Why is being an ideal Indian bahu such an ordeal? A woman shouldn’t have to pay a hefty fine only because she got married, right?
Don’t think, just say out loud, the first thing that comes to your mind when I say ‘ideal bahu.’
What was it? A young woman clad in a simple sari, her head covered by a pallu. She is probably holding a small child, taking care of her family and managing the house from morning till night. And she probably gets up before everyone and doesn’t sleep until everyone has gone to bed. She puts herself much below all her family members because she has been taught to treat her husband as God and in-laws as parents.
When I was young, my mother never taught me to fit into this mould of an ideal woman who did all the household chores while managing her career. In fact, she went out of her way to never involve me in cooking with her until I was around seventeen. Her reasoning for this was that she never wanted to see me as a housewife.
I know that in 2021, this may sound silly because most women with a matric certificate wish to earn their own living and become financially independent. But for my mother, it was never this easy. Despite being educated, she had to give up her career to raise her children and take care of the family. And now though, she has two grown-up children who can live on their own, she has lost the desire to work outside and accepted this as her destiny.
I applaud those women who sacrifice their dreams to make their children great individuals. However, I can safely say that there are those who do not wish to choose this life. They want to raise their kids well but not at the cost of giving up on their dreams. And certainly not when it’s against their will.
In many families, women are automatically expected to become the ideal daughter-in-law, walking on the footsteps of the mother-in-law. Be it simple requirements like wearing certain clothes that the family considers norm or laughing at all the distasteful jokes that the bhabhis and nanads make. There are certainly households where this is not the case, however, there are many more where this is a daily norm.
Indian society is the epitome of hypocrisy. What we find ridiculous when we see someone else do it, is a custom in our own family. We get offended with movies showing toxic masculinity but turn a blind eye when our fathers shout at our mothers for the most insignificant reasons. At the same time, we laugh at the overly accessorised ladies in Hindi daily soaps, but never realize when a new bride is forced to cover her head with pallu.
Why is being an ideal Indian bahu such an ordeal? A woman shouldn’t have to pay a hefty fine only because she got married, right? It’s high time we stop putting this pressure on women to be perfect in the eyes of her in-laws and allow her to love and embrace the new family without any inhibitions.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Hum Saath Saath Hain
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