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As we daughters grow up to be women, we understand the marital problems that were between our parents. We need to stand by our mothers who surely have suffered as wives.
Society is like a paradigm of patriarchal politics that suffocates women, aligning itself as the centre. Women have been subjugated since ages; still don’t dare to go against the grain.
While growing up, I saw a patriarchal milieu in my house, without even understanding it. I experienced it when my father came home late, and got violent with my mother. It was one of those nights when I, a 10 year old got up in the midnight, realizing that my mother had just been slapped a few minutes back. I couldn’t understand those nights, as I do now. Now I do understand, what my father needed those nights. He needed sex.
I am a grown-up woman now, and I completely understand the structure, and fragility of my mother’s body. She is a mother of three daughters. Needless to say, she has gone through a few miscarriages, all in hope for a son. I have heard many of my relatives saying, “A family is always incomplete without a Son”. Fortunately, my parents failed to have one.
Periods, forced sex, labour pain, and miscarriages were not all that my mother suffered. She got a slipped disc (herniated), a condition which refers to a problem with a rubbery disc between the spinal bones. She couldn’t get up without help, and I was her help at 10 years of age. In the midst of all this, I couldn’t understand the aggression of my father.
It’s a question that has stuck with me. Did my mother owe sex to my father? Did my father have the right to force himself on her? Were those violent nights were a consequence of trying to say ‘No’ to my father? Who was responsible, my father, mother or the way this society has raised them?
My parents are middle-aged now. Their experiences in life are evolving; so is their relationship. But this doesn’t lessen the crime that my father has committed, knowingly or unknowingly.
Being a grown-up woman myself, I understand the humiliation and pain comes with forceful sex. It takes away a woman’s self- respect and pride. It takes away her rights not only over her body but over her marital relationship. My mother, just like many other women in the society, was a slave to patriarchy, and got married to procreate and fulfill her husband’s sexual desires.
It makes me think of the demands usually made by husbands. They expect their wives to be the mother to their babies, a motherly wife who feeds them thrice a day, and a seductress at night, who wears sexy lingerie, and lures them (men) to have sex with them. They want their wives to ask for sex.
Was my mother failing to fulfill these expectations? Was she failing in being a wife? No, she wasn’t, but my father failed as a husband.
He failed to be a supportive husband.
He failed to empathize with the pain and exhaustion that comes with motherhood and household responsibilities.
He even failed to understand that my mother needed some open space, freedom, and time to get back to herself after delivering three babies, and miscarriages.
My father is evolving now; considering his old age, I do not question him. But I do not forgive him, either. My mother still cries remembering those years, and considers herself a survivor. But I’d rather call her a warrior that I never want to be in my life.
All I am certain of now, is that we need to realize that whether our mothers share their experiences with us or not, they never owed sex to our fathers. Instead, our fathers owed gratitude to our mothers.
Header image is a still form the movie Lipstick Under My Burkha
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