Voicing your opinion has its own implications in Indian society. I am not here to garner accolades or sympathies. I believe every girl (feels more empowered to be called a woman. But patriarchy doesn’t even spare children. A sad state!) should be given her due respect and not treated as another addition to family who is going to give birth to their Waaris. The problem is with expectations. Poor are the fathers of their daughters whose identity change the moment they get married. My father proudly used to introduce me as a studious and overachiever to everyone. Yes, I did Masters in US but, that did not spare me from living as a suppressed and undervalued Bahu. Why is a Bahu measured in terms of Gunvati? Why can’t she be measured based on merit and wit?
So, my father and I often have debate about politics, actors and prevailing cultural issues. My entire family, even my aunts and uncles have that receiving end of a conversation. They listen and if they do not agree, they put a counterargument and it continues so on. Mind you, this is all done respectfully and in good humor. My dad is an avid BJP supporter and I try to pick out the failures of the ruling government, not to demoralize him but to keep him updated of the situation. Damn it! Everybody has that power to listen to a girl child in our family. The case is reversed in in-laws house. They CANNOT LISTEN. What’s the matter with you guys? Don’t you know that women have opinions and they can share it too? Why are only men entitled to decide? That is sooooooo wrong. Which generation are you living in? Seriously women in my in laws family, please WAKE UP! We have to fight for ourselves. Men are not going to serve us equality. Get some time off from all the rituals. God must be wondering ‘I did not make you so weak, quit praying and get to work’.
Not every home is perfect. Mine was not too. I grew in a slightly offbeat family where my father took major decisions for the family until he screwed up (resigned from his job) and has been trying to gain back the trust since then. And my mother took over the decision making part. My father gave me a lot of empowerment speeches and had his entire trust in me that I am not less than any guy and men and women are equal by birth. My mother, being an Indian mother of a girl constantly worried that I would face the same hardships that she faced in her in laws’ family. She tried to prepare me for all the daily chores a Bahu has to do any given day. But I learned it only when I was ready for it. I was the only child and was messed up in my own ways. I wasn’t happy in my own home. I felt like my mother is turning into my evil in law and I wanted to get rid of her clutches. I wanted to be independent and self-surviving woman and I was not too far from achieving it. My dad never pushed me to study further after Bachelors. He put a straightforward proposal of marriage after my final year, which he wanted me to refuse. I can sense it DAD! I wanted to work or study further, I couldn’t make up my mind. I was ready to leave home and start living independently but there was no plan.
Hopeless! You would say. No, I was in a far better place 8 years ago. I had the right to decide the direction I wanted to go. Now, I cannot talk to my FIL in the same tone as his. I mean WHAT? Am I in some remote village in Haryana or Rajasthan? No, I am in Hyderabad, a metropolitan city. This tells me how much influence does place and people have on the conservative ideology of a person. I always dreamt of a home where everyone would treat me with almost equal respect to my husband and my opinions were respected not ignored. Soon, I was tagged as the disrespectful Bahu. Why am I to blame? I was raised in such a family where all of the above were true. Even if your husband is modern and values your opinion, the moment you go against his family you become a ‘pampered and doesn’t know how to talk’ person. AGAIN WTF!
As soon as I am married, I get the tag ‘Badi Bahu’. Just before one day I was this ignorant, chirpy, dancing to my own tunes hopeless girl and now I am Badi Bahu? I know nothing about this family and you tag me with this big ass title? No! Spare me. I feel like I am complaining a lot. But I was not that kind of person until I got married, so who is it to blame? Free will is a myth even today for most of the Indian women living out there who could not get patriarchal values out of their modern husbands. I do not know if men are really to blame. Indian women have ingrained the bread earner as their God and this trend continues without any objection.
Fathers of daughters who are trying to get their daughters married to a wealthy guy using dowry, do you even realize what are you sowing? Your daughter will remain suppressed for her life and your grandson will continue your heritage of patriarchy. Make use of your money to get your daughter a profession she can excel in. Make her work even if she has all the comfort in the world, it will make her appreciate the independence of workingwomen. And girls who don’t want to work by choice, having a rich father is not a boon, soon you will find yourself in a place where you are not even allowed to have a dream and your in laws dreams are imposed on you.