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“The curfew talk again! Earlier it was my parents, then the hostel incharge and now you!” She was frustrated of constantly hearing the same over and over again.
Samaira woke up early that weekend and went straight to the living room where her dad was reading the newspaper. He looked at her from the corner of his eye and without a single twitch, went back to reading.
Catching that, she said, “Dad!! I know you saw me. Stop ignoring.”
“You’re up so early on a Saturday. I am sure you will ask me something and the answer to it will be no,” dad responded.
“Yes Dad. Actually, my friends are going on a trek.”
“C’mon dad. You know what I am asking. Please let me go. Throughout school, you never let me go for a sleepover at a friend’s place. You didn’t even let me go for the school excursion. Now am in college,” she tried to be assertive.
Dad didn’t even glance up from the paper before saying, “That’s an old thing now. Which friends are going? Ritu? She smokes.”
Samaira was vexed. How she wanted to tell her dad that she was the one who introduced Ritu to the cigarettes. Not the other way round.
And to add to it, her mother said,”We trust you. But not the others with you.”
Samaira was close to tears, “Oh mom? I have been hearing this since childhood. When do I live?”
“At your age, I was taking care of the whole house. All you want to do is to go fooling around with your useless friends. The world is not safe for girls.”
“You are the one who will one day happily bid me adieu after getting me married off to a stranger,” she retorted angrily.
Dad had, by now, put down his paper and calmly said, “Stop arguing. When your parents say no, it’s a no. No further discussion. Keep in mind your parents are smarter.”
“Parents are humans too. They can make silly decisions too,” she said.
Dad and Mom looked at Samaira angrily. And dad said, “Wherever you go with your friends, you go and come back in two hours.”
Samaira, stomped her feet on the ground and all but yelled, “Ok fine! I won’t go.”
She ran her room and banged the door, hard.
Her mom remarked, “We are not like our neighbours, the Ahujas. Sending their daughter everywhere.”
Samaira’s dad nodded in agreement and continued with the newspaper.
The next few years passed by quite peacefully and after completing her graduation, Samaira went to a different city for her masters. She felt a sense of freedom till she met the hostel incharge, Mr. Singh.
On her first day in the hostel, he told her, “No boyfriends allowed in the hostel. The curfew for the hostel is 6:30 pm that means you have to be in the premises before that.”
She called her parents that night and said, “The hostel curfew is. 6:30 pm. Can you beat that? I mean, life in the city starts at that time!”
Her dad responded, “You can roam around the world with your husband once you get married!”
Samaira was annoyed at her dad’s response and the hostel curfew. She couldn’t live her life the way she wanted. All she wanted was a breath of freedom, it would’ve been therapeutic! Unfortunately, ever since she was a child, she was hounded by these curfews.
The two years of her post-graduation went by as peacefully as they could and after finishing her education, she started working for an MNC. She was to wed a boy of her choice and was financially independent. For the first time, her parents didn’t stop her. How could they? The boy earned well and belonged to the same religion too.
Few months into the marriage, Samaira and her husband, Ashish, went shopping. She found a beautiful dress and tried it on at home. “Ashish, doesn’t this look just perfect? It’s exactly what I was looking for to wear at the office party!”
Ashish was confused, “Office party?”
“Oh yeah. I must have forgotten to tell you. Next Saturday, I have a dinner party with my colleagues at Westin. I’m so excited!”
“Dinner?” he responded.
Samaira looked at him, “Yeah. Why? What happened?”
“Samaira, you can’t go out so late in the night. There will be drunk people around. I trust you, babe, but not the others. You can go only when all of you meet up for lunch, during the day.”
These words were so familiar to Samaira. “The curfew talk again! Earlier it was my parents, then the hostel incharge and now you!” She was frustrated.
Samaira did have it her way this time, but she constantly kept hearing the same things over and over again.
When men feel like going on a date, sleeping at a friend’s place, partying late at night and getting tipsy, they do that. But when women have a desire for anything that involves leaving the house they know they ‘cannot.’
A version of this article was first published here.
Picture credits: Pexels
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