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The flip side of an early marriage and early children in today’s ‘progressive’ times
by Vijai Pant

I came to know how in a modern, 21st century India, early marriages and early children are raising eyebrows in my interaction with a co-passenger in one of my travels. This is what she had to share-

With my elder daughter finding her soul mate and getting married last year and my younger one all ready to embark on higher studies, at my age, I’m certainly quite ahead of the others in, what the wise old people of yore called, ‘Life’s Race’. And I also agree with their wisdom, “God willing, by the time you kick the bucket you’ll be able to see three generations of yours.”

Of course, these oldies were right in their observations, but, at the same time, they failed to foresee an India where late marriages will be the new normal, delayed start to family de rigueur and DINK culture proliferate so rapidly as to enter even the small cities and townships.

Today, when even the mangalsutra, bangles and sindoor which would announce to the world your ‘status’ are increasingly being given the go by, I continue to proudly flaunt such conspicuous symbols. It follows then that I’m treated as a relic of centuries gone by.

Moreover, when people come to know how far ahead in ‘Life’s Race’ I am, the guessing game really starts.

Till the time I keep the landmarks of my married life to myself, it’s all fine. Even if not exactly classified as youthful, I’m certainly put in the early forties and the accompanying epithets, vivacious and lively, give me a good feel. The world thinks I’m playing my age, and rightly so.

However, it’s my answers to some innocent queries about my family which not only leaves the listeners nonplussed, but also compels them to look at me in new, perhaps fading, light and that too with a reverence reserved for the silver haired.

People start showering me with, what I initially presumed to be praises. Their comments ranging from, “You really take good care of yourself,” to “Oh! How you maintain yourself,” as if I was really over the hill. These remarks would subtly give credit to all the anti-ageing cosmetic weapons so successfully arresting my advancing years. With women already very notorious for carefully guarding their age, my grown up children for them become the ‘give away’. Keeping the signs of the times in mind I don’t blame these people for their error of judgment. But yes, in all such situations my angels don’t come as a badge of honour for me. On the contrary, they loudly announce my age wrongly pushing me up a 50+ bracket.    

Just the other day I received the ‘good’ news of my elder daughter being on the family way. I’m very excited, but experience has taught me not to go overboard in my elation, but to keep the news to myself, and, at the most, my near and dear ones.

After all, a granny at 42 is not such a welcome idea in today’s world. Is it?