If you’re like me, an Indian boy from a middle-class family growing up in Chaguanas, you had certain expectations placed on you from early on. You had to pass Common Entrance and go to Presentation College; there you would excel, play a sport like cricket, date a girl from Holy Faith Convent, write five subjects at A-levels, win a scholarship and then go to medical school.
If like me, you failed to do any of these things, then there was still one last thing you could do to redeem yourself from being the complete abject failure you are in the eyes of your mother – find a nice Indian girl and get married.
In almost every society, everyone gets asked, “So when yuh gettin’ married?” (minus the Trini dialect). If you’re a single, Indian man, you could get asked that just as regularly, as a woman whose spinster status is almost solid gold.
I decided to sit down with my mother to try and find out why getting married is so damned important.
Darryn: So mum why is there so much pressure on Indian men to get married?
Mum: Since when I ever put pressure on you to get married Darryn? This is what you want people to think, that I am a bad mother? You see the kind of son I have, the whole of Trinidad have to hear how I am a bad mother!
Darryn: You’re always telling me I should get married! How many times have you told me I should marry Savi?
Mum: Well you should marry her; she is a nice girl! What else you going to do? You going to just shack up with somebody daughter?
Darryn: Yeah, why not? I don’t see any shining examples of great marriages in our family.
Mum: What you talking about? Your father and I had a good marriage, until we got divorced.
Darryn: Well, if you put it that way…
Mum: What about your cousin Kylash, he’s married now and he seems so happy.
Darryn: Oh right Kylash… Right. How could I forget Kylash, the hairdresser, who goes to Martinique every month by himself to “dance”…
Mum: He is a sensitive, artistic boy and he loves his mother!
Darryn: Everybody knows Kylash gay mum. Everybody, including YOU, does get together and say how they so sorry for Tanty Ragee and how she son gay. He only got married to please Tanty Ragee.
Mum: It doesn’t matter if he gay Darryn, he is married and he’s happy!
Darryn: People shouldn’t just get married to please other people or out of some warped sense of obligation. Just look at Uncle Krishna.
Mum: What wrong with your Uncle Krishna? His and Cindy’s wedding was so nice!
Darryn: Didn’t he only marry Cindy because she got pregnant?
Mum: No! Things happen Darryn, that’s life!
Darryn: They are always fighting; they always seem to have problems. They don’t seem to have a nice marriage.
Mum: Every couple fights Darryn. Every marriage has problems. That’s life that’s normal!
Darryn: You remember when she stab him with the BBQ prong?
Mum: Why do you hate your family Darryn? Eh, why do you hate your family so much?
Darryn: I’m just saying. I don’t see why two people have to get married to be together.
Mum: Look you don’t know how happy a parent is to see their children get married. It’s a big thing. Every mother and father looks forward to the day when they can see their son or daughter find a nice person to settle down with. When you have children of your own you will understand.
Darryn: How come nobody seems so excited that Kevin is getting married?
Mum: Of course they are. It’s just that Kevin’s situation is different.
Darryn: Is it because Jill is African?
Mum: No of course not. That has nothing to do with it.
Darryn: And she wants a Catholic wedding and not a big Hindu one?
Mum: No of course not! That has nothing to do with it!
Darryn: Uncle Varun say that Aunty Seema locks herself in her room and cries everyday because she “going to have dougla grandchildren”.
Mum: That’s nice Darryn tell the whole of Trinidad all of your family business! Have I been such a bad mother that this is how you are to your own family? I am sorry ok. I am sorry that I want to see you settle down I am sorry that I want to have a nice day where I can say, “That’s my son there marrying that nice girl”. I am sorry I have been oppressing you with my needs. I am sorry for being such a bad mother!
Darryn: Why do you always twist everything around to you being a bad mother. You always do this; you always try to send me on a guilt trip!
Mum: I glad you recording this! I want everybody to hear how you raise your voice and bawl at your own mother.
Darryn: Arghh! Look never mind! This is going nowhere. I’m getting out of here, where is Savi?
Mum: Ohh, she is out in the back with the contractors.
Darryn: What contractors?
Mum: The ones who building the annex in the back for you two.
There are two things I learnt from this conversation. Firstly, my mother has almost finished building an annex at the back of our house for my “future wife” and I. Secondly, it’s actually Indian women, and not men, who are under pressure to get married, or ensure their children get married. Indian men are just innocent bystanders in their way. The older they get, the worse it gets, as they’re ‘obligated’ to carry on the family name.
I suspect that might also be the case for men and women of all races. Still, everyone’s experience is different. So I want to know. Do you think Indian men are under pressure to get married? Or do you think Indian women are under more pressure? Think they’re under more pressure than other races?
Image courtesy iStockphoto.com.