“Now, you are 26, get married otherwise you will end up alone for the whole life,” was the remark she used to hear every time, at every family occasion. Her parents wanted her to “settle down” so that they can also be “free from her responsibility”; but she was happy in her life and lives each minute as a day. Relatives used to say her, “siyani banja baad mei to zimeedaria ajyengy.” This is something she always questioned, but she was made to stay quiet by being told off by saying “you don’t know anything.” She often wondered what it is that she does not know, and only after marriage she would understand. She was a free bird, who woke up by 10:00 a.m and slept at 3:00 a.m. Roaming around with friends, eating chaat and gol gappas, watching movies, studying in libraries was her routine; shopping was something she used to spend her whole salary on. There were no timings, she left whenever the plan was made for the outing and returned home happily, singing songs.
Soon, she got married and then a new life began. This life was quite different from what she used to live. Now she woke up at 5:00 a.m because she had to prepare breakfast and do all the possible household chores before leaving for office. She cooked all the best possible dishes that her husband loved even if she didn’t like doing so. As far as dresses are concerned, whether she wore saris or suits and that she couldn’t wear short clothes was decided by her husband. On top of this, she now has to give sexual services to the husband as per his wishes, even if she is not in the mood for it and also had to indulge in unprotected sex if he wanted and she had to take medical precautions herself, even if it wasn’t right for her body. Now, she has timings, she has to first seek permission then make a plan; she is only in touch with her friends on Facebook or WhatsApp, but can now no longer write anything she feels like because of her husband checked it. She still went for movies and chaat but with her husband only on a special occasion; it wasn’t an everyday event. Now, she smiles but not so often and her relatives say “smajhdar hogye hai”. Now she completely understood what she was not able to understand earlier. She now understood that she has to carry the “zimmedariyan” of life and not live as she was once upon a time.
The whole life of a woman changes once she enters the ‘patriarchal cage of marriage’. The freedom with which she used to live before her wedding becomes a dream. Marriage is taken as a social norm in society – you have to do it, without this you will not be acceptable in society. Whether you wanted to or not, it is something you have to do, even if for formality for achieving the tag that yes you are “family person” and not afraid of responsibilities. A marriage could be seen as the relation where you get the ‘life partner’, the one who you will be with and will be for you at all times, one who will support you, nurture you, hold you when you will fall and stand by you even when everyone turns against you. Life partner will be a person who will share “life” with you until death separates. It could be a beautiful relation, ideally; but in reality, things turn out very differently, maybe because the term marriage is being understood in a very different sense in the society.
The societal expectations of what an ideal wife is supposed to be and what an ideal husband is supposed to do to convert a relationship which could be a beautiful one into a dominant and subordinate one, where the husband will dominate and rule over the wife and the wife will run her life as per the wishes and conveniences of the husband. The question is why can’t life partners live like partners, why do they have to go by patriarchal societal rules.