She’s from a conservative-nuclear-family, and is young, dynamic, charming and intelligent. She’s fun-loving and chirpy. Anyone, from little kids to golden-aged prefers her presence for her sportive and zippy looks. She is married off quite early, in her teens to a handsome young man who is professionally educated and who also have the privilege of having a large-joint-family comprising of professionally educated male members. The love and affection thrown at her by her husband and family blinds her to the extent that she prefers to reciprocate their love by committing herself to kitchen and domestic chores. In a couple of months she learns to cook all traditional dishes. She swiftly turns into an expert in the art of ‘home-making’ and every little thing from dusting the house to cleaning out the car, from cutting the veggies, meat, fish to serving all five times a day for the family is done in a jiffy. Yes, she was extremely happy. A child is born to her. Blessings and wishes in the form of visits, telephone calls and gifts pour in from all over the family.
The initial enthusiasm of “honey moon” period soon ebbed off. The reality in terms of financial need cropped up. Life style changes, family demands, raising a kid etc became the subject of discussion, which ended up in a rift between the husband and wife. Her husband is pressurized to seek a job abroad. He left his teenage wife and kid behind and flew to the destination, the dream-place decided by his family, the place where millions of people today, who long to settle down only to fulfil their familial needs. His family is in a state of bliss. His people glorify him everywhere. He’s minting money – thanks to the gulf opening! He’s sincerely catering to all the needs of his family. A new set of electronic equipments, gifts in the form of gold for the mother and sisters. Brothers get professional education sponsored by the NRI brother. What more will the family need?
Who cared about the status of the married-teenage girl with a baby to tend? Her education is at stake. Neither did her parents nor her in-laws ever feel that she needed education. Her emotions – is she entitled to have one? She begins to feel the pain of loss – yes, she starts thinking for herself now. She wants to get out of this love and affection. She wants to fly high, so high that she doesn’t want a destination. She regrets marrying so early. But she’s concerned about her old parents. How does she express her emotions and to whom? What’s her identity? Where does she belong? Everything around her seems to be dark and bleak.
She remembers an incident from her school days – It was social studies period. Her teacher asked her a question and she fails to answer. Out of anger the teacher reprimands her, a bit sarcastically. “Why study? In your community girls are married of quite early. You also get prepared for that…” The whole class consisting of about fifty students chuckled and then the class roared into laughter. She was embarrassed. Tears welled up but she controlled. This comment from the teacher always troubled her, thus she’s determined to study further. She gets obsessed with education. And with all efforts she enrolled in a correspondence course to get rid of the sympathy thrown at her by her educated friends. The pseudo-sympathy shown by her “educated-husband’s family” did not in any way help to achieve what she wanted. It was through sheer hard work; sleepless nights, cribbing in-laws, and thus she manage to graduate. Meanwhile she also succeeds in joining her loving husband in the middle-east, and wished there would be an end to these never-ending domestic chores, only to realize and regret about the awareness that she’s jailed forever. Once again she’s tied to domestic chores and gives birth to another couple of beautiful and intelligent kids. These angelic kids is what makes her day and give her immense joy but somewhere deep inside she’s in a state of melancholy. What could be that? Have her husband at least tried to find out if she’s going through some deep pain? Could these issues be a trivial matter for the “earning” men? Her obsession to study further once again pushes her to do a PG; she completes and takes up a job. Her education and job gives her immense confidence and identity. But this indirectly brings insecurities in her husband, who feels neglected and ignored. He begins his emotional black-mails, tantrums, so as to get attention. His ultimate aim was to make her sit at home. But she has gone too far. None could stop her. She was committed to the home as well as to her society. She wanted to contribute in a small way to the society’s growth and development. Finally he decides he cannot take it anymore. He walks out of her life never to come back, leaving her alone with her children.
There are millions of such stories with varying degree of changes in each case. But always the crux of the issue is one and the same – her identity neglected by her own people. And most often by the head of the family, unfortunately that happens to be the man. Either it’s the father or the husband or the brother. They claim “responsibility” for the women’s life from her birth to death. And the language of responsibility is force or dominance.
Sometimes, out of fury or anger, one tends to call a man, a scoundrel. Why call now? The woman, herself is responsible for raising a scoundrel. It isn’t late – Mother’s do awake from the deep slumber and glum. Decide how your son should be. Inculcate in them the habit of cooking for the family, washing dishes, clearing up the dining table, washing clothes (undies atleast!). Mothers and sons can do the chores together, husband and wife can plan it together, Father and son/daughter can do the work together. Brother and sister can plan it in a creative way. The monotony of the household work can be broken by swapping roles and making it enjoyable. And thereby help the girls in the coming generation to breathe a new leaf of life.