Time for smashing stereotypes about singlehood

Time for smashing stereotypes about singlehood

Society still erroneously thinks that a single person is irresponsible, footloose, fancy-free and frivolous

Sumit PaulUpdated: Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 11:32 PM IST
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Time for smashing stereotypes about singlehood | representative pic/ Photographer: Visnjican Dusanka

Single people should be valued as much as married couples and people in relationships, according to a new report released by the Church of England. The archbishops of Canterbury and York said, “Single people must be valued at the heart of our society.” 

This is a very liberal and liberating statement that helps remove certain misconceptions and reservations regarding singlehood. Society, particularly the Indian society, has always looked down upon those who choose to stay single. People, even the 'educated' ones, have a great problem in getting reconciled to the idea of singlehood. Most of us form ingrained and inveterate stereotypes about those who remain unhitched and unattached. In fact, in Indian society, an association or attachment is always viewed with respect to marriage only. It's indigestible to people that one can forever stay single despite being in a relationship: Majnu hain magar khwahish-e-laila nahin karte/ Hum ishq toh karte hain, tamanna nahin karte (I'm a lover but I don't long for a beloved/ I love but I don't desire). To be single in India means the person is either eccentric or has some physical, esp. reproductive issues! That there are people who take a cautious and conscious decision never to tie the knot is unacceptable to those, inured to living in a fixed and often unexciting set up, called marriage. 

Society still erroneously thinks that a single person is irresponsible, footloose, fancy-free and frivolous. Seriousness is unexpected of a single person. But this is not true. It's not commitment-phobia. Some people are never cut-out for a lasting relationship, any relationship for that matter. Soon they get bored with the person and move on. The greatest miracle in the world is to live day-in and day-out with the same person. It's not belittling marriage. Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in the dungeon of an institution? Many thoughtful individuals avoid taking the plunge because that may mar romance. There should always be a scintilla of uncertainty to keep the romance alive. Certitude kills it. Otherwise also, marriage is a dustbin of love. It also lobotomises creativity. That's why Leonardo Da Vinci chose to remain single. Marriage closes all the doors and options and ties you down to one person. If marriage has any purpose, it's because the offspring get legitimacy, or else they'll be called bastards by the heartless, unevolved and insensitive society of ours. Remember, an evolved person must rise above two things: An organised religion and an organised relationship. Marriage is an organised relationship and an organised relationship is a ghetto. Those who understand this, remain single as they don't want to get sucked into a black hole.

That apart, if you're a single person, your mind is uncluttered. You're more open to whatever life throws your way, you've time to get in touch with yourself, you've a chance to figure out what you want out of life, it can be the best-case scenario, it's a chance to become financially responsible, you can make self-care a priority, you learn to enjoy your own company, your confidence level can skyrocket. Your decision-taking abilities increase. You tend to become more focused and you stop passing the buck. 

Consciously single individuals often have a definite purpose in life. In fact, only a seriously disciplined person can take such a big decision that he or she will remain single. One needs guts and gumption for that. If one has humongous goal/s to achieve in life, it's advisable that the person should stay single. You've the 'encouraging' examples to emulate!

The legendary German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, Oprah Winfrey, The Wright Brothers, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Florence Nightingale, Jon Hamm, our very own Sahir Ludhianvi, just departed Salim Durrani, CM of Orissa Naveen Patnaik and the 'legendary' didi Mamata Banerjee. The list is endless. 

Moreover, those who choose to stay single, don't wallow in self-pity because they know that it's their conscious decision to 'remain in their own elements' (to quote the Lucknow-born eternal bachelor and singer Sir Cliff Richard). Nor do these people crave condescending sympathy from any Tom, Dick and Harry. They know that they're their best friends. So, they don't make a fuss. They believe in this Urdu couplet that, " Tanhai mein bhi koi na koi cheez aksar saath deti hai/ Aansoo nikal aate hain, aasteen ponchh deti hai " (Something or the other accompanies in solitude/ When tears come out, the sleeve wipes them out). So, try to stay single if you're still unmarried. Akele shakhs ke liye raston aur rishton ki kami nahin hoti (For a single person, there's no dearth of roads and relationships). Don't we say in Marathi, Ekta jeev sadashiv (A single person is blissfully happy like Shiv)? To be single is to be free of all quotidian responsibilities that life may hurl at you. Existence sans any baggage is the need of our age. 

Tailpiece: When the country's population is multiplying by leaps and bounds, staying single is the most prudent decision.

Sumit Paul is a regular contributor to the world’s premier publications and portals in several languages

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