When the government imposed a limit on the number of guests at a wedding, Indian folks perceived it as an excellent chance to get hitched. When my family made it to the guest list of two weddings earlier in February, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. But what did come as a surprise to me was that the bride in both the weddings was a 21-year-old young girl who was told that there’s only one way to live life.
One of them is my distant cousin with whom I am constantly compared because apparently she learned how to do all the household chores at a young age, and I didn’t. The other girl is my neighbour who got engaged right after her college’s final year exams and was married before the results were even out.
When I asked my grandmother why Avni (distant relative, name changed) was getting married so early, she said her father didn’t want her to continue her studies anymore. Furthermore, it’s not like she had to do a job or something; she was meant to be a “housewife”.
I was shocked to hear my grandmother utter those words. But then I remembered she is quite regressive. Though she would never agree with me leaving my studies for marriage, she still thinks it’s okay for a girl to let go of her dreams for her family’s sake.
Shruti (neighbour, name changed) lives her life under her grandmother’s thumb. Her grandmother used to accompany her everywhere she went, like her second shadow. And as expected, she started looking for a prospective groom right after she turned 19.
One day, she came to our house to ask my grandmother if she knew about any good alliance for her granddaughter and then she sang a song about the beauty of her granddaughter and her skills of making a perfectly round roti. Not literally, but you get the idea that she was telling us about the perfect daughter-in-law material she’s raised.
I remember that Shruti wanted to participate in a debate once, but she was not allowed to because the venue was a co-ed school in another city. Her family refused her for many such opportunities until the day came when she stopped looking for any opportunity altogether.
These girls belong to families where daughters are raised to be shy, timid and obedient. They don’t have much of a say in their life decisions. Their parents send them to an all-girls school and college, never let them go out on their own and control every aspect of their life, from their clothes to the streams they choose.
They are not allowed to dream, make a name for themselves and live their life as somebody’s daughter, sister, wife and mother. They don’t have their own identity. And dare they ever ask their parents why they are not given the same opportunities as their brothers because the reason is always heartbreaking to hear, i.e. it’s only because they are girls and they are not seen as individuals with their own identity.
We live in the 21st century, yet some families are still raising their daughters not to be independent, successful and open-minded individuals, but to be someone’s wife. It baffles me that these people want their daughters to live their lives as puppets with their strings in the hands of their families or in-laws.
How long do girls have to wait until they are seen as individuals with minds, able to live their life on their terms and be raised as independent women who are meant to follow their dreams? How long do girls have to wait until their families stop raising them as someone’s future wife?