15 April, 2010
The Shackles of the 'Modern' Woman!
Despite all the calm that appears on the surface...there’s hardly a woman who does not have a storm hidden below!
I quote here some examples of myriad emotions and silent misery of the fairer sex, women whom I have been fortunate enough in knowing and who for me personify sometimes the strength of the Himalayas, the purity of the Ganges, the serenity of a silence and the fragility of the flowers on their way to being crushed! These are people who have confided in me with all the trust in their heart and I share this with you, in the hope that it helps someone out there in some way! Thank you The Bald Guy for your write up that motivated me to write something like this also...beyond the giggles and our colourful frames of perceptions!
These are real people and lives actually happening about in the world somewhere as we speak...names have been changed to respect their privacy!
Astha- The Nervous Wreck!
Astha is a 26 year old married woman living in a metropolitan town. She was a career woman till four years ago when she fell in love and within a few months of giddy romance gave up her everything to settle down with her fairy tale Prince Charming!
But harsh realities of living together every day, caused the bubble of romance to burst sooner than she expected. She was on her toes perpetually to keep her husband happy but mean-makes were discovered on every step of the way! Everything he liked about her became a distant memory as what all he disliked came to the fore! Her follies accentuated and glories diminished...a strong, independent woman lost all confidence in herself, to be able to even purchase an outfit without someone’s consent and approval! Although a full time mom to her only son, she was blamed for the concentration disorder perceived in the child at school! Today she is bullied not just by her spouse but also the child for he sees his father do so!
It is sad to see how her chirpy self in now relegated to the backdrop because she fears perpetually that she’d blurt out something inappropriate or laugh where she should not or stay quiet where she should burst with fake glee! So a passive and no-expression state is her expression now of all times.
Low self esteem is as serious a malady in today’s time as any of the fatal diseases that you can come up with!
It not only sucks the life breath out of you but makes you a pathetic vegetable...you are living and around but not better than a backdrop that is barely noticed! A difference of five years between the couple gets her to be treated like a kid and reprimanded in that way too...which is certainly beyond the respectability demanded in a marriage!
My constant struggle with her:
I tell her to move out and mingle with people...watch what they are doing and wearing and then comparatively realize first if her taste is actually bad or has she been convinced of the same to be cut off from the mainstream and unable to flutter her wings and dare to fly away someday!
It’s not that her husband does not love her...it’s just that he considers her to be his acquired property and till she’d silently bear all he throws at her, she would go on to prove that he is right about her being an object!
I tell her to insist on her going back to work and she was doing fine till the marriage came along*although she used to then cling on to her cousin sister every time she wanted to run errands*
I see her all ready to shake up in fear by a mere loud sound, hesitant in voicing her opinion and calling up someone for every small decision to be taken and it breaks my heart! I fear she would never grow up like this!
Meghna- The Lost Wife!
Meghna too began as an independent woman*it’s scary at the rate such sufferings are borne by educated and independent women...I shudder to think how the lower classes must be accepting just about any torture*
Meghna also fell in love with a boy in her MBA class and decided to settle down soon! Her father being very affluent and suffering with cancer, she easily got the consent for it all!
But as always happens, after the wedding the realities began to draw in.
All material comforts or rather the lack of them that she was so eager to overlook before walking the aisle, suddenly became conspicuous by their absence. It was not that her husband’s side was poor...they just didn’t want to spend! The mother-in-law came up with stories that they didn’t have enough money for the furnishings knowing full well that Meghna’s father had left her a hefty amount, enough to sail her through life. He had provided three flats in her name in different posh localities of her erstwhile home New Delhi and also many LIC policies that matured at regular intervals to ensure her sufficient liquidity for many years to come!
Meghna began to spend her own money on the renovations and soon the eyes that squinted at the prospect of a possible cash flow became enlarged like ostrich’s eggs viewing the wealth-well that had suddenly sprung open at their disposal. The subsequent deliveries of her two children, her own personal expenses, managing the kitchen budget and the like soon came to her own head and the mother-in-law even asked for “loans” from her!
She would have borne that too had the husband not turned cold all of a sudden after the father’s death, realizing she had no family now to turn to in case she would decide she had had enough here! Also accidently discovered was a monthly recurring deposit of a lofty sum being credited to the sister-in-law’s name, when pocket money to her was refused, on the pretext of deficits!
Often being gullible fools, women fail to understand the motives of prospective love proposals. They are so eager to become one with the new fabric of their married life that they barely realize how completely their identities and belongings are being merged too! They are ready to give up the jewellery they brought with them and succumb to off-hand remarks about requirements of new electronics, etc in the house, made in all awareness and deliberation so that it would be well conveyed to the parents and suitably presented on the next festive occasion!
