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‘No offence, but ladies work, study & pursue their hobbies. You do well too, but there’s nothing very special like you don’t excel anywhere.’
I guess I was married a bit too young, almost immediately after college. Perhaps, that’s why I wasn’t prepared for what lay in store for me and neither did I have any friends to turn to for advice. My mother and dadi had also always shared a very cordial relation. I wasn’t brought up in a joint family and wasn’t familiar with the pros and cons of this until…
I came to understand the real meaning of peer pressure after marriage. Nothing, absolutely nothing I did was ever as good as the bahu next door. How? Here goes.
I continued with my music classes post-marriage, my parents always thought I was a good singer and so did my friends and immediate family. It was only after marriage that I realized a certain ABC’s bahu sang so much better. Thus, my classes were of no use as I wasn’t performing in concerts. But nobody in your own family sings, I wished to say, but I somehow refrained.
I always took pride in my degree and my teaching job. In fact, I was brought up believing that teaching was one of the noblest professions. I worked after marriage and that was no problem. But you know what the problem was? It was that a certain DEF’s bahu was employed in an IT firm and earned much more. Am I not a breadwinner too, I wanted to question, but kept mum, fearing a backlash.
The two years of post-graduation after delivery was the most difficult phase of my life, with a year old son, a job and piling academics. My son was well taken care of, I’ll be forever thankful. But when I received my certificate, I wasn’t showered with praises or congratulatory messages. Because a certain LMN’s bahu managed to complete all this and more with absolutely no help from anyone. But no one from your family is a post-graduate, I spoke in my mind. I didn’t speak out loud, lest it sounded ungrateful.
There was a constant comparison of my looks, dressing sense and motherly skills with several so-called accomplished women. I don’t even want to get into how often this was done to me.
It only took me five years to realise that I was just an average somebody who marvelled at the smallest accomplishment only to be informed later how minuscule it was.
One of those days, my in-laws happened to travel abroad and stay at uncle XYZ’s. Back home, they were all praises for uncle XYZ’s bahu. “She manages her job, her children, her chores, all so well. With no help whatsoever, not even a maid.”
Night fell and I happened to discuss it with my husband, as to why I was never appreciated in his household. He was quick to retort, “They feel that everybody does all that you do. No offence, but ladies do work, study and pursue their hobbies. You do well too, but you know there’s nothing very special, like, you don’t excel anywhere.”
It was my turn to correct him, “No sweetheart, there’s a special field wherein I excel. You know, be it ABC, DEF, LMN OR XYZ, any of their bahus would have left their sasural long back, had they been treated like me. Or at least, come up with a befitting reply to every taunt and jibe. I too could, but I won’t. Not because I’m weak or scared, but because my parents raised me to respect elders and forgive their mistakes.
“Moreover, if I resort to back answering, how would I be any better than them? I’m far above all that, I don’t believe in wasting my time in pointless arguments to prove my worth. So could any of your epitomes of success tolerate all this criticism all the time with such positivity and maturity and still go on giving their best? I bet they wouldn’t.”
While my husband stared at me aghast, I went ahead to complete my speech, “I’m special dear husband, there’s only One Me. And I’ll smile at every dig they make against me because I know I’m good and I don’t care.
“I won’t resort to any kind of negativity and neither will I dissolve your beloved family. You know why? Because at the end of the day, I know I’m the winner.”
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Kasauti Zindagi Kay 2
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