Please click on the link above to read the article on Women’s Web.
I cannot get the following headlines off my mind:
I don’t want to specifically write about Anissia because it is still too early. We do not know if it is a murder or suicide. I don’t want to judge a woman I did not know. Especially a woman who was cremated two days ago. I also do not wish to scrutinize the life of a woman who died. Still, writing this article in the hope that it may help someone.
I read an article this morning on about how parents should support their daughters and make them get out of abusive marriages and not give dowry. I also read comments (probably from Anissia’s friends) getting defensive saying that she was very strong, and had supportive parents. Her father was in the Army. She was financially independent and it seems that money was no motivator was her to get stuck in the marriage.
Then what happened? Why is she dead?
Why are so many intelligent, financially independent women in our society preferring to jump or hang themselves rather than being called the D word?
A friend of mine updates her whatsapp display picture every other day with a smiling photo of her husband and herself. What you cannot see is the bruises on her body which are concealed in her DP. Messages are sent to friends asking for helpline numbers. What is more regular? The injury or the status updates?
Friends try to convince her to get out. She says that there are happy times too. She is not willing to leave him.
Is it our fault that she is still with him? Are we not doing enough?
If you see Anissia’s social media profile, there are so many happy, couple photos. A good-looking couple posing and holidaying at beautiful locations.
This is common. Friends posting pictures with their husbands. Beautiful, happy pictures. People commenting:
Smileys. Emojis. Likes. Comments. Social approval.
What lies beneath?
We love the life we wish to project to the world. We are in love. We are in a blissful marriage. We are happy. We try hard to make our lives close to what we like to portray. Sometimes we believe it too.
In contrast, I have friends who are divorced or never married. They are into their 30’s, 40’s. Some of them want to get married. Others are okay being single. To the world, they may be “unmarried.”
Poor girl. She must find someone soon. Time is running out.
Bechari divorce ke baad decide ki shadi nahi karegi dobara.
Some of these women are actually living quite peaceful and joyous lives. Marital bliss is not the only bliss the universe has to offer. They may not get to flaunt holiday, couple pictures. They may not have done pre-wedding, pregnancy photoshoots. They do not get to add statuses like ‘Aww! Feeling loved with so and so!’ or ‘Woke up to this surprise from my sweetheart’. But they are still leading good lives. Every day that they wake up they don’t have somebody who makes them feel like filth. Yes, occasionally they do feel left out at family functions and weddings. But it is still better than being treated badly every day.
What am I trying to prove?
We all fall for social pressure. We envy people who seem to have love and money. We create a lie and then spend the rest of our life miserable trying to live up to it.
Don’t fall for the trap. Nobody, nobody has everything in life. You don’t have to have everything either. It is okay to not have a partner to flaunt. It is okay to not have a vacation in Europe. It is okay to be not earning a lot of money. It is okay to be not married. It is okay to not have children. It is okay to be divorced.
What is not okay is to be dead at 39 after jumping off the terrace. What is not okay is leaving behind old parents and a brother who will spend the rest of their life attending court hearings and running ‘Justice for Anissia’ campaigns wishing they were dead too.
And what justice will they get? Even if the husband and his family get punished (which I doubt) will this woman come back?
The society does not care about you. They don’t care if you are happy or sad or rich or poor or married or single. At least not for long. Please do not waste your life for the society. The only thing that matters is you. Please do what is right for yourself. I have written about this so many times before. Please, please be strong. Please do not commit suicide for such idiots. And please do not stay with them to test how much more you can suffer.
Yes, every marriage has good days and bad days. But if for you the bad days means getting hit and thinking about hanging yourself then it is not worth it.
Related articles link:
Please click on the link above to read the article on Women’s Web.
Wives have traditionally been put second by husbands, after their in laws and his extended family, and now after a bromance too?
Year 2011: A movie titled ‘Pyaar ka punchnama’ had released. After watching it, I had told a male friend how I did not like the portrayal of women.
“Why don’t you protest when all movies show men as villains? Haan? This movie shows the reality of women!”
Why do Indian families feel that if a man has lost his purpose in life, is abusive, or suffers from any addictions, the best thing to do for him would be to get him married?
Is it a reasonable expectation? Is it fair? Is it not outright deceitful and selfish?
