It was a rainy evening, the time was around 5.30 PM and Kavya was waiting for Mudit. Mudit, Kavya’s husband is an architect by profession, and he usually returns from work between 5.30 – 6.00 PM. Kavya lives with her in-laws, but no one is at home today as they’ve gone to attend a function at their close relatives and will stay back at their relatives house for the coming 3 days. Alone at home Kavya has nothing much to do today, hence she’s strolling in the house. While gazing out of the window, she’s mesmerised to see the rain. She called Mudit to know his whereabouts, but his number was not reachable hence the call didn’t connect.
She then decided to sit on the balcony and enjoy the rain with the radio, while waiting for Mudit. It’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed the rainy weather this way, thought Kavya, while heading towards the balcony with her Bluetooth speaker and mobile. Kavya is sitting on the balcony, has connected her speaker with mobile, and played FM. There was some chat show going on but Kavya was in the mood to listen to some songs hence she picked up her mobile to change the station. As she was about to change the channel, the RJ’s voice soon grabbed Kavya’s attention. The chat show is dedicated to women and the topic was “Beti Se Bahu Tak Ka Safar”, Kavya suddenly changed her mind about switching the channel and remained on the same channel. The RJ received many calls and everyone had their story to tell, and a few things were common in everyone’s story.
And Kavya suddenly lost herself in thoughts while listening to the radio. The common thing that she felt was in everyone’s story has happened to her as well. She herself, her mother and mother-in-law, her grandmother, her sister and sister-in-law, and every lady she knew, had that common thing in their “Beti Se Bahu Tak Ka Safar ”. And that thing is eternal at least in our country! The thing is you are supposed to live a life where you are suddenly exposed to a lot of responsibilities to take care of and also you need to keep others in the first place or before you, and you (the daughter-in-law) are expected to be happy at last. To us no matter how secondary or degraded it feels, but an ideal “bahu” is expected to possess this quality.
Kavya recalls the time when she was not married. She was a well-educated woman and used to work in a company. She had not to wake up before everyone else in the house, neither she was expected to take care of every little thing. But her mother used to do that, and she used to tell Kavya that Kavya will also have to follow that kind of routine post-marriage. Kavya used to tell, “I have my job mamma, I’ll hire a maid for all these things, and the household chores.” And her mother used to tell her, “No beta, kitni bhi acchi job ho ya maid rakho you’ll have to take care of your husband and your family and bear their responsibilities post marriage. ” Kavya never took these talks and advice of her mom seriously till the date of her wedding.
When she got engaged to Mudit, she knew she had to leave her current job and her city and move to a new place altogether after marriage. Initially, she was excited about all this.
She thought she’ll get a job in the city she will move to and will have many new relationships and persons to cherish, she had her career plans, her vision, her expectations, her hopes just like every one of us has!
Once she got married, the initial months at her in-laws passed while learning new things, meeting new people, and getting familiar with a totally new house and family. After a few months, Kavya discussed her visions and plans with Mudit and informed him that she wants to join a job, Mudit denied and said why do you need to go outside and earn money. “Isn’t the money I and Papa are earning enough ?” said Mudit.
Kavya was astonished to hear this from her husband as she wasn’t expecting this reaction from him. Kavya then decided to have words with Rajni, her mother-in-law about the topic and ask her for permission. Rajni and Kavya have developed a very good bond, Rajni never said or done anything inappropriate to Kavya, instead, she has accepted Kavya whole-heartedly. She loves Kavya like her daughter and Kavya respects and loves her a lot.
Both Rajni and Kavya get up early in the morning, waking up early in the morning was something Kavya never did at her parent’s house after her school. Here at Mudit’s house, Rajni has supported her to develop this habit, and she’s grateful to her mother-in-law for that. She’s helping Kavya a lot in learning the things that she should know being a daughter-in-law at their house. Initially, it was a challenge for Kavya to change her habits, her schedule, and everything at her new house, but with Rajni’s help she’s learnt a lot of activities and now she can manage everything easily. She’s that close to Rajni, and she believes that sharing the job issue with Rajni will make things easier as Rajni has supported her in every step since Day 1 at Mudit’s house.
