Since my childhood, my mother made it a point to make me learn that as a woman I would have to make a lot of sacrifices. I remember once Dadi taunted her and showered with hurtful comments, she went into the kitchen. While tears rolled down her cheeks, she kept rolling chappatis. Heartbroken to see my mother tears, I asked her:
“Maa, why do you listen to her. Why you don’t answer back. Dadi, won’t stop till you tell her she can’t talk to you like that!”
With tears in her eyes, she held my hand and said:
“Betaji, it’s part of every woman’s life. That’s the reason why God gave us so much strength like Goddess Durga. Why to speak back and create emotional drama in the family. Ghar ki shaanti ke liye aurat ka chup rehna hi theek hai! And anyway, we, woman are born to sacrifice. You are no different. Like your mother, you will also sacrifice for your family’s happiness. And, the sacrifice will not only bring happiness to your family but also to you.”
Brave 9-year-old me yelled:
“No, Mummy. I won’t sacrifice. I will talk back. If it brings happiness, then why are you crying?” I just took away my hand and ran off from house to play with my friends.
Now 20 years have passed and I am 29 years old. 4 years back, I got married. Every day of my married life, I kept wondering where the courage of that 9-year-old was gone. Where the courage to stand for myself was gone?
Just like my mom, I was making endless sacrifices and compromises for the sake of my family’s happiness. And, frankly, I had changed so much that I couldn’t even identify with myself anymore.
Every aspect of my life had become a servant of my in-laws’ approval. There were times when I wanted to speak up. But, just like my mom, I stayed silent. Every time I gathered the courage to stand for myself, I can hear my mother saying – “Ghar ki shaanti ke liye aurat ka chup rehna hi theek hai!”
But then one day everything changed. That day, I felt how stupid I have been to stay silent; Because of my silence, my marriage had become a bundle of compromises that people expect me to bear on my shoulders for the rest of my life.
Last year, it was my third anniversary. Frankly, I haven’t expected anything from my husband or my in-laws. I had been married for three years and nobody even ever cared to wish or celebrate the day I came to their family.
But that day, when papa called and said they are coming to meet me. I was super thrilled. They were mid-way and they were about to reach in the next 2 hours. I was so excited.
But, what happened next left many in the house shocked.
Rather than being excited or welcoming my parents, my mother-in-law started taunting me about how my father didn’t take their permission before coming to meet me. In a rude tone, she said:
“Humare yahan pe guest pehle pooch ke aatey hai! (Guests first take permission before coming! Your father should have taken our permission before coming here. After all, he is coming to his daughter’s sasural”
I was shocked. I was shocked that firstly, she was talking about my parents. They were no guests. They were my parents. The very same people who gave me birth and made endless sacrifices for me, can’t meet me anymore without taking my in-laws’ permission. Secondly, it wasn’t just their house, it wasn’t mine too! That was it! I knew I had it. I told my mother-in-law –
“If you have so much problem then don’t worry! My parents’ visit won’t cause you any inconvenience. My parents and I will go outside and spend the day at a mall. And, please I am done listening to you! Or staying silent for this house. In fact, you don’t deserve me!”
I looked at my husband, who was silently listening to the whole matter, and said:
“Sachin, if you are also having issues about my parents’ visit, then let me know. I will pack my bags and go with them. I had gotten used to being treated like a doormat but to treat my parents in such a manner is totally unacceptable. I just couldn’t let her treat them this way. This marriage isn’t worth it. If it means neither I nor my parents will be insulted.”
Realizing how serious I was, my husband told his mother to stay quiet. He told her that it wasn’t a way to treat his in-laws. He told her what if she would be treated the same way at her daughter’s in-laws’ place.
I wasn’t sure how much she understood, but one thing was clear my days of compromising were over.
P.S. I want to thank IFORHER for bringing such powerful stories to the forefront. I would have never gathered the courage to share my story with such a large audience if I wouldn’t have sought strength from other women’s stories on IFORHER. Thank you so much for giving a voice to those who want to be heard!