I Will Celebrate My Independence when I Will Get the Freedom of Choice

As soon as I stepped into the thirtieth year of my life, my mom became tense because she believed I crossed the ideal age of getting married. The ideal age, as defined by the society. My mom frequently suffers from anxiety and had a prolonged phase of anxiety disorders, and thus, as the elder daughter, I believe it’s my responsibility to keep a check on her mental health. At times, it becomes difficult for me to regulate the mental health of two people together: my mom and me. I have a tendency of having anxiety attacks and thus, it also falls under my responsibility to keep an eye on my mental health.

So now, my mom is after me to find the most suitable boy from the matrimonial websites and exchange the barmaala (the garland for the bridegroom) as soon as possible. This is giving me sleepless nights and another round of anxiety attacks whenever I am thinking about spending the rest of my life with a stranger, whom I need to choose among the hundreds of photos and profiles shared on the website.

Meanwhile, relatives have found one interesting topic to discuss about me, apart from my unemployed status. A few months back, when I visited them, the first question that shot me from their quiver was, why did I leave my job and decide to be a freelancer? When my cousin brother first asked me the question, I promptly answered in my head, “It’s my choice.” However, I could not gather enough courage to give him the same answer in reality, and thus, I replied to him that I made this decision for my health issues which didn’t allow me to work full-time. Then, the same question kept coming to me in several rounds, even from the visiting relatives there: sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes at the dinner table, sometimes while I was watching TV, sometimes while I was reading a book, and even when I was going out for a walk. By then, I memorized the script well just like memorizing a chapter from my textbook in the school days, and that’s why, I kept repeating the same answer without stammering for a single time.

But surprisingly, I couldn’t tell them what the voice in my head uttered fearlessly, “I chose to work independently. It’s my choice.”

The same happens when my neighbors ask me about my decision of staying single this late. According to them, this is too late to find a suitable groom for me as I have lost all my glamour. Some wise neighbors also told my mom that I may have lost my ability to give birth to a child because I am old. All the time I go outside for a walk in the colony with my mom, they stare at me like an alien and tell my mom that a thirty-year-old unmarried, unemployed, and unsettled girl is a burden to society, let alone the daughter who is considered as a burden to her aging parents. My mom, being an outspoken lady, make their mouth shut with her fiery answers.

Although it doesn’t affect me at that time, these kinds of words or statements indeed affect me later. While writing a piece or reading a book or listening to music, their voice echo in my mind and instantly becomes a reason for my discomfort and restlessness. I feel guilty for being not a good daughter to my parents. Even the voice in my head fears to utter those three words this time. “It’s my choice”, sounds selfish, honestly.

Whether I prefer to stay single for my whole life or marry the one in whom I will find the best life partner for me, it’s my choice. Whether I work a full-time job or choose to work without any stipend, it’s my choice. Whether I give birth to a child or adopt someone from the orphanage, it’s my choice. Whatever I choose in my life, it’s completely my choice.

But I fear to utter these three words. They only echo inside my head but I lack the courage to spell them strong in front of the world. I don’t think most women have the right to say proudly, “It’s my choice.” Even if someone talks fearlessly, she is labeled as a rebel.

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I decided to take a long break from my job search and focus on my creative pursuit. But this decision didn’t make my dad happy. He always wanted me to be financially independent. That’s why, when I chose to spend time working on my personal projects, studying my favorite subjects, and reading plenty of books, he became disappointed because I ended my desire to earn my own money. He is not wrong, I know, because he always dreamt of a secure future for me where I will have the power to be vocal about my rights and proudly live my life on my own terms. And this only happens when women have their own money – an open secret for all of us.

The same happened to my mom. I disappointed her when I told her that I am not ready to think about my marriage right now; because I am devoted to a project that will take time to finish. Mom became depressed when I told her to wait for some more months. All that makes her worried is the thought of my future after they will age more. Her days start and end with one note: what will happen to me when they will become too old? Will there be anyone to protect me like my parents, and hold my hands in the time of crisis, just as they did it always?

Some wise, experienced, and excited relatives even advised my parents to choose an ashram for me where I can spend the rest of my life. Maybe, seeing my indifference to opening an account on the matrimonial websites they thought I will never get married in my life. Or maybe, seeing my inclination toward spirituality, they concluded that I will choose monkhood in the later years of my life, hence the suggestion.

Hearing this, I was bitterly hurt. My parents worry about my future and it’s obvious for every concerned parent. But who gave the rein of my life to my relatives, my neighbors, and society?

This is the question that keeps me pondering upon. Everyone is busy with their dreams, expectations, and fears about my future, but nobody cares about my choice. Nobody asks me what I want to choose. As if, we women, never have the freedom to present our choice before others.

When I read about the firebrand daughters from the pages of Indian History, glorifying their bravery during the freedom struggle of India, I feel proud of them and secretly, I wish to follow in their footsteps. With this, another thought comes to my mind: when I will get my freedom of choice?

Perhaps, that day I will celebrate my independence day when I will gather the courage to tell the world that whatever I choose, it’s my choice. It will be the day when those three words will free from their shackles in my head, and stretching their wings in the sky of freedom, they will sing it aloud: It’s my choice. It’s my choice. It’s my choice.

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About the Author

Swarnali Nath

Swarnali is an Author, Blogger, Wellbeing Researcher, and Singer. She blogs at 'The Blissful Storyteller'. She runs The Peace Stories initiative where she shares stories of healing, recovery, personal winning, and self-discovery. An avid read more...

8 Posts | 8,279 Views

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