It was Smita’s last day at the office. A very talented and intelligent girl, fresh out of engineering college, she had to now get ready to embark on a new journey of marriage in Dubai. Her academic records were flawless and the determination and enthusiasm she showed in work proved that her career was moving on the right track. Her parents, however, ignored these facts and fixed an alliance for her. She remained aloof of all the marriage drama that was enfolding, but later on resigned to her fate. Leaving her parents, her career and with many doubts over the foreign land and gold worth Rs 7 lakhs, she left India last month. Though she has accepted her new life with grace, marrying this early was definitely not on her priority list. When asked, the only reply that this young girl gave me was “This is how it works in my community”.
She is not a unique case and this, of course, is not happening only among the uneducated. There still exist communities where marrying off a daughter is the primary task of parents, while career is way down and most times nowhere on the list. Also the point where a girl can make a choice between the two doesn’t even feature in the scheme of things. While the literacy rate of women has improved substantially in comparison to last year, we still have a long way to go where a women’s career is taken as seriously as that of men.
I met Hasfa while we were working in Kolkata on deputation. She was about to take up a long term assignment in the UK. The night before her departure, she told me the motive behind her seeking an onsite opportunity was to save money for her marriage and dowry. This came to me as a shock, more so because her dad was a scientist. I told her to refuse such offers and her reply was similar too, if not the same – “How many offers do you think I can refuse? If not me, they will find someone else.”
Dowry is very much prevalent; the only difference being the steep increase in what is being demanded. No, I am not talking about the last decade. The latest I heard, an IAS groom was priced at 20-30 lakhs. Correct me if I am wrong. Parents may brag about the degrees their daughters hold on to, but at the end of the day she is evaluated by the institution of marriage, and in worse cases by a panel of strangers, her soon to be in-laws who scrutinize her by the gold she brings in.
Among myriad faces of successful and independent women, this too is a prominent face of Indian women. Working behind glass doors of multinational companies but succumbing to the omnipresent pressures of society and its age old norms.
As the title points out – Reality is but a fatality of fate.
**The stories mentioned above are true, names changed.
An Engineer by profession, a Poet-an Artist by choice. Passionate about writing, paper craft (3D Origami) and is a Korean movie buff. Loves travelling and sometimes indulge in photography too.