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As A New Bride, I Was Expected To Have Sparkling Teeth & No Voice Or Urges!

Posted: February 16, 2021

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From checking whether I had body odour to judging my gait and clothes, as a new bride, I suffered endless ordeals in the first few days!

You have to believe every word of this. There is not an iota of falsehood or drama in this narrative of mine. I have personally lived through every moment of this. And I am very sure a lot of other young and new brides might be undergoing the same every day of every year.

To begin with, this is everything that happens after you are recently married. For starters, you have to keep the ghunghat/veil on your head all day long. Why, you ask? Simply because the ‘friendly’ neighbourhood women of all shapes and sizes are bound to arrive any time of the day to take a peek at you.

You will have to face a torrent of remarks and opinions on everything, especially your appearance. Your height, the colour and shape of your eyes, your body type, the shape of your nose and even your hair will be critiqued. And all you’re supposed to do is grin and bear it. You have no other options left.

You are expected to be at your ‘best behaviour’

Post your wedding, for the next couple of weeks, your house will still have relatives and guests living with you. At this point, you are expected to be on your absolute best behaviour. ‘Best behaviour’ basically implies that you can’t laugh loudly or hum or walk noisily, or scratch yourself.

But most importantly, you cannot (read: must not) speak to your partner in familiar terms in front of the elders. What this means is that you are basically only allowed to speak in single words or speak when spoken to.

You may be tired, hungry or have a headache (more so, if you are a working woman), but no one is around or likely to heed your personal needs. These are all considered unimportant and insignificant. On your part, you are supposed to wear a plastic smile on your face all the time.

And for me, all of this was even tougher. I was a Bengali bride, that too a professional journalist, in an orthodox family. There were several strict instructions on me – my sindoor and aalta (lacquer footprints) had to be intact at all times. I was terrified at the idea of turning up at a press conference or to a glitterati interview looking like a perfect ass! So I avoided going to such events for a while.

It was all a bit too much but it finally ended

Another predicament was how to address my husband. Calling him by his name was out of the question! It is considered bad manners on the part of a new wife to address her husband by his name. So I resorted to calling him ‘O!’ (a unisex Bangla pronoun equivalent to he/she). Another option was to apply relationships, like, ‘your brother/son/uncle’ and the like in all conversations. Believe me, it was tiring and extremely irritating, to say the least.

The first few days of marriage are incredibly taxing. In addition to all this, you are likely to be under constant surveillance. From your gait to your pose and posture to your dress and hairdo and table manners, everything will be judged. Don’t be surprised if they try to detect if you have body odour or not, whether your teeth sparkle or not. The list is endless!

While my saga of these experiences may seem a little intimidating, it may not be the same for everyone. There is no denying that there will be pinpricks and irritants throughout your life. But the silver lining in this dark cloud is the fact that after a few months, life tends to be a little hunky-dory and all these annoying points might just melt away.

So, I guess, the best thing to do would be to treat the situation like a not-so-pleasant experience and smile ‘cos better days are coming! All this will be over soon.

Picture credits: Still from Netflix series Stories From Rabindranath Tagore

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