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After her wedding, a usually liberal cousin of mine seemed to have become incredibly judgemental. Here are my thoughts on this behaviour.
There is this cousin of mine – from my maternal side, who got married during the pandemic lockdown in May 2020. Let’s call her K.
After a wait of several years, probably eight or ten years since she is 31-years old – she finally got married. Her marriage was a khandaan-level matter because the wait was a long one. Mostly because she faced taunts and ‘benevolent’ worries from the elders of the extended family.
She utilised this time in reading books and pursuing various courses, be it B.A. Honours in English, Journalism and a PhD in English. K also started a venture of make-up services. However, this came to a halt as soon as it started, because – ‘Daddy kehnde ki vyah toh baad ae nahin karna. (Daddy said not to do this after I get married.)
I wasn’t very close to her, we hung out just thrice before her marriage – and my entire life so far. K told me several times that believes in the importance of reading books, and how she wants her 11-year-old niece “to have a boyfriend because she is pretty. I will help her to get over her break-ups with ice cream.”
Honestly, I was impressed with her thinking that time, despite the fact that K comes from a strict and conservative Jatt-Sikh family (so do I). It is a family where the father has massive domination over all the members of the family. This includes even his son – who is a ‘ji Daddyji’ type of man in his thirties (facepalm)!
Fast forward to January 2021. Her father died a sudden death due to alcoholism, which he picked up after my cousin’s marriage. I went to another city for the bhog (lunch served at the Gurudwara on the last day of mourning) with my parents. They had already attended the funeral.
I saw K talking quietly to another woman, and went to her. We greeted each other formally, and I offered my condolences to her. I was met with hostility from her.
“You were not there for me when my father died! Is this the way to behave? You did not even call me, or message me, and I am upset at this act of yours!” she said.
I myself was tongue-tied.
Firstly, I was shocked at these hostile words. Secondly, I did not even have K’s number which she instantly changed after her marriage. She said that she would cut all ties with her relatives once she gets married. So, how was I to contact her?
Thirdly, I was unable to find the right words to offer my condolences. K is a spoilt Daddy’s girl who would cry any time at the drop of a hat when things do not happen her way.
I simply walked away and swore not to acknowledge or talk to K at all in the future. After I shared this with my mother, all I got were confusing responses from her.
On the one hand, she condemned K’s behaviour. Then, on the other, she said K was in a state of shock, due to which she behaved like this. Which was why I should forgive her.
Even after that day, several other relatives and cousins of mine told me that K has changed a lot, one of the cousins called her an aunty. She would send messages on Instagram or Whatsapp and police my cousin about her duties at home which would be helpful to her after marriage.
I thought to myself, “Is this the same woman who said she would let her pre-teen niece have boyfriends and would be there for her when she goes through a break-up?” Honestly, I could not believe the reports I was getting about her behaviour, and what she would tell me before she got married.
I was reminded of similar other instances I observed in few other married cousin sisters of mine. They displayed hostility and a ‘mean mentality’ and would ignore other cousins and relatives when they met them.
These series of instances and observations have compelled me to write this article because I want to know why many women change after marriage. I want to understand why they become hostile, judgemental, promote patriarchal practices? And why they look down upon other people, especially unmarried female relatives?
I wonder, how these women who were all college-educated (one of them is a doctor), displayed such negative attitudes! Except for K, others were married off the moment their education was complete.
I wonder if they ever took a stand for themselves in front of their families, which I think not or at least likely since they all came from similar family backgrounds as K’s.
Except for K again, they all have children (mostly daughters) aged around 11. I wonder what will befall these children when they will become curious-minded adolescents and then, adults.
All of these cousins and relatives are from my mother’s side. My relatives are wealthy thekedaars living in Rajasthan and Punjab. I can barely recall anyone who has attained a college education.
Even if my cousins willingly chose to accept their parents’ choices of grooms, I believe it does not give them the right to treat people rudely and improperly. They don’t get to do that simply because ‘they have been married into wealthy, traditional, politically-influential families so they have to carry this fact with pride.’
Even if these women have deep-rooted patriarchal and orthodox notions despite being well-educated, they shouldn’t judge or ill-treat those with liberal and egalitarian values. I believe they shouldn’t gossip about them with their families. All I can just say is that I hope they realise this toxicity and unlearn these notions through their children.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Yeh Hai Chaahatein
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