Click on the link above to read the full article on Women’s Web.
I keep hearing the story of an older family friend.
He must be in his 80’s now. He has never been married. As per the legend, he used to be a handsome man in his youth. Romantic. Desirable. Rumour has it that he looked just like like Rajesh Khanna.
He wanted a “love marriage.” Whenever any “ladki walas” came home for a rishta, he would pretend to limp. Or something else. He was filmy. He was very clear that he would not compromise on his partner.
Years went by. The perfect one never came along. There were some rumours of an alleged brief fling with another lady who also never married. He remained single.
He is currently in an old age home. His siblings’ children do visit him. His story has been passed on to my generation by parents as an example of what happens when you are too dreamy! You end up alone!
“You marry while you can!” is what elders tell us. Or even older cousins who married someone without falling in love. I do not want to make this post about arranged marriage vs love marriage. I have written enough about it.
Would you marry someone who are not even attracted to, or have a connection with because he can provide you a stable life?
Or would you marry someone with whom you have a spark yet you are unsure of stability in the future?
What if you don’t even have the second option yet. Would you wait? Or would you go ahead with a secured life?
We have not seen the future. Someone who seems stable today may not be so in the future. So what are you left with then?
And if you marry for “love”, then well if the love doesn’t last?
Can chemistry be developed over time?
But should it be so forced? Isn’t it easier when you already have it?
Elders love to say “You should marry someone who likes you. Not someone who you like.” I think only Indian elders say this!! Is it too much to ask that BOTH should like each other?
I remember talking to a friend of mine who is older than me. She is also a practising counselor. One of the girls was complaining that she was being pressurized for an arranged marriage. But she did not find the guys her parents were seeing for her interesting. But the guy she was seeing was not interested in marrying her. My counselor friend said to her, “You are looking for a man who can be a friend, plus you should have chemistry, plus commitment, all in one person!”
“Well, isn’t that what a relationship is supposed to be?” I immediately jumped to her rescue.
“Ideally yes. But it may not happen. You have to pick what matters most to you.”
The answer is never so simple. People who have been married will tell you what matters. Or even what is missing.
Just a thought. A random one.
Please click on the link above to read the full article on Women’s Web.
“Madam, I have draped the sari like mermaid! It is giving you very young and slim look!” The beautician bent down to fix Bittu Kumari’s sari pleats, pleased with her work.
“I am young! I am 26!” Bittu Kumari frowned.
“Oh! I thought you must be in 30’s! Was wondering why you are still bachelor!”
“I am not! A bachelor is a man who is not…”
“Bittu, you are still not ready! The boy’s family has arrived!” Bittu Kumari’s mother stormed into the room. She looked at her daughter from head to toe. “Shabnam, I had asked you to make her look thin!” she said disappointed.
“Aunty Ji, I have given her slim look only! This is mermaid style sari! My world-famous style in Saharanpur! She is little healthy no, what can I do!”
“Leave it! No time now!”
Bittu Kumari was dragged to the living room. A lean, dark, young man, his mother, father and possibly his brother who looked like a rounder replica of him were seated on the three-seater sofa. Opposite to them, were Bittu Kumari’s father – Mr. Mishra, and his teenaged son, Sonuraj. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and husband had also been invited for moral support. Bittu Kumari sat next to her brother.
“Mr. Pandey, this is my daughter, Bittu Kumari! She has completed M.A. in English literature. She teaches English in St. Mary’s high school! Convent! And herself educated in English medium convent! Throughout topper!” added the proud father.
“That is great!” said Mr. Pandey with an approving nod. “Lallan also wanted to do B.Com. But after Matric he joined my business. He completed PUC through correspondence.”
Sonuraj giggled. Bittu Kumari was horrified. She looked up to confirm if she had heard correctly. Her eyes met Lallan’s. Lallan smiled at her, beaming.
“All that is okay! Doesn’t matter!” Mrs. Pandey seemed to have read Bittu Kumari’s thoughts. “For a boy, what matters is how well he is earning. Our business is flourishing. Lallan is handling it single-handedly now! And what matters for a girl is how she looks!” She paused, giving a sharp stare at Bittu Kumari’s bulging stomach which Shabnam’s Rs 1500 mermaid style draping could not hide. “My elder daughter-in-law Chhaya is so pretty! Even after having two daughters, she has maintained herself like a stick!”
