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Marriage, the word pops up in my daily life more often than what can be deemed healthy. As a young woman born into a moderately liberal and somewhat modern Muslim family, I am expected to be married by now. Marriage in my society is a very important institution. A conversation I had with my parents a few days before embarking on this journey was around the importance of marriage. This isn’t the first instance when this topic was discussed, I remember the same discussed during a cousin’s wedding – an ironic setting but also one that is most likely to inspire people to ponder aloud over the question of marriage. That conversation ended with half of my cousins agreeing to the point that marriage is not important and the other half expressing great disapproval of our perspective. Interestingly, the result of the discussion with my parents also resulted in a 50-50 split, I am not motivated enough to declare here which parent agreed with ‘alone is not lonely’ and which concluded the same as unfathomable.
My views on marriage have gone from pole to pole. As a kid, I thought the sole purpose of my life was to be happily married. As an adult that has been exposed to various perspectives on the subject, I don’t quite hold marriage in such a delusional high regard. I have come to believe that a ‘perfect marriage or ‘ever-lasting love’ is an over-rated idea that has caused much despair to those who have failed in building one and deluded the rest into believing that they have found one. I can’t tell if it is my education or my attempts at reasoning very clichéd ideas, I have begun looking at the fundamentals of things. Culturally and to an extent religiously, marriage is sacred, a very precious act that shouldn’t be ridiculed. But when I think about it, the commitment between two people doesn’t really have to do with the act of marriage – marriage is a reminder that two people are committed to each other because they want to be, because they love each other – this is my current understanding.
I certainly have no issues with the institution and its principles but it is true that I don’t take it too seriously anymore. Hence, when SA govt. said a woman could travel to the country with a husband, it amused me. I didn’t quite understand the idea behind it. Why married women are so easily allowed into the country while the govt. does everything to keep single women away was beyond comprehension. Is it that a married woman would have a man to take care of her? Or she wouldn’t hit on another man because she’s married? Or she wouldn’t be a temptation, a threat to other men who might yield to that temptation? I couldn’t quite understand why SA wouldn’t have solo women travelers in its country. My immediate thoughts were, well, a woman can do all that even while remaining married. And if she does, she has succeeded in cheating the government. What the country doesn’t seem to understand or agree is that a single woman is quite capable of not causing any of those troubles, it’s almost important for someone to prove the same to the country’s govt.
The very idea of cheating a government, getting what I want and not be in trouble/jail seemed legit here. After all, what is not legit – my wanting to see a country? It’s people? It’s beauty? My conscience was clear that what I was seeking to do is not morally or ethically wrong – only legally and that seemed funny to me, so I thought of settling that legal issue right by considering getting married for a month – travel to SA and then separate from whoever it is that I get married to. Sounds like a great plan?! Except that involved too much paper work and I had no time, plus I knew that at some point I will travel into SA – there’s still time and easy to cheat the govt – Just get married.