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“What is it if it is not ‘lockdown’ every time we visit your parents? How you are a silent observer? Asking me to bear with it since it is only a few days!”
“I don’t understand why is there such hue and cry over lockdown?”
I was really frustrated by the bombardment of WhatsApp messages and jokes on lockdown. Now on National TV, experts were discussing the ‘depression’ and mental anxiety after seven days of lockdown.
“It’s natural! Imagine being confined to home, leading a routine life with nothing productive to do and seeing the same faces every day. Feeling depressed is quite normal.” The comment from the ‘man of the house’ said in a light tone broke the barrier created and preserved for centuries.
“Oh really! Then what you have to say about the lockdown the women have faced since God knows when…”
He interrupted me. “Don’t be melodramatic. What lockdown? It was the role defined by society. With changing time the role has changed and so has the position of women in the society. How many women do you know whose life is still restricted by the norms of society? They are free to move around in their chosen life. You talk about. Has anyone stopped you from living the life you wished to live?”
Now it was my turn to interrupt him. “Yes. I have been stopped. In fact, every year I face the ‘lockdown’ and it has your support too.”
He gave me a blank look.
“What is it if it is not ‘lockdown’ every time we visit your parents or my sasural? Remember how you are a silent observer to it? Asking me to bear with it since it is a matter of only a few days!”
I could sense his silence. He didn’t utter a word after that. Neither did I say anything. But the silence between us was filled by the memories of the ‘lockdown’ which was forced on me year after year, sometimes even twice or thrice a year, every time I visit my sasural.
It was definitely not for my safety.
And that’s the irony with the memory. Good memories fade away. The bad ones linger on. They are always there, reminding you about it till the wound becomes deeper and deeper, waiting to ooze out even at the slightest provocation.
It was my first visit to my sasural. They wanted me know their culture and traditions and wanted me to spend some time with my parents-in-law. I was supposed to live there for about a month. It was quite natural. After all, when you marry a person, you marry a family! In my fantasy, I had dreamt about the way I will adopt my marital home and the family.
But dreams are meant to be broken.
Coming from a progressive family, I was unaware of the culture and traditions. Those created by the women to torture and subdue their own community- the women. In the name of parda system, I was confined to the room which I could leave only when my father-in-law was not around.
It was an ‘honour’ for the bahu to be provided ‘room service’ where breakfast, lunch, and dinner was served in the room where I ate alone. With no electricity, TV, music system, no one to talk to, and nowhere to go, even a minute had 60 seconds which passed at a snail’s pace. And mind you, this was the pre-mobile era.
Often I thought that life in jail would have been better. At least, they had other prisoners residing with them.
The memory of the first experience was refreshed during every visit. But the only silver lining was soon I had my children as saviours. With their growing age, the duration of the visits shrunk from months to weeks to a few days. Still, I dreaded those visits.
Every year, it was the same story. We went there. I entered the home. And exited it only for our return journey- the countdown to which began the day I entered.
My life there was confined to my room, the kitchen, and the bathroom. Some times to the hall but with ‘conditions apply.’ The dining room was still beyond the limits.
This was definitely not ‘my home.’ How could it be? I was frustrated because I let it happen. The feminist in me was not even requesting human behavior. Demand for equality was out of the question.
I was disappointed and whenever I try to stand for me, even my husband didn’t stand beside me. In the darkness of night, he used to whisper into my ear, “It’s just a matter of a few days. Once you are back in our home, you are free to live the way you wish. Do it for the happiness of my parents. They are old, we can’t expect them to change for us.”
Why it should be, even if it is a matter of even a few hours? I wished to ask but never did.
There is a limit to everything, even the limit to let others control our lives. Once again it was my mother-in-law’s desire that I spend the entire summer vacation with her.
Her messenger happened to be the husband came to convey it to me: “They are old. It’s the children’s summer vacation. So why don’t the three of you go and stay with them? It will make them happy…”
“Why don’t you go there with the children and a life-size cut-out of my photograph and get it installed in our room? It will suffice your mother’s wish and will keep me happy. So it will be a win-win solution for all, isn’t it?”
The silence between us stretched for a few days. But it was far better than the lockdown I ditched.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie 2 States
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Full time homemaker and part time writer, I write when emotions overflow and I want
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