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While the bahu always needs to prove her worth, a son-in-law is treated as the centre of the universe. One wonders if our society is going to move on anytime soon!
Siddharth was still asleep in bed, snoring, as Arti struggled to drape her sari around her slender waist.
She was getting ready to prepare her first meal for the family, a ritual that her mother-in-law insisted upon, right after her wedding reception. Arti’s wrists looked fragile, bearing the undue weight of the two dozen bangles that they bore.
She wasn’t used to wearing a sari. It wasn’t that she despised it, in fact, it was thrilling to drape one for special occasions, but not while she was cooking. Yet now, her mother-in-law insisted that she should prepare meals with a proper pallu over her head.
Arti turned to look at her dozing husband one last time before she exited their bedroom.
As she entered the living room, she was welcomed by her in-laws and a few relatives from her father-in- law’s family. Her mother in law smiled at her and gave her a warm hug while whispering into her ears, “Your pallu should cover your head. Don’t forget, we have some elders at home.”
Arti gave her an amused look and responded, “Mummyji, I’m not a pro at cooking and I’m very uncomfortable in the sari. I would have been comfortable in a kurti or maybe in a T-shirt and some pants.”
Their conversation was overheard by her father-in-law, who asked his wife to take Arti into the kitchen. Mummyji immediately took Arti inside the kitchen and explained, “Betaji, I know, even I’m uncomfortable cooking in my sari on but it is for the sake of the elders. Once they are gone, wear whatever you want.”
Arti smiled as she nodded her head reluctantly. Her mother-in-law gave her the recipe for a dessert, kheer, Arti was expected to prepare and left with one final instruction, “Don’t make it very sweet. Here, no one likes anything too sweet.” Arti prepared the kheer nervously. Her attire made things worse for her. Somehow she managed herself well, without losing her composure.
The kheer turned out to be delicious with everyone congratulating her as a ‘good sanskari bahi.’ Siddharth’s eyes twinkled with pride as he watched his relatives praise his wife.
A few days later, Arti and Siddharth were invited by her parents for lunch. A day before their arrival, Arti’s mother called her up and asked, “Tell me about Siddharth’s tastes, I want to prepare something special for me Damaadji. By the way, your Taiji and Tauji are also coming. They couldn’t attend the wedding, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for them to meet Damaadji.”
Arti heard every word patiently, before she said,”Ma, I hope you remember what I like too. Make your special Kadhi for me. I long for it. I asked everyone around here but no one has the taste for it, I suppose.”
“Sure beta”, her mother assured her and put the phone down.
As soon as the newlyweds entered Arti’s house, everyone in the family flocked towards them excitedly. Her parents and relatives showered Siddharth with love and warmth. He was made extra comfortable by Arti’s brother, who lent him his shorts. Siddharth immediately changed into them from his pair of jeans and felt at home.
He was served like a king as he sprawled himself comfortably all over the place and winked at Arti, clearly enjoying the royal treatment. At the end of the day, her family members called him ‘a real gem of a person, who gels well with everyone.’
When will society break itself free from the rudimentary shackles of tradition? Will the bride and groom ever be treated at par? In this era, when everyone is equally educated, do we still have to follow these ideas of treating damaads like God and bahus like students at a coaching centre? When will women start supporting each other within the family?
Often, the implicit ‘Silence is Golden’ rule has made women suffer so much. In the name of tradition (though I don’t mean every tradition is bad), all we see is how a woman is made and kept submissive. And even if one woman wants to bring about a change or voice out her views, she is asked to tolerate life as it is or to shut up by another woman for the sake of family and relatives. It is time we understand how we want not just ourselves but also future generations of women to be treated.
I’m not against traditions but when you want to pass them on to the next generation, I believe we must make sure they don’t stifle someone and their individuality. After all, our thinking too needs an upgrade, just like technology.
Top image is a screen grab from the Hindi serial, Saath Nibhaana Saathiya
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I'm a stock trader by profession. A yoga enthusiast and a qualified Yoga therapist.
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