A story of love, loss and second chances by Nikita Singh, releasing this Valentine’s Day.
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Life changes the day you are married and walk out of your parents place. No matter where you go, things are never the same and you will miss the place you grew up.
As I was flipping through my marriage album a few days back, I inadvertently got drawn into the memories of those contagious beautiful smiles all around, the bright colors of the decor almost being a metaphor for what was to ensue in the years to come, and the looks of my would-be hubby almost an assurance for the love and care that he will bestow upon me, once we take the vows and walk the altar, figuratively speaking. Must say, hands down to the photographer who clicked them – he did do an awesome job of making it a picture-perfect wedding.
At the end of the day, this is how it is all supposed to be. Isn’t it?
Ironically, however it also reminded me of the reminiscence of those days that are gone and a sense of loss gripped me – the time with my parents and siblings, the endless banter with my bosom friends, and just about all the fun of those carefree days that I had left behind.
As strange as it may sound, when a girl takes that leap of faith and begins her new life after marriage, the contradition of emotions that she goes through early on, can be quite overbearing.
As strange as it may sound, when a girl takes that leap of faith and begins her new life after marriage, the contradictions of emotions that she goes through early on, can be quite overbearing. And even though my marriage did not happen overnight, I cannot but help admit that I never got myself to a point, till the day, when I could claim without hesitation – “Yes, I am ready to take the plunge”. I actually do not think any girl can ever be fully prepared mentally for the day when she just has to leave everything behind – her belongings, her room, her home, her people with whom she has spent most of her life and has so many sweet memories with. It is definitely not as simple as it may arguably look, it never was for me atleast!
Mine was an arranged marriage. I belong to a traditional Brahman family. When I was hardly into my bubbly twenties, my parents decided that it was time for me to get married. And so, as fate would have it, I am introduced to this boy (now my husband) in a formal setting. Soon after, our parents (who are also family friends) reach a consensus that this is a good alliance. We are ‘told’ so, get engaged shortly after, and also get our license for courtship before our ‘big day. ‘HA! How uncanny does it sound in the present day and age, that the elders in our families had an absolute authority to decide what is deemed best for us.
Just a few days before marriage however, while packing my stuff, the realization finally sunk in that everything was soon going to change forever. Tears rolled down my cheeks. It dawned on me that my mum will no longer caressingly wake me up every morning, it will not be the same bed on which I had slept for years, it will not be the same wall-hanging that I had lovingly knit a teddy bear when I was 8 years old. Determined, I started packing them as well so that I could feel ‘at home’ in my new house. But then, I visualized how traumatic it will be for my parents to see my room everyday after I was gone – without me, and without my ‘things’. I had to keep the facade on. I had to be present, even after I was gone!
I vividly remember even today, the craziness in the run-up to my marriage.
I vividly remember even today, the craziness in the run-up to my marriage. All that shopping frenzy and finalizing the marriage arrangements. Those endless days – when one moment, I was writing invitation cards, and running down to parlor in another. Our discussions almost always seemed to centre around the logistics for making it a perfect wedding. So much so, that even my otherwise approachable father looked so distant to me. He was just so caught up in all the proceedings that he didn’t have the time to steal a moment to relax, leave aside having a hearty conversation with me. Even my mother was so busy giving me advice on how to behave, what to do and not, that I never got the time (or courage) to ask her how she was going to cope with the emptiness after her only daughter was gone!
While everyone appeared happy, I was happy and sad.
The house was full of friends and relatives, and yet I had never felt more lonely. It was ‘my’ wedding that was being planned and I was expected to feel elated, despite the contradictory emotions that I was having. There was this lingering feeling of vacuum, of fear, of not knowing what was going to happen next. What made it worse was that I couldn’t even tell my parents that I was very petrified.
On the day of our wedding, the gathering comprised of our friends and relatives from both sides, with each one trying to get clicked with the couple. I was literally overwhelmed by all the new faces that I had to exchange sweet nothings with on that fateful day, almost forgetting them the next moment. After one point, I almost panicked for being so insensitive, till my sister-in-law sweetly whispered in my ears to just smile and not bother about the relatives, at least not then. Even as I went through the motions that day, my eyes were continuously searching for my parents, praying that they would turn around and smile back at me and soothe my reckless nerves. They never really did however, as they were too busy attending the guests and ensuring that the show went on!
