Incomplete (Part I)

I’m fast approaching the mid-thirties mark, and finding myself bewildered & anxious as the new number becomes clearer in the distance. Where has the time gone?

I have plenty of milestones to look upon–degrees, graduate degrees, getting my own place, moving cross-country to change my life & career path. I’m proud of all of my accomplishments and have worked hard to achieve the things that I have. I have messed up, I have failed–but I have done my best to learn from each and every thing that has crossed my path, whether blissful or wildly unpleasant. I have discovered new friendships, lost more than I can count (& mourned them all), I have found love, I have enjoyed lust, I have reveled in the pleasures of the tongue & the flesh. I have travelled the world, danced the night away in Spain, immersed myself in the flavors of Italy.

And yet… I feel incomplete.

I recently had a conversation with my father–the closest we’ll probably ever come to a heart-to-heart. He’s a good man, a good father. But at his core, he is a simple man, who wants the best for his only daughter, the girl that has been the apple of his eye since…forever. He loves me and is proud of everything I have accomplished, as well as the things I strive to accomplish every day. The conversation has made me think hard–with an open mind and an open heart. My defenses? Nonexistent.

My father told me about a family friend, whose daughter is a surgical nurse. She is one of the best nurses in her hospital–hard-working, compassionate, and always willing to spend time to help a patient or a colleague–and dedicated to her family. I’m proud to know this girl. My father beamed as he told me about the purchase she recently made for her mother, and I smiled at his evident joy.

“We have wonderful daughters who have accomplished so much. I’m proud of you, I just want…” He stumbled, his eyes searched my face. He was waiting for my defensive reaction to his poorly disguised reference to the fact that his darling daughter, quickly approaching the next big number, is still single. I had nothing to say… My brain was a blank slate. I chose to smile.

“I know, Dad. I know what you mean,” I said quietly, trying to keep my voice from breaking. He smiled back, visibly relieved. I held the smile as long as possible, my heart heavy. I refused to let myself think about it… but here it is, in my face.

No matter what I am able to accomplish in my life, my parents will never truly be happy unless I find someone to love, to love me as I deserve to be loved. They don’t want me to settle for a warm body (with a good biodata) by my side–they want me to find a good man that will love & care for me the same way I would for him. Someone who would complement who I am as a person, just as I would for him.

You know what? I want that, too. I just have no idea how to find that kind of love, and no idea why I have been unable to find it for so long… even though I’ve never stopped looking.


(It looks like this will be a series of posts, as I explore this. I’m opening myself up in a way I’m not necessarily comfortable with, but I think it’s important… I know I’m not the only person to have experienced some of these emotions.)


15 comments on “Incomplete (Part I)

  1. shaleen says:

    you have truly written from the heart and have expressed so many of the emotions that i also feel. Thank you for sharing

  2. It’s really brave of you to share this. The truth is, young Desi singles (particularly women) are so vulnerable on the topic of love. It’s like you said — you are looking for love and frustrated with the search but it’s all made worse because of the elders’ expectations.

    Our marriage-focused culture is nice when it supports couples staying together, but it can also be painful when a person’s success is judged by his/her ability to find a mate.

    There aren’t any easy answers, but you are certainly not alone in this struggle.

  3. bombaywire says:

    Enjoyed reading — it’s hard to keep a balance of poise, emotion, depth – nicely done.

  4. VaishieD says:

    I totally understand where u are coming from I used to get in that defensive mode too. I finally found someone who loves me for me, even though we both are Indian, we come from different religious backgrounds. But I love him for who he is and I know he loves me for me. My parents know and have met him, it may not be the ideal guy they want me to be with, but they seem to be accepting. So don’t give up hope, sometimes love can be found in a place you never thought. Hope you find your love 🙂

  5. I totally understand where you’re coming from but from a different aspect. I fell in love and got married young, yet I still don’t have my career together yet, still struggling through grad school etc and I’m creeping towards the 30 mark. My parents are constantly reminding me what a disappointment I am because of this. My point is, we rarely ever have it all. Even though I have love, I feel incomplete because career-wise, I’m a good 5 years behind where I should be. And my parents remind me of that on a constant basis.

