The Brave New World
Guest Post by Aarttee Kaul
“Living together without marriage is neither a crime nor a sin” said the supreme court of India as quoted in the Hindustan Times on Feb. 10, 2014.
About crime though it may but why does the court need to declare something ‘not a sin’ is not clear, since various faiths and religious beliefs have their own concept of sins and courts are not expected to be the moral police, they are there to mind the legal business. The Supreme Court framed certain guidelines on the subject which was till now considered pretty much taboo. Taboo it may still be in many parts of the country, but it is not illegal.
That’s a respite for the youth. For those who are living together without or outside marriage. It implies two people living under the same roof sharing house and bed. It was shocking till sometime back till cannibalism surfaced in Rithala, India. Moreover India is a country that gets used to everything. So it is just a matter of time! It is happening and is certainly in-for now at least. The reasons are many.
Living together is a phenomenon typically seen in big cities where living costs have sky rocketed, the accommodation rents are over the top and the majority is busy rushing from home to workplace struggling to make ends meet, travelling for an hour or two plus practically eating snoozing and reading en route to utilize the day and its twenty four hours. The young crowd comprises smart professionals of both genders working in offices hoping to lead a decent life away from the glare and gaze of the society or the relatives and parental pressures. They are dynamic and in a mood to experiment.
With everything changing rapidly whether be friends food or jobs, traditional marriages breaking down and no guarantee of a happy ever after the young are in no mood to gamble with their youth by taking a shot at an arranged marriage and god forbid if it falls apart weep and wallow in self pity, shatter emotionally, commit suicide, be a martyr or get scarred forever. Nah! The entire approach has changed. It is not the ‘Janam janam ka Rishta’ generation. It is the Gen X. it knows its mind, its priorities and its expectations from life. The world is an insignificant part of its life. The partner who fails is dumped as a ‘f***ing idiot’ and ‘move on’ becomes the mantra. The trick is not to get trapped in the emotions. It is the evolution of the Defense mechanism the coming of age of a social cycle which commenced with the meeting and sleeping together of Adam and Eve till it was formalized and legalized as ‘marriage’ by societies. Tomorrow is another day and life doesn’t end with one person. In the real life now spouses don’t even pour themselves into a marriage wholly. Initially it’s a kind of a probation period of wait and watch. No one now begins with trusting. They trust after testing.
In the ruthless fast paced instant quick to serve and use world, maybe relationships have lost their depths, meaning and glory. They are more now a matter of convenience. Two people live together because both work in the same office, live in the same city and do not want a change in their lives. Marriages in India are expensive, social and communal affairs more so traditional ones. In big cities people are lonely and stressed.
Someone’s company is a help physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Big cities make people apprehensive and stressed; they also erode refined, gentler and nobler virtues. Safety is an issue in large cities and coupled with frightfully high living costs these factors have brought in the phenomenon of living in. the youth thinks everyone benefits from it. This way they get to know each other well and intimately and see each other with the guard down sort of a test run. So they expect to judge a person better. It is probable.
It has its challenges though. The experience and end may not always be ‘happy happy’. It may or may not lead to marriage if initiated with the purpose of a test run ‘if all goes well and we suit each other we will take the plunge’, at least not with the same partner. It robs the mystery and romance of a marriage and hence all charm of the unknown and undiscovered. Also if they start taking each other for granted after marriage it should not be surprising. They have already had plenty of each other. The casual attitude of the ‘no strings attached’ may linger and stay on forever. That may mean less or no commitment for those who take it as a rehearsal of marriage. There are no guarantees with this kind of an arrangement the longer it lingers the later it would last. It’s a boyfriend becoming a husband who may actually never grow up to be one. Sharing roof and bed with a new person of one’s preference requires maturity and good sense which may not actually be the case. It could also create a probability of a crime the news is replete with crimes of emotion and passion every day. Legal problems are a strong probability with jilted lovers claiming property alimony or child maintenance in case a child is born out of On the contrary in small towns it is not looked at sympathetically. Two partners living together were killed in Churu District of Rajasthan as they were believed to have lived in sin, brought social stigma to the family and would not get decent partners and social acceptance if their relationship broke. A couple in Lucknow is facing a trial for the same.
The Maharashtra government has shown some tolerance and a progressive approach towards the subject. It has brought in a proposal to treat the live in partner at par with the married one. This might give rise to legal complications in people’s lives. But if this law is cleared it will apply to single people only- widowed, unmarried or divorced and not to married people living with different partners, to avoid its misuse. Also one night stands another very common occurrence will not be considered live in. Nepal recently recognized a lesbian live in couple. The trend may be temporary or can stick around it could be commonplace in metro cities where no one questions anyone or maybe frowned upon in smaller places due to age old customs and value systems in a marriage centric Indian society, one thing is for sure it has its pros and cons. It has a flip side to it and is not fool proof.
Whether it is a fashionable phase, an arrangement of convenience or the youth’s rebellion against everything old and established, maybe a subject of debate but ‘Living in’ is in! It is happening- especially in the impersonal fast paced callous urban metro cities and with the concept of virginity long dead and gone it is here to stay. The film stars, so idolized by the Indian film obsessed youth have only fuelled and fanned the fire by setting a precedent.