Marriage in India- Still a fear for educated women
Quite often I reminisce my childhood days when my mother used to utter a few golden words almost all the times and those were..."study beta I don’t want you to be dependent on anyone like I am. Life will be very different if you will be employed". Likewise, my father’s foremost concern was his daughter’s education. Both of them pushed me and my sister to work hard and to achieve the goals we both have set for ourselves. They never ever wanted us to become just homemakers and neither did we aspire to be just a 'housewife'. Not because there's a stigma associated with this word, but to make a meaningful livelihood, to have a say in society, to remain aware and to never let die the journey of learning in the school of 'life'. Maybe it was the choice we had always made for ourselves.
However, the agony was waiting ahead in the youth, when the practicality emerged. Despite of providing quality upbringing to their daughters, they started acting really outlandish when they were in search of a life partner for their little girls. No matter how educated or modern they themselves are, their mind-set remain old-fashioned which hasn’t changed even after generations. According to them, girls are predestined to adjust post marriage and if need be, become a homemaker for the rest of their lives. When the hunt for a perfect match was on, it looked more like a well prearranged nautanki. Parents of the girl side acted in an eccentric manner, thinking as if it were a life time opportunity. Well, on the other hand, the boy’s family always behaved in an overflowing assertiveness with a belief that their son was the only male left on this planet, unlike girls, who could be found in every nook and corner. Beliefs haven’t improved because no one has taken the initiative. Why can’t parentage of girls who are undeniably proud of their daughters, present themselves with similar kind of attitude? They have all the rights to do so, isn’t it?
I want to quote a very recent incident of a very close friend of mine. While the search for a perfect match for her was in full swing, a middle class family- mother, father and son (who was nothing great) came to her place to find an ideal spouse for their beloved son. Right from the beginning, all the formalities started. They were treated like Gods. From starters to breakfast to lunch to evening snacks and whatnot. The entire affair was too big for their shoes but still they managed, God knows why! While the eating process was on, my friend was asked to come out and sit right in front of them. The moment she stepped in and sat on the couch, boy’s mother unceasingly gazed at her. She was checking her out from head to toe and in between asking irrelevant questions, relevant ones only according to her. First question that hit my friend was: do you cook? Her answer was, “yes aunty I do but whenever I get time as my office hours aren’t limited to a 9-5 job.” Next question hits the girl’s mom. It means it’s only you who slog the whole day and your daughter does nothing! She said loudly. Her mother replied, “She leaves office at 8 AM and comes by 9ish where is the energy or time to do household chores?”, she answered back saying, for girls home is priority and job is secondar; “ghar to ladke hi chalate hain, ladikyon ki job karna to time pass hai; and please note these comments were coming from an educated lady. Perceptibly my friend was so furious hearing this gobbledygook, but as per her father’s strict instructions she remained tight-lipped. Next came the father's turn to play the rapid fire round with the girl’s family, so without wasting time he asked the girl’s father does she visit the village, her dad said instantly, yes quite often! Our kids enjoy going to the village. They stay there for days and months. Her father knew very clearly that she hates going to village since her childhood and still he gave such a reply, but why? After that useless session and misappropriation of precious time my friend and her mom were asked to leave. After 15 minutes my friend’s father came inside and asked her decision. My friend was taken aback and outraged to the core. After witnessing that the family merely needs a housewife, how can the father even question her like that? There wasn’t a single conversation that happened between the girl and the so-called guy, my friend failed to understand what was so fascinating about them. Nonetheless, she was successful in persuading her father and got herself saved from the disaster.
The whole debate lies here, and to be noted, every qualified girl is facing similar situation. I believe if the conservative mentality can’t be changed than the education is useless, as education is beyond degrees and professional courses. Don’t educate women if they don’t have a say in anything. Why can’t this procedural of hunting a groom be changed and become more structured. When we girl are equally educated and have become bread earners, can’t our parents have the right and authority to question the lad if he is equally equipped with the house hold chores? Furthermore, how is he going to take care of the house along with his better half?
Lately, there was a thought provoking advertisement by an apparel brand that presented a girl who was getting ready to meet a prospective groom, but she wasn’t all that sure about it, and voiced the concerns to her father. However, the father said nothing and told the girl to come outside quickly as the guests were waiting. This made the girl even more disheartened. The moment the guy’s mother said we liked the girl, so do we have your approval for the marriage, the girl’s father replied, yes of course! But we also have to come to your house. Stunned, the lady asked why? To which the father answered that even his daughter wants to see if your son can do household chores only then we will give our daughter. As expected, the mother said proudly, my son doesn’t know anything not even how to boil water, but sometimes he can make noodles. To this, the girl’s father said sorry my daughter cannot possibly survive on just noodles. Instantly the guy said, sir why don’t you come to our house after 10 days, by then I will learn to cook something and then you can see if I’m capable enough! The girl was content after listening to his father’s views. Such kind of an approach is the need of the hour. My questions is, why a girl’s parent think so differently when even they sacrifice their entire life to shape their daughter’s future. Modernisation comes with beliefs, not just with the lifestyle. Change indeed is beautiful and to see the change be the change first. It has to start from somewhere, as we can’t keep saying “kuch nahi kar sakte, aisa hi chala aa raha hai.”
This topic has always touched me as I desperately need to see the change happening. I want to see the world, where parents of a girl proudly stay with their daughters whenever they wish to, and without giving it a second thought. Conservative thoughts are meant to be transformed with time.
I know many of my intimate friends who are terrified of getting married as they don’t want to compromise with their careers. They have stopped being a centrepiece and later tolerate the pain of rejection for some extraneous reasons. If parents can’t be the change, at least boys of this generation can set examples and speak up. The foremost reason in most of the botched marriages is of adjustments which unfortunately is considered to be a women’s accountability. And owing to the pressures professionally and personally even females have started giving up.
As they say charity begins at home, I have brought in the change at my abode, which I ought to see. I made my parents understand that girl’s life is beyond marriage and adjustments. Just because we are females we can’t be treated any different than a male. My husband and I have divided all the responsibilities equally. We want to set an example, hence have incorporated lessons we have learnt from our pasts. Still a lot has to be changed and I’m certain that with time, it will!
(Pic courtesy: Thinktsock Photo. Image for representation purpose only.)