“Poor Riya is struggling. Rohan doesn’t take care of her at all. She has to go to the office, look after the kids and then take care of Rohan’s parents. While she is doing it so well, Rohan is blinded by all her persistence to be a good wife. Rather than seeing her goodness, he and his parents just keep pinpointing small things. They keep shaming and insulting her for minor things that she misses. It is quite disgusting how, rather than sharing the load with her, they just keep blaming her for not being good enough! Every time they will say Riya doesn’t do this right or she made this mistake or she wasn’t smart enough to do a better job at being a mom or a daughter-in-law or wife!”
While my mother-in-law was narrating my sister-in-law’s ordeal to a relative, I felt how much pain she was in. How much pain she felt that her daughter wasn’t happy in her marriage. And, while I have all sympathy for my sister-in-law, I had one more nagging thought. I could see my mother’s pain in her pain. I could see how my mother would have felt every time she would have spoken about how I struggled in my marriage. How even after being educated as my husband, I have to bear the burden of domestic chores, parenthood and much more! While my husband was just a son, I had to be a wife, daughter-in-law, mother, cook, maid and much more!
But, that wasn’t it. One more thought that kept hurting me was that someone who couldn’t tolerate for her own daughter’s pain, can give the same pain to her daughter-in-law; how the struggle that someone couldn’t accept for her daughter, could be labeled as responsibility for her daughter-in-law!
Don’t get me wrong. I am not happy at all with what my sister-in-law is going through. It makes me extremely sad how like me and many other educated women, she has to bear the burden of domestic chores, career, parenthood and un-supportive in-laws all alone. While many may label my sister-in-law’s struggle as my mother’s-in-law karma or my sister’s-in-law destiny. But the truth is, it is nothing but our patriarchal mindset that tends to control and overburden women in name of kartavya and responsibility! It is our patriarchal mindset that shames women for not being good enough! It is our patriarchal mindset that stops us from giving her an equal share of respect as that of our sons! It is our patriarchal mindset that we want to have an educated daughter-in-law but still treat them like our maid and cook!
I could have been bitter about what has happened to me and could have found happiness in my sister-in-law sadness and pain. But I don’t want to. Because isn’t that exactly what our patriarchal society wants us to do? Isn’t it what our patriarchal mindset expect us to do to other women? While men support other men, women make other women’s life miserable! While men stand with other men in their pain, women tend to find happiness and peace in other women’s sadness and agony!
I wish, one day, my mother-in-law will understand that I may not be her daughter but I am still someone else’s daughter. And, the pain that she can’t bear for her daughter, she shouldn’t be giving it to someone else’s. While I pray one day my mother-in-law would understand that I deserve the respect that she expects her daughter to get; that I deserve the love that she expects her daughter to get! But, till then I pray for courage and strength for my sister-in-law and all those daughters-in-law who are struggling in marriages just because they are born as a woman in our patriarchal society!