Of Marriages and Expectations
The beginning of my own struggle.Niharika Deep
In our Indian society, Bahu is seen as, well, a Bahu only. She could never be accepted as a Beti of her matrimonial family, even if she is happily accepted and well respected in it. It is a clear fact, please, no arguments, else I would bring in the DNA thing to finally prove myself right, biologically too.. I would like to start my story in a generalised manner, so that when I put up my original story of ordeals and hardships, at a later stage, people should be able to relate my thoughts to my actions.
To start with, be it love or arranged marriage, the whole bride selection process is faulted, in my opinion. In an arranged marriage scenario, the groom's family, meets the prospected bride & her family. They give her a full head to toe scanner look- to look for appearance defects, ask her questions- check hearing & IQ defects, talk to her- for speech defects, in many cases make her walk..you can relate this to the "beti, chai lao!" walk- for mobility defects. I myself, had visited 2 of prospective groom's families in temples, which my mother later on enlightened me with the reason being, since the girl cannot wear sandals or heels in a temple, the groom's family can figure out her proper height- so we have the height defect too. But I guess the same rules do not strictly apply to the guys. I experienced a marriage proposal rejection from a guy, whom I had dared to ask to remove his shoes, so that his height could be properly compared with mine. Turned out, shoes or no shoes, I was not a good match for him.
Let's talk about a love marriage scenario. Here, the couple knows almost everything about their partners. All tests for defects are done pre family meeting, including the emotional and the mental adjustment tests. So we can say that it can be equated as arranged marriage plus temperamental tests completed.
So after all these tests and interviews, and after the final word of acceptance from the guy and his family and the girl and her family, the marriage takes place. Everybody seems to be happy, till the whole big fat wedding ends. The Vidaai is done, the new bride leaves her parental home and moves to her new life and family. As soon as a few days go by, the new bride becomes old and things start changing. People start noticing differences in nature, behaviour, speech delivery, dressing sense etc. Oh she needs to adjust, she needs to understand our family system, this is not her maayka that she can do as she wishes. My say is, that after making the girl go through so many tests and rounds of interactions, and after your acceptance of the girl, the way she was, before marriage, what is the point of finding defects in her, after marriage! I mean, why you would want to change someone, who you first liked so much, just the way she was, before marriage, that you wanted her to be a part of your family. This means that the Bride selection process does have defects, in its own being, that there implications result in unhappiness to someone or the other.
We often hear the "aunty chats " about how good somebody's daughter in law is or how evil she has become after marriage. How she has come pieced the peace in family and broken all relations. Understand this people, no girl is brought up by her parents, to be a House Breaker Wife in future. Every girl wants only one thing from her marriage, her Husband, to understand her or even if not understand, just respect her for her thoughts and opinion. That is all that a girl wants nowadays. Our generation is totally different from what it used to be. Women are more career oriented, independent and decision making humans now. How do you expect her to stop analysing, reviewing and making her point be heard, in family matters? So if the wife notices an issue, discusses it with her husband and gives her opinion, she becomes, interfering, dominating and controlling! And if she chooses to be detached to most family issues, just to avoid friction with the already existing family, she becomes self-centered, secluded and not interested in sasural matters! The scope of accepting the Bahu as your Beti, ends there itself.
A very intelligent stand up comedian remarked that in our country, there is just one expectation from a man, that he is born. The rest everything is all set for him. But for a girl, the life is full of expectations, from the beginning. She should dress well, eat less, look pretty, should not put on weight, study properly, make friends with good family backgrounds and so on, so that one day when her profile is sent to any groom's family, they are impressed by her looks and background. As for the guy, he might end up wherever he wants, he will always have a shot at getting married to a pretty young lady of his choice. This age old thinking is still deep rooted in our society. However modern we say we are, we Indians are still the same. A mother in law, allowing her daughter in law to wear western clothes, still stands at fault if she does not allow her daughter in law to fulfill her dreams, which are not just related to wearing a jeans and top.
I have been to some of the most beautiful cities of the world, but I still find my India, most beautiful. But when incidents like those in which young women are cautiously and smartly deprived of their right to career or decision making, by their spouse or in laws, happen, I start doubting myself. Expectations are always two ways, in a marriage. Why does our society still put the onus of a happy marriage on the shoulders of the wife? Why is it that certain choices are forced on her to save the family's happiness, which might leave her unhappy at the first place? We have spent ages in saying that men and women should have equal rights, but how accurately this equality is measured, is something to be looked into. I am not a moral police or a woman's rights activists or even a sayer in the way our society runs, but when I entered into this whole gamble of marriage and expectations, I was taken aback by the realities of our modern society. My own story is rather very colorful from the wrapper look, but has a dark surprise inside. Having the strength to come out with one's ordeal is tough, but I believe, when you do it, do it with valor.