Anyone who reads this article must know that this is neither an endorsement to get married, stay married or think of it as a flawed or idyllic union of two bodies, one soul. Cynics would term marriage as a rocky life sentence while die hard romantics will view it as a rocking affair to last a life time.
Reading a news item in one of the prestigious dailies my mind went through a ferment. An artist director deviated from tradition, by getting married in a traditional manner, in a chapel, to a smart phone. He wore the traditional tuxedo, promised to cherish, honour and be faithful to his partner, lying in a sleek, protective case. The groom was of the opinion that when people are so connected to their smartphones that they sleep and wake-up with their phone, why not marry a smartphone. His marriage was not legally recognized but it does throw light on the institution of marriage, challenged in digital times. The 'C' word i.e. commitment, consistency and creation is gradually passe' and the 'D' word, digital deification is taking over relationships.
When two good, perfectly sane human beings take plunge into matrimony, things can go horribly long. It can be tortuous, maddening, overwhelming. It's permanence can scare the young girls and boys who prefer relationships which have a short shelf value. The commitment phobic young and vibrant Indian would rather forgo marital hiccups and paranoia clubbed with it and enjoy celibacy, the delicious privacy that goes along with it.
Any relationship works if two people want it to work and marriage is no different. A good marriage, through time immemorial, is not very different from a see-saw that we played on, in the playground as kids. One partner is down, the better half springs up into action. The loving couple may never listen to one another under normal circumstances but one thing is true, raging or romancing, they can't live without each other.
My earliest remembrances of the institution of marriage were rather amusing. Addicted to each other like poison, my distant uncle remained morose when my aunt was away. Once together, they fought like bitterest enemies. During their skirmishes, their repartees were so humourous that they kept us in stitches. Their children were so used to their quibbling that they grew uncomfortable if their parents were civil or were caught smiling towards each other. It was just any another love story of the bygone era holding true the Kumaoni adage,"Hamar yaan ka pyaar, marani kulhar." (We demonstrate our love by using axe).
From my maternal aunt I absorbed that patience, right timing and terrific sense of humour acted as a glue when one lived with three generations and highly fragile egos. We loved to be with her all the time for she gave each member complete attention, her personal touch. An exemplary wife, she knew how to manage her stern, honest and devoted husband, with love and respect and the subtle art of speaking only when necessary. Those few words carried immense weight.
Moving a little ahead in time, arranged marriage was lurking on in the 80's but love-marriage had dared to move from the periphery to the centre. It was a double whammy. Even if the girl fell in love with the boy, the girl's father had to court the boy who-would-be-the-groom. Without the dual love of the father and the daughter, the holy matrimony could be declared null and void. When the qualified, financially independent bride crossed the new threshold, she was married to the large family. The balancing act of marriage and career went through tumult and turbulence. The babies were born and by the time the teething troubles of adjustment were over, sky was the limit for the career woman. She had a stable family life and the cushioning of the senior-in-laws, to iron out the domestic wrinkles. She could carve a niche for herself in the protective clasp of the collective.
In today's scenario, the tech savvy generation, bred as strong individuals, crave for 'space' - both physical and emotional. They don't pretend. They don't like games for they are honest and frank, not hypocrites. Marriage for them is not a priority. They prefer to earn degrees, work, party, trot the globe and then decide to settle down with a person they are comfortable with. If the groom's family is expecting a young woman of thirty something, with a fabulous pay packet to adapt, smile and conform to a retrogressive life, that is asking for the celestial bodies, not only the Sun and the Moon.
If bad memories in marriage outnumber good ones, one can easily opt for uncoupling. Marriage needs continuous effort. Like any other edifice, it will last longer only if the material used to build it, is of superior quality. Marriage, through the ages, in its myriad avatars, has survived for centuries. As for the cynical statement made by one person marrying a smartphone, 'one swallow doesn't a summer make'.