Hi! I am Abhilasha, a 35 years old woman, and still single. Don’t go by my name, which sounds too archaic and old-fashioned. I am not so with my thoughts. I can’t help it. I had no say when I was christened with this name by my parents, but now I do. While the rest of my friends have grown and moved on, I am still stuck at where I was after graduating from my college. A free, independent woman, not tied up by responsibilities or trapped in any sort of relationship. My grandparents find me foolish. My relatives and my parents find me crazy. Whereas my peers and friends are generous enough to tell me at times “how strong I am as a person.” I don’t want to figure out who is right. I just know that I am free. Free as I had been before.

I have a taste, in fact, a good one, in literature. At least that’s what my friends tell me. While most of my younger friends, who are still not married, spend their alone time watching TV, movies or browsing net, I on the other hand love diving myself into the pages of books by writers of whom I think highly. Though I think these books have helped me live hundreds of different lives, I believe that these same books have messed up my mind.

Yes. I do come across men, whom I find sexually attractive, but after a little talk with them, I discover that none of these men are intellectually stimulating enough. I need a man who has the capability to absorb me. I need a man with whom I can spend the whole night discussing the world and its workings. I can never be lured away by sweet talking men, constantly telling me how amazing I am. I don’t need cheesy words or praise from a guy. I need a man with whom I can have endless debates rather than blissful agreements. Yes, such kind of women exist.

Despite being a woman in her mid-thirties, I still believe in love as a child believes in fairy tales. A woman who is not in a relationship probably misses a lot, but that woman still holds the possibility. The possibility of finding one’s other half — the soul-mate, as people say. Yes, I am free. I am single as a result of the choice I made. And this very choice of mine gives me the privilege to dream. Dream about true love.

I know that this hopeful dream of finding one’s soul-mate has ended for those who are married as almost all of them admit or show subtle signs that they are disappointed. Some of them even explicitly mention at times that they are trapped. Trapped because of their own choice. Out of their own will. They admit that the rush phase of their relationship is gone and say with certainty that this happens to everyone. Such words and insight of my friends scare me. And I ask myself what is the point of falling in love if it isn’t going to last forever.

Perhaps I am not as strong and mature as some of my friends suggest. Perhaps I am just another rebel, scared of accepting the world the way it is. I know I idealize love, and live in my own false magical world. But if I end up eloping with someone, the magic would end. Wouldn’t it? The magical world in which I live, where everything seems to be possible, is difficult to leave. And it would crumble down once I agree to side with the bourgeois tradition known by the name — marriage.

If you are a woman and choose to remain unmarried in your late thirties, you become an object of curiosity in the eyes of the rest of the “normal” people. The outliers in the society are always treated with suspicion and disrespect. Some people, especially some men go to the extent of guessing the sexual preference of such outliers. While some others are ‘generous’ enough to call such a woman a career oriented person. Certainly it’s not praise. It’s a euphemism for the materialistic and the immoral. A career oriented man is praiseworthy. But a career-oriented woman? You know what I mean.

No! I am not sexually deviant. No! I am not a closet lesbian. I am just a person whose intellect is much greater than those of the desperate men I usually come across. I am not a career-oriented woman either, as some other people perceive me. I am just a simple woman working in a soul-sucking job, just to have enough money. Enough to spend it as l like, without any hesitation, during the weekends or on holidays. Luckily times are changing, and many women today are getting married at a much later age.

I adore the few friends I have. I love to party with them. I enjoy those all-girl outings and shopping times we have while strolling through small street-side shops. I love it when for a single item of artificial jewellery or a dress all of us get involved in the bargaining process with the vendor.

Anyways, I thought my life would continue the way it had been going until Priya left our girl gang when her marriage was arranged with an IIM Ahmedabad guy. So did Rashi, who too one day unexpectedly announced the great news to me and handed me a beautifully crafted wedding invitation card. I have attended the weddings of all of my friends. I have given my company to the brides at every such joyous occasion without fail. And every time while attending such functions I have asked myself — “What would happen to me?”

Time after time our girl gang became smaller and smaller. Everybody I know seems to have completely moved on with their lives. Still occasionally few of my friends, the happily married ladies, somehow find time now and then for our girl gang outings. But all those who recently had their babies are the ones missing. No longer do we have time to meet each other. I guess my other friends would soon be following the same suit, for it is widely known that fertility rates in women go down drastically after the age of 33. Our girl gang is therefore expected to shrink further.

If every woman is granted a single wish, I am sure all of us would opt for eternal youth over every other thing. I too wish the same. I know that there is no point in desiring something which you can never get, but I can’t help it. I know that all us secretly believe — “Perhaps I would be an exception.” And every other person thinks that perhaps they would somehow stop the marching of time towards their eventual death. But that isn’t possible. Death is the only truth. And so is the process of aging. We are all helpless.

Time is slipping by, and soon I will not be placed under the category of the youth. I know that there will come a time when none of my friends would have minutes to spare on me. This scares me, and more than that the mundane, uneventful but tensed life which all of us would be living. Soon all of my friends would be busy changing the diapers of their children, while some others would be worrying about their children’s admission into a reputed school. It’s horrifying, such a life. But at the same time I know that nothing is as blissful as living the way humans have been since the day we finally became aware of ourselves. I don’t want to marry, but at the same time, I fear for my future. I am not strange. I am just messed up. Messed up beyond any repair.

They all consider me a woman with issues. And perhaps they are right. Yes, I am a woman with issues, but even if it is so, why it should be an issue for anyone else?

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