Bittu Kumari raised her head again to look at Lallan’s brother’s paunch, trying to imagine him with his stick-like wife.
“What does Chaaya do?” asked Mr. Mishra, visibly annoyed.
“She is a housewife!” Mr. Pandey stepped in. “We wanted a working girl for Lallan. Actually, we wanted a housewife. But Lallan wanted a working girl.”
“Working, not working is not main criteria! We want a fair, slim, beautiful girl.” Mrs. Pandey clarified. “Your daughter is very healthy. At this age, she is healthy! After a child, she will bloat even more!”
Mrs. Mishra shifted in her chair uncomfortably. Her fear came true. This was the fifth time the boy’ side had rejected her daughter for being “healthy”. This time, Bittu Kumari did not look up. The words seemed to have pierced through her heart and created a hole. How is it possible that for all these years, she had heard it all – healthy, fat, moti, bhais, elephant, yet it hurt her each time? Shouldn’t she be immuned by now?
“Mrs. Pandey, I think you should let Lallan and Bittu Kumari talk once. They are the ones who have to get married! Let them decide.”
“We would have let them talk, Mr. Mishra. We are very modern. That is why we got Lallan. He was keen on your daughter’s profile. But… sorry to say your daughter looks nothing like her pictures. You must have edited them and sent to us. She seems 20 kg more than we had expected!”
Mr. Mishra looked at his wife accusingly. She had gone to the biggest studio in town to get her daughter’s pictures photoshopped. What was she supposed to do? Those who saw Bittu Kumari’s real pictures rejected her even before meeting her. She had to give her daughter a fair chance!
“If she was slightly healthy also, we would have tried to adjust. But she is obese! Young girls exercise! She is probably lazy too! Or maybe she has some illness. And moreover, daughter-in-law’s beauty determines the looks of the children also. If we get an obese daughter-in-law, she will give birth to obese daughters, and then we will have to worry about their marriage also!”
“Ek minute Aunty, you have gone too far!” Bittu Kumari finally spoke up. “Who said I wanted to marry your son!”
“What! Then why did you all call us!” Mrs. Pandey frowned.
“We were deceived too! We thought your son had completed B-Com. But now we know he never went to college. I did not know I was signing up for a college dropout! Just like you did not know you were signing up for a fat daughter-in-law. But you know what Aunty, fat women make completely decent homemakers. Look at you!”
“Such a shameless girl! Doesn’t know how to talk to elders! And I am fat now! When I was your age, I looked just like Hema Malini! Come Lallan, let us go.” Mrs. Pandey got up, grabbing her son’s hand. Her elder son and husband also got up almost in a reflex. “We don’t need a fat and proudy girl.”
“It is proud Aunty, not proudy!”
Lallan looked at Bittu Kumari. He paused. He wanted to say something. But his mother pulled him away.
And just like that, the entire Pandey family was gone. Mr. Mishra put his hand on her daughter’s head and smiled. “Bittu beta, we don’t need them! You are a diamond. These people don’t know your worth.” Mrs. Mishra went back to the bedroom to pay Shabnam who was locked up in the bedroom, waiting for the boy’s side to leave. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and brother-in-law left rather unceremoniously. Everything went back to normal.
Two days later, Bittu Kumari received a text message.
‘Hi Bittu Ji. I am sorry for finding your number. Got it from the school. I am sorry for the way my mother talked to you. I know how you must have felt. Four girls have rejected me because I am dark! One was educated and English-speaking, and did not want someone like me. I know my profile says that I have done B.com. If talks would have progressed, I would have told you the truth. My brother had edited my profile so that people at least express interest. I may not be that educated, but I do manage to run my business well. I may not be good-looking, but if you give me a chance I will take care of you. I know what it is like when people judge you without getting to know you. I really liked you. Would like to be friends with you, if it is okay with you.”
Bittu Kumari was shocked. No man had ever showed such interest in her. Without telling their parents, Bittu Kumari and Lallan started chatting. Bittu Kumari realized that Lallan was no different from her. He was also looking for a decent partner, while struggling with his own insecurities, and cruel judgment of random people. He was running a growing business, with hard-work and sincerity. He was not as stupid as she had expected. Rather, he was quite intuitive and witty. He was also very sensitive and mature. She grew quite fond of him.
