dailyO
Life/Style

I'm single. Not a slut

Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
Sreemoyee Piu KunduAug 20, 2015 | 13:15

I'm single. Not a slut

"Are you married?"

"Still single?"

"Parents not looking?"

"Not found anyone, yet?"

"You must be the choosy sorts, right?"

"Tell the universe you need a husband.

"Visualise your dream wedding…"

"You need a good husband. Healthy body."

Picture this. I am standing butt naked in a large hospital room, miles away from Delhi. My face is bluish green because of three asthma attacks in a span of three days that led to the sudden postponement of my Bangalore trip. My hands are swollen from continuous IV drips and steroid injections. My eyes puffy. My breathing intermittent. Sponging me are two women – an ayah in her mid 50s and a nurse, a 20-something Malayali in an olive uniform, who tells me how she can’t wait to join her spouse in Saudi. I can't help but think about the unfortunate fate of many women from her native state who are married to men they hardly ever see. Except on holidays. The ayah is a Kannadiga – her husband is a drunkard, and occasionally lives with a younger woman.

She is infertile. They have tried. She has failed.

And yet, as these two women wipe my privates using a warm sponge, the room full of the heady aroma of antiseptic, they express disbelief at how I am still single at 37. They even suggest I meet an astrologer at the earliest. In times like these, I need a husband – I can't afford to have my greying father fly down to firefight my health crisis.

As I slip into a knee-length, pink-striped gown, I watch the two women chatter among themselves, their eyebrows painfully slanted. One of them frowns, "You don’t look 37, but a woman’s body is known to lie. Don’t delay things further. Having a child will get tough also."

The ayah sighs.

Fears and tears

Will my man leave me like you? Is that the real fear that haunts millions of childless women, or those trapped in mute marriages – afraid of not being able to procreate – failing the highest duty of a wife. The ultimate benchmark of an Indian family – a bunch of noisy children. Ageing grandparents. Picnic baskets. Matching T-shirts and Bangkok holidays?

"Yes, he’s away. But to society I am married. My parents are relieved. I have someone to look after me. I mean…" the nurse defensively answered when I joked that she is as good as a single woman – meaning she does not have an active sex life. The way she had earlier implied.

Even as more and more women choose to stay single, why is our singlehood - more often than not - perceived as some kind of a forbidden curse? An alienating isolation? Tactically linked to parents who failed to put their daughter on the last bus? Those who didn’t advertise in leading dailies or splurge on matrimonial sites, consult family pandits and get their daughters married to trees and dogs, first. God forbid, what if their daughter were a Manglik, like me?

Rat race

The lack of a man is always perceived as a failure of sorts – as if women were born to compete in this mad rat race to hook a suitor. Before their breasts sag, ovaries pack up and skin demonstrates the seven signs of ageing. Before they become sexually static – stereotyped further by popular culture. By books and the bullying cosmetic companies that ask women to preserve a bit of themselves. The validation of their youth – fertility, femininity, firmness. Making their life span seem like a jar of mayonnaise – delicious, but with an expiry date.

Once, please

"It’s an experience, you should do everything once," a married friend, in the throes of a passionless marriage, sermonises, putting her nagging child to sleep after arguing bitterly with an inattentive husband, who barely notices her any longer.

So, is marriage supposed to be like bungee jumping or getting a tattoo? Or is it like losing our virginity. The way women in India fret and fuss about it – the way we hype the goddamn hymen.

The truth is that most Indian women don’t even orgasm, yet fake one to hide the ugly truth about their sex lives. Logging on to cyber sex sites, often in the guise of a man. Sexting virtual lovers on WhatsApp - choosing married men, most often, who are suffering boring, banal marriages. Men with fat wives and staid corporate jobs. Who need to jerk off on some experimentation. The virtual anonymity a safe bet.

Sex without a licence

"Will you do it with me?" a 29-year-old man I met at a friend’s in Bangalore, propositioned me point blank. He says he "likes me and would love to get to know me better".

Why is it that single is equivalent to sexually promiscuous? Desperate for sex? One-night stands and plenty of casual sex? The no strings attached type?

Kids? Crèche? Freedom to quit your job? Paid maternity leave? Why are people still judging us on an imaginary success metre? Why is my single status a threat to all the married people out there? Why the constant wisdom on finding a soulmate? The sad long faces when I check into an Emergency Room alone? Why do we monopolise monogamy when it is almost dead? When infidelity is no longer an immoral, cardinal sin?

What if I am unmarried, yet? And refuse to be targeted?

Last updated: September 12, 2016 | 19:01
IN THIS STORY
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy