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Whether they are well-educated or not, married women are expected to cover their head, make perfectly round rotis and smile all the time!
A beautiful face, eyes cast down as dexterous hands washed a sink full of utensils. The veil on her face keeps slipping from her head as she tries to handle that and the utensils.
I greeted her with a hello and she responded with a cheerful smile. Then, I moved away, assuming she was just like all the other Rajpurohit women buried deep under the cacophony of the age-old purdah system.
She, however, surprised me when she came and sat with me and started talking to me. Not only were her educational qualifications awe-inspiring, but she also spoke to me in such eloquent and fluent English, I was left speechless.
Are your eyebrows raised as well? Well, unfortunately, this is the reality of around 70 to 80 percent of the Rajpurohit girls. They are all well-educated and high-qualified women. However, the moment they are married, they are at the mercy of their in-laws, with their eyes cast down and head covered with a veil.
Why do their childhood dreams fade away the moment they are done with the fourth round around the sacred fire? And why are their voices always throttled to a murmur? Why do these women feel like their wings have been clipped off when they were capable of soaring high in the sky?
This so-called ‘wonderful change’ in their lives attacks their self-esteem and confidence, often making them mere puppets at the hands of their in-laws and husbands. Though, this is still a little better than what happens after she gets pregnant, the journey post that is even heart-wrenching.
If she gives birth to a boy, she will be given a little space in the family. But if she gives birth to a daughter, she will have to be prepared for all kinds of abuses and advice. There will be constant reminders that she needs to conceive once again and as soon as possible.
You can very well imagine where these reminders come from – the mother-in-law and the other women in the family. What free India are we living in? Where’s the progress here? I don’t get it!
Now amidst all this, if this, if the girl wants to restart her studies, she needs to be strong – both mentally and physically.
The area of concern in this scenario is to actually study the happiness index of these newly-married girls. They will smile and transform themselves completely. But deep down, they will still be the same girls asking themselves the question – am I happy with the sacrifice I made? And am I happy with myself?
They keep wondering if they were given education only to wash utensils, sweep and mop the floor. If they were only meant to be marred by the words coming from everyone because her rotis weren’t round enough!
Can you guess what the answer to all these questions is? Let me tell you, it is eyes full of tears and a face smiling a fake smile.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Kumkum Bhagya
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