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Right from my childhood, people have always said nasty things about me – from my looks to my career to my wedding too! Was my only fault that I am a woman?
“See that girl sitting on the last bench, looking outside the class not focusing on her studies? Such kind of girls become spoilt in their lives. Once out of school, they start drinking and smoking and leave their old parents behind to rot.” “25- year old can’t even make rotis.”
“You eat like a witch, laugh like a madwoman” “Acting so innocent, as if we don’t know how cunning you are” “My sister is very innocent, please don’t spoil her like yourself and don’t put ideas in her mind about feminism and equality. Stay with her like a normal roommate for a few days, until I find a suitable well-cultured hostel for her.”
“Just because you cleared few certifications and your name got mentioned in the paper once, you think yourself to be a successful writer.” “Who asked you to pay the bills and doctor’s fees, don’t show off your money to us.”
“Hey Ami, saw your you-tube video last night, it was so bad – super bad. Appeared as if you are a rabbit but not cute.” “Kamchor, all-time sitting with your laptop, just to avoid household chores.”
“24-hours work, work and work.” “Next time onwards, please don’t visit us if plan to bring your office work along.” “Your husband is no good, he can’t even control you. A strict husband would have been better for you, would have set your attitude straight.”
“You are looking like a kid, not a lady.” “Dress up like a married woman, the jeans that you wear shame the entire family.” “Thank God, you don’t have new assignments/work, now that you are married just focus on managing the house.”
“God, this lockdown is making you fat, do something and stop eating oily stuff!” “Ami, you are too difficult!” “Go read some books and rectify your behavioural problems.”
More than 10,873 days have passed since I was born but the snarls, abuses and personal comments have not left me for a day. Be it my spinster days or married ones, personal life or professional, everybody has an opinion to shove down my ears.
When I was a kid, I thought this bad behaviour from my relatives, family and teachers was because of my poor grades. So, thinking that it as all my fault I focused on improving my grades.
For me studying was really boring, memorising from textbooks just to score good marks in exams was never my cup of tea. In reality, I was a daydreamer. Imagining worlds that didn’t exist, reading fictional books and living the characters life, enjoying the fragrance of nature, listening to the bird’s voice…
Whenever I heard a sarcastic comment, I used to put the blame on my grades and moved on with my daydreaming. After school, came college. And whenever given a chance, I participated in various cultural activities and even won the Best Student award.
Elated, I thought finally I had proved myself and now things would go back to normal, my family would no longer feel ashamed of me and the complaints would stop. The day passed and nobody called.
Later, my mom informed that my entire family was disappointed in me. And that was because my cousin had spotted me roaming around with a boy outside the college campus. It was a co-ed college so I couldn’t avoid mixing with the boys. Not really understanding my fault, I decided to keep quiet and accept it.
But then, I decided to grab a good job and prove everyone wrong about being a failure and a spoilt girl. I still remember when my brother got placed in TCS, there was a celebration in the entire household. Everyone snatched the phone to congratulate him.
Finally, my hard work paid off and I also got placed in a company. However, instead of congratulation, I was bombarded with questions.
“How come you got such a good starting package; this job must be through a referral?” “Oh, it’s a KPO that explains the night shift and package” “Ah! night shift, you know what kind of girls do night shift?”
“HR Manager? Why did you do a B.Tech. then?” “She did not get placed because of her talent, got lucky because the hiring manager was a woman.”
After 6 months, the night shift took a toll and I decided to shift to Resume Writing. The decision hit my family like a Tsunami:
“This is a clerical job. She has brought to bring disgrace to our family.” “Resume writing, is this job for real?” “You wasted 4 years of our money in engineering.” “Just get her married and be done with it, it’s a shame to even stand with her in the same room, after all we are a family of doctors and engineers.”
I loved my job and found nothing wrong with it so continued with it. Except for my parents, everyone else severed all ties with me in order to teach me a lesson. After giving a break for a year or two, they all came back like zombies to eat me up with the marriage discussion.
Every other guy I met or dated later showed symptoms of male chauvinism so automatically I backed off or rejected many. Marriage was a big decision. And not wanting to land up in a situation like most of my unhappy aunts, I kept rejecting boys till I met ‘the one.’
I can write a book exclusively for the comments I received for showing the courage to reject boys, have multiple affairs and my passing age. Here are a few:
“My God, so many break-ups, she is always so confused.” “How long are you planning to sit in our head and cause us trouble, just get married and get out of this house!”
“Get a tantric (Priest) to clean her aura, maybe that might set her straight.” “The fault is not in her aura, but her fatness, who will marry this fatso.”
