद से बाहर!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This article RE-filled lot of courage in me. Somewhr I am lost with so called fears after separation from a 14 year long relation and marriage together. I am all hyper thinking about
    – how will my daughter handle her teenage crisis whr in she might have to handle questions abt parents separation.
    – how shud I answer questions the reason for separation.
    My sister who is an exact replica of ur thoughts gives me some answers to my fears. But I am not convinced and always thought she is being too dramatically bold.
    But now after ur article.. India is changing, people are changing, kids have to undergo the stress learn to handle.
    And as u said..
    “‘Read with her, travel with her, question the world with her, sit with her and tell her to go ahead, take her time and make her own choice.””

    My sister keeps telling me she will learn to make her own individual choices from the way u r choosing ur life to be. If she fails she will learn to cope up. And we are always thr for a shoulder, give hand and make her stand firm again.

    Lovely article. Loved it. U made my day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your story gives me courage too. Some times it gets very hard and I have seen my parents take years to find the right words to explain things to me. Once, my parents wanted to get a divorce because they said the paper had nothing to do with why they wanted to be together. I was such a scared little kid that I wrote down my own paper contract making them vow to me that they will never separate. They signed it and laughed. They said I would understand what they mean by myself. Over the years, I just lost that paper and never thought about it. Guess I did understand it by myself through lovers and breakups, and this is where I am today. I would probably help them apply for the divorce now. 🙂 Power to your sister, daughter and you. Thank you very much for reading and writing back to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations on your choice to have the baby and I commend you for not bowing down before senseless but conventional pressures. I am curious however as to how you make this work in our culture…. Don’t your neighbours/housing society/landlords/ etc harass you? Also, won’t it be difficult to get your daughter admitted to a ‘good’ school? I am unmarried and in a long term relationship myself and I have been thinking about this a lot. Thanks.

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    • Thank you Arkamitra for reading and extending the conversation. I have been meaning to write a followup for this soon. Once the baby gives me some time, I will answer your questions this week.

      Like

  4. Wow. Just wow.
    I’ve always believed that marriage is just a piece of paper, and I’ve been married for 9 years and counting. But I’ve only ever seen it from my perspective, which I felt was all that I needed to see. In your last paragraph, when you talk about how you plan-not-plan to raise your child, you brought it home. It is about you, your partner and your life – and if that includes making a baby, then you’ll figure it out, just as we’re meant to do with our lives anyway. And what better way to teach a young child to trust their own judgement and exercise their own free will, other than by leading by example.
    Congrats on the baby, and good luck with it all (not that I think you’ll be looking for luck)!
    P.S: I’m Karan Nair’s sister, that’s how I stumbled upon your post.
    Much respect,
    Payal

    Like

    • Hi Payal.

      My parents have taught me a lot by example and I also think that is the most direct way of going about it – only theorizing at the end of the day is hypocritical. For instance, I have no clue how I will teach my daughter, when the time comes, to take a trip to the loo by herself, because I still have great problems entering a dark room alone. There is no point in telling her there are no monsters with a terrifying chill running down my spine. Maybe, I will tell her let’s go meet the monster together, with you I am a bit braver than before. Don’t know. hehe…

      That you are Karan Nair’s sister, means you are already family. 😀

      Thank you very much for reading and leaving such an encouraging note. If not luck, just seeing that our choice and the fact that we made a choice resonates with so many others gives me the nudge to go on (not like I have doubts about it).

      Love,
      Sam.

      You are right, luck has got nothing to do with this. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha I have a two year old and it’s still a mad dash to the room after turning off the lights at night. I’m thinking, I’ll stick with that and maybe when he sees it, he’ll think it’s more funny than pathetic? Meh! I won’t be entering myself for Mother Of The Year anytime soon, so there’s no rush in figuring that out! Besides I reckon my flaws and fears will add another dimension to his character. Whatever helps me sleep at night, right?!
        That you consider Karan Nair family, makes us pretty close already! 🙂
        I look forward to reading more of your posts.
        Cheers,
        Payal

        Liked by 1 person

  5. wow.. simply wow…

    I have been engaged with contemplating the mind structures that rule our lives. Society is in us.. not out there… I then stepped out and literally jumped out of the windows of the mind… the turn of events have been dramatic.

    I have come to a conclusion that Life is incredibly gracious, all-knowing and powerful. It made me take the jumps.

    But what you have done is simply astounding. To me, it means, you have matured and qualified to reach realms not reachable for others.

    Congrats and best wishes to you, muthu and yAzhini.. You are true children of Life.. free from mind patterns.

    Happy to know you through this post, which I stumbled accidentally!

    Like

  6. wow.. simply wow…

    I have been contemplating on mind patterns and structures that pretty much rule our lives… I then mustered sufficient energy to take a few jumps out of the windows of the mind. It turned out to be magical.. in many ways..

    Life is very gracious and very powerful. It simply unfolds what is just right for everyone.. As much ready they are so much they get!

    What you have done is simply astounding. It means that you have worked with yourself and have matured to a point that Life decided to take you to its higher realms. I mean it.

    Congrats and best wishes to you, muthu and yAzhini (just love the name)…

    I am happy to have accidentally stumbled upon your blog. Great to know you through this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As the father of two girls, I approve of this. Times..they are a changing. We are in this world for a short while. We should share each other happiness and sorrows and not impose our values on others. Find peace and happiness wherever you go. Regards

    Like

    • Thank you so much for reading. It is great to come across parents who are open with the life choices their children (girls/boys) will make. Usually parents think that their children’s life choices are their property.

      Like

  8. Ah. Just what I wanted to know. How does a baby fit into the scheme of our unmarried non monogamy. As I suspected the problem only seems to be policing by parents and society.

    How important was/ is family to both Mutthumoorthy and you? Did they fulfill any essential functions that could not have been fulfilled by accepting friends? If so would you mind telling me what those were?

    thanks for the inspiring story, I’m waiting to read more from you

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Celebrating brave women and alternative relationships | Jedi Faerie Queen Dinosaur Kitten Witch

  10. The baby looks so cute, especially the yawn. Marriage is outdated anyway. Latest stats from Iceland says nearly 66% babies are born out of wedlock. Socialism only makes this easier, many months of maternity leave etc.

    It will take a long while before patriarchy dies out in India, but the groans we hear today are it’s death pains, it is on the way out. Meanwhile, I can imagine that it must be difficult for you, you must face a lot of judgement, I admire your courage. Wish you all well.

    Liked by 1 person

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