The next morning, after Mudit and his father left for their work, Kavya shared her will to do a job with Rajni. Rajni listened to her carefully and was silent for a while and then she explained to her ” Bahu we are expected to be at home, taking care of everything. Mudit or Papa kamate hai usme ghar acche se chal jata hai or paise bach bhi jaate hai, Auratein shuru se ghar mein he rehti aai hai, esi tumhari koi majburi thodi hai ke tum bahar jakar naukri karo or paisa kamao. Uparwale ki daya se accha kama lete hain Mudit or uske papa, tumhe naukri ki kaha zarurat hai bahu”. Kavya further explained, “Mummyji baat pese ki nahi hai, mai apne liye job karna chahti hoon, mera mann hai mai khudse kahni kaam karu apni pehchaan bnau uske liye mai job karna chahti hoon, apne aatma-samman ke liye me job-krna chahti hu, mai janti hoon, papaji or Mudit ki incomes acchi hai mummyji, par mai pese ke liye nahi balki apne-aap ke liye, apne wajood or apni pehchan ke liye job karna chahti hu, or mai shadi se pehle bhi toh job karti he thi na mummyji” Rajni waited for Kavya to complete and explained her, that Mudit will not like if she will do a job, or most probably he’ll create a ruckus. Further, she added that society and relatives will also make up stories about her job. “Aur wese bhi beta, ghar to aadmi ke kamaye paise se he chalta hai, tum khudko ghar me vyast rakhne ki koshish karo, humari tarah aadat ho jaegi dhirey-dhirey!”, said Rajni. Kavya kept silent and she buried her desire to do a job for the sake of her husband. Exactly the same thing an ideal Indian wife is expected to do.
The things we like to do the most, most of them simply disappear from our lives once we get married. We have to take care of every little thing we do, for the sake of being a good wife or a good daughter-in-law. We cannot go and dance in the rain simply because we are not supposed to do that, we have seen all the women surrounding us following these unwritten rules, be it our mothers, mother’s mothers or our mother-in-law, or their mother-in-law or our sisters or sisters-in-law. We are supposed to talk in the lower tone, something all women do. We need to feed others before we eat, we need to cook what others like, we need to choose our clothes as per the tradition.
“Beti Se Bahu Ke Safar Me” every girl has to leave her house, they have a lot of insecurities, fears, and nervousness inside, and that’s obvious! Few are lucky they find someone in their new house who understands them and helps them settle there, some are not that lucky!
A woman or you can say a girl has to leave her house, her family, her room, her friends, everything behind and she has to move to a new family, where she barely knows anyone! And this is something which in general is not expected from a man, he can stay with his family, in his comfort zone, following the same schedule and surroundings!
From the very next day of her wedding, a woman tries to learn and adapt the living style of the family she’s now part of. All her closest relationships she’s been living in her life yet have turned secondary just because of her marriage, and she will be a guest in her parent’s house(again this rule is not for the males), and to the house which she now belongs to, is totally new to her. All these issues can be major to minor and vary from family to family, still, just think about becoming a guest in the house where you have spent your entire life till the day of your wedding. Most of the things are left forever when a girl leaves her house after her wedding.
Then there lies this issue as well that the society claims that we are modern people, and we’re not following all this, women whether they say it or not, are most impacted by the weddings. In most orthodox families, they even lost their identities as individuals. All this was going on in Kavya’s mind and the door-bell rang! Kavya rushed towards the main door. As Kavya opened the door Mudit was there. He stepped into the house and asked Kavya for a cup of tea with some snacks.” Aap change karlo tab tak mai laai “, said Kavya with a smile on her face and went to enter into the kitchen.
