Let me start today with my recent favorite topic from the bundle: Marriage.
We all have an idea of marriage and it means different things to us, over and above a standard notion with which we have grown up, seen and understood the institution.
As a representative of a generation of women who wish to identify themselves as independent, educated and strong enough to refute certain traditional, ritualistic expectations, I see marriage as a mixed bundle, in theory and practice. Well certainly it makes one change their view of life, bow down to certain customs , relent to some not so pleasant expectations and make and effort to be stubborn and accommodating at the same time. Having said that, I want to know why we do all these things?
-because you were desperate to be “married” and then to make it work
-because that is how you were expected to behave
-because that is how it has been and that is how it is
-because you felt it was the right thing to do
-because you wanted to, without any reason
I say, because maybe all of the above? Or Maybe for completely different reasons.
Recently, I had two close encounters with marriage. No, not my own. One being an intense conversation with someone who accused me of becoming domesticated after marriage and the other being the wedding of a close friend. These, for me, were two facets of the debate. What have I become as a result of marriage and what does one expect while entering into it? By virtue of not marrying, does one become stronger or bolder and does marriage itself turn us into weaklings with no minds of our own? The accusation hurt me to the core because I truly believe that fruitful companionship helps us become better, progressive people who can work for their dreams. I cannot pronounce it with a qualification of being better than single-hood because it does not make sense to generalize these personal, subjective situations. And I would sincerely expect people to do the same. If you see a person and their relationship through the lens of your experience, it will never be a fair view.
Having said that, I am fully aware of the illogical and subservient expectations Indian marriages put on women. Rather, the baseless cultural expectations from women around marriage. But my problem is, when it takes us modern women decades to break the customs in our own families why do we expect our sisters to do the same within days, when they enter their marital homes. First it is unfair that women land up in a strange house after the long cacophony of wedding that has stretched into months while they almost lost sense of reality, second, they need time to understand the real issues to be worked on and third, most of them are aware that rebelling on the first day might not be a great idea anywhere.
However, the problem begins here. Many women do not know their partners well enough to start with, nor does the man fully know the role his mother and wife can don when in a relationship of the “in-law” (in-lawlessness would be better). This complicates further when the woman is supposed to address her parents in laws as intimately as her own parents and act like she was born in that very home. YES it is not justified, its unfair and foolish. Completely agree. But it still does not undermine the value of love for a companion for life.
Perhaps the problems do not start here. They start when we are conceived, often with an expectation of the foetus turning out to be a male child, when our sex and gender is determined, when customs are forced upon our mothers and on us. To blame another woman for choices she makes being aware of all this, is a little unfair. You have to be respectful of the wisdom others have gained in their lives, the other sides of the stories they are part of and let them have their struggles. If you care, you have to be on their side, take part in their fight and let them become who they aspire to be.
Do not ask the women around you to become who you want to be. By doing so, with your new found feminism, you end up becoming the very patriarch you claim to pull down. As says my rendition of JAA SIMRAN, let her go and find her way (disclaimer- i am not using it to represent the father letting go of the daughter into the arms of the prince).