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Vidhya came home with Riya. She was surprised to see the same expectations from her that were before from having a child. Nothing had changed, and she felt that nothing would ever change.
Vidhya was just like any other normal girl who grew up reading Cinderella and Rapunzel, wishing to meet her Prince charming someday. Though not a topper, she scored well in school and college and fulfilled her parent’s dream by joining as HR in a reputed financial firm.
After she settled in her career path, her parents began their hunt to find the perfect groom and complete their responsibility in life. Finally, after seeking permission from the stars in her chart, they fixed her wedding with Rahul, who according to them, got a tick for most of their eligibility criteria. She obliged and got married to him as per their wish.
Vidhya always nodded to whatever her parents would instruct because “anything they say was only for the good of their daughter”, no questions asked. That’s how she was brought up.
Before Vidhya entered wedlock, her mother had given her several rules to be followed in her new home. Life indeed turned to be a rule book for her.
“Vidhya, now you are going to be a wife, a daughter-in-law, and sister-in-law to someone. Remember what I have told you. Life always holds the unexpected. The waves wouldn’t be calm always. A storm would turn over things, but you should fight it and sail through. At times you may feel like returning to the shore. That can never be the solution. You need to stay strong and face anything that comes to you. Only then you will make us proud.”
Her mother told her this every day until the wedding date. In summary, it meant, whatever happens, she had to adjust and stay, never ever come back to her parents. If ever she feels like walking out, it only means they have failed in their duty as a parent, and her decision would put them to shame.
Rahul was a loving husband and took good care of her. First, she feared her MIL and FIL. After a while, the fears came true and their true colors were seen in one after the other incidents.
Despite having house help, in-laws expected her to take part in all the house chores.
Rule 215 – Serve food or beverages to all the family members. Never think that the maid will do it after you have entered the household.
Vidhya remembered and ensured to follow as much as possible.
Whenever Rahul and Vidhya went out for dinner, she insisted on take-away for the rest. Rahul was always pleased with her gesture. He did not know that was rule number 54 that she followed.
Rahul looked after his father’s business and there were many times he had to travel for the same. Those days she felt like taking a break and wished to stay in her parent’s home. But the genie refused to fulfil her demand and shut her inside the bottle.
“If I am there or not at home, your duty as a daughter-in-law would never change and that means you will stay here only in my absence as well,” Rahul told her sharply.
Yes, it is there in the rule book, number 34.
One evening Vidhya had an important call with her manager and she wanted an hour for herself. Unfortunately, that one hour coincided with the dinner time of the household. She pleaded with Rahul.
“Sorry, Vidhya. First, it is not fair to arrange a meeting after working hours. You know Pa and Ma. They will be furious.”
Rule 98 – Never displease in-laws
Rule 20 – Obey husband’s words even if it means one plus one is three
Two rules at the same time. Vidhya skipped the meeting, not for the day but several times later as well. At the end of the year, she knew that there were significant consequences in her appraisal because of her negligence.
Two loving years passed by. Vidhya’s mother-in-law insisted it was time their status had to be upgraded to grandparents.
A year passed, and Vidhya only saw her life stressed on the topic. Rahul wasn’t supportive and replied that it was her duty to deliver a child. Is she a machine to produce whenever the owner wanted to?
Rule 12 – A baby will settle the gap between the husband and wife.
Rule 9 – The invisible wall between the in-laws will also crumble once the baby enters the house
For five long years Vidhya underwent all the possible treatment, and she became a familiar face in most of the fertility hospitals. The problem was that there was no problem identified with Rahul and Vidhya. The doctors termed them as a case of ‘unexplained infertility’ since they were physically healthy. Needles, tablets, scans became an integral part of her life. She strongly believed in the rule book given by her parents and continued her battle.
One fine day, the good news arrived and brought a smile to all. After much struggle through the nine months, Vidhya and Rahul welcomed a baby girl. As the tiny one blinked at Vidhya, she felt it as a sign of her worries melting away.
“When are you coming home?” Rahul asked.
“It’s been just a month since Riya was born. Let me stay for another two more months.”
“No Vidhya. My mother finds it difficult with her knee pain. Come here in a week.” He hung the phone.
‘Who actually needs help? With her tormenting back pain and sleepless nights, how can she help her mother-in-law?’ Many thoughts occupied her mind, but her mother erased them all with one line, ‘Duty calls’
She had to serve, help with cooking, pack lunches, clean dishes, organize clothes and the list went on. Just in addition, she had to take care of Riya as well.
“You haven’t done something great in life and C-section is common nowadays. So don’t excuse yourself using back pain as a reason,” he clearly spoke.
Rahul’s relatives had come over to see the little princess, and it turned to be a busy day. The next morning Vidhya was so exhausted that she could not move out of her bed.
“Vidhya!” her mother in law called.
“Mummyji! I have severe body pain. Let me please sleep for some time,” she almost begged.
Her mother-in-law walked out of the room in silence.
That evening when Rahul returned, “Are you disobeying your elders?” he almost slapped her after storming into the room.
She sat with tears welled up in her eyes. If she was never going to be respected, even in pain, then there was no use to keep adjusting. She realized that it was time to put her foot down to protect herself because a little bud is awaiting her and needs her the most than anyone else.
“Vidhya, your maternity leave is over. Send your resignation letter. Riya needs you.” Rahul commanded.
“My mother can take care of Riya in my absence. I have made the arrangements.”
“I told you, Rahul. Something is wrong with her. I am observing her from the time she returned with the baby. She is opposing to whatever we say.” It was her MIL.
Vidhya sharpened her senses. She felt something was definitely brewing.
Rahul gave an affirmative nod to his mother. She continued, “I am sure she is possessed with some evil spirit. Let us take her to a tantric today. Until then, Riya will be with me. Her negative vibes shouldn’t affect my grandchild.” It was in a serious tone.
Vidhya gasped in horror. It took a few moments for her to take in the words.
When a woman lives the way her marital home insists, then she is considered being a human. For any reason, if she stood for herself, then the verdict is that she is possessed.
“Yes! I am possessed. I am possessed by the basic qualities that every woman should have in her. In the name of rules to make my parents happy, I had buried them. Not anymore. There is only one rule for a woman. She should live for herself wherever her home, maybe. It is no longer possible here.”
Taking Riya, she walked out of the house.
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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