Contributor: Devyani Chauhan Bisht
Ever since I was a little girl, the topic of marriage was omnipresent in our house. Never frequently discussed, but popped up time and again whenever suitable, whenever the need to be discussed and then very quietly and smoothly pushed under the carpet. But its large and looming presence hung over me throughout, an invisible halo over my head.
I belonged to a fairly broad minded family. Or rather, I always took pride in the fact that my family had always been just the right balance between traditional and contemporary. I had a fair amount of freedom for whatever I wanted to do, wherever I wanted to go. Now, when I say fair, I mean I knew what was and what was not expected of me so I basically floated within the boundaries of the freedom that was set for me. And I was happy. I was a people pleaser, an approval seeker, and hence I adhered to the certain set ways of life for me quite effortlessly I would say. Growing up was easy and laid back, with an every now and then a dose of the fact that I was to leave the house one day and adapt to the ways of a new home. In short, I was to become someone else, for someone else, and this was put in the most subtle fashion. While I took it in calmly, my mind always had a rebellious streak. Who can help that though?
I was married at the age of 23, and moved to Mumbai, in a brand new household, with brand new people. Brand new not in terms of commodities but in terms of the differences I saw and felt with each step I took and each breath I inhaled. On a lighter note, I thought I was the commodity, shifted from one home to another. And we do it with so much fanfare and ease because that’s what we are fed for all those years. So by the time we reach that stage, we feel like we are almost pro at all the adaptation expected of us. Modern or old fashioned, our society still functions on the rules it lays. While some are vocal and nasty about it, some will be manipulative and subtle, but the rules of this game remain the same.
So, here I was, on one hand struggling to be a part of a new family, with the old family and the old ways that are obviously a part of you, lingering at the edge of my mind. As human nature would have it, I found myself comparing this and that, and then scolding myself too that No, that Was, and this Is. And you simply have to make the best of it and the most of it. I played along, hoping, praying and trying every day to belong. But it was not until my first visit to my parents home, post marriage, that I realised I no longer belonged there either. As I strode up to my room, so confidently, to my place and space, what I saw broke my heart a little. My room, the one for which I had so fondly selected the wall hues and the curtains, the bed I sprawled on so lazily once, my pillow without which sleep deluded me, nothing remained mine anymore. The wardrobe in front of which I stood each morning before college, choosing outfits for the day, taking my own sweet time deciding and undeciding, was now nicely stacked and packed with my brother’s belongings. So what now? I felt like I was neither there, nor here. And that wasn’t a delectable feeling for sure.
Juggling between these newfound roles, I tried hard to strike a balance between being myself as much as I could along with playing a role that was not to come to me as naturally as I thought. Not that I was not understanding, or unwilling to adapt and embrace new surroundings, just that the person I was, so balance conscious, my only nagging thought was; “Why should the girl be the only one trying”? “Why would she alone be expected to give in to everything always”? As a matter of fact, she was the one who left her home, parents, city, surname and everything she ever knew, so why shouldn’t the man who is to make for a husband to her do the same? And what is so wrong with a thought like that to cross any girl’s mind?
Time, as they say, is a settler for everything. And I suppose, it is this time, days to months and months into years that help a girl make this transition that our society expects of her. Sometimes alone and often times having a husband who is able to be a strong bridge between his parents and wife can be a source of great strength. I often wonder, if parents of girls were as insecure as that of boys, would these men ever have any girls to get married? But our traditional society is such, that like how a girl is conditioned to know she will go to another household, parents of girls also seem always prepared to let go of their girl, adhering to the social norm. And as the parents of girls take a back seat in their daughter’s life, why shouldn’t parents of boys/men be willing to take a backseat too? Though again, that generalisation cannot be done since it all depends on the myriad kind of people our society comprises. And it has nothing to do with money, status or education. It’s to do with a mentality, while the richest and the classiest of people can display a barbaric thought process, there are some others who can surprise you, if you are lucky enough, with their open-minded, non-conforming attitude; and that for me commands respect.
Change is a gradual process for everyone. So if a girl is transitioning from a daughter to a daughter in law, why can’t the man transition as smoothly and easily from a son to a husband? Not overnight, but simply by striking the right balance between the two parties in his life. Isn’t he the key to making this transition process for his wife easier? Why is it so wrong for him to stay away from his parents just as the girl has left hers? Why does our society make it a big deal sometimes? While the girl is expected to have a non-interference policy from her parents, why shouldn’t the man follow the same thing? What gives more power to a man’s parents over a girl’s in our society? When will some Indian men grow up? Well, time to think. Time to change.
Contributor: Devyani Chauhan Bisht
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