If you look at any of my social media profiles, you will probably gather that I am that fortune-favoured Indian woman who is independent, strong, and doesn’t care a damn about ‘aunty kya kahengi’.
I was bought up with the same opportunities and freedoms as my brother did. My parents never told me to come home at a particular time (to the contrary, my brother had a curfew time). I went for sleepovers with my friends; I went on holidays with my friends (both men and women), and I work for a global corporate abroad. I am your quintessential #BigdiHuiLadki who drinks, wears swimwear, lives with her boyfriend, and sometimes swears, too.
Yes, till very recently I was that girl.
I believe in the complete equality of all sexes and I lived my entire 30 years believing the same. I wanted to marry a man who believed in the same principles I did; who would always respect my freedoms and choices and fortunately I did find that person. My fiancé works for a global organisation abroad and has been completely respectful of my choices in the two years we have dated and lived together. We shared everything, from our emotions and love to household expenses and holiday budgets. I never thought this would change, until we got engaged in India with our families.
I knew the man I was marrying; I was living with him, and marriage for me was declaring our love and commitment to the world. Nothing was going to change between us, or so I thought.
Marrying a modern, independent man doesn’t necessarily qualify that his family would be the same and that was the first flaw in my belief. My fiancé’s family is from a metropolitan city in India, born and bred there. They lived abroad for many years; yet they are the typical ‘traditional Indian family’ in so many aspects. I didn’t expect this, and my relationship with my fiancé took a huge hit as a result.
From the outside, my fiancé’s family looks very modern and outgoing. His mum is a home-maker, dad a retired ex-businessman, and his sister is working full-time. However, as I got to know them, I realised that they passed comments on the way I dressed, my ways of living, and just who I am as a being. There was an expectation to change my ways of living around them (for example, waking up easier than usual in the morning, wearing completely covered clothes, visiting his family for every time I visit mine, and even travelling to places they approve—the list never ends). Now I know I am fortunate enough to not live with my in-laws on a daily basis and will meet them a few times every year. But my question is—why me? Why not him?
I am girl and I have a cleavage; he is a boy and he roams around shirt-less.
I am a girl and I have an ass and legs; he is a boy and he can wear skinny tiny shorts.
I am a girl and I will visit my in-laws when I see fit; he is a boy and he is not obliged to visit my parents.
I am a girl and I will not cook for my in-laws if I do not want to; He is a boy and he is not expected to cook or help my parents.
I am a girl and I will have to ask people for approval on my wedding outfit; he is a boy and no one will ever question his selection of clothes.
I am a girl and I need to get approval on my travel choices; he is a boy and he doesn’t have to give a damn.
I am a girl and I will have to fight for my freedom of being ‘ME’ and ‘MY’ independence; he is a boy and he doesn’t have to.
I am a girl and I am will have to post this anonymously; he is a boy and he can express everything openly.