Being a daughter-in-law in Indian society is not easy. However hard she tries to make a place for herself in the new family, she is forever judged.
Times have changed and we see so many deep rooted notions coming to an end by the logical questioning of the Millennials and Post Millennial generation. It has somewhere enabled Generation- X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generations to reflect before narrating about the long prevailing notions and their repercussions.
Whether they are convinced or they have given-up on answering to the rationale produced is a big question. But, the fact is that yes the misconceptions which had given birth to different oafish ideologies are slowly getting submerged into deep vacuum. Yes, they are reaching their last days. Happy to see the evolution of a different world. It would definitely be a better place to live in.
But, I was recently dismayed to hear 2 stories from different people which made me contemplate that even if times are changing for good, the sense of acceptance for a specific category has not yet stabilized. Small nuances in the day to day behaviour of families make it clear for the victim that they have been taken for granted, and shockingly these thick skinned people are a part of Millennial and Post millennial as well. Now the question is why??
The category I am referring to here is the category called as ‘Woman’ who step into a different role as soon as they get married and become a ‘Bahu’ (daughter in law) or “Bhabhi” (Sister in law).
Though, these are family matters and I hold no right in barging in anybody’s family but, I want to raise a question for the whole community of Bahus and Bhabhis (community of daughters-in-law and sisters-in-law). Two very trivial incidents that impacted me so much so that, they made me think about it really seriously, and conclude that one needs a BIG heart to accept a girl of a different family as your own.
The fact is that she is still being treated as a 2nd class citizen in the family. The life of a woman if she is a Beti (daughter) or a Behan (sister) is different from the life of a Bahu (daughter in law) or a Bhabhi (sister in law).
In today’s world when we talk about equality of gender, why is that she is expected to make all sorts of compromises or behave in the most ‘appropriate’ manner even if the other members of the family just do the opposite of the stipulated code of conduct? Is this justifiable? Is it equality?
These 2 incidents are true stories which I could witness as they happened with one of my friends and acquaintances respectively.
A man marries a woman (love marriage). The man is a businessman and the woman is a well established teacher in one of the reputed schools. The man is somehow not satisfied with his father’s business and wants to explore. Instead of trying something in India, he rather tries to explore things in other countries.
Luckily he gets a job in another Asian country and he makes up his mind to move there with his newlywed wife. Parents, with a confused state of mind, agree to his decision and stand strong with him for taking this chance. Mind you, that this decision is taken without taking consent from his wife who has a well established job of a teacher.
Once decided, the news is shared with the wife. There is a tussle and all the family members and even the the parents of the woman convince her to leave her job and to try and support her husband in his decision. Under all pressures, she finally resigns and leaves for that country. Her husband immediately resumes work there and the wife is in a state of settling down in the new country, new house while she looks out for a teacher’s job.
After a few months or so, the girl luckily gets a job of a teacher in a school near her house. She starts to work and life gradually gets smoother. The woman finally settles down with her job and finds the country also welcoming. She feels great there, in comparison to the difficulties she used to face in her own country.
Finally, she is happy for supporting her husband. On the other hand, the husband who has always been in business through-out in his life is not finding his new job comfortable. He can’t take commands or orders from his seniors and he finds his salary meager as compared to what he enjoyed when he was taking care of his dad’s business.
He starts talking to his family about his dissatisfaction in his job. So finally he decides that he shall quit his job there and move back to India into his own business.
Again nothing is discussed with the wife. One fine day she gets to know that her husband would be resigning from the job and has made up his mind to move back. She is extremely happy and settled in the new environment, the culture, the people around, her job and all comforts.
She is then asked, coaxed and commanded by the in-laws to quit from her job where she worked for around 7 months in the new country. Once again the woman succumbs under pressure and has to leave the fulfilling job for her husband and they both move back to India.
The man is back in his business and the woman finds it really difficult to get herself a reasonably good job, and has to sit at home.
My question is – had it been the woman who had made such erratic decisions, what would be the support given to her from her husband or their respective families?
A daughter-in-law makes a decision and requests her family members to not have a family get together at her place. She does so as, her son, who is a little weak in studies, is undergoing board exams and she genuinely doesn’t want him to get disturbed. It being the most critical year for him, she requests to have the get together at somebody else’s house for that day.
In turn, her bhabhi makes a snide remark saying “She is one of the most annoying women we have in our family. She can ruin the family and is capable to break the bond between the siblings with her attitude.”
This ‘Anti-Bhabhi‘ lecture goes on for a few minutes with unwarranted gossip. All the listeners too start feeling as to what an unaccommodating lady the woman in question is.
I feet this is a genuine request any parent would make. Then there was another discussion which took place where that lady mentioned something about her own father-in-law who is a little conservative and is not active in any family get-togethers. She, this time was a little polite about mentioning him, that he doesn’t allow much gatherings in his house.
