To Whom It May Concern
Dilshani Palugaswewa speaks the minds of single singletons
I feel like any number of times will never be enough to rant about the plight of single women and men when they are at - what others deem - the prime age of marriage.
Unfortunately, with curfew being lifted, the blessing in disguise (COVID-19 and lockdown) is wearing off and visiting has become a thing yet again which inevitably means that the mandatory question will be fired at you, “So, when are you settling down?” Or better yet “It’s now or never, so don’t just say no to what comes your way!”
As much as I understand the sentiment and concern behind those twisted sentences, it never fails to amaze me how someone finds it perfectly comfortable to say things that essentially objectify another person like they are a market product whose value depreciates with age or implying that marriage is the be-all and end-all of life.
For whatever reason people often assume that someone who isn’t in a relationship is to be pitied upon. My friends and I have often been told that it won’t be too hard for us to find someone to ‘settle down’ because we’ve got a pretty face. While this is irksome and disrespectful on so many levels, who said I was looking for someone? Apparently, single girls close to their 30s and boys nearing 40 require condolences.
Old-school uncles have on many occasions advised my parents to put up matrimonial ads to draw in eligible suitors or they request that a photoshoot be taken of me so that they can send it out to their auntie network bureau whom to their credit, are quite efficient (unfortunately). Aunties get to work right away with or without formal consent of the girl or her family. They take pride in making connections and as per their assumption; they know exactly who ‘the perfect match’ for me is (that’s some sorcery right there because even I don’t know). But, on further inquiry, they sometimes struggle to remember even the boy’s name but they will vouch for him nevertheless on the basis of their mere link to his family.
In typical aunty style I’ve been told before, “this boy is so good. I know his family well. He might even be too good for you so don’t turn it down right away.” Well for one, I believe in equality so if he is really too good for me then may I suggest you take it to someone who is equally ‘good’, whatever that means. And two, let’s just talk about how there is no correlation between you knowing the boy’s family and knowing him personally. They are two very different things and plus, the word ‘good’ is subjective and a hoax, frankly. Anyone can dress on ‘good’ behaviour for a few minutes – exhibit A would be how I am effortlessly oppressing my urge to not leave you with a purple eye.
‘Their’ logic - it’s too much for a girl to be career-driven because it’s seen as the downfall of her life - aka marriage. And she cannot by societal standards be ambitious and successful to guarantee sponsoring herself for life but it makes perfect sense to sign a certificate in front of hundreds of guests, give them food and make a lifelong commitment that she half-agreed to because she gets the same benefits, possibly for a lifelong unhappy union? Ahh, that makes total sense. How did I not get this before?
Some people’s selling point to me on the matter is that it is a safety net, a guarantee of sorts to a comfortable life. So, ‘a sponsor for life?’ is that what you mean aunty Jascintha? Take any part of the world, and guaranteed, an independent or ambitious woman is seen as arrogant and high maintenance, and so of course she is not considered marriage material but a guy of the same fabric is seen as stable and mature, meaning he is the ideal model for marriage. Double standards much?
Growing up, I fed into the notion that society’s collective view was absolutely necessary for me to live my life to the fullest. And so, when it didn’t pan out the way I had envisioned, I was shattered. Luckily for me, it didn’t take much long after to realise that life is much more than a set timeline and expectations of someone else’s opinion of me and their ideals of what my life should be like. Because ‘they’ are society and society is not me.
To begin with, I am not averse to the idea of this institution but with so much focus on unnecessary social construct of why marriage is important to some makes it revolting to say the least. To the people looking to find me a suitor, for the last time, I am not on or off the freaking market.
I am not for sale