Nothing like a good ole fashioned honour killing to remind us who we are
India is obsessed with marriage. If only we attacked unemployment and GDP with the same enthusiasm that we show towards the holy union of man, woman and acidity-inducing buffets. We’re shepherded towards educational choices and career decisions by the prospect of it, and every scholarship, degree, and green card you earn is just fodder that adds value to your eligibility. We spend wedding season in the same way that Hollywood spends summer; creating spectacle after spectacle whose only job is to be more spectacular than last week’s spectacle. It’s not a real event unless Iron-Man, Thor and the Hulk danced to Hookah Bar at the sangeet. We celebrate marriage more than anyone else. And yet, we understand marriage less than anyone else.
Few cultures have missed the point of marriage as spectacularly as we have. Marriage in India is like the BCCI; it’s the wrong people making the wrong decisions for all the wrong reasons, and nobody gives a crap about the players. On paper, the mechanics of marriage are simple; two people (both played by Meg Ryan) fall in love, they decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together, and then they divorce, ruin their social circle, and move on to brighter, better things.
In India, we do things differently. Two people (both played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) fall in love. The girl’s parents celebrate by inviting them home and then killing both of them, because they belonged to the same “gotra” (Jat for “Satyamev Jayate Episode Subject”). The boy’s parents celebrate by not filing charges. Both parties agree that in this way, “honour” has been maintained, thus continuing the time-honoured Indian tradition of sacrificing human life in the service of made-up abstracts. And if these murderers are worried about the legal ramifications of their actions, they should relax. Just ring the lawyer who’d burn his daughter alive if she had pre-marital sex, and you’ll be right as rain.
What was that couple thinking, falling in love with each other? “Oooohh look at us, we’re making CHOICES!” they thought, the selfish young fools. Did nobody inform the now-deceased girl that marriage is a carefully engineered transaction? And what right did that foolish boy have to elope with someone else’s Dowry Machine? Thanks to that couple’s selfish actions, somewhere in Haryana right now sits a lonely high-caste boy, waiting for a TV and fridge that will never come. In his house is a forlorn kitchen that will never know the warmth of a burning bride. That girl is dead, and her future samaaj-approved groom will never know the joy of killing her.
And the girl’s father? What of that poor man? He can now only lie in jail, thinking of the future that could have been, of all the granddaughters he would have aborted. He will never get to put his grandson down on his lap and explain to him why izzat is more important than loving your own flesh and blood.
All this, because two young people were stupid enough to fall in love and think that that’s all you need. Because they were idiots who wanted to live life on their own terms, fools who wanted their parents to accept their decisions, cretins who thought their marriage was about themselves. But we taught them, didn’t we? As the old saying goes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed isn’t king; he’s just the guy who gets his eye ripped out by the blind for daring to aspire to sight.
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi