What happens at Indian weddings when you’re a single woman in your 40s

You go shopping at Indian stores for wedding-worthy shalwar-kameezes, lengas, garrarras, embroidered cigarette pants or whatever’s in vogue in the moment. You sustain comments from the shop aunties about how you won’t fit into the outfit you’ve chosen. You realize you’re too old to do a choreographed dance to perform at the wedding like you used to when you were in your 20s so you encourage your nieces to do one. You put henna on. You dance. You kiss babies. You hug aunties. You see old friends and extended family you haven’t seen in a while. You take photos of the young couple making their entrance. You feel happy.

You scope the hall for single guys your age but see that every person that’s single is under 30. The guys your age are planning what college to send their kids to. You sit on the sidelines and watch young women under 30 flirting with those single dudes. You notice that old friends and extended family who haven’t seen you in a while don’t know how to act around you because you’re a 42-year-old divorced, childless woman living on her own. You have to field snide comments about being divorced from the aunt everyone dislikes about how when you marry someone, you must make it work, come hell or high water. You dodge suggestions from your uncle to sit at his table so you can “learn something about life” ostensibly because you are not doing it right. You enthusiastically approach people you haven’t seen in a long time excited to reconnect only to get luke warm responses from them while you stand and watch them greet your sister who is married with kids with great enthusiasm. You find out your very young, very independent and very ambitious female relative who is only 20 is “looking”, i.e. looking to get hitched and you feel trapped inside a vicious circle that values only motherhood and wifehood for women. You feel horrible.