“Beta, don’t give us money! What will your in-laws say? What Mukul will say? Did you talk to him? Did you tell him about the money?”, my mother was shooting endless questions at me as I told her that I had transferred some money into her bank account. I was given a promotion and I wanted to honor my parents for their endless support!
But, hardly I knew my own parents will see my small gift of gratitude as a burden on them.
While I was trying to gather my thoughts, my very educated and progressive father was quick to jump into the conversation:
“Beta, we don’t need this money. We are happy that you thought that you would like to give us your first month’s salary. But this is a lot. What will people say? Please don’t put so much burden on me at this age!”
“But, Papa you were so proud of Bhaiya when he started transferring a portion of his monthly income into your account. You told mummy and me that see how Bhaiya has taken over his responsibility!”
“Beta, that is different. You can’t compare both situations. They are very different!”
“What’s the difference, Papa?”
“Beta, parents don’t take money from married daughters. It is seen as ‘paap’ (sin). What people will say that I am taking money from my daughter!”
At that moment it was clear to me that the father who never differentiated between his son and daughter was somewhere influenced by our patriarchal society. The man who gave her daughter the equal education as that to his son, couldn’t accept money because in the end, she is married and she is someone else’s family!
Honestly, I was heartbroken. I was sad and disappointed because in that one moment my father showed me how I was not part of his family anymore. I felt at that moment, my father made it very clear how I was less than my brother.
At that moment, I felt irritated because if my own parents can’t treat me equal to my brother, how can I even expect my in-laws to treat me equal to their son!
I went back home with a heavy heart! When Mukul saw my face, he knew something was wrong!
“Neha, what’s wrong?” And, as he said those words, I couldn’t contain emotions in my heart anymore. I told him everything that happened. How it felt disgusted and sad that my own father doesn’t treat me equally to his son! How the man I adored till now just sees me as someone’s wife or someone’s daughter-in-law!”
Mukul calmed me down and said:
“Whatever happens you start putting a share of your monthly income in their bank account every month. Doesn’t matter whatever they say! You don’t stop! For some things, you don’t have to listen to your parents! And, next time if they say does Mukul know? You tell them very clearly – it is your money and you don’t need anyone’s permission!”
At that moment, I felt so proud of Mukul! It felt like one person who understood my pain of being treated like an outsider! One person who got it that it wasn’t just about money! It was about the thought of being treated less than your brother or husband!
It’s been 10 months so far that I am doing it. In the beginning, my parents resisted. They told me thousand times not to do it. For a couple of months, they even transferred it back. But I made sure that I send the message across – that if they don’t mind Bhaiya sending them money, they shouldn’t mind me sending them either!
Dear Society, it is the 21st century! While you promote the idea of equality, you hardly practice it. Why a married daughter can’t take care of her parents after marriage? Why is she expected to seek permission from her husband and in-laws to do anything for them? Why is it that even her own parents expect her to do nothing for them?
Please stop this ugly cycle of inequality. Please stop treating sons and daughters differently. Please stop promoting how parents of married sons have all rights & parents of married daughters none!
Please treat us as EQUAL! Because that’s what we deserve!