After describing her uneasiness with her father-in-law’s attitude she abruptly says, “It’s his (father in law) nature only. He is not bad otherwise but we should not expect much from him because he is very reserved in nature and we should accept him as he is. In fact we should adjust a little to make peace in the family.”
I wanted to ask her a question as to why this disparity in understanding and accepting two individuals in almost similar situations. But, I somewhere knew that this would lead to arguments destroying the sanctity of that wedding ceremony. She announced the whole world how crooked her sister-in-law is and I am sure the listeners would have also taken her the way that lady drafted her character. Nobody would bother to even listen to her side of story and a judgement would be made.
I am sure the readers out there would relate and will have similar stories to tell which are trivial from an outsider’s perspective, but it actually makes a lot of difference to the lady who is asked to compromise or is erroneously labelled by her own family members.
We still have a long way to go!
Image Source: YouTube/Kyu Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
Ruchi is a new person who has dared to break all walls of monotony in life, a dreamer, a learner and likes to derive inspiration in all situations she is into.
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This strange love story reminds me of Princess Diana when she gave an interview about Prince Charles - "There were three of us in this marriage!”
This love was flawed and broken the way only we humans know how to break things with our ego, pride, insecurity and complexities!
Where do I even begin to tell the story of how deep a love can be, how it transcends time, place and people. Perhaps this is a story about how women are their own worst enemies. Either way it is a story that tells us how frail, fragile and fraught we are as humans and how much we hurt each other.
This love story began when I was two years old. Growing up in India in a culture that wove love stories like Laila Majnu, Heer Ranjha and the epic symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, into the very fabric of our existence, love was always an integral part of our lives.
One such love story was of a boy and a girl who were neighbours. The boy, an athlete, artist and a poet, found his muse in this shy, thoughtful and in her own way poetic girl, who seemed to worship the very ground he walked on. Her face could be found in all the paintings he created, and her name in every poem he wrote. The girl called him Sagar, which means ocean, symbolizing his all-encompassing love for her.
Everything thing was going well; their wedding date was being finalized, till the boy’s older brother who was a doctor in the same little town, got accepted into Stanford Medical School to do his MS.
Earlier my husband would say, 'Arey! What is there in making dal-roti? It's so simple.' After he had to cook everyday when I was ill, he has stopped saying that to me!
“Arey! What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?” A handful of dal (lentils) and two rotis! This is the story of every woman and no one seems to understand.
Some time ago, after a shopping spree, my husband and I entered the house, exhausted. I had just about kept all the bags aside, when my husband said, “I am very hungry, can you make something.”
I looked at my husband in amazement and thought, ‘He had just had food, how did he get hungry again so soon?’
My husband, as if he had read my face, said, “Arey! You know that my stomach is not filled with outside food. Just make dal roti. What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?”
‘Is this the way dal (lentils) and roti are made?’ The thought came to my mind. ‘After all, I also went along and now I am tired too.’ I was also getting angry at myself that after all, I had spoiled the habit of everyone in the house.
It is tough being an Indian daughter-in-law. Can we so-called 'cultured' people accept her as an individual and spare a thought for her comfort?
It is tough being an Indian daughter-in-law. Can we so-called ‘cultured’ people accept her as an individual and spare a thought for her comfort?
Reel life is poles apart from the real life. Otherwise a daily show on television presenting a robot as a perfect bahu (daughter-in-law), would not have generated so much laughter.
Well it is a light-hearted comedy, where a robotic daughter-in-law is trying to please her mother-in-law, despite mummiji’s ( mother-in-law’s) displeasure for her, as her son has gone in for, so called love marriage.
But reality is different, in real life things are not as funny as the show and that is the harsh reality of life. Our society has preference for the male child, as he will be the caretaker of parents in the ‘sunset’ years, where sons are also seen as investments of old age. Though things have changed drastically now, as even daughters are getting the equal rights and share in the property as sons, which is good. But things are only limited till rights, they are still not given the responsibility of taking care of the parents, as they do not want to burden the daughters.
Yes, Yes - Happy Daughter's Day. But it is such a paradox. We celebrate this one day, but do we really celebrate our daughters otherwise?
Yes, Yes – Happy Daughter’s Day. But it is such a paradox. We celebrate this one day, but do we really celebrate our daughters otherwise?
This may sound like a cliche. But it’s not. You may think it’s not relevant in present times, but it is. Because this is not about our nannis or daddis but it’s about our generation and coming generations.
Even in this millennial age we still hear the blessing ‘suputra praptirastu’. May you have sons. Right? Why have we never heard ‘suputrika praptirastu’? Why? Have we ever thought?
Yes, it’s 2020. We often hear or watch the success stories of women who are progressing in various fields. They are flying jets, running organisations, heading institutions and doing many more things. So then we find people saying “Times have changed. Women are given equal status. Daughters are treated equally with sons. They are being educated. So stop crying foul.”