As I turned 27 last year, my parents, like many desi parents, started arranging meetings for me to find an appropriate groom. And like many others who hope to find the life partner through arranged marriage setup, I also had some parameters.
But, my foremost parameter was that I wanted not only the to-be groom but also his family to be progressive.
I met one of these boys, who did an MBA from one of the best colleges in India and was into banking. After our first meeting, the parents of both sides decided to meet up. Though I wanted to meet him for a couple of more times, my parents and he insisted that parents should be involved.
My parents and I had a pact – they asked me to stay silent and I asked them to specifically ask certain questions to the family to assess how progressive they are. Though staying silent during Rishta meetings wasn’t my preferred way of dealing with it, but when my parents pushed me a lot, I gave up.
So finally a day was picked and the place was fixed. We met at a coffee house near CP. After the initial exchange of greetings, the parents started talking about their backgrounds, current news, and all the random stuff that had no direct connection to my happiness after marriage.
On my parents’ strict instructions, I was controlling myself and abiding by the rule to remain silent.
But it wasn’t just me or the boy, who was silent. The boy’s sister-in-law was silent too. I wonder why she was so quiet. In fact the boy told me, her sister-in-law was managing the operations team of the FMCG company in Gurgaon.
As with every passing moment, I was getting restless as my parents weren’t asking anything that could help me in assessing how progressive this family was.
Then thankfully, the boy’s mother herself start talking about how modern and progressive she is.
” We are very modern people, ji. We allow our daughter-in-law to wear jeans. We have even given her our permission to work. Some days, when she is too tired after work, we order food from outside. We also let her meet her parents on weekend.”
While my parents were listening to it and nodding with a smile on their faces, I was shocked to hear it. I wondered,
How could you call yourself progressive or modern when you feel it is your right to give permission to your daughter-in-law to let her live her life?
On my way back, what shocked me how my own parents labeled them as modern and felt it was a good match for their progressive daughter. It took me 2 days to clearly explain how they were not progressive rather pseudo-progressive.
If you feel you allow your daughter-in-law to wear her choice of clothes, you ain’t progressive!
If you feel your daughter-in-law needs your permission for building her career, you ain’t progressive!
If you feel you let your daughter-in-law visit her parents then you ain’t modern!
The concept of a woman living life as per her own choice is still alien to many so-called modern families. Their thought process is still deeply rooted in a patriarchal mindset, but they want to be labeled as progressive.
Their act of giving permission to their bahus stems from their troubling desire to control their daughter-in-law & her life.
It broke my heart how these people were fine with making an assumption that their daughter-in-law needs their permission at every step of their life. Doesn’t matter how small or big the decisions are, the daughter in law is expected to seek their approval.
After the meeting, whenever I think about their daughter-in-law, I still feel sorry for her. How she had to give up her right to live life as per her choice to sustain a happy married life. I wish our society would change and understand how married women also have the right to live life as per their choices.
While I am still waiting for my progressive life partner and his family, I am happy that I am still the queen of my life; I am still the master of my soul!