And, I dropped my label of "Ideal Bahu"
“Be the SMILE, Be the JOY, Life is now, so just ENJOY. It’s your life, live it with your heart. We all live only once, give it a new start.” – Reema Saxena
Being born and raised in a middle-class joint family, I was supposed to be filled with lots of ‘sanskars’ and values (cliché). Actually, not just that, I was brought up seeing my mom spending her entire life devoted to family, kitchen, house and prayers. I have not seen her spending a single day for herself, making friends or even asking for something she loves. And, rest was impressed upon by our TV industry and 80s movies which have idealized an ‘Ideal Bahu (daughter-in-law)’.
In our society, we always judge women over men. If a man sends his daughter with messy hair or mismatched uniform to school, people will appreciate his efforts & will consider him as a responsible father. But, things are not same for women. They have to stand as a flawless being, perfectly discharging all her duties including the household tasks.
Society has placed many restrictions on married women; from going out alone for movies to partying with friends, which, if done by men, is perfectly fine. And, if a woman starts living life as per her choice, our society gets too judgemental and even questions her character. That’s sad and needs to be changed!
Without realising the major change my life was about to witness, I got married when I was just 20. Although, I was into job that time but mentally I was still a child, who would love to eat with her mother’s hand, pampered in every other way and was not ready to take up the loads of responsibilities (that too without any trial period).
To be very honest, my decision of getting married was purely based on the bright side of this new journey viz. my husband, my in-laws, the “attention” a bride gets, celebration and all the materialistic attractions including beautiful heavy lehngas, jewellery, makeup and mehndi.
But these excitements came with a very short shelf life and now I had to face the truth that was on its way for me, the truth about all the unsaid expectations that people at my new house had already set for me.
The bitter truth about marriage for girls is when a girl gets married, in just few hours, she is expected to turn into a “Responsible” woman from an innocent girl (as if there is some magic spell or potion for this transformation).
I had to wake up at 5, not to enter the kitchen without taking a bath (no matter I had fever or how cold the weather was), prepare meals for everyone, pack lunchboxes, do other chores and then leave for work. My husband’s work was to get up at 8 in the morning, listen to his favourite music, get ready and leave for work.
Even after coming back at 7 in the evening, completely exhausted & tired by day’s work at office, I had to be with my darling kitchen preparing dinner for the family while my husband would relax & watch TV before hitting the bed.
I was asked to take an off for every other ritual at home but my husband was free to go for work.
In order to being fare to my employer, I chose to quit my job (that’s what my “Ideal Bahu” would do) but started working from home. This further added to my misery as more chores became part of my daily to-do list, be available for home & family all the time and work too.
While, it was not easy for me to handle everything, still I strived to keep everyone happy. I disconnected myself from all of my friends (as the “Ideal Bahu” in my mind had no friends), as rest of my life should be spent for my new family, not even for me.
I wanted to listen to those golden words “Our Bahu is the IDEAL BAHU” (Laughs). But, that day never came. (Again laughs).
And to my surprise, even after all these sacrifices and turmoil, I was not good enough to even match up with other families’ daughter-in-laws.
Today, I have two really caring sons, one is 10 and younger one is 5 years old. Soon, after my first delivery, I had to quit “Work from Home” too, as I had one more and the biggest responsibility of being a mother. This time I had no regrets and was more than happy or may be mature enough to take this up.
I spent 8 years of my life, completely dedicated to supporting my husband, kids and family, either professionally, emotionally or physically. Although I was so contented and blissful, still I felt something missing within me. I was not that same Reema that I used to be before marriage. I was not the same ME, things did change for me, within me.
I could make round chapattis for my in-laws but had no confidence in me. I could iron my husband’s shirt perfectly but would feel worthless. I could make my kids score highest marks in class but my education seemed to be of no use.
I was getting into depression and felt like a useless and worthless creature that was always taken for granted. I became overtly dependent on my loved ones; both emotionally and financially.
Few witty relatives’ words worked as hundreds knives coming to me, “Do you do anything or just having fun and living on your husband’s wealth?”
But, one thing that was still alive within me was a deep desire to change & lead a better life, and I soon realised that I can’t spend my entire life like this.
I am grateful for my husband and kids as all this while, they encouraged me to explore some work to keep myself happy.
And, one fine evening, my husband was surprised to know that I used to write stories and poems before marriage. That was the day when he insisted me to write something and I did as I was waiting for some motivation like this.
My stepping stone was creation of my own blog “I am the LIFE” and the theme which struck me like lightning bolt was “Living with Positivity”. I now had a reason to look at every new day to use my writing skills to express my emotions and help others live a better life.
People were surprised to see a woman who had spent majority of her married life in a shell coming out with flying colors and receiving appreciations from all walks of life.
It did bring something back in me, a new zeal of motivation which kept me going till date. Now even after fulfilling all my responsibilities, I started taking out time for me, my “ME TIME”, be it listening to my favourite music, cooking my favourite dish which no one else eats in the house, wearing jeans, going out and making friends. I did things which I haven’t done for years, things I left because I got married and my “Ideal Bahu” would never do. That’s when I decided, I no longer wanted that label; I just wanted to be “ME”.
When, you start giving yourself the due respect & bring some positive change in yourself, people around you start noticing you & appreciation starts flowing in. My happiness went multi-fold when my in-laws motivated me to write more frequently and shared my write-ups in their own network.
After writing numerous stories, poems, quotes and write-ups for some 2 years, I took yet another step and developed my own website (www.iamthelife.in) with all my work done thus far. Although people started subscribing to my website to get frequent updates, proof of pudding came when more than 13,000 followers started appreciating my content on Facebook. Such an encouraging response gave me confidence to invite / hire some writers from India and overseas who started writing on my platform for ‘I am the LIFE’.
Now, I am all set to soon fulfil my dream of supporting home makers like me, who want to do something in life but looking for some motivation and platform, to rediscover their talent and create their own identity.
To start with, I have added “Creative Corner” section in my website, where they can showcase their talent and let the world see it, praise it.
I believe, we the women, have immense potential to excel in any & every area of life. Nobody can beat us, not even a computer (laughs) when it comes to multi-tasking. So, what if we are facing some challenge in our lives, it’s our life and only we can transform it the way we want it to be like.