We have all been hearing, reading and witnessing the various atrocities committed against women by the parents, the husband, the in-laws and the society. Female foeticide, educational deprivation, child marriage, kidnapping, eve teasing, sexual molestation, rape, domestic violence and so on.
We are taught to forgive and forget since childhood because we have to go and settle down in a different house. Paraya Dhan we are you know. We are taught to keep our mouths shut because it is considered rude for a female to speak up. Isn’t this violence? The only difference is a kidnapper or a rapist ties our hands, stuffs up our mouth with rags or clothes so that we can’t scream and here it is our own people who tie our hands, chain our feet and stop us from speaking without the help of ropes, chains or clothes.
One-third of her life (which she got by chance because either her parents were scared to kill her or with difficulty they managed to keep her alive), a female spends protecting the ‘izzat’ of her parents, mamas, chachas and taus. All this to protect their naak (nose, symbol of ego and self-respect in this context) from being cut by the society. A single step she takes against the elders of the family makes them term her as kulta, kulachhini, and so on.
My vocabulary is restricted to the very few movies of the 70s and 80s that I watched as a child. During those days it was the in-laws, the Daadis or the villains. And today if you switch on the idiot box, it is mostly extra-marital affairs or a vamp who gets an easy entry into those houses. Intricate details not available as I rarely switch on the idiot box let alone watch these stupid soaps.
So after all this, she enters the next phase of her life with a man who is supposed to be her all-in-all. In short, Pati Parameshwar. Most of the times, this man is someone her family decides for her and many a times she wouldn’t even have a say in the final decision. In certain cases, she is lucky enough to get to live with the man of her choice. Purely her choice! But in every case, it is always the man who is the Pati Parameshwar and there is no mention of the Patni at all. From whatever little I have read about the mythological stories about Shiva, there was always an equal (if not more) weightage given to Parvati, his ardhangini or better half.
Back to the discussion…
This man that she is either forced to spend her life with or is happy to spend her life with is her life from now on. Or so it is made to be. For some reason, I do believe that majority of men are perfect partners for their wives and even if they are bound by societal pressures to follow the patriarchal societal norms and customs, they still have a good understanding between them which makes the marriage work. In many of the modern day marriages, the couple is courageous enough to break free of the societal and family bindings and live a life of their own.
An Indian marriage, many a times is a marriage between two families and not the two individuals. It is a struggle to hold both the families together. Most of the time what you get to hear is, “Hamare yahaan aisa rivaaz hota hai.” or “hamare yahaan aisa rivaaz nahi hota.”
The couple gets buried under the stampede of customs and their fulfillments.
Now the man of the house is responsible for earning the bread and spends his time outside of the home for most of the day. The lady of the house too in today’s households is allowed to work and does spend an equally exhaustive day outside of the house. After all, who says no to Money Money Money. Responsibilities, extension of families and all take a toll of their relationship. And finally they become nothing but a man and a woman with no relationship in particular, but just mere robots that perform certain assigned tasks to let the household work smoothly even if it means their relationship doesn’t work smoothly. Actually how can something work when it is non-existent?
In many other households, they live happily ever after for the world. But what’s brewing inside is not known to anybody, including themselves. The wife goes about binding the family together during tough times. A single instance of her not touching the feet of her in-laws can disrupt the peace of the household. It doesn’t matter if you have any respect for these elders who control your life now, but you have to touch their feet because that’ll make them perfect parents and in-laws and you the perfect bahu.
What? Did you say why can’t she refuse? Have you lost it?
Remember the lessons of childhood. Keep your mouth shut and just listen and abide by the ‘laws’ of your house from where you coffin alone is supposed to leave.
She is tough and endures all of this too.
But what happens when the man she loves or rather is the only one she must love and live with doesn’t support her. For once I wish such men understood that it is not just monetary support that she looks for in you, but an emotional one too.
When it hurts you to note that she forgot that your Dad takes not one but two spoons of sugar in his tea or it hurts you that she offered milk to your Mom with left hand because she was carrying her child in her right hand, why can’t you understand and accept that the same or a little lesser is expected of you too? She’ll do everything she can till she dies and all she asks for is your love and support.
If a man fails you when it comes to standing up for you or standing by your side in a difficult situation, what is it that you’ll do?
Consider this that it is not the first or the second instance, but a series of incidents that makes her want to take a stand. I ask this question from the point of view of everyone regardless of economic, religious or societal statures. The female in question can be anybody, from a lady from the slums, to a lady from a middle class family or a lady who heads a corporate venture.