I just read this article by Rashmi Bansal. The “White Tiger” reference doesn’t really interest me, but the story makes me think. The lady in question is smart, urban, well-educated, and financially independent. Yet, she chooses to let her parents make a decision on her behalf, without so much as meeting the man she eventually married. She saw him, just as he did, among a hundred other relatives. And she chose to hand over her life, her likes, her dislikes and her independence to him. All because Papa told her to. This makes me wonder if we even make the effort to speak up. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that women enjoy being emotionally enslaved to another. But, we are often too resigned to our fate, because there is no other way this can be.
Then, there is the question of who is responsible for women being treated as doormats. Upbringing? Society? Parents? Family? Or the woman herself? This lady is a case in point. She worked in a college before marriage. She gave it up for marriage. Now, she wants to work but can’t seem to find a job. She will also not work in the industry because papa told her that it’s not appropriate. And no, I am not criticizing her. But, I really feel bad that other people have so much of a control over our lives. It hurts that women here cannot dare to dream, or even hope; that much of our lives is way beyond our control. This control is exercised by parents, friends, family, society and every other external factor you can think about. It’s crazy how we get so caught up in this idea of duty and obligation that we don’t even stop to think about whether this is what we really want from our life.
This lady cannot fall in love. Forget falling in love, she cannot even think of a man in that way. Because, she is not expressive, in her own words. No…scratch that! She is not allowed to be expressive. Because expressing love, wanting to express it, or wanting to see it expressed is a bad thing. This is true with most Indian families. The touch is taboo. We cannot touch to express how much we love someone, even if it’s a parent or a sibling. We cannot express it verbally either. Because of a rather deluded concept of love being silent. She cannot choose her life partner because parents know better what kind of man is required in her life. So what if he is less qualified, had a string of girlfriends, or arrogant. Parents know better! Sigh! When will this end? When will we stop treating our daughters like cattle, which needs to be sold off to the highest bidder when still saleable?
Maybe I am being emotional here, but that’s just me. Rashmi calls it the hen coop. Maybe it is. Or maybe it’s simply a gilded cage that apparently offers all kinds of comforts but still clips your wings when you wish to fly. I have wings now. I wish to fly. I wish to let my dreams take flight. And for the last 27 years, nobody or nothing has come in my way. I can only hope that it will remain that way. I can hope because unlike millions of other women in this world, I am privileged. I am privileged to have been born in an urban, progressive household; privileged to be educated; privileged to have parents who will not force me to do anything that I do not want to. No, not even get married. Unfortunately, not all women are this privileged. But, this brings me back to my original point. Being able to live your life should not be a privilege. It should be a right. When will the rest of the female half of humanity get this right? Anytime soon?