Sologamy: the act of marrying oneself in a public ceremony, also referred to as self-marriage or autogamy.
I have said this before and I will say it again. You never quite know what you are going to be confronted with when you open your newspaper of a morning. Every time I am stuck for a subject that is slightly out of the box to have a little fun with in my blogs, something or the other pops up out of my broadsheet and I am off and running. My weekly fix is safe for the following Sunday. On the odd occasion when the newspapers do not come to my rescue, I invariably fall back on mining something from my dim past. Nostalgia, aided by a dodgy and selective memory bank, is a firm ally.
Take a look at what I came across this week in one of the dailies I subscribe to. Prominently displayed on the front page, albeit in the bottom half was this stunning headline – ‘Baroda woman to wed herself in solo wedding.’ Not only did that catch my eye, I was riveted. My eyes may not have actually popped out but it was a near thing. The abject silliness of our politics with its same old, same old shenanigans, the never-ending Russia-Ukraine conflict and everything else globally associated with it, soaring fuel prices and the final, sordid denouement of the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial – all that paled in comparison with the startling news that a young lady in Baroda had dramatically decided to get married to herself. A few years ago, the same newspaper drew my attention to a villager who decided to marry a log of wood in the garb of his bride. That was excellent grist to my writing mill, but this latest example of extreme self-love takes the cake.
The enterprising lady in question, Kshama Bindu is from Baroda in the state of Gujarat, and none of this nonsense about actual name being withheld and so on. She was happy to be identified for what she was and what she believed in, namely, that her singular duality was an open book as she enters into holy matrimony with her other half. A radiant photograph of Kshama accompanied the report. It took us many years, but the legal system in India finally gave their stamp of approval to gays, lesbians and the LGBT community, much to their delight and relief. This is not to say that several millions of our populace are in favour of what they, in their narrow tunnel vision, see as unnatural and dangerous liaisons, but the law has spoken and that is that. However, the unique case of the admirable Kshama Bindu tying the traditional triple knot to herself does not seem to have any recorded precedent, at least not in India. It surely has to be a first of its kind. Mr. Guinness, he of the World Records fame, or his estate should take note.
The 24-year-old auto-bride-to-be is quite candid and deadly serious about her views on her unconventionality. ‘Ever since my teens I never wanted to get married. The tradition, somehow never appealed to me. But I did want to become a bride. I decided to marry myself. It’s called sologamy.’ Initially I thought she had coined the term. I was mistaken. The word exists and matches Kshama’s pithy definition. Our sologamist goes on to add, ‘maybe I am the first to set an example of self-love in our country where marriages are considered sacred.’ Bravo Kshama. Not only are you firmly set in your views, but you are blazing a new trail, one that exists in theory but given the short shrift in practice. Apparently, her liberal-minded parents have given their darling daughter their blessings. Some, like the trolls in our unsocial media, might take the view that Kshama suffers from an advanced case of solipsism. Bully for her, say I. Being focused on the self is not altogether a bad thing.
What is more, Kshama has even sorted out the bridal trousseau; white dhoti and kurta for the ‘mehendi’ ceremony and a sari for ‘haldi’ on the wedding day. Again, the duality motif presents itself. Perhaps she is drawing freely from Hindu mythology, where Ardhanarishvara is depicted as an androgynous composite of Shiva and his wife, Parvati. Experts in these matters tell us that if the inner masculine and feminine meet, one is in a perpetual state of ecstasy. That’s not all. A temporary state of ecstasy is guaranteed as Khsama has planned a two-week honeymoon all by her wedded self in Goa, post the nuptial ceremony. Caps it all off to a nicety.
We know of several cases of men and women electing to remain single all their lives. Many of them come under the lens of close family scrutiny and often this gives rise to needless tensions. If you are educated, holding down a decent job and are perfectly capable of looking after yourself, I see no reason why there should be any pressure on a man or a woman to be compelled to take wedding vows. Leave well enough alone would be the way I would tend to look at it. That said, by any stretch of the imagination, what young Kshama has done is taking things to a different level. On the face of it, her decision not to marry is not all that uncommon, but one imagines that she is making a bold statement to the world at large that one can achieve lifelong contentment if one is happy in one’s own skin. That she has introduced this novel concept of getting married to herself, a powerful metaphor and announced the same to the whole world, appears to indicate a missionary zeal to spread the good word. She seems to be saying to anyone who is listening (and the media is, avidly), ‘hey folks, marriage to another being is not all that it is cracked up to be. Not by a long chalk. Why get into a lifelong relationship with all its attendant pitfalls? And why get pressurized into bringing more children into this world which is already bursting at the seams with the human race, and not coping?’ Not her exact words, but point eloquently made. It’s all very well, speaking biblically, for God to instruct Noah to ‘be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.’ At the present time and given the world’s population explosion, God needs to employ a new script writer. (As I write this, news is just filtering through that, over the coming 50 to 100 years the world’s population, including India’s, will fall drastically due to lower fertility rates which will bring with it its own attendant problems. My response? That will be the day!)
I am not sure if Kshama Bindu actually asked those questions in a conscious manner but that is the message, if there be one, that we should all take from her remarkable decision. This is not to suggest that people should not get married and raise families; it is merely to appreciate a point of view that is drastically tangential to motherhood wisdom, and has plenty of courage and merit going for it. One should stand up and applaud the young lady, whose admittedly divergent way of going about things could excite all manner of comment. However, her heart is clearly in the right place. Hers is an act of self-acceptance. As she herself puts it so concisely, ‘people marry someone they love. I love myself and hence this wedding.’ As the ancient Romans used to say in Latin, quod erat demonstrandum or Q.E.D. as we wrote at the conclusion of a geometry rider or theorem. In schoolboy parlance, ‘Quite Easily Done.’ Or as Kshama, a product of the modern age might put it, ‘End of.’
Finally, to those of you who are puzzled by the title of this piece (what has Greta Garbo got to do with anything?), I can do no better than to quote these angst-ridden lines from one of Van Morrison’s most beautiful songs, and its appropriateness to this piece on Kshama Bindu.
Well I guess I’m going AWOL.
Disconnect my telephone
Just like Greta Garbo
I just want to be alone.