Friday, June 17, 2016
Dear former Mother-in-law
10 years back when she met the parents for her boyfriend, they tested her patience in real sense. So strong, and so blind was her love that she still managed to sail through without killing anyone. 10 years back, when she was all of 22, she was asked if she would come back from work and cook every day. She was asked if she would conform to the traditional ways of married women. She was also asked if she would take permission before going to meet her family. She was asked if she would quit her career if her holy husband asked her to.
10 years back, when she was too young to understand the ways of this world, when she was just out of her teen age, she said yes in answer to almost all the questions except one about her family and career, by then she had started to wonder where she had gotten herself. So scared, upset and confused was she that a mere recall throws her into an anxiety attack - 10 years later…
Two years after that absurd meeting, the girl foolishly in love with that guy married him and went on to live with the entire clan under one roof. While she was strong headed enough to not give in to insane expectations, she was still vulnerable enough to get impacted by the daily criticism of not cooking for in-laws, of not wearing the marital attire, of taking her work too seriously.
Reading through Vagabomb’s recent post about the things every woman should demand before getting married, she can only look back, cringe and then smile.
She hadn’t articulated her demands as she always took these things for granted. For her life couldn’t exist without the basics. But then it came onto her survival and she fought. She fought for all these things and more, and when she realized that the fight was consuming too much energy, she walked out. The world called her foolish for seeking divorce but she was not one for drama. She walked away and happy.
The said post is really ironical, for things like Time alone with family, Equality and respect, no ideal bahu pressure, no sanskaari wardrobe revamp, financial independence, freedom of choice to keep maiden name, an equal say in the family matters, time alone with partner, freedom to make decisions about body - are all truly basics. In a utopian world there shouldn’t be any need to demand these things. Additionally, she demanded a complete series of medical tests for HIV and STD, she offered the same for herself as well- luckily, this was accepted without much ado. But ironically, she had to demand these things, she had to fight each day, and even today when she thinks of that time, the anger and anxiety overwhelm her completely. And still she decided to recollect every instance and write this piece...
“Dear former mother-in-law, former husband and rest of the family,
I wish I had said these things when I first met you and got to know your insane expectations. I wish I had told you that if I intended to feed someone without him helping out, I would rather adopt a baby. I wish I had told you to get out of my bedroom, the first time you tried to interfere between the fight of husband and wife.
Dear mother-in-law, I wish I had told you to shut-up when you had asked me to wear certain kind of clothes. I wish I had informed you that there is no such thing as ideal daughter-in-law, as there are no ideal mothers-in-law either. We are all different individuals and living under one roof, we should try make life simpler for everyone - together.
Dear former husband, I wish I had smacked you in the face and told you to get lost when you first told me get things in my body changed. I wish I had told you to never see my face again, the first time you asked me to change my name. I wish I had told you that you do not deserve another man’s daughter if you cannot put in an equal effort to accept and appreciate her.
I wish I had told you that I would not bear a child unless you showed some traces of civilized human behavior. I wish I had told you that a daughter-in-law is a human being who makes a personal choice of motherhood instead of becoming a child-bearing machine.
Dear former so-many-people, instead of hoping that you'd evolve, I wish I had never married in your family, for everyday in that house was an exhausting fight.”
Today she thinks that she did the right thing in walking away. Our society preaches loyalty and faithfulness to the extent that we forget that things might go wrong. We forget to prepare our sons and daughters to bail out if things get beyond their capacity to manage. We forget that having a partner, or kids before a certain age, or posting together pictures on social media is not a life goal. It’s good to have these things but not at the cost of one’s own peace of mind and happiness. Today that girl is on her own, and is loving every bit of it. She might not have a partner to post together pictures with, but she definitely has a lot to do in her space and time.
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