Sunday, June 20, 2010


Someone I know, who is just 22, is very upset these days. She had a fight with her boyfriend sometime ago and since then, he is refusing to talk to her. "How does one win back a man without seducing him? What do men want, really?" she asked me this evening.

While he remains uncommunicative, she has no idea whether they will eventually make up or break up. Though she would rather they make up, because she wants to marry him because they have been seeing each other for four years. But at the same time, she is prepared for a break-up as well.

In our society, whenever one acquires a girlfriend or a boyfriend, no matter how young you are, the idea is to get married. The girl and the boy first stake claim on each other and then go out on dates, rather than doing it the other way round. Either way, sex happens. If not sex, then almost sex -- this far but no further.

The root of many of problems when you are in your late teens or early twenties is the tying of every relationship to marriage. But this is a mistake we all make. We realise it to be a mistake only when we grow up and become wiser and then look back and laugh. When I got my first girlfriend at the age of 17 and broke the news to parents, my mother, always the emotional one, hit the roof and dragged me to the puja room and made me touch the feet of the gods and promise that I would never see the girl again. My father, as usual, was unruffled.

He told me, "When I was your age, I also had a lot of friends. But where are they today? I am not in touch with a single one. We have all moved on."

"But I've already told her that I will marry her. What will she feel if I back out now?"

"You are not going to be in school forever. When you grow up and see the world, you might just change your mind. Why rush into decisions now? You are not even in college."

But in the flush of youth, I refused to see his point. Eventually, experience won over impulse. Now when I look back, what a crime! -- choosing your life partner at an age when your facial hair has not even fully grown.

My father was 43 when he had this chat with me. Today, I am nearing 40 and I am perhaps wiser than him. Wiser because, unlike my father who remained committed to just one woman all his life till she died suddenly last year, I have far more experience in the field.

Age and experience teach you the difference between being fascinated and being practical. In my humble opinion, fascination rarely ends in happy marriage because you feel like running away the moment the bitterness of practicality sinks in. On the other hand, if you get married for practical reasons, the togetherness usually leads to fascination for each other.

Some years ago, I knew a woman, a Tamil Brahmin, who was 20 then. Or maybe 21. She was madly in love with a guy who belonged to a different religion. Even while she dreamt of marrying him, she dreaded the lifestyle changes she would have had to make in order to be a member of his family. But she didn't mind doing that: she said she was more than willing to adjust to the new lifestyle because she loved him so much.

Borrowing from my father's wisdom, I told her she was only wasting her time breaking her head over a relationship that was not going to work.

"How do you know it is not going to work?" she angrily demanded to know.

"Because I just know."

"I know why you are saying that. But I am going to marry only him, ok? Any problem?"

"No problem."

Just a couple of years after we had this conversation, she went to London for further studies. I was spared of the constant outpurings about her complicated love story. And then came an email, that she was finally getting married. The groom was a fellow Tam Brahm, someone she had fallen in love with in London. Hello, what happens to the time I had spent listening to the sob stories about an affair which I had predicted would never materialise?

So I won. My father won.

How I wish I could get back to my twenties armed with the wisdom I have earned in the past two decades. That, however, is impossible -- as impossible as people not making mistakes in the flush of youth. But I only hope people don't hinge the best and most productive years of their life on men or women who may never belong to them.

What would you prefer, really: marry someone and then go on a world tour, or go on a world tour and then decide who to marry? When I say world tour, I don't mean it in the literal sense. What I mean is the expansion of mental horizon.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Ghosh, I have been a silent reader of you blog and never commented till date but today i feel compelled. I got married at 19 when I was at the university to a guy who was a year older than me. He meant the world to me but as you said i had not seen the world when i married him. I got to see the world after we got married and that is when I realised what a megalomaniac he was, who took me for granted while the world was full of nicer men. Hate to say this but we are no longer together. We parted ways many years ago. In a way I am happy. That proves your point MR. Ghosh. Keep writing bcos u have this uncanny ability to touch hearts. Thank you!

journeycalledlife said...

WOW... thats the only thing I can say!!

Sepiamniac said...

What can I say: You certainly know it better.But, I guess like you did, she is learning, too... So let her figure out.... But she might take cues from this, I guess...

I can't help add: If she loves him so much, why can't she approach him? No egos kid, go for it!

Lakshmi said...

Ok, Mr Worldly Wise , Personally I think the world tour option ,in the literal sense is far more tempting to both men and women :)

Anonymous said...

The Kid says....That BG knocked a lotta sense in her head!!!! Very nicely!! that she's gonna chin up n get out n have tour, here I come!!! ;) =P
one VERY important thing tho... its NOT ego...its giving someone space to make a decision...a relationship doesn't work if one wants in and the other wants out!
And that BG is a supah sweet person to be able to listen to someone whine...and do something THIS nice too...thanks BG...(he's sometimes a smart ass, but we wont go there =P)

btsindia said...

sigh! all i can say is that i loved it!

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Shikha, good to see you here.

Sepiamniac said...

anonymous @12:16 PM
all the best :)!

Anonymous said...

World tour, hmmm. Is this the same person talking who supposedly fell in love with someone who he had met online and had not even seen in flesh and blood? Soulmate and stuff?

Pesto Sauce said...

Loved this post out and out

I agree that many make a decision when they are infatuated. Also these days sex has lost sanctity, everyone seems to be doing it, from schools to cafes

With so much stuff around, perhaps relationships too have lost value. Thats why I have never been in a relationship and never craved for one

Anoop Ravindran said...

let me ask u this till what age can u be on a 'world tour' because learning and growth r never ending processes.

Sangeeta Iyer said...

hi..Hi there Bishy...It's been a while since Ive gone blog hopping.
Thought a tag's a gr8 way of getting back in tch with you'r IT!

Anonymous said...

someone i know, who is just 20, had a fight with her boyfriend cos he wanted more "intimacy" after a year of being with each other.

someone i know, who is 20 too, wishes people would stop telling her relationships suck cos she's never been in one.

someone i know, who is 20, wishes she hadn't said no to a guy she liked cos of one failed relationship.

someone i know, who is 20, wishes that the girl he likes, who also knows that he does, gives him reason to hope, or a sign to withdraw.

someone i know, who is 22, wishes the whole world could be as lucky as him to have found a great girlfriend.

is love complicated?
or is it just that people love dedicating more time thinking about it than living it?

i'm surprised. even if marriage was the last thing on her mind, a girl as young as her would be in a dilemma after four years. I agree with the anonymous provider of food for thought-it cannot be termed ego.

Anonymous said...

Both have their pros and cons with regards to people. For some former may work out and for others latter would be the key.
We cannot really say first is better than the other

Anonymous said...

Marriage no matter when or what age you choose depends all on fate or destiny as one would have it.All the best for your friend. Hope the Tamil Brahmin guy is able to appereciate her for what she is than being bogged down by other issues. Coz men are men no matter what. At the same time women are women too! It is the creators fault and not us. What a wonderful way to get baack to your blog.

the mad momma said...

i'd like to disagree. there's no age when you can draw a line and say - okay, i've now seen the world and the tour can end.

i see your father's point, but in his time you only had snail mail and telegrams. no wonder no one was in touch. with technology today, if you WANT to stay in touch, you can. the rest is all up to you.

although i agree that the root of problems is imagining that every relationship should end in marriage. that however is something we're hopefully outgrowing as a culture.

there seems to be something in your post that almost says that adjusting to a new lifestyle is the problem. i think that is the part i mostly disagree with. apologies if i read too much into that.

Udaya said...

This is funny to read cause im 17 haha. You have no idea of the plethora of thoughts going on in y head now :P