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I stared at the delicate earrings hanging in my dresser. They were in a myriad of colours. I tried on one and tucked my curly hair behind my ears. They suited me well; though I rarely wore any. Every time I wore them and stepped out of my comfort zone, I regretted it. Their extra beauty coupled with a saree and a bindi often brought unwanted attention. The uncles and aunties at parties always noticed these things. Their tone was worse than their words. For them, the decoration was a sign that I am ready ‘for the market’. At my age, such signs are awaited with delight. However, in my case it indicated no such thing. My family had given in to my resistance and stopped prodding me about finding a man. The extended family, however, would not spare me. They insisted on introducing me to ‘eligible’ men. I was yet to meet one that didn’t make me hysterical. Over time, I have found some humour in it and masked my true emotions.

It made me ask myself if such signs existed for men. If society waited for them to be ready for marriage? Could I not wear my feminine side with pride without worrying about these agonising encounters? Or if I didn’t get dolled up, did it make me not suitable for marriage?

It is disconcerting sometimes to observe how many of my choices are truly my choices. And how many of them are society forcing my hand.