“No matter how old you are, there will always be someone to tell you what you should be”.
We hear about honour killings, emotional and verbal abuse, forced marriages and so many violence’s against girls. There is one more to that list, “everyone else living your life except you”. Most of what we hear is in the class of society that does not mind coming out in the open. Have you ever thought about the so called “diplomatic- upper class” families that sends their girls to top notch universities in a car with a personal driver and all new, up to date gadgets. You think they have a life that is amazingly full of freedom?
Starting from the most small things, you are allowed to watch all new movies, but, inside the house. You will be allowed to go to a friend’s house with a driver guarding the gate with a car. You will be reminded for the rest of your life that you have to be grateful for the life that they have bestowed upon you. You will be reminded a thousand times in a day that you are a girl and you should always know your place in the society. You are given the choice of things unlike most girls who are told what to do. But the choice is between what your dad likes, and what your mom likes. Never will you be asked the question “what do you want?”.
And you are not allowed to do one thing, “dream of being independent”. But you can always pick a dream that’s not yours. Your mom’s desire to give you away to the richest man in town or your dad’s dream of you getting an engineering degree.
By picking up the courage to ask your parents’ permission to do something independently, you will end up hearing a set of “reasons”. You cannot study abroad, as you will not be accepted as the ideal bride when you come back, no one wants a girl who is influenced by the “western culture” . You cannot work as you will fall in love with a man at your work place. You cannot have a start up of any kind as you will be regarded as an independent girl who is not suitable to be a bride because, a girl who can think on her own will not “stay home and cook” .You cannot have opinions on politics or any issues; you will be regarded as the girl with the big mouth.
But you will be put in top universities to obtain high tech engineering or doctor degrees, so that you can have your name followed by BE or MBBS in your marriage invitation. You will be allowed to apply to Harvard and Oxford so that your parents can proudly tell a mighty group of relations how their ideal daughter was “called by Harvard” but was not allowed to go as she is “Homely”. All those relatives and society that your parents are scared of, do not show up in your life until something goes wrong.
If you do something successful early in your life, your parents will make it a point to tell you that it is not because of your hard work but because of “the freedom they gave you” . A girl with self confidence will question the methods and decisions taken by the house. That cannot be allowed as the girl becomes “wild and untamed”. You will be told that people respect you not for what you are but for what your parents are. But they will provide you with everything materialistic you will ever want or need. Soon you will be convinced you are nothing without them, or that you are not allowed to dream of a life outside these golden walls. The next thing that you are expected to do is a marriage.
And the parents have a set of diplomatic handling “methods” if you are in love, if they know that you love someone, you will be sent abroad to an aunt’s house where you will be given time to forget him and when you come back you will find yourself in a grand wedding. “If they have a baby, everything will be alright” will be your grandmother’s advice to a forced wedding. If you stand up to it, then the legendary line comes in, “You can marry a guy of your choice, but kill us before you go”. One thing that they never realize is, it is the girl that has to live with that boy for the rest of her life. And of course your dad will say, “This is why girls should not be educated”. Yes as far as they know, education teaches girls to think on their own and take decisions. But in most Indian families, educating a girl is a taboo.
And of course the most ridiculous things of all; right from a tender age of 5, your parents will not watch romantic scenes on TV in front of you, as you grow up you are expected to not watch them either. “English movies are bad beti”, your dad will say. If you voice your doubts on the topics of sex, you will be ticked off for talking about bad things. You are taught that talking about your body is bad; you will believe what you are told. You will believe sex is bad and wanting to know about the changes in your body is absurd, you should just take it as it comes, never question. And you will be expected to marry someone when your parents think it is time to have a celebration at home and the old people in the house will send you inside your room for “First night” and they will tell you “satisfy your husband, beti” .Now suddenly they expect you to have an avid knowledge about sex. That is the sex education you get if you are a girl born into an Indian family. You will be expected to have a baby in less than one and a half years. No, you cannot decide when you want to have a baby, because then people will think you are infertile. That’s a bad state for a girl to be in, as you will be considered as an “unlucky girl”.
Next thing you know, you will be doing the same things to your child that your parents did to you, because that is the only way of life you know. The cycle continues. If you dare to question the purpose of life and the importance given to this cycle in a girl’s life, you will be the “unruly girl with a big mouth”.
When you decide that this golden cage is not where you want to spend the rest of your life, be ready to lose everything you have ever known. You will be the girl who was not grateful. You will be the outcast. You will be the “the goat that kicked its master in the chest”. But if you defy the system and choose not to be a victim of “honour killing”, of your heart and dreams, you will see that the world full is of possibilities, be it an Indian girl or an Irish girl on an American girl. We are all born with the same power and potential.