She saved her marriage. But what about her life?

Would like to share the story of a family friend, changing the names for protecting their privacy.

Mr. and Mrs. Agarwal arranged the marriage of their daughter, Purvi to Anil. It was a lavish wedding, just the way we like it.

Within the first year of marriage, it was detected that Purvi had a cyst in the ovary. Anil and his parents complained that they had been deceived into marrying a ‘defective’ girl who was not good for doing any household work. Purvi along with her parents were taunted for hiding her condition prior to marriage. Her parents explained that they themselves did not know. Why would they not treat her daughter and instead marry her off, if they had an idea. She was their beloved princess after all. But it was of no use.

Purvi was operated. But she continued to be in pain. Few more visits to the doctor and some tests revealed that she was suffering from cervical cancer.

Chemotherapy started. Purvi was in terrible pain. She used to wash her own clothes, cook, clean and even go grocery shopping. She was just like an any other Indian daughter-in-law, the expectations, the taunts, the humiliation were not spared. The fact that she was suffering from cancer did not matter. Empathy and care was too much to ask for.

Her parents would come to visit at times and stayed with her. Anil’s parents had a list of grievances from the good for nothing daughter in law – how she sleeps too much, is always tired, does not cook and clean well. They were also disgusted with the fact that her parents came and stayed with them shamelessly during the chemo sessions.

Purvi’s parents were also not able to understand how grave the situation was. They were hoping their daughter would get better. One of their friends suggested that they bring her daughter to their home, in another city for the treatment. But the thought of the married daughter not staying with her husband was unthinkable. They did not want her marriage to break-up. It was a new and delicate relationship and they did not want to aggravate the already tensed situation by hurting her in-laws.

Finally, Purvi’s mother mustered some courage to have a candid chat with her doctor.

“When will my daughter fully recover?”

“There is nothing that can be done now Ma’am. I am sorry.”

Purvi’s parents took her daughter to their home, by humbly requesting her in-laws that she has become a burden on them, and that they volunteer to take care of her.

Purvi died within six months. Her husband and in-laws did not bother to visit her at the time of her death or at the funeral. However, Anil received the sum under the life insurance policy in Purvi’s name. After all he was the lawfully wedded husband. Till date, Purvi’s jewelry is still at her in-laws’ home. Her parents feel that they don’t care about materialistic possessions when the most precious part of their life is gone.

When I imagine Purvi struggling from cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and trying to please her husband and in-laws, physically torturing her already weak body, I feel pained. She was trying to save her marriage, more than she cared about saving her life. Nobody could save her from cancer probably, but she could have lived the last couple of years of her life in peace with loved ones, and not inhumane and greedy people who just viewed her as an incompetent maid.

I do not understand what is this pressure in India for girls to stay in absolute horrible marriages. Why do we bring up our daughters with the mentality that marriage is the sole purpose of their life? What kind of fear / hesitation / respect stops parents from protecting their daughters from such evil people who think that their cancer suffering daughter should mop the floor more neatly? Because these unkind people happen to be her in-laws / husband?

Marriages are not made in heaven. They are made right here on earth. Purvi was not married to a God. She was married to a selfish, undeserving human – who did not love her or care for her.

It is okay to end a chronic marriage. It will not be the end of a daughter’s life. Sure, it will bring sadness. But not for the whole life. For some time. She will recover. She may find happiness.

As long as she is alive and healthy.

An Indian daughter-in-law is labeled uncultured and rebellious – Here is why

Experiences shared by several readers, friends and some memories from what seems like another life have compelled me to write this article. In India, a lot of daughers-in-law are made to feel rebellious and uncultured because they do not blindly follow tradition. In-laws get a lot done in the name of “culture” and “respect for elders”. The husband rarely supports the wife and sides with his mother. A Daughter-in-law (“DIL”) has shared the following ways in her mother in law (“MIL”) has exercised control in her life. This has resulted in a lot of unpleasantness and disharmony in her marriage and fights with her husband. Here is what I think about it.

