A girl is born, she starts growing up, shows great potential and abilities as a student. She excels in her academics and extracurricular activities, and dreams of doing something fruitful in life. Her parents, teachers and others around her applaud and appreciate her.
She grows into a bright young girl. Then she turns 20. All of a sudden, people start questioning her and her parents about her marriage, and her academic excellence seems forgotten. Why does this happen, even today, when we are supposed to have become a modern society?
Well, the truth is that we’re not quite the forward-thinking society we think we are. Even today, the reality is that many believe that a girl should be married in her twenties. Unfortunately, many Indian parents still think this way. A girl is either cajoled or given an ultimatum to get married by 25 – before she gets “old” and misses out on the “good boys”, or before the father retires.
Most women obey, since they don’t feel they have a choice. They give in to the pressure, stifle their dreams and marry men they could not tell apart in a crowd.
After a girl is married, she tries to adjust to the new family. She is expected to behave like a “dutiful bahu”, take care of the husband and in-laws and abide by the rules of the house (funnily applicable only to the daughter-in-law). She is told that the family is her primary responsibility and that she should leave matters of finance to her husband (meaning that she should not think about working outside the house)
Then, six months down the line, she is questioned about having a child. The dutiful son, of course, stays all too quiet while his wife is badgered with questions about “starting a family”. The wife is, most tactlessly, reminded of her “age and fertility”, and given lectures on being a good daughter-in-law.
Once the child is born, she is told that he or she is her sole reason of existence. Work can take a backseat. It does not end there, of course. By the time the child is at an age to start school, she is coaxed into providing a sibling for the first child. She is told that once both the children start growing up together, she can go back to her work. The road gets longer.
Finally, by the time the children are old enough to go to school, the woman takes a stand and decides to work. But, she’s in for a rude shock – the world has moved on, she’s not relevant anymore. She applies for positions but does not make much headway. The people who do call her for an interview, question her experience, the gap in her resume time, her skills, her children, her abilities and finally, her dedication. Most of the times she is shown the door politely. She must go on, undeterred and try to find something relevant – where she can fit without being asked questions.
No matter what she goes through, the woman (a mother) does not show her anguish. Doing so will only draw comments about her being selfish and unfair to her kids and family. Then she hits 35 – and slowly, her confidence, will and subsequently her dreams fade.
What is a woman to do? She has the intelligence, the capability and the mind to think and dream! Yet the relatives, the society with their endless restrictions, questions, and allegations somewhere stifle those dreams.
I am not saying that this is the case with every woman – there are women who are fortunate enough to have supportive parents, husband and in-laws, yet they are in the minority. Most women have to fight with the family and the system (and also with herself) to fulfill her dreams.
It time a woman is encouraged to tap her potential, given the support and the encouragement to make her dreams come true. Families need to support women, in the rue sense.
I await such a day, which I hope is soon.
By Ritwika Roy Mutsuddi
Ritwika Roy Mutsuddi is a blogger – a Bengali, now a true blue Mumbaikar. She expresses
herself through her blog. An optimist, ever ready to learn new things, she is a mommy to two lovely kids.
RebootMag: The above is a personal piece, which expresses what a woman feels when she wants to work and is not able to. It is Reboot’s aim to make women financially independent – to help them get back on their feet professionally. For this, there are coaching and mentoring sessions, apart from jobs. What women must remember, that it is important to stay relevant while they are on a break from work.