After 15 minutes Kavya and Mudit were sitting on the same balcony enjoying their tea, in the rainy evening! Kavya has adjusted and is now used to her life at Mudit’s house, in the way Mudit likes, but not every woman will be strong enough as Kavya to give up on her dreams.
This was just one Kavya’s story and there are millions of such Kavya’s out there! We call ourselves modern people and we oppose this reality of a woman as a “daughter-in-law” in all our senses, without bothering to pay any attention to the reality, or checking the facts. We claim that we are advanced people and such things don’t exist anymore, but Sirs and Madams, these are the things rooted in our society.
From the time of her birth, a female has been raised as someone’s daughter, someone’s grand-daughter, or someone’s sister or niece. From a very early age, we the females have been taught and told by all the women surrounding us that we will have to leave our parent’s house one day. Since the beginning, we’ve been told that we should be courteous and patient, polite and humble, and we should always be ready to sacrifice our dreams, demands, and our choices for the sake of our loved ones. We are always taught and told by all the women related to us that we’re supposed to behave like this or that.
Typical sentences involve, “Ese mat betho, waha mt jaao, bahar mat ghumo zyada, thoda dheerey bolo, ese fashion mt karo, ese kapne na pehno, ese baat na katwaao, ese na khao , tumhe agle ghar jana hai!” or the sentences can be “Arey ghar ka kaam bhi sikho beta aapko agle ghar jana hai!”, “Silaai, Bunaai to aati hogi”, “Beta khana bana leti ho”? I can bet each and every girl must have encountered such situations where someone asks them these questions! Here again, I have a question “Why always a girl is supposed to cook or do household chores?” Why always a girl is being asked that if she can stitch, or she needs to be courteous or humble?
Because in our country I feel females have not been raised as individuals, rather they have always been raised as someone’s (her parents) daughters, sisters, daughters-in-law, wife, sisters-in-law. For years we have been repetitively taught and reminded multiple times of being ideal women as we need to move to a new house and in a new family after marriage.
We are being entitled as unscrupulous or shameless if we speak our heart out, or we discuss our personal issues aloud, as good women do not behave like that. We are not allowed to try or do most of the things we want to try or do. Before marriage a girl’s parents will say “Apne sasural jakar karna” and post-marriage the statement changes to “Apne ghar se karke aana tha na bahu/beta.”
Rarest of us have been motivated to become independent or create an identity for ourselves, and the elderly women surrounding us will still say “Kitna bhi successful ho jao beta, phir bhi aurat ko toh sath-sath ghar bhi chalana he hai!”
Here again, nothing’s wrong or shameful in doing or learning the household chores, and I feel everyone should learn and do the household chores, irrelevant of their gender.
Why is this thing rooted in our society “Ghar sirf aurat ko he chalana hai!” The word “Aurat ko karna hai/karna chahiye” is something that bothers me!
Sometimes I used to ask my mother and my grand-mothers (paternal and maternal) why should only a woman needs to be perfect in household chores and humble and polite all the time, and all of them have the same answers “Kyunki yahi hota aaya hai , aurat he sulakshini hoti hai or ghar sambhalti hai”. And I feel they’re not wrong. They were just passing on the same thing to their future generation which they have been constantly told by their moms and grand-moms and the cycle will go on and on.
No matter how modern and developed we call ourselves, we need to admit this ground reality that a woman has to go through a lot. Here again many of my readers will challenge this that a woman has to quit her job or study or opt for anyone out of career, studies, or her family, but trust me this is the bitter truth. No matter how modern the society has become, women are still considered as secondary gender or inferior to men. Many of us are much privileged that our families support us in building ourselves by educating us and allowing us to develop our careers. More privileged are those whose in-laws support their vision, and career goals.