My struggle with her:
I often tell her to let things be as they are! If the monthly ration has not come...don’t get it yourself! When there would be no food...they’d have to arrange for it! But she becomes helpless as her two children’s demands are at stake! She works at the family’s office too and demanded no pay till we friends insisted upon her to do so. She continues to stay underpaid now, as an MBA hired from outside, would have to be given thrice the same amount!
All the property that she had got renovated to an absolutely changed house now, is in the mother-in-law’s name, who is a widow. She has been refusing to transfer the house even in her son’s name, citing the fear that she’d be ignored if that happened! After repeated discussions I have got her around to insist the house being transferred to the grandchildren’s name to avoid the bias towards the sister-in-law. She has now stopped using the joint bank account with her husband, for funds were deposited there by her but withdrawn by her husband, sometimes even without her knowledge!
She uses a separate account, has all her policies edited to make her sons the nominees and not her husband, has refused to get the kitchen and households items and takes her sons out for lunch when there is nothing at home to cook with! She makes a list of all items that she spends on and hands it over to the husband to meet the household expenses. Yet she is often emotionally blackmailed and still exploited of her own money often without any reasonable security!
Sugandha is a college lecturer, a topper in all fields and a go getter that her college boasts of as an indelible asset! She has also been married from seven years into one of the most illustrious families of her town! And out of these seven, she has spent six in trying to produce a baby! Her in-laws are educated and civilised in every sense of the word and there is a grandchild already from the elder brother-in-law!
Sugandha has been taken to pundits, tantriks, palmists, horoscope makers, astrologists and even babas who ward off evil shadows. She has eaten balls made of cow dung on the pretext of that being a Prasad, brushed with the holy broom based on the argument that there is an evil spirit within her stopping her from the conception! She has bent her forehead at the feet of any holy man whose name is mentioned before the mother-in-law. She’s been to a gurudwara in Amritsar, a temple in Meerut, a dargah in Rajasthan and many other places where well-wishers deemed that she’d be blessed with a baby!
Not just that she has been poked by at least two dozen doctors all over the nation, been on severe and strong injections leading to complete hormone turmoil within her and removing any little faith that she had in the god!
She shudders at the idea of going even to the temple because she’d be singled out there again and asked before a hundred prying eyes to be given special blessings as though she was cursed! She puts her career at hold each time she undergoes a monthly treatment and stays on bed rest till bad news breaks again and is yet blamed for not making child rearing her priority.
Bearing a child is considered as the next logical step in Indian marriages and the inability to do so is deemed as a curse. Even if you are happy in a particular set up, the society makes it a point to emphasize this to you that you are incomplete. Although meant in good terms but even random strangers stay travelling in the train with you or chit chatting in the gym may end up advising you on what to do or not to have baby and leave you with the card of another doctor, who is known for sure shot success. As a result, Sugandha may appear to be moving on face value...but she is rotting inside being in stagnant water of indifferent thought and unable to walk away!
My struggle with her:
I have time and again told her that having children is a part of life and not the end of life! It is a silly argument to give that whom should I earn or save for?
Why not do that for yourself? How many parents are there in this world, whose children go abroad and settle and never turn back to find out about the parents except send a cheque each month!
Create your own cheques for your old age!
Do we want children for our selfish needs of later life?
Can’t two people be happy just with each other? Her husband is supportive of the misery and stands by her in times of tears...but he too feels helpless before his overpowering urge to have successors to carry forward his name! She wants to stop the circus going around her but feels pressurised by the expectations of those that qualify under 'near n dear ones'! I also tell her for adoption but the urge to have a baby has slowly died within her!
Issues like these may not make headlines, yet they make a woman silently suffer and crush within.
Have we really moved forward?
Education is said to be the key...but then it does not work on all kinds of locks, does it?
The most rational step is to put your foot down and say "NO"!
But then sometimes the invisible shackles of emotions become stronger than the physical, visible will to break free of them!
I read this in the newspaper the other day by motivational speaker Deepak Chopra and it made so much sense, that I wanted to share it:
-Confront the following beliefs that turn women into victims:
-I am less than a man
-Without a man I am nothing on my own
-Suffering in silence is something that a woman is born to do
-It’s saintly for me to be miserable so that someone else can be happy
-Life is unfair...all I can do is put up with my misfortunes!
You were not put here to be a saint, martyr or a victim!
You were put here to claim your life as your own and to pursue your own vision of fulfilment!