BOOK Nandini Krishnan’s Hitched… offers insights into arranged marriage through real-life stories
Any woman would relate to playwright and journalist Nandini Krishnan’s new book Hitched: The Modern Woman And Arranged Marriage . The very first line will tell you why. “If you’re an Indian woman and old enough to legally bear children, chances are that an overweight relative has asked you, while fondly stroking their pot belly, ‘When am I going to eat at your wedding?’” Sounds familiar?
Recently launched at Starmark bookstore in Express Avenue Mall, the book looks at how the industry of arranged marriage has survived and evolved over generations. What exactly happens during an arranged marriage? Does the woman marry anyone that her family feels fit for her? Or are the lines between arranged and love marriage blurring? Nandini’s book offers some insights into this world.
“It was a commissioned book, but I was working on a satire novel on arranged marriages myself,” laughs Nandini, “When this came around, I thought ‘why not?’ We all see arranged marriage as obsolete, but we’ve all been through it to see if it was for us or not. In fact, it was only when I began to talking to my friends for the book that I realised how many of them actually had an arranged marriage! The topic is rather relevant for urban, independent women.”
The book features anecdotes about arranged marriage, along with stories of 16 women who chose the arranged-marriage route. “Everyone has a different perspective about what it is. Beyond these personal stories, I spoke to a lot of women and used their inputs in other chapters where I discuss significant issues or questions that come up when women decide to get an arranged marriage. What about the person’s past? How do you bring up the topic of children? And, so on,” the author explains.
The women featured in the book are from across the country, across religions, in various stages of marriage and belong to various professions. “I wanted artists, because the kind of accommodations they need are different and people who are divorced, of course, to balance the picture. I spoke to NRI women who came here to get married and women who married NRIs, those who are Army wives, and they put me on to people who know others and so on. I was surprised to note that all of them were willing to talk about their marriages. I did send them all a mail stating exactly what I wanted and most of them readily obliged,” says Nandini.
In the course of writing the book (which took her about four months), Nandini realised a few common threads in all the stories she had heard — men are more accommodating of their partner’s needs and every woman knows exactly what she wants.
“There’s a story of a woman who decides to go back to work after having two children. She had moved to Guwahati where her husband worked and would have to go back to Delhi to resume her job. Her husband supported her move and told her that they would continue to keep the relationship long distance till he could get a transfer,” she narrates. Of course, the book doesn’t end without voicing out the men’s side as well.
“I did talk to a few men, but that was just for the footnote. They do get to answer to all the things that have been said against them,” she laughs, “but through the book you’ll realise that in the end, you can’t really define arranged marriage. Because every woman has a checkbox that she is constantly ticking.”
Hitched: The Modern Woman And Arranged Marriage is available at leading bookstores for Rs. 299.