The Single Issue

And the Curse of Valentine's Day

Love, me, and the cosmos in February
Every year when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I become philosophical. Who am I? Why have I been placed on this earth? Why am I always without a date on Valentine’s Day?

Yes, I’ve never had a date or a relationship during Valentine’s Day. Ever. It somehow happens that my relationships end before or begin after Valentine’s Day. So when it comes to February 14, I’ve got a clean slate—no history.

Danger: Single man ahead
And, as you get older, into the latter part
of your twenties anyway, the (obvious) questions start popping up like sea shells on a beach:

  • “Oh, he’s still single?” (Incredulous tone)
  • “So, when are we going to attend your wedding?” (Polite laughter. Question usually asked on occasion of a wedding.)

I wonder if there some sort of negative karma around single people that makes everyone (usually married people—with apologies to my married friends) concerned for our mental and physical well-being.

It’s not like marriage is a panacea to the world’s problems, is it? From what I understand, being married, like being single, has its share of good times and bad. It’s not like everyone who’s married is deliriously happy.

Still, the distress for single people doesn’t seem to go away.

Popping the question
In India, questions about when you’re getting married come from everyone. When I was living in the U.S., the first time I returned to India on vacation, the milk delivery man saw me and said, “Welcome back. Have you come to get married?”

In India, people will ask whether they know you well or not.

More recently, when I rented into a two-bedroom place, and told people at work that I was living alone, almost everyone’s response was, “Ah, so you’re planning to get married?” or, “So getting ready for marriage, huh?”

Caution: Matchmakers at work
While in the U.S. friends (and sometimes family) might try to set you up with some one, in India it’s the family, the relatives, the friends of the relatives, the relatives of the friends of the relatives… you get the point.

Recently, at my cousin’s wedding, my Dad asked me to meet someone. She was, I was to find out later, related to my cousin’s mother. She was oozing charm, except that it was obvious what she was up to. She introduced me to one of her daughters, explaining what kind of work she did. Sadly, no chemistry there.

Anyway, I am not much for such introductions, especially in church parking lots.

At the wedding reception, cousin’s mother’s relative came to our table and introduced (much prettier girl this time) her niece. This got me thinking about the days when young women were introduced at parties as debutantes, eligible for marriage.

Only saints are single
Later, I was sitting at the beach, listening to the waves, soaking in the sun, and I realized that you hardly ever see single people on a beach; it’s usually only newly married couples or families.

Even when a group of us went for a short river cruise, I didn’t see one single person sitting by himself or herself.

Even God couldn’t bear to see Adam single Genesis 2:18-24). I guess you can understand the pressure that single people already feel. Even in the Bible, you’d be hard-pressed to find regular single people, they were all saints that kind of stood out (or God’s Son).

Not to complain but…
So why do people add to that pressure and remind single people at every opportunity they get? It’s like reminding a basketball player when he’s in a shooting slump. Believe me, he knows, and we single people know we’re single too.

We also know that when the stars align and the planets line up, things fall into place. It’s all about timing, isn’t it?

I should know. Happy Valentine’s Day.