By Sarah Saleem

The Eastern and Western hemispheres of the globe are not only divided geographically but also inhabit disparate worlds of thought on different ideologies. Marriage in particular; may be defined universally as a sacred union with procreation rights however multiple cultures often influence and distort the definition according to tradition.

Where the West celebrates marriage as an important milestone and still prioritizes individual autonomy; the East connotes marriage to be a hoxditch with extra emphasis on the lifelong partnership clause of the contract.

South Asian culture is notorious for portraying marriage as the sole locus, the ultimate goal especially for young women; the river Styx where the grim reaper of a husband looms morbidly to suck the soul out of your prospective agenda.

It is rather substantial sacrifice; the flames of ambition being extinguished by the icy winds of matrimony in a coerced quid pro quo. Their desires traded for a husband and their dreams: for the societal superiority that arrives with the title of a wife.

Being deeply ingrained within generations of women, it is ensured that they understand their existence is to serve men and feed the ever-bourgeoning patriarchal society. Giving them tunnel vision at the age where women are encouraged to be zealous and pioneering, South Asian women are groomed to be submissive; to stop fretting about shaping their future and focus on shaping their rotis instead.

Perchance you escape these shackles and decide to stay single, not only will you be shunned as a rebel but will definitely be presented with unsolicited advice, spiritual chants and even medicines to purge you of this disease. Thoughts and prayers will be sent your war to exorcise the besharam demon possessing you and to facilitate marriage, unaware of the fact that the obstructing force is your own will and not the workings of fate.

The gasps of the millennials and the scoffs of aunties at your lack of a partner will echo until the day you die and even at your funeral it will be highlighted to such an extent that you might as well go and etch it on your epitaph.

Rebellious daughter, loved by none (her fault) wife material but died single and miserable.

Marriage isn’t supposed to be the end; in fact, it is a wonderful beginning with a partner as a plus one who understands you and supports you to build with them together. Domestic chores aren’t all that’s left for the women after their marriage, they can still achieve amazing victories, invest in multiple assets and strive to become the woman of their dreams.

It is the 21st century and high time to indoctrinate and normalise these facts in the South Asian demographic:

There is more to life than marriage.

A woman’s worth is not gauged by her marital status; marriage is merely one of the many milestones in life. Graduations, purchasing a house and attaining true happiness are all equally important.

Young women should be empowered and encouraged to pursue their passions, to be ambitious and to achieve success in the paths they choose. They should be provided with all the opportunities and rights given to their counterpart and instead of confining them in cages with clipped wings, allow them to soar to astral heights.

Staying single is a choice to be respected.

Women consciously choose to stay single; it doesn’t imply that there is some fatal flaw in their genome, or they are rogue mavericks poisoning the minds of the younger generations.

It is possible that they haven’t yet found someone compatible and worth spending a lifetime with or perhaps they want to discover themselves first. Meticulous soul searching to understand the crevices and fissures of their soul so that another can love them better.

The freedom is also an enviable aspect of staying single, there are no commitments or labels and one can invest the entirety of their time and energy in to creating a stable career or other hobbies.

South Asia is a marvellous mosaic of cultures, most of which now require a software update to suit the prosperity of the posterity. It is ideal to adapt your perspective with the eras and instead of criticizing ambitious women, it is time to encourage and support them to live their best lives regardless of their marital status.