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A regular family gathering.
Anuya was attending her favorite chachu’s 50th birthday celebration. As was the norm, her dad and his cousins were regaling the gathering with stories from his childhood—how a game of hide & seek turned into a nightmare for their family because Sumit was bitten by an army of ants, how Sumit’s obsession with bikes during college days cost the family multiple visits to the ortho or the one time Sumit and his best friend Amey were caught shoplifting and almost beaten up.
These stories, despite being a staple in many such family get-togethers kept everyone interested and gave Anuya a glimpse into the life of Mr Sumit Shah before he became her ‘chachu’.
But something felt different today. She realized how little she knew about her chachi’s life before marriage. For that matter even her mamis and bhabhis—basically all the women who had married into her family.
This thought also made her wonder about the fact that in the five years of her marriage, her in-laws’ side of the family hadn’t made enough efforts to know about the life she led before becoming Mrs Anuya Mehta. Yes, they had reluctantly familiarized themselves with her food preferences, her favorite places to hangout etc. but they were barely interested in knowing about her growing up years, her closest friends, or her adventures.
As she pondered deeper, it dawned on her that her in-laws did not participate actively in the functions hosted by her maternal side of the family. They usually arrived right on time to mark their attendance and left immediately it was over.
Anuya would plan outings or occasions to socialize with Ankur’s (her husband) family, friends and business associates, which gave her enough insights about Ankur beyond the role he played of her husband. But unlike her, neither his parents nor his siblings seemed to seek opportunities to know about her life before she took on the role of Ankur’s wife and their family’s bahu (daughter-in-law).
This prompted her to reflect on how little we know about the women who marry and become part of our families.
What were their worlds like before they became our bahus, bhabhis, chachis, mamis? Which tunes did they hum, which beats did they dance to? Were they interested in any art form or sport? Did they bunk college to catch the first day first show of a latest movie? How did they spend their summer/winter breaks? What were their ambitions? Who were the friends they left behind at the villages, towns and cities they grew up in?
Isn’t it shocking and surprising that we are so oblivious to the lives of women beyond the roles they play in our lives?
And why is it that we are never curious or interested?
Why are their stories not narrated in family gatherings?
Image source: by Sangeet Rao from Pexels Free for Canva
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