A Night with the Idiot Box

It was a regular Friday night. After a long week of nonstop work, work and more work (Did I mention work?), I plonked in front of the television flicking channels, looking for something interesting and yet not thought-provoking to watch. I finally settled for an old school movie by the name of Ballika Vadhu. More than anything, the title caught my name because I know that there is a television soap by the name, but a movie? The movie went on to show a young couple who are thrown into marital bliss by their parents. The plot is exactly what its title suggests, "Child Marriage." The extremely young, now veteran actor, Sachin and even younger actress opposite him play a school children who are married off to one another. Of course, in "those" days, young girls and boys are bought up from childhood being told that they will be married soon and learn wife and husband mannerisms at a young age. They are married and the movie continues to talk about a variety of topics: sex, emotions, joint families et al. It ends on a happy and more mature note but the movie really made me think. So much for looking for a non-thought provoking movie, the idiot box jutted out just the opposite!

In this day in age, where we take relationships, love, marriages for granted and especially nowadays where divorce is the norm, its was in some odd way fascinating to see school children leading married lives. The wife (If I can even call her that), had no knowledge of sex or even kissing. She was, however, was fully quipped when it came to idea's of prayer and food. This, in contrast, to children nowadays who know about sex, kissing and intimacy knowledge that technically only adults should know. Divorce of course was never an option. I would love to see how an innocent child of her age would have reacted to the word "Divorce." I can imagine her covering her ears like I said something that was completely evil.

If I try to understand the psyche or ideology behind child marriages, all I take from it is the mere fact that our ancestors believe that the couple quite literally grow up and old together, understand one another and are partners for a lifetime. But in the bargain, young children had to give up growing up and leading normal childhoods. My grandfather's sister was married at the tender age of 13 to her husband. She grew up with her husband who also grew, but she landed up being taller than him. While that is a more materialist perspective, it is still a valid one.

I would like to believe that child marriages are definitely a thing of the past but it is far from that. It still does exist in many rural parts of India. It is in violation of a Human Rights Act. However, young children do know more than I did at that age and much more than the young girl in the movie. She could have learnt a few things from the youngin's nowadays. On a personal note, here I am, nearly 26 and still go around claiming I am not ready for marriage. I wonder how I would have reacted if my mother had forced me into marriage at the age of 13 or 14. I think I may have fainted.

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