Recently, while conversing with one of my friends in USA, I realised that India is so deeply, so gravely rooted in our hearts, even amidst the western breeze of EST!
They are an Indian couple from Bihar, married for four and a half years now, without any issue of their own, and that is the sole reason, they are often rushed for hasty doctor appointments, the consequential result being really positive….that she ends up consuming atleast 35 kinds of prescribed vitamin capsules, that are supposed to keep her healthy. Reports of regular conversations with the doctor, oftener delivered to her in-laws, who are more than just worried for her first pregnancy.
Parenthood has always been a subject of criticism in Indian society, when it comes late for a married couple, and early for an unmarried couple.
In India, marriage is considered to be a gateway for a very exclusive achievement, i.e. being successful parents, that too as quickly as possible!
The first couple of years for a married couple, are filled with enlightened and inspiring advices from friends, peers, and relatives to try and get a successful issue with the doctor’s help, or Baba’s blessings.
And if, God forbid, the third year passes without any significant hint of small wonder in the family, the couple is almost doomed!
Moreover, daily news updates on pregnancy within the family, or friend group force them to feel that they are actually falling behind in the rat race of parenthood, which can actually give them an honour code of achievement in the society.
Now, parenthood, or the decision to bring up a child is exclusively a matter of private concern for a married couple. The husband and wife jointly decide (or atleast should decide) of bringing a new life when they find themselves mature enough, for such a big responsibility.
So how can the society influence them for such a serious decision of their life?
Society is constructed on this basic idea of group-ism. Individuals who wish or happen to deviate from the protocols in a particular society, tends to lose his/her identity, as one of the group. It is like bearing a common family surname, to signify belongingness.
So peer pressure or social pressure can be immensely powerful and influential for decisions taken by us, as was proved by Psychologist Solomon Asch in his experiment on ‘Social Conformity’. And the driving force behind the success of this pressure is the fear within us, of losing the belongingness, the fear of walking alone. And society as a whole, uses this fear of the individual, to impose and propagate ideas, which are often illogical, or even irrelevant in the current date, but are being practised since time immemorial, and delay, in any of these social rituals push the unfortunate individual to extreme corners, where he is left alone with no peers at all.
Taking up parenthood has become one such social ritual in Indian society, which has a proposed time of action, set by the society, and delay in parenthood is often portrayed as a vengeful crime.
The society will survive, only if every member in it believe the same ideologies, so if a couple decides for late parenthood, the other members, i.e. friends and family and relatives, leave no stone unturned to make them feel that they are getting late, and should pull up their socks immediately, or they might lose their prestige and honour in society.
The husband or the wife is often tagged with infamous names (like impotent or barren respectively), and yes, it is true that the picture has not changed even today, so that the poor couple starts feeling helpless and un-identical to the rest of the society.
For single mothers, the societal protocol is to get married and have a husband as soon as possible, and delay in that can create a taboo for the woman who is struggling hard to give her child a good upbringing, but with her individualistic ideologies.
In villages, marrying off the girl is the prime duty of the parents, even before she is 18, because that is the cultural ritual there.
This is a generic pressure, which is exerted in many other situations like delay in marriage; delay is passing an examination or getting a job.
This pressure can sometimes catalyse the growth of an individual, who would otherwise have wasted his/her life in lethargy, but mostly it is a derogatory situation which negatively affects the survival of individuals.
There is solution to this. Everybody makes an effort to bring about a significant change in the thought process of the society, by changing their own way of thinking, and respect the ideologies of each other.