Bittu Rani and Lallan have decided to get married. Mr. Mishra is insisting that Lallan completes B.Com from distant learning. Mrs. Pandey has agreed provided Bittu Kumari loses 10 kgs. Mr. Pandey is happy for the children. Sonuraj is preparing a solo dance performance for the wedding.
Mrs. Mishra is grateful. To Shabnam. And to the photographer.
I spoke to a man for an arranged marriage meeting. Before telling me about himself or asking anything about me he told me that his parents would be living with us after marriage from Day 1. He said that he wants them around. Not because of any health condition. He just wants to “make them happy.” They feel lonely in their hometown.
For the past eight years, his parents have been living in the hometown because he was living with a roommate. But somehow, the moment he gets married, they will become lonely and helpless!
Very politely, I told this man that I would not be comfortable with this set-up. It will be difficult for me to adjust to three new people immediately. I said that during the first few years of marriage, the husband and wife should live alone because they are still trying to adjust to each other. He then told me that I will be “allowed” to wear jeans and that his parents are very nice people. As long as they are taken care of them, they will not “scold” me for anything.
I told him “No”. He later sent me a text message wishing me good luck in life, and that he is looking for someone with “family values”!
He also wanted me to “appreciate his honesty” because he told me about his expectation before marriage. I was honest too! Why didn’t I get appreciation for my honesty? He wants a woman to take care of his parents, because it is convenient for him. He gets to be Shavan Kumar by doing nothing for his parents except getting married. I refuse him, so I get to be a vamp!!
I don’t understand why this should be the norm. Let me tell you this is one of the reasons people still prefer to have a son. Because they can live with their son forever but not with the daughter.
When I say this, it is immediately interpreted as a rebellious, uncultured attitude. I want to ask these so-called custodians of Indian culture, are girls’ parents any less old? How come they manage alone? Or since they have given birth to daughters, they are so unfortunate to begin with that we don’t even count them as senior citizens?
Some men and even women say that “Yeah, but any guy with prefer to have his parents around. If you were a boy, wouldn’t you?’
Some even add, “Why do you even want to get married then!”
This statement is garbage. It reeks with chauvinism, and enjoying the benefits of patriarchy at a woman’s expense. This is how they justify dowry too!
No marriage is not about living with in-laws. People in the western countries also get married. They do not do this.
Please don’t get me wrong. Of course someone should be there to take care of parents in emergencies. In fact, if the parents can live in the same city, or nearby it is great. I know of people who even stay in the same apartment complex but in different apartments. That way, they are there when required and also have their privacy. Sometimes they stay together for economic reason. Some stay together for grandchildren. Living together can be a great form of support for parents as well as children. I am not saying they should not. As long as they are happy doing what they are doing, it is none of my business. I know of families where the girl’s parents also stay together.
What I am trying to say is in the Indian set-up, living with in-laws can become difficult because of high expectations. Especially in the initial years of marriage when the relationship between the husband and wife is not even stable. But no, it is not a wife’s moral obligation to live with her husband’s parents and take care of them from the first day of marriage! It is not a man’s birth right to demand it. If she is doing it happily, great. If she refuses, it is okay too. It is her choice. It is difficult to adjust to one person. And definitely more difficult to adjust with more people from another generation, especially when they come with a sense of entitlement and expectation.
I have a request:
Indian men, when the girl you meet at shaadi.com refuses to live with your parents after marriage, you don’t get to shame her. You respect her choice, and find someone else. Please do not tell her that she does not have “family values”. Unless you also want that her parents should also live with you guys. “Respect for elders” and “family values” apply to elders who have borne daughters also.
Parents of girls, please do not force your daughters in to such marriages saying “so and so is also living with in-laws. This is our culture etc”. You will not be there with her each day to maneuver her way. She will be alone there. Let her decide for herself.
And girls, please know yourself. If you are not comfortable with the idea of living with in-laws, then be sure about this point before you get convinced into such a marriage. It is your whole life ahead. Later on complaining about it will get you nowhere.
Seeing the comments on the article, about women being equally responsible for such upbringing or social conditioning, I am adding this quote of Ms. Kamla Bhasin. Thank you readers, you always provide the much needed perspective.