Being a woman in our Indian society is really difficult. But, raising a strong and independent daughter is even more difficult. At every step in your life you are being questioned, blamed and sometimes, shamed for giving your daughter the freedom that she deserves. Letting her make choices that our orthodox society may label as unsanskaari or besharam.
While you know you are doing the right thing by raising a strong and independent daughter, some part of you are always scared of how your daughter will have to fight against regressive society at every step of our life.
My daughter, who has been an excellent student and a professional, always stood for herself and her dreams – whether it was about pursuing fashion designing or marrying at an age when she was ready. Frankly, I was always proud of her for living her life on her own terms. Though many of our relatives labeled her as a bad influence on their daughters, she never cared! She never cared about the approvals from others! While society was criticizing her for not fitting in, she was working hard to stand out.
When she crossed 30, many of our relatives blamed my husband & me for giving too much freedom to her. Though it used to bother us, we never let our daughter succumb under pressure. And finally, she married at an age of 32 to the person she chose for herself, we were happy.
But hardly we knew, that our strong and independent daughter would not be liked for her conservative in-laws to digest.
While they wanted their son to handle their family business, they wanted our daughter to shut her fashion studio. While they wanted their son to travel and expand their business, they wanted our daughter to be locked in the kitchen to make sure everyone’s need was taken care of. They wanted to celebrate the minor achievements of their son but wanted to demean our daughter for any of hers.
Initially, our daughter kept shut to manage theirs and her expectations. But with time, she realized it wasn’t about expectations. It was about their regressive mindset that wanted her to learn that women are always less than men.
While her husband tried to take a stand for her, my daughter wanted to stand for herself. And one day, when she was told to stop going to the office because the maid was going off for two weeks, she lost it.
“Mummy why can’t we hire a new maid for that time!”
“Bahu Rani, who will teach that maid everything. I won’t! And, if you will cook food for the family or clean your home, you won’t reduce in your stature. And your father in law doesn’t like you going to your cloth shop. He says its better for women to stay in the house and take care of their men!”
“But, mummy you knew I was working before the marriage. When Mukul and I were getting married, why you didn’t say anything at that time!”
“Yes, we didn’t say anything that time. But, we are saying now – You won’t go to work anymore. And, we have enough that we don’t need our daughters-in-law to go out and work! It is so shameful that after such a successful business our daughter-in-law work!”
“You don’t feel any shame by making your educated daughter-in-law do your maid’s work but you have an issue with your daughter-in-law running her own business! Woow, that’s new!”
Her infuriated mother-in-law picked up a call and told me:
“Behenji, your daughter is so disrespectful towards elders. You haven’t taught her anything how a good daughter-in-law or a good wife should act! She is so shameless that she talks back. You never cared about raising her with sanskaars and values, no respectable family will accept her! “
Her tone and words irritated me so much that I simply said, “I will talk to Aru and understand what has happened!” and I hung up.
My daughter came back home because she wasn’t ready to spend her whole life being with people, who don’t respect her or her parents or her work! She refused to go back to that place till her in-laws learn how to treat her and her work with respect!
While my son-in-law and daughter are still working on their marriage, I wonder how our society could be so regressive even in the 21st century. How could well educated and rich families promote such an archaic thought process? On one side, we hail PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, Indra Nooyi for their great achievements, and on the other hand, we want our daughters-in-law to be second to their husbands!
If any respectable family, who is not ready to accept strong and independent daughters, then sorry, in my eyes they are not respectable at all! Because if you can’t respect a strong and independent woman, you don’t deserve any respect!