The chant for the groom, “May we grow wealthy and prosperous and strive for the education of our children, and may they live long.” The bride promises, “I will love you for the rest of my life, as you are my husband. Every other man in my life will be secondary. I vow to remain chaste.”
So many thoughts cross my mind as I read this vow. Fawad Khan is hot! Why must I be chaste and not my husband, and what an old-fashioned word “chaste” is. And while I might think Fawad Khan is hot, my male children at this point are more needy, therefore they come first, my husband follows a couple of steps behind! Poor Fawad is really not in the picture at all. I am already failing this vow on multiple levels.
When I really think about it, the prosperity and comfort I already have brings my family decent healthcare, education, and to be completely honest a ridiculous amount of cricket lessons! But when I win the lottery, I want a spacious new house. We worry many times about how we can inculcate a sense of both ambition and aspiration in children that have not been denied very much. I truly believe money and comfort should come from hard work. We have worked very hard to provide our children with all that they have, education being a prime example of what we spend our earnings on. But how can we teach them that without the drive and resolve to achieve, they will float in mediocrity, something that is part of my worst nightmare. There are certainly those to whom their fortune has come easy but behind it has been someone else, burning the midnight oil so they can frolic in inherited wealth and luxury. So, when I promise my children good education it has to include an underlying drive to do justice to the tutelage they have been given, by striving to do the absolute best they can, in whatever their chosen path may be. Only when we are able to blend education with aspiration and a hunger to achieve will our promise be truly fulfilled.
On Dussehra, the festival where we blow Ravan’s multiple heads to smithereens, my family traditionally beseeches the gods to bless us with intellect. As a symbol, we place our pens in the “pooja” and pray for bravery and intelligence so our written words can win the battle of good over evil. Intelligence is our weapon of choice: much like the ancient battle in question, we believe it was intelligence that killed the demon king when the arrow was pointed at his source of power, which was not in his ten heads but in his navel! If only Ram could request Ravan through prose to return his chaste wife, the Ramayan would be a very different story! Religious Studies, Mathematics, and Latin are therefore the school’s job to teach the kids, none being my forte. I would like to educate my children on equality, respect, and freedom. They must be free to question religion, practice it if they feel it brings them peace and comfort, and question it when my silly rituals make no sense to them. I must find respect in the choices they make, though some of them are already questionable! They must always have the freedom to be my equal in intellect and question my thoughts and idiosyncrasies. This will hopefully expand both their minds and mine and take new-found values into the world, to make the choices that suit them most.
As a couple, we have to work on ourselves to make sure every other man in MY life remains secondary!! And again, how sexist is this vow when it asks for a woman’s chastity but not a man’s in the same breath. Boredom is what pushes couples into infidelity as much as it is unhappiness and there are unfortunate experiences that are strewn across all our paths to see. I hope over time we are able to keep the sparkle in our relationship and are still able to catch each other’s eye from two corners of a crowded room and read the other one’s thoughts. As social as we are, we still gravitate towards each other by the end of an evening out, knowing it is time to go home.
Love changes as our relationship grows. How can we vow to love someone and maintain that exact same emotion over a period of time? There is no longer an overwhelming feeling that invades me when I think of “love”. It is love when we laugh at a silly joke, because we get it at the same time, it is love when he makes tea for me every morning, it is love when I miss the tea he makes while he is travelling and it still love when he gives up his favourite chair in the living room so I can catch the sun streaming through at the right spot. Of course, there are days our love is tested with quarrels and disagreements, and the next morning I need to express the love in my tea-making skills!
Here’s hoping we tweak our vows to suit ourselves as the years go by, vows in which he will promise to be equally chaste, I will still enjoy Fawad Khan’s hotness and the chair in the living room will still be there, when I need both love and sunshine to brighten my day.
– The Railway Woman