During my twenties in Indian Society, I traversed through various expectations that have been set as per specific age slots. These expectations, laughingly, vary with gender. Carrying the burden of being a single, independent young woman in her late twenties is far much more difficult than carrying a bra the whole day. In the process of being pursued for marriage in the 27th year of my life, my parents went through various stages of societal pressures. I followed the course and even after being adamant on my stance of staying single till my thirties, I bowed down to the pressure that was getting passed on to me through them and got married. It was a chosen marriage for me. I got married to the person I knew for years and am comfortable with. I fell into the trap of “this is it” after the D-Day. I thought this will end all the hullabaloo around my singleton unaware of the fact that I was stepping into another jinx. The jinx of looking married!
I am a misfit. A misfit as per the Indian standards. I don’t celebrate with screeching obviousness. I prefer staying low and enjoy the seclusion. I am the perfect introvert stuck in an absolutely loud, extrovert Indian framework. My husband loves that part of me because that makes me a “dude” in his words.
I love my pyjamas. It’s not that I am not dressy when required but that comes into play during my best mood days. I feel trapped in a dupatta while enjoy wearing no-nonsense kurtas and leggings. I detest bangles and anklets as they announce your arrival in the most obvious way possible. I hate wearing makeup as it stops me from drooling over food (my first love), lipsticks force me to speak as if I am paying tax for it. So what? My mom always laughed it away. I am now a “new bride”. All coy and sensitive. I am supposed to give a fresh, bloomy impression to everyone. I took a deep breath and decided to stay calm and make the most of this phase. I was sure that the bride parade will end within a month of the wedding and my life will be back to what it was, but the surprises come from sections least expected.
My second Mom (people call them mother in-law, I prefer not to) is a pro in making someone feel at ease. She did the same with me. I was warmly welcomed and accepted the way I am. My pyjama love came back and those sunny afternoons with a book in my hand were not a distant dream. She cherishes me. Where is the twist, you must be thinking. Ekta Kapoor has already told us that the creature called mother in-law is the only source of agony in a married girl’s life. I would make an exception to it. The real culture shock thundered when I joined back work after marriage. All the misogynistic, orthodox stares that Indians expect in the new household came back to me in the office washroom, lobby and cubicles. Surprisingly, most of these misogynistic stares come from women.
“You look so plain”, “You have not changed at all” – I took a three-week break to get married, not to go get plastic surgery.
“You are not wearing chooda“- what a shame, now I am expected to adopt other cultures too.
“Where is your vermillion (sindoor), don’t you love your husband?”, “Your henna got feeble so early, the love connection is not that strong”– I have been very serious about my daily ablutions woman, it’s just that I bathe and wash my hands properly.
“You still use your old second name? What is wrong with you?”, there is nothing wrong with me, I’m just not falling into the trap of changing my identity or adding another name to my name to make it sound like a postal address. Give me a break.
If a mother in-law is what Ekta Kapoor show in her serials, I would say I have a lot of them in my office and my surroundings but not at my home. The concern right now isn’t whether I am happy or content in a marriage but whether I look married. Hell no, I don’t look married and that does not define the love for my better half, my seriousness of coexisting in multiple new relations in my new home or my dedication toward making my people happy.
I would say that you are still trapped in age-old myths about how a woman is supposed to look in a marriage. With articles on ‘scientific reasons’ behind the marks of marriage that Indian women going viral, this vicious circle will only become more nasty and rigorous.