It all started the moment Sheila’s marriage was fix. Sheila was always considered pretty but suddenly she had to hear her future in-laws and their random neighbors comment:
She is dark! She is bit on a heavier side, look at her heels! Her lips are too big! If you would have remained silent when we came to see you we would have rejected you! She doesn't have a smiling face... The list is endless.
Any comment has to welcome with smile. Whether they themselves looked ugly or if their son would put the monster to shame with his looks was immaterial. Sheila had the most loving and protective parents. Normally if anybody pointed a finger at her, her parents would have showed them the mirror. But now she was about to become a wife and daughter-in-law, her biggest validation in life, and was being taught the contrary of what she had been taught in the other life:
Don’t react to their demands, however unreasonable and unfair. Be sensible.. Maturity lies in learning to tolerate and ignore. It is prime responsibility of a girl to keep the relationship intact. Men will be men, we have to adjust and be patient.
She was expected to earn, pay for living expenses, cook, clean, all with a beautiful smile and not complains. Overnight, Sheila who was once an intelligent, free-willed, thinking individual with likes and choices in life was expected to transform into an epitome of selflessness and sacrifice. She could not visit her family without prior permission from her in-laws. When Sheila expressed her desire to stay separately with her husband, she was shamed and labeled as selfish and uncultured. Even though her parents longed to see her once a year, the very thought was outrageous for her husband’s parents. The mother in law suddenly gets too old to manage the household chores for few days.
Her father wondered where he went wrong. Her mother was devastated too. She regretted that she taught her daughter to tolerate little misbehaviors, small taunts and humiliations, minor restrictions and let her suffocate, breath by breath. They all thought that such things were common in our society. Nobody realized that she was making a choice all along by choosing to tolerate, to endure and to suffer and encouraging her perpetrators.
Sheila dislikes her husband and his family. But more than that, she has grievances from her own parents. Why was she taught that it is a good thing to let her be treated this way? As a daughter, she was raised to be independent, but nobody taught her that it was okay to be an independent daughter-in-law as well. She was conditioned to believe that it was her sole responsibility to save her marriage even if it meant compromising on her self-respect. She was asked to keep quiet for the sake of maintaining relationships. She had to keep everybody happy at the cost of her own happiness. She was told that her biggest strength lies in being dutiful. But now she knows that it is not her strength. It became her weakness.
She could have stood up for herself the day her MIL commented that she was on heavier side and missed perfect figure. But she was engaged.
She could have refused when her father agreed to gift a car to her husband. But the wedding was a week away.
She could have retaliated when her husband verbally abused, criticized and yelled at her. But she did not, for she was already married.
She could have delivered her baby at her Mother’s home. But Log kya kahenge
Now she has a daughter and she feels stuck in the marriage, much more than she has ever felt before.
Sheila has decided that she will not take it anymore. She will raise her daughter in this home but now will set an example before her. She is going to teach her daughter to be a good, respectful human being – not a good wife or a good daughter in law. Not until people learn to be good husbands or good mothers/ sisters/ fathers-in-law. Respect is a two way street and nobody attains it by virtue of their age or relationship or the convenient culture. They better learn to earn it. Love is the biggest virtue and marriage is a bliss but not at the cost of your self-respect. Dear daughter no need to be super woman. Its OK to be short-tempered and independent and enjoy the rights and duties equally and please leave all the sacrifices for the TULSI’S and PARWATI’S of Ekta Kapoor’s daily soap.