"I don't want this vacation," said my girl friend.
This was followed by an anxious WHY from me, very surprised that I was.
"I wait for these 15 days the entire year with a hope that this year I would be allowed to spend most of my time with my parents but what I get is just 3 or 4 days. Hope it could be reversed, hope things would change."
I could see the pain in her eyes, a pain of being deprived of her basic rights. But her desire to bring in a change was subdued by the fear of losing her husband's love and her in-laws' compassion.
And trust me when I say I could very well comprehend the reason. Recently I have come across quite a few girls who've told me that they stopped visiting their hometowns during festivals because they are "not allowed" to spend time with their own families, the ones who love them unconditionally.
One thing I strongly detest about Indian marriages is this. Marriages in our country aren't about happiness and contentment of both husband and wife, it's about how much a woman can compromise and mould herself to be happy in her NEW HOME.
We spend our lives standing on a measuring scale, the more our sacrifices weigh, the better wives we are.
For a girl, specially for the ones like me, who don't want to conform to the age old societal norms, parents are always our first preference and the place where they live is what we would still like to call HOME. Getting married doesn't change one's identity — we are the daughters first and everything else later. But most Indians aren't blessed with this wisdom. If we are expected to give utmost importance to our husbands and their families then our commitments and duties should be treated equally.
Love and respect, in any form, has to come from within and can never be imposed. And a married woman in India is victimised for no fault on her part - her aspirations are never esteemed, her wishes not granted, and her individuality not respected.
I have always been vocal about this, which makes me an 'amoral woman' since I want us to stand up for our most basic rights and change this grim Indian culture. So I am mostly greeted with derision and disrespect by our fellow women folks. Most of them are happily and readily making this sacrifice in the name of being responsible WIVES rather than WOMEN. I just can't fathom the consequences it follows.
If you are willing to sacrifice your parents for others, aren't you teaching the same to your daughter?
The two old people, who succeeded in raising a sensible and strong woman need us now, when they are both physically and mentally weaker. Isn't it our duty to give them our maximum time and support instead of trying to portray some pseudo love and peace in the family? If your husband loves you, he will definitely know your duties towards your parents and let you be with them in times of need.
If he has the right to spend his entire vacation with his parents, why is a wife not allowed to do the same? Was his upbringing different in any way than hers? Did his parents make more sacrifices and hers made less? Then why do we need permission to visit our parents? Is this what GENDER DISCRIMINATION feels like?
The thought that I am not performing my duties well and depriving them of the support they need, makes me feel ashamed of myself, my own values, and my integrity. And with no offence intended,
I would like to add that the women who have happily and proudly accepted it and don't feel the need to change at all are probably the best wives but definitely not very responsible daughters.
I have also come across parents who refrain their daughters from visiting them often. And as much as I love and respect their views, I really don't understand what lessons are they passing on to their girls ?
One moment they teach them to take care of their parents and the next moment they are taught to sacrifice them for others. They aren't very sure of what they actually want and hence this uncertainty leads to all sorts of paradoxes in life.
How many of you feel it's wrong? How many of you feel the need to change it? How many of you are willing to stand up for yourself, for your parents, for your rights? Very few of us are blessed with in-laws who understand this need of girls and thus support them. But majority of us are suffering silently. Unless all of us unite and act in congruity, nothing is going to change anytime soon. The ones who dare to go against their husbands and take this step are being criticised and their upbringing condemned.
It pains me to see this plight of Indian women. We are so used to accepting wrongs that standing up for the RIGHTS looks like the scariest thing to us.
I wish it changes someday, soon, and we see a new light! I wish our parents are not left alone and unwanted when what they deserve is only love and care. I wish we realise that no relationship can ever be maintained at the cost of another.
I wish we believe in ourselves and be a model in honesty and rectitude.