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They believed that a bahu is supposed to conduct herself no better than a doormat, should never 'argue' with elderly folk, and stoically accept all their actions, whether right or wrong.
The moral guardians of society and our elders would burn me at the stake were they to hear of my budtameezi (misbehavior). Fancy raising a hand (hitting) on your life partner/ pati who is commonly touted around as Devata (demi-God), param guru (supreme mentor), and steadfast companion for not one but saat janam (seven life cycles).
Any woman who dares to even ‘touch’ such a ‘godly’ being must be taught a lesson which she would remember lifelong.
I had the misfortune of marrying into an ultra-orthodox family. They believed that a bahu is supposed to conduct herself no better than a doormat, should never ‘argue’ with elderly folk, and stoically accept all their actions, whether right or wrong. For they are God’s kin. Aren’t they?
Unfortunately, I am not the docile type of girl idolized by our society. I got into arguments with the blessed in-laws when they tried to be autocratic. Why shouldn’t I? After all, I was educated and economically independent. Also I’ve had some basic freedom growing up, which they had no right to tamper with.
My dad-in-law was a smart man. He knew that punishing/ hitting me would spell trouble for him. So with his missus in tandem, he would complain to his son on the sly, ordering him to cut me down to size. The obedient son would thrash me in the family living room while others looked on.
From time to time he ‘punished’ me in the same fashion for ‘being insolent’. My husband’s sister once tried to throttle me for answering her back. Many a times she tried tripping me up when I walked past her.
Isn’t the idea preposterous! Being their only son his parents doted on him and (reportedly) rarely used violence to inculcate discipline. His sister was Papa’s Princess. So physical violence was ruled out. What a pity! They conveniently forgot that I was a Papa’s Princess too.
I remained sullen but silent. I was buying time. The opportunity arose soon.
We were travelling and had checked into an hotel in that city. Following an argument he hit me very hard. It had become a habit with him by now. Furious, I hit him back, raining blows and pummelling him. A bid to settle old scores.
He was stunned! However as they say “a leopard can’t change its spots.” The skirmishes continued from time to time, but he was a tad mellowed since I’d give back as good as I got.
India is notorious (like a few other countries) for a high incidence of domestic violence particularly in marital homes. It is time women turn around and give the abusers a piece of their mind. The ‘bahus’ are neither slaves nor domestic livestock (even they deserve good treatment). So please for God’s sake accord them decent human treatment.
Image source: a still from the series Ajeeb Daastaans
Am a trained and experienced features writer with 25 plus years of experience .My favourite subjects are women's issues, food travel, art,culture ,literature et all.Am a true feminist at heart. An iconoclast read more...
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