Well, for a very long time, we’ve been witnessing countless debates, forums, seminars, and reading a plethora of articles on women empowerment and equality. And indeed, all this has helped to a great extent. We, women, are educated, self-dependent and well-versed with the rights bestowed upon us by the Indian laws. We have our own opinions and we can give advice too! In fact, we contribute to the society in a big way and our presence is valued. Needless to say, our status is far better at present than it was in the past; still, I feel NOTHING has changed. If the world is changing, it has to change fully, not as per somebody's ease or convenience! We hear from everyone around that there isn’t any discrimination between a girl and a boy child, but there is and will remain. When it comes to education and earning, there is no bias at all. But, when it comes to taking care of your parents or making them stay at your place when they grow old, the discrimination arises in a big way. And, hence I say NOTHING has changed, not even a bit. At least not for a married girl and her poor parents!
I personally believe that the situation of a girl and her parents has become worse in all these years. I’m a married woman and will talk on the basis of my experience. My perception may vary from others, but I will mention what I think is the reality of this hour. Many years ago, when the literacy rate was minimal and a girl’s education was considered to be secondary, the only responsibility a girl’s parents was to find a compatible match for their daughters and get them married. So, money was majorly spent on the wedding celebrations. Since times have changed now and so have the expectations, well-qualified and working girls are the need of the hour. Presently, the utmost responsibility of parents is to provide the best education, so that their daughters can make great careers too. However, a girl's final destination is still marriage. As per the norms of the society, marriage is a must. No matter if a daughter is earning well and can live her life lavishly, but unmarried girls become the object of gossip and in no time, the gossip takes the form of ugly stories. So, the idea of letting their daughters remain unmarried all their lives is a big NO-NO for any parent. Additionally, a girl was, is and will remain a so-called 'PARAYA DHAN', whose actual home isn’t the one where she was born and spent so many years, but the one where she will go post marriage. What is this and where are we heading to? The patriarchal mindset hasn’t changed a bit, no matter how modern we’ve become. Why do I say that the situation has become worse? Earlier, a girl’s parents used to get NIL in return and in the present too, they get NIL in return, despite spending all their savings in shaping their daughters’ life. I often wonder that when they aren’t getting anything in return, why do they spend their hard-earned money on their daughters? Why do they educate us when we don’t have a say (as per our wish) after marriage, especially when it comes to our parents and their well-being?
The return was NIL THEN and is NIL NOW, but expenses are way higher! I feel bad for my parents when I see their uneasiness at my place in comparison to the comfort they get at their own place. I feel like weeping, when they say, “Hame Kuch Nahi Chahiye Beta Tum Kush Raho Bas”. Why do girl’s parents stop expecting from their daughters the moment they’re married, whereas a guy’s parents start expecting from their daughters–in–law too? I’ve experienced the difference when my parents and my husband’s parents come and stay with us. My parents feel uneasy and behave in an awkward way as if we are doing some favour to them by making them stay with us. On the other hand, my husband’s parents come as if it’s their birthright. I don’t have any objection with my in-laws coming, my only concern is the thought process. And trust me, it kills me from within! If this is what a girl’s parents were supposed to get in return, then I believe they should not have spent a single penny on us. Rather they should have saved the money and enjoyed their own life! I know many such old parents, who stay at a rented place in the same city just to be with their daughters. They, for sure, can’t stay at their daughter’s place because either the daughters are staying with the in-laws or in-laws keep visiting. We are two sisters and it is our responsibility to take care of our parents and we will. But I don’t want that uneasiness! Parents are parents - be it girls' or boys'. God didn’t make any societal values or norms; they are created by humans like us. If we can make rules, we can amend them too with time. If things won’t change, who would want to have a baby girl? Everyone will crave for a baby boy!
And, the very recent law passed by the Supreme Court that says "A Hindu son can divorce his wife for the cruelty of trying to pry him away from his `pious obligation` to live with his aged parents and provide shelter to them", is the perfect example of the chauvinism prevailing in our country. Hence, I say nothing has changed! What society are we living in? We expect the society to change without changing ourselves and how can we forget that society comprises of people like us only. Why can’t we set an example for others? Why can’t we follow the simple mantra - to see the change, be the change first! Needless to say, it’s very easy to say but to have a liberal thinking on this particular topic seems next to impossible.
Readers, please think and tell me if I’m wrong somewhere. I die to stay with my parents. It’s been ages I have celebrated any festival with them since the time I got married. Every time an occasion comes, the only thing expected out of me is to pack my bags and leave for my in-laws’ place. And as per them, that’s my real home and rest are the temporary ones! Now that my younger sister is also married, my poor parents have to be all alone during festivals. However, I will make sure this won’t last for long, as I will surely find a middle way. Being alone during occasions is undeniably very painful at this age. Hopefully, on the next big festival, I will enjoy and celebrate with them!
Well, I’ve made a promise to myself and I hope I stick to it. I only wish to have a baby girl, but if at all I give birth to a baby boy, I will certainly try to set an example for the rest! I will surely be the change, to see the change!