Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happily Re-married

It is all too easy for us to suggest that someone remarry after losing their spouse. But once someone does this, we go ahead and make life hell for the couple. Hypocrisy is too much a part of our society.

Most of the times, after losing a spouse, the bereaved spouse does not consider a remarriage for emotional reasons or society. Well-meaning relatives keep on suggesting that they find someone suitable and marry again. This happens mostly if the bereaved is youngish, lets say less than 45.

But marrying again is not an easy decision to take. Will you be able to love the new spouse the same way you loved the first one? Will your new spouse be comfortable with you? If you have children, you are worried how they will react to your marriage. Or how your new spouse will react to your children from the previous marriage? If all of these things work out, you get trapped in that very Indian question, what will people say? Or if you are lucky and all of the above work out, you worry about how much time should you wait after your spouse's passing away so that it appears proper. Some people will also worry about whether they will be hurting their earlier spouse's souls by remarrying.

Ok, suppose you cross all of the above stages and do marry someone again, you have to be prepared that you may face society's scorn over this very personal decision of your life. Many times the same people who sympathetically suggested that you remarry will talk behind your backs or may even go to the extent of boycotting you.

But in my opinion, these are small prices to pay for having a companion in the old age. Society will not help you out when you need someone to talk to when your children are married, when you are retired, or when you are ill. May be you should live for yourself for once.

The incident that triggered the monologue above was ugly and beautiful at the same time. I was attending a glossy marriage some time back. Though it is hard to notice anything in so much glitter, an elderly sikh couple caught my eyes. They were having their dinner alone. There were 4 more chairs around the table that they were occupying but no one seemed inclined to take them. It was strange because there was hardly any space to set foot, but people preferred to keep standing instead of sitting on that table. All of the other tables were fully occupied. I did not see anyone greeting the old couple or even smiling at them. They were also looking only at each other or at the food in their plates.

I asked my mom-in-law why this kind of a treatment was being inflicted upon them. She answered in a matter-of-fact way "This old man remarried after all his children had been married. His wife had passed away long back." This did not seem to be a reason enough for this kind of a treatment but apparently that was whole of it. Why invite the couple if you don't want to acknowledge their presence? I wondered why the couple had chosen to come to a wedding where their presence was not only unnecessary, but even ridiculed. They obviously did not seem to need to be a part of the clan as they looked pretty happy and content with each other. This does not mean that they should live a secluded life, but I think they should only mingle with people who are open-minded enough to accept the fact that it was perfectly alright that the couple had chosen to go on with their lives after losing their spouses.

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