“Dant fokli (gap between teeth), dark skinned, and fat. God hasn’t given her one positive feature!” “Just pick a guy and marry, be done with it, find happiness in your children, no guy is perfect.”
Finally, I said yes to a nice guy, after dating him for two years. Due to the narrow mindedness of our society, I did not get a chance to meet or know his parents as I got with him.
Before saying yes, they met me for a few hours asked the standard household management related questions and that was it. My mind was clear about how my husband was going to be. But I had very little knowledge about my in-laws. From outside, everything looked perfect and in place.
Anyway, all dates were finalised not one of my relatives decided to show up. This was the time they chose to discuss all the family issues like property disputes, money matters and other pending issues like ‘Kaun kisko kab kya bola.’
I did most of my wedding shopping alone since my parents were busy convincing people to come and attend it. Since I had saved enough money, I used that and some help from my parents and have a destination wedding.
However, my relatives demanded to change the marriage date and venue as per their availability and convenience. Well as I am ‘too difficult,’ I decided to go as per my plan and wish. Luckily my parents sided with me.
A handful of relatives decided to show up at my wedding, but, all my friends and colleagues attended. For any girl, it is indeed a big day and sending her from one family to another should be filled with warmth and love. Because this is the last happy memory from her spinster year that she would carry with her for the rest of her life.
Now, after marriage is a different world, the chances of finding the perfect family or husband is very rare. Not impossible but ‘rare.’ So, it was my big day. And since I went to the parlour to get dressed as a bride, there was a mixed emotion in my heart.
I was scared for the new life that I was about to face. At the same time, I was really happy and excited to marry the person I love. Amidst all this emotional turmoil, I came back from the parlour feeling nostalgic. The first comments I received from my relatives:
“My God, how much did you spent on the lehenga? Just for Jaimala? What are you going to do about this after the wedding?” “Such a waste of money, this lehenga is!” “God, so much wastage of money in make-up and dress, looking like a golden pumpkin.”
“My God, what a shame not marrying as per our tradition, listening to the boy’s side!” “Don’t have money to give dowry, that is why listening to all the demands made by the groom’s side.”
The touches of sarcasm faded as I saw my to-be-husband standing on the stage with a full-face smile. Opinions from my family no longer mattered, for I will be leaving everything behind by sunrise.
Sadly, the biggest jolt I received in my life was on the next day of marriage. I can sum it by saying if my parent’s side can be classified as Garter snakes, then my in-laws are Black Mambas.
At least there was some ounce of love and respect from my parents and family members. In-laws were an alienated world with no love, respect or even care that I am a person. My husband tried his best to act as a mediator but soon declared defeat.
At 30, I finally realised what was my mistake all along – I was born a girl. On top of that since childhood, I have done what my heart wanted and chose an independent life. In our society, this is a crime, which I unknowingly committed on the day I was born.
As I move forward in life, I can go on with the comments and sarcasm that walk with me like a nasty shadow. Often to get rid of the shadow, the thoughts of ‘running away from everything’ and ‘ending my life’ have occurred to me. Of course, I know both options won’t solve any problems. I will live with the life I chose and won’t complain or run away from it.
In the name of culture and tradition and setting each other straight have we all forgotten our role as humans?
How hard it is to accept a simple concept that both boys and girls have equal rights? Treating a particular gender with disrespect is actually offensive. It also harms the mental health of the person and pushes them towards mental health issues.
A few days ago I told my husband, ‘All the sarcasm from your relatives is affecting my mental health.’
To this, he said, ‘The problem is you just take things too personally, learn to ignore and relax. Go do that meditation thing of yours.’
So, I only have one request to all the readers. The next time you get this strong urge to make a joke about someone’s failure or give an unasked opinion, try to change someone’s ways because you don’t approve of, just stop there, and don’t give that opinion!
You never know what the other person is going through, and your inputs can push that person off the edge. Thankfully, over the years I have grown strong and have totally blocked all negative people from my life.
Whether it is a relative or friend, anyone who says something that I find insulting or offensive, I straightway block that person. I know blocking away people at this rate will reduce my social circle. But I would rather be alone with my laptop and books than with toxic people. I have grown thick skin, but sadly there are many who don’t survive the constant mental abuses.
With the burden to meet high expectation, all of us has stopped living as a human. We all are just alive trying hard to fulfil everyone’s expectations.
God has given us, just one life to live. Why can’t we just live it happily and let others live?
Picture credits: Still from Marathi TV series Agga Bai Sasubai
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