    Hang in there chica!

  6. Geet says:

    Thanks for sharing. Very nicely written. You are definitely not alone. I’m going through the same thing. The problem with me was probably I never realized earlier how important it was to have some one special who loves you and whom you love and there is nothing that’s perfect. Now I can only hope and try. Lets see 🙂

  7. Kumar says:

    I am not even going to pretend that I can fully understand your side of things but here is my story.
    I am nearing my 30s so naturally my parents are pushing for my marriage. This started a couple of years ago and back then I was able to convince them to postpone it but late last year it got to a stage where I needed to take a firm decision, if I wanted to get married at all. If yes, then perhaps now is the best time, if not then to not regret my choice later in life.

    So I started to analyze the option and realized that marriage is like those movies that looks amazing in the promos but give a different experience when you actually try to sit through them. When you think about it marriage does not guarantee anything, not a soul-mate, not companion during the old age, nothing.

    What it means is that a person is legally associated with you and that to separate from that individual you need to pay lawyers.
    Married or not, the quality and fulfillment in a relationship is only defined by the two individuals involved, nothing else. If you get an amazing partner marriage doesn’t guarantee that they would remain amazing and more importantly stay with you for the rest of your life. Divorce or death of the spouse will bring you back where you started or might even leave you in a worse position than before. For as long as I remember I have only seen my parents fight and so all the more reason why I must be more careful about how the adult part of my life is lived.

    This has already become a long comment so without going in to my personal stories, from experience I have realized that most romantic relationships have a shelf life and forcing one past the expiry by means of a legal document does not make anybody happy. When you are alone it is very tempting to feel sorry for yourself and yearn for the mystical soul-mate but life is much bigger than that. But there was still this lingering feeling that I might be sad and lonely and regret my decision. Then one day when driving to work I saw this young women selling car screen cleaners at the traffic signal. She came up to my car hoping I would buy one and I nodded her off. She was visibly disappointed and moved on to the next car and as she left it began to sink in that she is out there under the blazing Chennai heat, at the traffic breathing in all the exhaust and being shooed away by complete strangers all day just so she could make a profit of 5-10 rupees when she sells one of those. If she is lucky she might probably sell 4-5 a day and she has to do this because she probably has young kids she has to feed. She goes through so much each day to earn the equivalent of what I tip the valet. If she does not sell enough then maybe she and her kids go hungry that day. It was unreal to think that this person standing just a few feet from me has a life so completely different than mine, it tore my heart. When put next to hers my problems felt insignificant. So irrespective of how things turn out in the future if I could help improve the life of at least a few individuals then I can consider my life well lived.

    I am not against marriage but I am just saying that it not for everyone and that life without it can be quite meaningful and happy also.

    On a lighter note, most of the married guys I know complain about lack of sex after marriage so that right there is a deal breaker for me 😉

    Sorry about hijacking your blog with such a long comment, brevity is not exactly my strong point. Good luck with your future angry brown girl !

  8. kera says:

    Your post “Please Hold” from Jan, judges girls who seem to feel this way in negative tone. You & I are no different from those girls who openly ask “where is mr. right”. We might be living our life and it might seem like they aren’t but truth is they are living their life the way they want to.

    The incomplete feeling is not just from parents, you feel it too. I know because I do.

    • Thanks for your comments, kera.

      In “Please Hold,” I was referring specifically to those girls who want to travel, do things on their own, etc., but don’t have the determination (courage?) to do it against parental expectations. Meaning this: She may have dreamed of going to Paris on her own, but her parents don’t want her to until she’s married. Instead of standing up for herself, she tamps down that desire, and waits.

      I want these girls, these women, to stand up and live the lives they want to live. Perhaps I am judging them for bending to the will of others in their lives, but so be it. Many of the women I’m referring to have good educations, great jobs, make good money, yet sit around waiting for Prince Charming so they can ‘start’ their lives–because that’s what their families want them to do.

      That’s no way to live.

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