Newlyweds: Fighting for Love in the New India


For some reason, I imagined Newlyweds will be an easy book – just stories of a few young couples in India and their everyday life adventures. I couldn’t be more wrong – it’s a fantastic non-fiction book which analyses a number of problems which India is facing today, based on the examples of three couples who decided to defy tradition and get married because of love.

None of the couples featured in the book manage to convince their families to let them choose who they want to be with. Each of them decides to run away from home, often risking the well-being and safety of their loved ones, who have to fend off the attacks of neighbours and relatives. While looking for help – from relatives as well as from NGOs – they are often even more exploited; living alone, without the support of their parents, forces them to confront each other’s beliefs, as well as constant discrimination from society. And not every couple’s story has a happy ending.

Mansi Choksi has done a fantastic journalistic job, describing the relationships of the protagonists and outlining the wider social context. Newlyweds is a story of individual couples and families, but also of the whole country, struggling with increasingly strong nationalist sentiments, murders of Muslims by Hindu militia or murders of young couples due to “loss of honour”.

I recommend reading Choksi’s book together with Sonia Faleiro’s Porządne dziewczyny (The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing) – another great non-fiction which focuses on the issue of honor and the inability to choose the person you want to be with. And as you realise while reading Newlyweds, the traditional approach to marriage is not some outdated belief of a small group: in one survey, 80% of young Indians said they wouldn’t get married without parental approval. And as the author sums it up: “Most of us [młodych Indusów i Indusek] think like our parents and live in fear of disappointing them.”

"Marriage has a special place in Indian society. In many ways, it is the only intended outcome of growing up. It is an arrangement between two families belonging to the same warp and weft in the tapestry of religion, caste, class, clan, region, and language. The goal of marriage is to cement those boundaries to ensure the survival of power hierarchies (...). When young people choose their own partners, we threaten order with chaos."

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