“Oh! Firse Ladki huyii hai! Hamrey bhaagya hi kharab hain! Mere Bete ki toh Zindagi hi kharab kardi, issne! ”, my dadi told my mother as she gave birth to me, her second daughter. From cursing me, my mother, her parents, her family, my dadi created a morbid scene on my birthday!
But, while my dadi might have seen me as a curse, my parents, especially my mother saw me as a blessing. She gave me all the opportunities that she would have given to me if I was born as a son! In fact, in some cases, I was given more freedom than boys in our hometown, as I was smarter and more responsible.
I lived in a different city for two years to take coaching for my entrance tests. My mom trusted me because she knew that I could manage. Even when my relatives attempted to show their concern, she took a stand for me and told my relatives to mind their own business.
When I cracked a good engineering college, my relatives told my parents to save money for my wedding rather than wasting it on my education. My mother didn’t eat food for 2 days till my father went to the bank and get the money out of FD.
My mother raised me and my sister as strong women just like her. I’ve grown up seeing her managing everything all by herself because my father was so occupied with his job that he hardly had any time for us. My mother had her own opinions and made her own decisions regardless of my father.
When my mother’s brother abandoned her parents after taking away all their property, she took care of them. She kept serving her parents and in-laws till their last breath without any complaint.
While growing up my sister and I’ve always wanted to become like her. We wanted to be strong independent women, who stand by their parents throughout their lives. Hence, when I was getting married, I was very clear with my husband that whatever may come in the future, I will never stop being my parents’ daughter! They will always be my priority as his parents would be his!
Though my husband was fine with it, I hardly knew my in-laws would have serious issues with it.
“Why she keeps running to her parents’ house every week?”
“Why she talks so much to her parents on phone?”
“She must be giving her salary to her parents. Is She?”
“Tell her, after marriage, this is her home not her parents’ home! She should treat us as her priority!”
… and many more things were said to my husband about my role as a daughter and a daughter-in-law.
Basically, as per my in-laws, a good daughter-in-law is someone who forgets her parents and dedicates her life completely to her in-laws. Someone who treats marriage as a rebirth and forgets all the relationships that she was born into.
Don’t get me wrong. I respect all my roles! I want to be a good daughter-in-law, sister-in-law & wife. But above everything else, I want to be a great daughter.
I refuse to become a perfect daughter-in-law by murdering the daughter in me. I refuse to bow down to the regressive thought process that wants me to choose between being a daughter-in-law and a daughter!
Why is it that our well-educated society wants women to forget the very same people who gave birth to her; who raised her to be strong and independent? Isn’t it selfish of in-laws to ask a woman to forget about her parents; isn’t it hypocritical to ask their son to treat them as their priority but then ask daughter-in-law to forget her parents!
Is it not heartless to take someone’s daughter away and then expect them to let go of their 20+ year-long relationship? Why is it considered a crime for a married girl to choose her family over her husband’s? While the married man is told to choose his over his wife’s!
Thanks to my supportive husband, I can take a stand against society’s regressive expectation from women to forget their parents. But, I know there are so many women, who couldn’t! I wonder how much pain they would undergo when they are told to be a daughter-in-law first and a daughter later!
If the world really believes in equality, why there is nothing equal after marriage? Why men’s family is more important, why men’s parents are more important, why men’s careers are more important?
My soul, my principles, my values don’t allow me to just forget about my ailing parents to be someone’s daughter-in-law. My heart sinks every time my in-laws taunt me for treating my parents as my priority! I do want to be a good daughter-in-law, but not at the cost of my mom and dad!