But there’s plenty of females, who have to give up on their respective jobs, education, their careers, and goals, in order to fit in the criteria of being an ideal daughter, or daughter-in-law, or wife. As per government records, among the main workers, female workers are only 23.3 % and 76.7% are male workers. And out of this 23.3% female workers, the majority of female workers (87.3 percent) are from rural areas (Census 2001). As per the latest research, women account for only 19.9% of the total labor force in India.
Let’s have a look over the current female literacy rate in India, women constitute 48.1% of the population. The literacy rate of India is 77.7%. As per the NSO’s nationwide study “Household Social Consumption: Education in India” conducted from July 2017 to June 2018, the female literacy rate is 70.3%, while the male literacy rate is estimated at 84.7% (considering persons aged seven and above).
Now again who is considered literate in India or what is the definition of literacy rate?
Literacy rate in a population refers to the percentage of literate individuals among persons aged seven and above. According to the 2011 Census, a person is considered literate when they can read and write a simple message with understanding at least in any one language.
This is the ground reality of our modern society. I do agree that things are changing, but not everywhere. There are still a large number of females battling these issues, which are not even considered a problem in the majority of our country.
Ever heard a man has to give up on his dreams or career just because he has got married! Ever heard a man is quitting his job forever as he needs to settle down with his wife! Ever heard or came-across such unwritten rules for men as that of women!
We call ourselves educated, but we have a mindset which itself discriminates between males and females. A girl has always that sense of insecurity in her mind that her life might get changed once she’ll get married. Most of the girls get used to the feeling that once they get married she’ll not be able to pursue her career or even if she’s allowed to do so, she’s not able to manage everything at home along with her career. In such situations, there are high chances she’s not able to perform well at either of the places.
It’s high time, we as women start believing in equality at all places, rather than having the mindset of sacrificing our dreams or career goals. In order to achieve anything externally or actually, we first need to believe that we are equal to any other gender, and hence we should treat ourselves as an individual who has some goals to achieve and some plans to convert into cations. We actually need to give up that fear or feeling that we need to settle down to another family and might be in that family we have to give up on our dreams, our goals, or our careers.
For those who have the courage to believe in themselves, there will be ways, and eventually, society will believe and support them, for those who still have that inferiority in themselves no one can help them at any point in time. For most of us it might be hard initially, but not impossible. Small steps and affirmations every day, will take you a long way. Once we’ll be courageous enough to believe in ourselves and we do not give up, no one can make us feel inferior or force us to give up on our rights. Real equality will begin from our minds, our thoughts, and then there will be ways. Once we’re strong enough to fight the odds and not give up on ourselves, we’ll be able to help our fellow sisters. At least by making a decision of believing in ourselves fully, and treating ourselves equal to the other gender or human, we are making a difference for the girls or women around us. We’ll be kind of giving them that inspiration or sense of equality which we were not able to find in our childhood.
Let’s start believing ourselves as individuals irrespective of our gender and promise ourselves to raise our daughters as individuals, rather than reminding them every now and then that they need to be ideal women, ideal daughter-in-law, or ideal wife. Even if a daughter, or wife, or daughter-in-law achieve something, she’s lighting up the name of her family.
Let’s take an oath of a new beginning of believing in ourselves, our potential, and our goals undoubtedly, of treating or considering ourselves as equal to that of any other gender, and not giving up on anything for the sake of the stereotype of becoming an ideal woman or wife.
We need to treat ourselves righteously and promise ourselves not to lose our identity at any stage in our life, instead try to help other Kavya’s out their regaining their lost identities. We as individuals need to push ourselves to our best levels while helping others around us and motivating them to do their best. Once we’ll start believing in our potentials and dreams undoubtedly we’ll be able to convince those surrounding us, be it our families, or the little girls or women around us.
Another request will be from the males of our generation, just think it our way, if marriage is not changing your life much, then you should support the woman in your life in pursuing her job and achieving her goals, after all, she’s your better half, and you’re a modern, educated male. And most importantly your children be it daughters or sons, will learn from you and follow you!
And to all the women out there….. “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE SOCIETY OR THE WORLD.”