I felt helpless for my parents and for myself too.
And yet, amidst all the skepticism, the fear, the anticipation and the tension, I took my vows – to be a loving wife, a doting daughter-in-law, a devoted sister-in-law and much more.
Then, everything sort of happened in a flurry. Before I could even come to terms with the ‘saat vachan‘ (7 vows) that I had taken, it was time to say adieu. In India, we call it ‘bidai‘. It was heart wrenching – to see my brothers silently weeping in the corner, while my mother constantly reminded me in her shaky voice not to cry lest I spoil my make-up. My father hugged me in a hurry while still looking at the last minute arrangements. My eyes blurred. I couldn’t breathe. My life was going to change, the moment I stepped out of the safe environs of my parents’ house. And into a life that demanded me to be more responsible, answerable, decisive and careful. And that sounded so unnatural of me or the life that I was otherwise used to!
At my husband’s place however, my new family welcomed me with open arms, and that was somewhat comforting.
At my husband’s place however, my new family welcomed me with open arms, and that was somewhat comforting. The house was full of new faces, but all gleaming with joy and warmth. Each and every member of the family was trying to put me at ease in my new ‘home’. My mother-in-law was all smiles, and my man’s presence reassuring that all will be fine. Everything looked so perfect!
But, something was missing. My parents were missing. I was missing them!
I imagined the scene at my parents’ place. All the relatives must have gone… leaving behind my tired and lonely parents! I wept, and wept hard and for long. The daughter in me kept on thinking about what she had left behind. No doubt, I knew I had to live upto my new responsibilities and expectations that I had signed up for. But how could that ever be an excuse to not feel nostaligc for the time I spent growing up at my parents’ home?
Ten years have past ever since. I am a happily married woman, with two adorable daughters. Time swooshed its magic wand. Life is beautiful and I am having a gala time.
But still, the feeling of home-sickness, of those carefree times, of endless fights with my brothers, my mother’s hand-cooked food, my father’s kisses and cajoling – still keep coming back to me from time to time. I may not be able to talk to my mum every other day now, but my childhood memories of her long black hair caressing my face while I slept in her lap, still numb my eyes. I know she is there. I know I can still rely on my parents. I will always be their twinkling star, no matter how old I get, no matter if I am a wife or a mother myself. I will always be their daughter, all my life.
No one can take those cherished memories away from me – not even time!
Cover image via Shutterstock
I realized that despite my degree as a Master in Microbiology, writing excites me more!
Wow Priyanka. You have really retold most of our version of the experience in a very beautiful and touching way. It brought tears to my eyes at some points.
I have several times thought of this and realised how much I have grown since I stepped out of my parents’ house. The only factor which was irking is our tradition of making a woman ‘cry, get accepted to the fact that one day she would have to leave her parents’ home’, but for the man there is no such threats. The flip side of such brought up for both genders are:
1.) we are telling a woman, she can ‘afford’ to forget her parents and be ‘selfish’ (sorry to use this word, but somehow it rings true) thinking about her status in the husband’s family.
2.) women are expected to squirm in her husband’s house, even if there is need for her at her parents’ house owing to health or some issues. But a man can still have the guiltless existence of having someone take care of his parents and still go about his work.
3.) we are telling the man, that ‘he is supposed to take care of his parents, whatever comes’, whereas his sisters can just be visitor to his house and need not be in anyway responsible for their parents.
4.) the society induces a lot of guilt in the man when he has to go abroad to earn, whether he is married or otherwise.
5.) all the above relinquishes a woman off her parental responsibility, and burdens a man with a lopsided responsibility.
When we have come soooo far in technological development, why are we still lagging behind in certain attitude? Aren’t all the children (be it whatever gender), having the responsibility of taking care of their elderly parents? Is it not possible for the husband’s and the wife’s parents to stay with the couple? Why do we have only son’s parents staying with them?
Our Indian law insists that we take care of them both…
*********Maintenance of parents and senior citizens act 2007 – link is ——-
6.)At least let us teach our children (boy or girl) that both of them are responsible or needed during our old age. When we are teaching our children ‘not to forget the teachers who have taught them since nursery’ (don’t kick the ladder which helped you climb up…like that stuff), why are we teaching our girls to forget their parents?!
We need not be totally dependent on the children financially and otherwise if properly planned. But let us at least instil the attitude to help elders (on both the husband’s and the wife’s side) so that we can lead a better life with proper values and culture, rather than the unequal expectation that we have now.
