Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mard or Not - The love that stifles

In the last one year I have been showered with a lot of admiration by many people at work and in personal life. The cause of their admiration - well, how I have managed things after my old man took off to the other dimension.

This admiration, however, seems ironical. No, don’t get me wrong, I mean no insult. I take this admiration with all the humility that I have in my being. I like to be admired for all the admirable qualities in me. But this I have to take with a pinch of salt as part of me realizes that this admiration originates from the fact that nobody expected me to take such responsibility in my lifetime, and a bigger part of me also realizes that a lot many of these admirers still expect me to succumb to the pressure and snap.

I have been speaking a lot about gender equality in my posts like everybody else. We all speak of gender equality all the time but somewhere deep down we still consider ours girls fragile. We bring them up in the manner of a fairy-tale where a prince always comes to the rescue of the damsel in distress. While we expect them to educate themselves and climb up the ladder in their careers, we still do not approve of them using cuss words, or dealing with tough situations all by themselves, or giving a piece of their mind to older people getting on their nerves.

Oh! Our girls are loved, so much loved that it’s almost like being stifled in love. We scream equality and jump to their rescue all the time. We expect them to run to us every time they find themselves in trouble instead of telling them to deal with it and manage on their own. We raise them to be independent and then send them to attend culinary courses so that they get married easily and please their sasural. We take pride in their successful career but return the gifts brought by them manifolds.

I particularly remember a very close friend of mine who was going through legal separation due to a fraudulent marriage and abusive in-laws. The in-laws, even after the judicial separation banked upon the girl’s docility and kept stalking her through infinite phone calls preaching the ideal role a daughter-in-law and wife in Indian culture. During one such call, I happened to be around and she passed on her mobile to me as the situation was getting too much for her to handle. While I took the call and after hearing them out, gave them a piece of my mind, her father was especially annoyed at my behavior. According to him, I shouldn’t have done what I did as I am a good girl raised in a good family.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m living in some other planet where people are just twisted in their demeanor. A guy wants an independent girl who has her own opinion, who would just not care about who-thinks-what. And the moment her gets married to her, he starts expecting her to play the ideal bahu, forgetting that she is also an equal human being, and her family to treat him like the conventional damaad.

The scene from a recent film, Dil dhadakne do, was not a piece of imagination but a full bite of reality. We still live in a world where many husbands think that it’s them who permitted their wives to pursue their careers.

A lot of my bachelor friends who have been working for 10 years or so have started investing in property and such while the bachelorette friends are saving up in the form of fixed deposits or gold jewellery. When I randomly asked why, their response was that they would get married and then the pati will manage all such matters as these are men's responsibilities. This response was surprisingly unanimous, and as to the use of FDs was wedding trousseau and not even honeymoon, because - what self-respecting guy would let his wife contribute to honeymoon expenses!

All the years when my parents were bringing me up as a gender neutral child, I thought they didn’t love me as I was never given a special treatment for being a girl. When all the girls and sometimes even boys in my school got most help from their parents filling up the forms and doing bank work, I was left on my own. I filled my first OMR form incorrectly in 12th std, I signed my first cheque incorrectly at the age of 18, and I figured. I figured how to do all that on my own and the right way.

When I got married out of my own choice, my father boycotted me for four years. He missed me terribly but didn’t contact me and turned down all my attempts to contact him. Once in that phase, my mom got impatient and blamed him for raising me in such a manner that I did not obey my parents. My father’s response to her summed up my upbringing. He said, “I raised her to be capable enough to make her own decisions in life and learn from the consequences, to take ownership of those consequences. I have given her the courage to learn from her own experiences, her own mistakes and I am so damn proud of her.

Sometimes even I feel as if I’m living a nightmare and that something should wake me up. That when I will wake up, I would find him sitting right next to me, watching me sleep. I live each day at a time, not thinking about yesterday, not thinking about tomorrow - just one day at a time. In that day, I avoid thinking about him. I deliberately put his thoughts away, I don’t look at his picture and I talk about him in present tense.

When I do get weaker, I think of the five years when was posted in Mumbai while we lived in Delhi, and the time when he was in Baghdad, and the time when we lived in the same city but did not see each other for four years. Then I imagine that he is a secret agent, on a secret mission and cannot contact us; that when he will finally accomplish his mission, he would come back and see that I lived it up. And then, he would take me on his lap, wrap me in his shawl like mother-hen and rock me as he used to.

Till then, I go on… I go on, just the way I am used to, and supposed to.

And to my admirers, please raise your kids not like girls or boys but like individuals so that they can both live by their own experiences and not borrowed ones, so that they learn from their own mistakes.

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