“SHE IS 8 MONTHS OLDER THAN HIM!” my aunt shrieked on the other line of the phone.
“So?” I was curious.
“So? Arrey…those people lied to us! First they say she was born on 13th August, 1986…now we know that was a big lie! She was born four months before that!” my aunt snapped.
“So?” I repeated.
“Hey Bagwan! Don’t you understand what they are trying to do…that girl is older than your bhaiya…how can we say yes to such a marriage!” she fumed.
“They are of the same age. Few months here and there doesn’t matter. Anyway, why bother about age at all?”
“Who do you want your bhaiya to marry... an AUNTY?!” she fumed.
“Few months difference makes that girl an aunty?” I couldn’t fathom the mystery behind this revelation.
“You don’t know what you are talking about-“
“Are you angry because they lied or because the girl is older than-“
“She is older than him!” my aunt snapped. ”How we can accept that! “
“Who told you about that? How did you find out?”
“Your chacha tracked her resume on internet! Her age is different in that. Ha! As if we are fools and cannot tell…that girl looked older in the photo too! I told your uncle. But who listens to me? I knew this looked quite doubtful from the start. I even told your-“
I disconnected the call. I didn’t want to hear more rubbish.
In most of the arranged marriages, in middle-class families like mine, relatives hunt for a younger bride for their eligible grooms. For example, if a man’s age is 28 years, his bride has to be younger than him. Even exact age is nonnegotiable. A bride has to look beautiful, non-violent (mark that) and very, very young. Too young in fact. Doesn’t matter if her groom is uncouth and has a pot belly. She has to be younger than him at any cost. She has to be young enough to be able to produce lots of grandkids for the in-laws. Then only an alliance is possible between both the families. Also imagine if a groom is above 35 years. His side would want him to marry a girl who is in child-bearing age. And that means normally a girl below 30 years of age. A younger bride means future guarantee of next generation in the family. If the bride is older, rumors and doubts start surfacing in the family if there is no ‘good news’ within the next few months in a marriage.
I don’t know from where it started but as far as I remember, every male in my house or neighborhood has a wife younger than him. My mother is younger than my father by 4 years. My grandmother is younger than my grandpa by 6 years. Granny had a child-marriage. She was so small when she got married that she claims that she can’t remember her own wedding day. One day, I had an odd talk with my old neighbor aunty on this matter. I dialed her number to enquire about something and guess what? She was in the middle of a reception thrown by a recently married couple. I could hear Bollywood songs rocking in the background.
“So how are the arrangements?” I asked while tere-liye-hi-toh-signal-todh-tadh-ke played in my ear drum.
“Forget arrangements! Listen to what I have heard...you know what this girl is?”
“She is a doctor right?” I could recollect something of the wedding card.
“Not that! Ayyo…this bride is older than her man!” she whispered, lowering her voice.
“So? So?....this girl is older now! She will die before him when both of them become an old couple…imagine him standing on his wife’s deathbed…..bechara ladka…who will take care of him when she is gone?” she stated sounding very sympathetic towards the groom.
It is a belief that a younger wife can take care of her husband when they both become old. The older husband can get into health and energy issues and that’s when an Indian wife comes into picture. She can take care of her husband at that time. She should be in a position to do that, since she is younger than him, right?! Now let’s think from a bride’s side. Her family would want to get a mature son-in-law, who could take care of their girl and also respect them. At this point, they will look for grooms older than the bride. Maturity and age go hand-in-hand. I know for a fact, no matter how much I go on blabbering about this topic in this post, when it will be time for my marriage, my grandparents/parents/relatives will go on a search of a mature, employed and older man than me for my better future ahead. No matter how hard I try to make them understand, this old belief is flowing in their blood so blood that they don’t listen to me. Actually I am being labeled as knows-nothing-but-still-talks-like-elders kind of a girl in my own house.
The universal Indian fact is that in an arranged marriage, a bride is younger than her groom. But not when it comes to socialites and celebrities. Breaking all norms of the society and raising many eyebrows, Saif Ali Khan married Amrita Singh when he was 13 years younger to her. The love story of Anjali and Sachin Tendulkar is not hidden from anybody. Archana Puran and Parmeet Sethi have an age gap of 6 years. In the good olden days, the legendary actor Sunil Dutt married actress Nargis who was a year elder to him. Abhishek Bachchan, who got married to Aishwarya Rai in April 2007, is three years younger to her. Manisha Koirala tied the knot with Samrat Dahal in June, 2010, when he was 7 years younger to her. And so the list goes on. But that’s Bollywood. Accepted by fans. But when it comes to a humble small town or a middle-class marriage, the society, in general, hesitates to accept the fact that it’s ok if a bride is older than her groom.
In such a scenario, hats off to love marriages! Love is blind and doesn’t mind any age gap! Not at all so confusing and troublesome like arranged marriages. Any Ekta Kapoor fans out there? Take some serious advice from her serials. Finding any problems regarding convincing your parents to marry that older woman? Run off to a temple, marry her and come back to take your parent’s blessing! Chances are they will kick you out of the house. But then all’s fair in love right?! No matter what anybody’s age is. Everything is acceptable. And so I wonder mera number kab aayega:-)
One of my friends is a quite humble and straight thinking guy. I fired this question at him curiously and his reply got me choking on my coffee:
"I think..parents ko lagta hai ki ladka jada bada hoga to jada mature hoga…har parents apni beti ko bilkul sidhi sadhi samjte hain...n agar unki beti bigdi hui hain toh ve think they need an older guy to handle her!”