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Late Marriages

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 About some ten years ago, a relative of mine (he would be my grandfather- Mother’s Uncle), a British citizen in his 60 s, came down to India and expressed to my mother his wish to get married. Needless to say this caused quite a furore in the family, mostly amongst distant relatives for whom this seemed to be one big joke. My mother and my grandmother on the other hand were happy for him and set about the task of getting him married. What had seemed a daunting task in the beginning, with questions like, ‘Where would you get a woman that age, who would want to marry him?’, ‘Women don’t marry at that age, they are already grandmothers’, etc, suddenly seemed beautifully resolved.
 
My grand-dad not only married, but he found an extremely loving wife (in her late 50s). The lady in question had been busy raising her brothers and sisters in the absence of their parents and had practically no time to get married and she took this opportunity to be happy for herself. In the late 90 s such a marriage in India was still looked upon as something weird and there were many who scoffed at the idea and sniggered, making nasty jokes about an old bride & bridegroom. Contrary to most opinions, the couple led an extremely happy life and explored mutual interests and travelled extensively together.
 
Unlike in the west, most activities, relations and interests in India are pre-ordained by age. Society seems to have pre-conceived notions about what one can and cannot do with one’s life at every age.This often leads to people not living their lives according to what they would like to but how society wants them to. A marriage is about two people living and sharing their lives together. Ideally age should not figure in it, and when one should marry should be a matter of one’s own choice rather than a social compulsion. There are of course many who have been widowed or separated from their partners in their middle ages and are lonely. But their social conditioning or dictates of society often prevent them from taking such a step.
 
A man or a woman, who does not move on to another partner after separation or in the event of death of their partner is often eulogized , while someone who has decided to move on in life looked upon as a not very reliable someone, lacking in commitment. In order to remember the dead long after they have gone with fondness, one does not have to remain alone to be true to their memories. Similarly, a person with a broken relation from the past has every reason to look for happiness elsewhere, instead of moping all their lives. Change is healthy in many ways and it does not necessarily imply lack of commitment or character.
 
A friend of mine Vidushi, in her late 60s was abused and tortured by her husband for nearly 10-15 years of her marriage. Her in-laws and her parents expected her to bear with her condition and not complain about it, all the while brushing things under the carpet. It was only after the death of her husband that she was allowed to live her own existence. My friend has today found for herself a man she loves and who loves her back. At 65 she is all set to marry the man of her dreams. When I heard the news, I was ecstatic and extremely happy for her. When I told the same to an aunt of mine, she sounded horrified. “What!” She said, “Marriage at 65!” followed by a giggle. While such reactions are highly ridiculous as they are invasive of another’s privacy, it is time people realize that finding one’s happiness is every one’s birthright. There is nothing wrong in late marriages, it is as much normal as any other marriage. What time a person decides to marry, why and any other reason for marriage is always personal. It is time society gave that respect to two people who want to give their lives a chance at happiness, no matter what the age.

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