ByÂ Ojaswini Srivastava:
“Study hard so that we can set you up with a well-educated groom”.
“Dress up well so that you look attractive. Look after your hair, nails, clothes, face, pimples, blah blah …. ”
“Don’t laugh too loudly.”
“Meet everyone with a smile. Greet every elder nicely no matter how they are. Never say you don’t like a relative or things like that”.
“Don’t make a fuss of little things”.
“Don’t be annoyed if you have to serve your brother or father all the time”.
“Learn to cook. No matter how much you study, ultimately you have to do this”. . . And it goes on and on.
These are some of the constant instructions that some Indian girls are raised up with. We have to listen to these things each and every day. Since the moment we are born, we are not a possession of our parents. Our destiny is to be married off. Our destiny is to go and live with another family forever, after spending the first few years of our life with our real family.
I cannot say to my mom that I don’t think god lives in those idols she worships, because I don’t know if my in laws will tolerate it. I cannot tell my father that I don’t think I should be a docile, sophisticated, always-pleasant creature only because I have to leave him one day and go to another house. I cannot express myself in many ways because they are unconventional and I must remember that it holds the risk of my not getting married ever. A nice family may not take me in if I believe and practice anything too liberal or unconventional. I am sure there are many other Indian girls in my situation.
A girl is a bride the moment she is born. She is a girl. She has to get married one day. She needs proper grooming. She must accept all conventions and become an eligible bride till she turns twenty five or so.
My question is why? Why are we brides throughout our lives? Our education, grooming, upbringing, thoughts, culture, clothing, and everything has to be, since the very beginning, what can one day make us a perfect bride material?
I agree, this is the way of life. We need to have some conventions to live and all those things … But I ask; is giving some meaning to life, setting up a way of living, laying down a set of fundamental ideals of the society so inevitably dependent on what a woman should be? Why do we have to be a foreign entity in our own family and grow up forever learning what we ought to be when we get married? Why cannot I live like a free bird, preach my individual thoughts, not compromise on my choices and still be a good bride one day? Only because I am a woman why do I have to surrender to conventions and make some or the other compromise of my personal choices only to be able to get married into a ‘respected, well-off, nice’ family?