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7 Essays To Read If You're A Desi Woman Looking To Get Married And Have Kids (Or Not)

For far too long, society's told us what to do. It's time to change that. Remember, there're no rules, except the ones you make for yourself.

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"Nothing about our culture, or the way we live, teaches us to be alone. Bollywood’s heroines rarely have characters or conversations beyond their relationships with men – Bechdel test super fails. They so seldom have professional ambition that when they do, it’s considered subversive. Queen was revolutionary for having a female protagonist who embraced being alone. TV ads show us men purchasing insurance and cars and homes, while women are marketed oils for their husband’s health, detergents for their kids’ clothes, and chai for the family. Everywhere, domestic couplehood is emphasised as the happy way for women to live. Indeed, the only way to live."

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"Women face so much anxiety due to the expiration date that is placed upon them. I say fuck that. We don’t die after turning thirty, we don’t suddenly turn infertile, and we certainly don’t become unlovable (or unable to fall in love!) overnight.

We can fall in love with a younger person in our 60s, marry a divorcee in our 40s, adopt a child in our 30s, have raunchy affairs with our next-door-neighbour at the old age home in our 90s, or do whatever we want and whoever we want, however we want, whenever the hell our hearts or minds or vaginas want."


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"As I flew from New Delhi to Bengaluru attending weddings, coordinating jewellery with sari blouses, memorising sangeet choreography via WhatsApp videos, and layering mehendi over fading mehendi, I found myself having to defend my singleness to more and more people. As if constantly explaining myself to a disappointed family wasn’t enough, each friend who tied the knot demanded reassurance that, really, I’m happy the way I am."


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"The life spanned across two homes – naihar and sasural – points towards the complexity of home and homemaking, which has ironical duality. Marriage makes the girl instantly parayaa – stranger/kinless – whereas a stranger’s family (sasural) becomes her new home with an adage that she has come from a stranger’s home. Familiar becomes strange and the strange struggles in becoming completely familiar."



"Being constantly reminded of my “ticking biological clock” made me feel like I needed to get on board with motherhood in order to feel complete. Honestly, though, my life didn’t feel incomplete without a baby and I knew my husband felt the same way. So why did I still feel flawed? I know now that I was harbouring some shame. The pressure to nurture a product of my own DNA was real, and I just didn’t want it."



"I think back to my friends who talk about being able to love unconditionally. I think, well, this is not something I am unfamiliar with—why do people assume such feelings then are only meant for children? My friends have children, talk of sleepless nights, of irresponsible husbands, unhelpful siblings, of school admissions, of careers given up, of grades and universities: I hear this all the time. And I hear the throwaway remark: ‘Well, how would you know? You’ve never been a mother.’"



"So many miscarriage narratives go on to discuss how a couple tried to have another baby and eventually had their one, or two, or three children. My husband and I surprised everyone, ourselves included, by moving on in other directions and not “trying again.” This was partially decided by circumstance and my health; but I also decided, in the aftermath of our loss, to focus on long-held dreams that I’d put aside, and he supported and encouraged my decisions."

Swati Daftuar is a commissioning editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Mumbai.

Contact Swati Daftuar at Swati.Daftuar@buzzfeed.com.

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