Do write more….
Chintu, totally agree with you. Society forces women to forget their parents and ignore them.. Starts with in-laws and parents. In-laws refuse t let girl visit her parents for too long. They are scared she will spend “their money” on her parents..
Parets are worried what in-laws will say to girl.
Boy doesn’t care about girls parents, he only has to deal with a big issue of “Me and mine” Which usually boys parents guilt trip him into. So again, e refuses to send wife to her parents house for too long. “who is going to take care of his parents.”
And so she stays.. forcing herself to forget she had parents or any responsibility.
Not worth the drama.
But the funny thing is. If girls parents lived with married couple instead of boys parents. We wouldn’t have any of this saas bahu drama.
Coz girls parents treat boy as though he is royalty. And they love their own daughter. Besides, girl is the one who does most of the real caretaking of parents” boy only provides money.
So I think for future generation this would be a more logical solution. or atleast let everyone live close by. Not together.
Hey Sagarika! Thank you so much for writing back to me! All experience shared is very enriching and depicts the journey each one if us go through in various phases of our lives!
As I had earlier said, let us all believe in the newer generation and their beliefs. They are smart enough and better equiped, I would say, to handle such situations without any disparity.
Thanks Chintu for taking out time to read the article and penning down your feedback!
I am sure, every girl goes through a similar situation/ emotion when she gets married. I am talking purely in terms of an Indian context. This article is a picturization of my journey of emotional turmoil, my dilemma, my apprehensions, my anxiety! But, since every family, every tradition, every culture is different, so are the emotions that come with them. I have many friends in my circle who have been and still are, able to help and support their family, marriage playing no role in getting between their intentions. However, I do have an equal set of knowns who find it difficult (for whatever personal or financial reasons) to turn back to their family left behind.
In today’s society, the newer generation is more careful (and sensitive) to such issues and I think, are handling it beautifully. The onset of equality has already paved its way. And, when people as educated and aware as you , are their to instill the right values and culture in the younger generation, we can rest assured that the future of our nation and our rich traditions, is in the right hands!
Let the flambeau of hope shine bright!
I am fully satisfied and very touching of views.my would be daughter in law send it to me,I hope she will never feel any thing new in my house,and move as she likes.
Thank you so much Pradeep! I am glad that you wrote back to me. People like you are the base of our society, and I am sure, your daughter-in-law and you will bond very well; I can already see her faith in you. It is wonderful to see such compassionate parents taking care of their children and family! Hoping your family basks in beautiful days of glory and richness! Enjoy
Thanks priyanka, I will talk to my bahurani in a day or two,and see that does she has any doubt or need any more clarification from our side.we have full faith in my bahurani and her family.they r arranging everything nicely without our say,and I assure them of our cooperation in every field and occasion.we r not doing my son with their daughter marriage but will be a lifelong association with two families ,I assured them and I mean it.
Nicely presented Priyanka! It reminds me of my sister’s marriage 12 years ago and the experiences she went through after her marriage of being treated as daughter-in-law.
Don’t want to name – but even one of the famous personalities on one of his blog while sharing his daughter-in-law’s photo – mentioned her as Meri Pyari Bahurani and at least with him I was expecting that he would refer her as his daughter.
We really need to change the way we look at this relationship in our society and treat the daughter-in-law as a daughter and let not her feel what she left behind and give her own space in the world.
The void which we feel after the marriage of our daughter’s/sister’s can only be filled when we accept the daughter-in-law as a daughter and give her all the love and affection which we would have given to our daughter’s/sister’s.
Thanks Alan for taking out the time to read my article and also, to pen down your thoughts.
I still believe in the old Shakespearean language, “What’s in a name?”. To me, the society will change the day when a girl can be as carefree and confident of her own being, both to her father as well to her father-in-law, the day when people will not give a rueful look to a girl being eve-teased in the middle of the road, the day when she can comfortably discuss about all her apprehensions and guilt to both her mother and mother-in law, the day when she is treated no less to any other member in the house, be it her sister-in-law or her husband, the day when she can confidently laugh around and will not be judged for talking to any male colleague in the office, the day when she can boastfully say that “Yes, I am a GIRL”. That day will mark the beginning to a healthy society- a society that is equally balanced, equally open and welcoming.
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