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Girls have to make all the sacrifice - leave their own homes, family, parents and go to their in-laws' place. Is it surprising that parents want only boys, asks Radha Sawana.
Girls have to make all the sacrifice – leave their own homes, family, parents and go to their in-laws’ place. Is it surprising that parents want only boys, asks Radha Sawana.
Recently my brother got engaged. Post engagement, we all traveled to his fiancee’s quaint little hometown in Jharkhand to meet her extended family. Hers is a perfect example of the big Indian family, the kind where aunts, uncles and cousins abound. As I watched them, and her, I felt a familiar pang in my heart. Before I knew it, I had traveled four years into the past, to my last trip home as an unmarried girl. It was Diwali.
It was a special vacation, like every other Diwali. And then, it was a bit extra special, because it was my last Diwali with my parents and my brother – the next one would be after my marriage, to be celebrated with my in-laws. It was as if, this one time, it was less about Diwali, and more about me.
My brother was by my side all the time. We made wreaths of marigold together, while dad hung them at every door. Even these simple moments felt surreal, somehow. Did my brother always do all this work, or did he wake up late and crib about it? He even sat by my side for some time while I made the rangoli, and then made me wear a saree for the Pooja. “It’s our last Diwali together,” he insisted, “the least you can do is wear something nice!”
Shiva, the young fellow who helps mom in the house, also played his part. Don’t soil your hands, didi. It’s too heavy for you didi. Leave this, I will do it, didi. Leave that too, I will do it. Wait, let me fill up the colours in this design. You just go sit inside, there are too many mosquitoes here. I will do everything. Was I always such a princess? Maybe mom won’t really miss me after all, Shiva will do everything for her.
My grandmother too called in the morning. “Pay attention to the pooja proceedings,” she suggested. “You would need to do all that by yourself next year.”
Aunts, buas, chachis and mamis all called – “Rest up Radha, next year onwards it will be all work and no play in your sasuraal. Oh, how would your parents be feeling right now?!”
I wondered about that too. I am not quite sure about what my dad felt – he, like me, doesn’t express his emotions easily. But mom, well mom suddenly needed me everywhere. Is this saree fine? These bangles should go well with the get-up, don’t you think? What are you wearing for the evening? Come, let me show you how we arrange the thali for Pooja. Did you decide what rangoli you want to draw? We need to change the curtains and the cushions too! Did you decide what you want to wear for the evening? And after the rangoli is done, you need to put up the diyas outside. How many diyas do you want? I have three plates full of them. And, oh, What are you wearing for the evening?
Was it always the same, I wondered. Did I always draw the rangoli, and handpick mom’s sarees? Did I always oversee the cushion changing and the curtain hanging? And if I did, who would do it now, in my absence?
Suddenly, it all became overwhelming. There was a lump in my throat, and I felt uneasy. I wanted to cry, to go back in time and relive my Diwalis. I wanted more – more of my house, my family, of mum’s fussing and dad’s quiet attention, of my brother and Shiva and grandmother and aunts. It was so unfair, I wanted to cry.
The final straw was the phone call from my fiance’s parents, now my in-laws. They were so excited! We are waiting for you, my father-in-law said. Next year, you will be with us, and already we have imagined how it would be like to have you. It’s been a silent Diwali since Janhavi left, but now you will be here! We are so looking forward to it.
I am not, I wanted to tell him, I am not looking forward to your Diwali. But I just tried to smile on the other side. Inside, I was screaming. What of my mother, and my father, and their home? My home? What of my brother, I wanted to ask him, but I stayed quiet. Silently my tears flowed, as I nodded and smiled, and tried not to hate the voice on the other end. It had the right to be excited, I told myself. They gave their own daughter away to marriage, didn’t they?
And then, it hit me. Not like a thunderbolt from the outside, but like a sudden flood of understanding from the inside. I realised I could never blame those who wanted a son. Wasn’t it obvious? Sooner or later, daughters just left. With all their smiles, cheers, their choice of cushions and mummy’s sarees, they left. But sons, they brought another daughter home. To stay.
Earlier Published at author’s Blog.
Image Source Pixabay
Born a bookworm, trained as a chemistry researcher, grew up to be a business professional, with some writer on the side. I firmly believe that all problems reside inside, and so do their solutions. read more...
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As he stood in front of his door, Nishant prayed that his wife would be in a better mood. The baby thing was tearing them apart. When was the last time he had seen his wife smile?
Veena got into the lift. It was a festival day, and the space was crammed with little children dressed in bright yellow clothes, wearing fancy peacock feather crowns, and carrying flutes. Janmashtami gave her the jitters. She kept her face down, refusing to socialize with anyone.
They had moved to this new apartment three months ago. The whole point of shifting had been to get away from the ruthless questioning by ‘well-wishers’.
“You have been married for ten years! Why no child yet?”
I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
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