If You Are A Good Woman, And A Good Wife, Shut Up!

The only thing tying them together was that they fell instantly and deeply in love with each other, and couldn’t seem to ever get over it. Wasn't it enough?

The only thing tying them together was that they fell instantly and deeply in love with each other, and couldn’t seem to ever get over it. Wasn’t it enough?

He woke up with a smile on his face, comfortable in the knowledge that he had a good home, a nice family and an easy life. His work from home routine allowed him to spend enough time with his beloved family. It just so happened that they were the kind of family who spoke very little to each other or sometimes, not at all.

She woke up next to him, trying to smile back, comfortable in his arms, in her life and their big house. Alas, just not comfortable in her mind and heart. On the surface, there really was nothing that she could complain about. She was happy and in a place that could be called home.

But is that ever enough? Is it enough to live in a big house, even if you don’t have your parents, siblings, or grandparents living with you? And is it enough to be happy with that one person, even if your heart aches for the ten others you grew up with?

They were different but together

The two lives, though merged now, had started out completely different and were still living two different realities. He was a South Indian who came from a humble background and had built a good business from nothing.

She came from an elite, upper middle class family, with a joint-family-type North Indian culture. Without much to worry about, the chatter in her house and the joy in her heart were often infinite. She was a pampered princess while he was a hardworking businessman.

The only thing that tied them together was that they had fallen instantly and deeply in love with each other, and couldn’t seem to ever get over it. 

But isn’t the fact that the society even allowed this inter-caste love marriage enough to keep her happy? Isn’t having a good enough life, without abuse and struggles, enough? Aren’t the educated men of today beyond those typical, patriarchal thoughts?

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The answer is no, no and no.

He gets the identity and she has to be his shadow

In India, the man gets to be the man of the house, take care of his parents, make all the decisions. And he gets to ask the woman to shut up because her opinion doesn’t matter. It would always be his family, his house, his money and she would always be the outsider living with them. She will be the woman who happens to be his wife, who gave birth to his child, who ‘just’ did this or that.

The man makes his own identity while the woman is introduced as his wife. Beyond being a good wife, mother or daughter-in-law, people do not care too much about what else she does in her free time (unless it gives way to good gossip of course)

It is the way the Indian society works. Theoretically, the system makes sense for the elderly to have some kind of a support system. They need their ‘sons’ to bring joy into their lives, which can often feel purposeless – since they stopped doing anything after a certain age. And so, every woman compromises, sacrifices and adjusts so her husband’s family can be happy and at peace. 

But the same family which she gave up her own family for, accepted as her own and changed her whole life to fit into, turns against her. They interrogate her as if she were a witness in court, judge her every step like that of a criminal’s. And they crucify her every time she brings up ‘home.’ They keep expecting her to treat them as if they were her actual family, barely treating her like an actual individual with a her own identity.  

She has to all exactly as she is told

The sad part is that every woman can only ‘try’ to be a part of the so-called family she works so hard for.  She will not be considered an integral part of it until she is 30 or 40 years old. Neither will be given the due respect until she has a child she can call her own. She won’t be loved unconditionally unless she does exactly as she is told. 

Those are the rules of the society that we live in. And if she can’t follow these rules, the woman deserves all the humiliation, rejection and insults coming her way. 


Author’s Note: This isn’t a direct reality of my life. However, I have taken inspiration from my love story and incidents I learnt about from women around me. My counselling practice brings the realisation of many more such prevalent issues to the forefront.

Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie English Vinglsih

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About the Author

Haswata Sunil Harlalka

Mrs India 2020-2021 | Internationally Bestselling Author | CMO, Seobal Business Solutions | Speaker | Coach | GlobeTrotter | Altruist Haswata is an Internationally Bestselling Author, Speaker, Coach and Entrepreneur. She is also a World Record Holder for the book read more...

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