Visiting India in 2019

Every time I make a trip to India, I get the motivation to write a blog about my experience, and so goes this one. My trip to India this time was completely different than my previous trips, simply because, I faced a lot of conflicts within myself. I was conflicted between being an independent woman and a woman adhering to the stereotypes. 

Almost every parent of a potential groom complained to me: “You girls have become highly demanding these days. You all want the men to cook, clean and take care of the house too. Women being so demanding is the reason why families aren’t being smooth any longer”. People also complained that “Women wanting equality breaks marriages and divorce rates are skyrocketing”. Feminism is thought to breed family issues and this was the first conflict I faced with myself – “Is demanding equality really the reason for increasing divorces? If so, should I continue advocating for it?”

confused

To me, this accusation just implies that families have been “perceived” to be running smoothly simply because women sacrificed unquestionably for so many generations. How long are we going to justify the sacrifices made by women as a necessity for the functioning of a smooth family? How long are we going to discourage women from accomplishing great things just because she has to take care of a family? Also, when are we going to stop looking down or mocking men who want to stay at home? We are not just crippling women from accomplishing, we are also pressurizing men to go to a job without considering their likes or dislikes. 

(PS: “Taking care of a family is a much bigger job than going out and earning. Women should be applauded for it” – I do not believe in people who say this but do not end up sharing the work with the person who is actually doing it. If somebody really thought that taking care of a family is a noble job or a big job, they would be taking up equal responsibility in it and not just say it by word of mouth. )

My second conflict: “Am I being an irresponsible woman just because I choose to give importance to myself?” A relative of mine told me about an instance in which she was asked: “How do you manage work and family?” – Why is this question never asked to a man? Why isn’t a man ever held accountable for the same thing? Isn’t family an important aspect for a man as well? The purpose of the very question though portrayed as if it is flattering, all it does is discourage and instill guilt in women. Why do we penalize women who want to have a life they like and a family?

My third conflict: “Am I being a horrible person just because I do not adhere to the stereotypical arranged marriages that happen in India?

Almost everyone who spoke to me accused me of one thing: “You do not care for the feelings of your parents”. Some even went to the lengths of saying: “You are putting your family’s reputation at risk by postponing your wedding.”. I do not want to explain my affection for my parents to them but it did get me thinking of something else. A woman’s marriage is highly linked with the reputation of the family. How is it that a woman’s personal choice is linked with the family’s reputation but not a man’s? And people even tried to sway me by saying: “You should live for your parents. They have lived all their life for you.” This statement would never be told to a man. Why are women always expected to live for others?   

The very reason I wanted to pen down these conflicts is that, I know a lot of other women who face these too. I can definitely imagine a lot of head nods from women reading this article. There is only one thing that has always helped me in resolving these internal conflicts.

THINK! THINK ALONE!

That’s all it takes. Think about: “What you would do if I told you that you have absolutely no obstacles in doing whatever you want to do?”

This gets me back on track 100% of the time. A funny observation is that “thinking”, even though sounds simple, is thought of to be dangerous. Particularly a girl thinking is thought of to be completely dangerous which is why the society wants them to get married before they are able to think about a life for themselves.

In India specifically, we give a lot of importance to what other people think. This time I went to India with the mindset that I wouldn’t care a bit for what others think of me and you know what, that trick worked like magic. I stressed myself less and my time there was a lot happier than it used to be. People constantly asking me: “Why are you not keeping bindhi?” dint bother me. People constantly asking me about my marriage din’t get to me. All this happened only because, during my 25-hour flight to India, I was thinking within myself as to what I want and made up my mind about my life before I even landed. This gave me an immense clarity when dealing with people. I still have conflicts within myself, and the only way I overcome those is merely by thinking alone and nothing else.

I want to conclude by saying one thing: Women are always influenced to live for others. Sacrificing something for your family, as emotional and romantic as it sounds, has its consequences. I am not saying that one shouldn’t compromise or adjust for the family. All I am saying is, know the pros and cons of such compromises. Just think. And think alone, away from all the peer pressure and you will see that “obvious” answer that was right in front of you all this while. 

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