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When we give up on our identities to serve our families, a time comes when we question our self worth. Sima's story shows us this reality.
When we give up on our identities to serve our families, a time comes when we question our self worth. Sima’s story shows us this reality.
Sima has been living at her parents’ home for the past two weeks. Her children are also staying with her. Pranay has not called her yet.
Everyday she hopes that he would call but so far he has not. On the outside, she appears to not care when her mother gives her the questioning look about her beloved son-in-law.
But deep inside, she is drowning in deep water and feeling suffocated.
Sima and Pranay have been married for ten years now. Sima has not looked for a job after she got married.
Why would she anyway? Pranay’s father enjoys rent from two high rise buildings in Mumbai and Pranay runs a consultancy firm; money has never been an issue.
She felt her sole focus should be on her children, their education and taking care of the household.
But today, Sima feels she has lost her own identity in the process of taking care of everyone around her. Who is she?
Her mother-in-law calls her ‘Bahu’, to Pranay’s friends and office staff she is Bhabhi, to her children she is Mummy.
She cannot even claim that her surname belongs to herself only as she used her father’s surname before marriage and now her husband’s after marriage.
Many women like Sima suffer from identity crisis at some point in life after spending years only looking after husband, children and their households.
They do not pursue or complete education, understand the importance of establishing a career or even pick up any hobby because they become so attached to family life which they make their first and only priority.
Some even lose connection with close family members like cousins they grew up with and old school friends.
In the process of focusing so hard and taking care of family only, they find themselves completely lonely, with nothing to do and no one to share their problems or spend time with as their children grow up and leave home.
Women need to realise the importance of pursuing their own interests and balancing other relations alongside performing family responsibilities. It is extremely important for positive mental and physical health as well as to help personal relationships to flourish in the long run.
Most men go to work everyday. They have no restrictions when they want to spend time with male friends or colleagues. Nobody asks them who is going to cook dinner or put the baby to sleep if you are always out.
There is no one to raise finger at a man if he does not share responsibilities at home but we create all these barriers for women if they want to do anything for themselves or invest their time elsewhere.
Unless an individual feels happy with their own identity, they cannot make anyone else happy or feel happy in a relationship.
To achieve that, women need to build our own identity, be allowed and encouraged to do what makes them happy and build their own social circle outside the kitchen and home.
It could be anything from traveling with girlfriends from school/work to taking up a language course or even starting an online boutique business.
Pursuing such interests and doing something for herself can not only help a woman to develop her self esteem but also understand her purpose of existence which is not simply for taking care of her husband and children.
Image source: a still from the film English Vinglish (YouTube)
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"I chose to go out into the remote, wild, unknown, and make it home," says entrepreneur Kiranjeet Ahluwalia Chaturvedi, who owns Birdsong & Beyond.
The story of my mountain home Birdsong & Beyond started taking shape in 2009, on the internet, the way many stories do these days.
My childhood fascination for a life in the Himalayas led to an internship with a central Himalayan NGO instead of a much prized corporate assignment. But when they offered me a full-time job, I refused. I was overcome by fear and a lack of confidence.
My other longings pulled me away – the longing to fit in, to earn validation from others. By my mid-30s, with all the trappings of a middle-class urban life in place, the call of the snows couldn’t be ignored anymore. So I got to work on it with clearer intentions and a stronger sense of what I needed for myself, and why.
Many Indian elderly are firm believers in enslaving a daughter-in-law in the name of tradition which is actually a tradition of oppression and not of religious faith.
Albeit, the popular culture has interpreted scriptures as suggesting that Kanyadaan is the supreme form of donation given to someone, the connotation that the word donation alludes to definitely objectifies the girl.
Even when the exegesis justify the act of giving away the daughter, considering it a ritual to mark the initiation of the daughter into her husband’s gotra and her becoming the part of his family tree.
There is no denial of the fact that this initiation is not required on the part of the groom thereby formally denoting the end of the filial ties with the daughter as it was popularly instructed to the bride during the Vidai ceremonies:
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