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She was told to keep quiet, talk less & not smile at anyone. Thanks to ‘log kya kahenge,’ she almost forgot what her own voice sounded like.
It was a rainy evening and I went to the refreshment section of my office to have my coffee. Suddenly I heard a beautiful song that touched my heart while making me feel relaxed after a tiring day.
To my surprise, it was one of my colleagues singing. She was someone I never saw talking to anyone else. But here she was, sitting at a table in the corner, singing. I was glad to have heard her magical voice and approached her with a smile.
As I sat with her, I asked her the reason for her silence during the work hours. It was awkward as I could see her confused and guiltily looking around as if she’d committed a sin by singing a song. And it took all my courage to hold her shaking hand and take her into my confidence. She started to smile and soon a conversation began.
As she started sharing the story of her marriage, I got goosebumps all over my body. An artistic girl with lots of career achievements, she was suppressed by her husband. She was very talented and knew how to paint, and play instruments but wasn’t allowed to pursue any of it after she got married.
Her husband and in-laws constantly mocked her for her achievements which were the only pillar of strength for her. Despite her lovely voice, she wasn’t allowed to sing bhajans during the puja at their house.
She was always told that her voice would make children cry and would disturb the neighbours. And she was told to keep quiet, talk less and not smile at anyone.
I didn’t know what to say. She told me about the mental and physical abuse her family put her through, simply because she wanted to speak! I got teary-eyed when she told me that she’d forgotten what her voice sounded like!
Even her parents didn’t support her as they feared the patriarchal society. She was constantly told that this is how married life would be – the women listened to their in-laws and husbands. That this was the only way to respect the husbands.
The ‘log kya kahenge’ tag is always added while talking to a married woman. Women are taught and trained to think about that tag first, especially if they decide to move forward in their lives by breaking all the chains.
It sounds weird but it is true! I could see a very talented person sitting before me, having a great conversation that brightened my soul from within. It takes a lot of courage to speak about your issues to someone.
I could feel the intense emotion right that she was experiencing as she got the freedom to speak, to hear her voice, and no doubt she was enjoying it.
In this era where people like to become the voice of the voiceless, it was a pity to think of this woman who couldn’t even use her own voice. I started analysing the moment when she shared her views regarding the office and her work.
Then, I remembered how she was unable to communicate properly with our colleagues. This eventually led to the failures in her professional life. And the only cause behind all this was the mental abuse she suffered through her life.
She would take leaves during the night shift and would often run home before our exit time. Her family didn’t allow her to attend any gatherings at the office, and neither was she allowed to attend her family gatherings.
She was very creative but never shared her views with anyone because she was trained to think, ‘log kya kahenge.’ The consequences of this were very clear as she remained isolated most of the times and started loving her loneliness. She couldn’t grow either professionally or personally since she wasn’t happy from within.
With a smile on my face, I asked her to breathe for five minutes. And I explained the power of articulation to her and told her that our internal state of happiness makes us work in a different unique way. When we learnt the art of peace, we enjoy the beauty of life. We need to understand that the society is full of log kya kahenge but we have the sole autonomy to our lives in the way we choose to live.
All of us are filled with enormous powers that cannot be beaten upon by the other, it is just a matter of our own mindset. When we are unable to think beyond boundaries we are taught for a long time, that is exactly when we need to break out of them for our own growth.
We need to explore our feelings with the goal of achieving self-connection. Thinking about ‘log kya kahenge’ all the time or when you need to make proper decisions will only lead one to feel distressed. We may face failure and be surrounded by all kinds of negative emotions.
When we start developing positivity within and around us, we contribute as well as gain those positive vibes from society. And when we move ahead in our life, it is the society that never stops praising us. But when we fail, it never stops blaming us.
Hence, it solely depends on us – the way we want to create our society. Rather than thinking about ‘log kya kahenge,’ one must think about one’s self-contentment. Remember: “Society doesn’t create us but we create society!”
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Dayaan
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Assistant Professor by profession, Social entrepreneur, Human Rights activist & Content Writer.
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