1. Deciding when and for how long DIL visits her parents

Not letting a woman visit her own family is cruel and inhumane. No good can come out of this.

2. Taunting or forcing the DIL to pray

Nobody can pray on demand. A person who believes in God feels connected and does not need to practise religion. They may do so by their choice. Or not. The whole purpose of praying is to attain inner peace. The “religious” MIL who is constantly creating discord in the home by scolding the DIL for not praying proves the point that religion does not teach right from wrong!

3. Deciding what the DIL should wear

Especially at her own wedding or any other important weddings in the family. Again, nothing but control. No adult should be told what to wear.

4. Deciding which days DIL can wash her hair and the appropriate time to cut her finger nails

There were all kinds of traditions in the past which may have some logic at that point of time. Personally, I do not understand why I cannot wash my hair on a Tuesday or a Saturday. I respect everybody who does believe in this. I do not have a problem with those who do. My problem is with the people who force others to following illogical traditions and judge them as being rebellious for questioning it! Not washing the hair and not cutting finger nails in purely unhygienic! And NOBODY should tell us what we do with our bodies.

5. Deciding the name of grand-children, and whether or not they can attend western dance classes

Where does the interference stop?

I honestly do not see any logic in any of the above. What is sad is that the MIL tells her son that her sentiments are being hurt as a result of the DIL not respecting her wishes. The husband is happy to side with his mother and yell at his wife for not following his mother’s orders.

Wake up Indian men! What if YOU were asked to do the above by your MIL?

And no the DIL who refuses to accept the above is not uncultured or rebellious or lacks respect for elders. She is a normal human being with a brain of her own and not a robot who is programmed to follow instructions.

To all DILs who have been humiliated for not following tradition. Please don’t let yourself be bullied and put down. There is nothing bad about you. Your MIL is a control freak and your husband is spineless. Don’t let your parents ask you to “adjust”. There is nothing wrong with you. It is your husbands who needs to change and stand up for you. Husband may say that he cannot change his mother because she is old and set in her ways, so you should change. Again, there is no sense in this. She still seems strong enough to control you and ruin your happiness and wreck your marriage.

When will the MILs realise that they are ruining their children’s lives for the most immaterial things? They need to back off and stop poking their nose in their adult children’s lives. I understand they may have been treated like this by their MILs. And they may even consider themselves “too nice” compared to them. I have news for them:

Times have changed. DILs have stopped taking shit.

Disclaimer.

I know that a lot of MILs are not like this. And I am glad to know that. I am not trying to generalize. This article is based on a certain perspective shared by some readers.

Subsequently published on Women’s Web: Link

Present day matrimonial ad

tanu

Image source

We are looking for a very “adjustable” handsome “Biba Munda” (docile boy) for our lovely, confident, well accomplished and beautiful daughter, working as a senior executive in a reputable company. The boy should have been well schooled in Indian culture and should treat all elders in the family with respect. He should not have been involved in any relationships before his marriage, and his first should be to our lovely daughter. He must also enjoy a good reputation in his mohalla (neighborhood). After marriage, our daughter will not ever see her current boyfriends again.

If the need arises after marriage, the boy should be willing to give up his career and take care of the wife and children and bring up the children as successful people. With our daughter’s permission, the boy can occasionally go out for men’s only night outs, but only after finishing up all the household work and cooking dinner for the family.

Expensive gifts from boy’s parents to our family members are most welcome and actually expected on certain festivals. We shall welcome the boy to our family with open arms and treat him like our own son. All we ask for, is that he be subservient to us and never disrespect us in public or in private.

In our society, we do not appreciate the boys talking to strangers, especially ladies. We do not think that boys from good families should “mix’ with girls except for our relatives.

To respect and serve his in-laws will bring him good luck and prosperity since our aashirvaad (blessing) is very powerful. On an everyday basis, the boy should only go to sleep onlyafter all the family members are satisfied and have gone to sleep. My daughter is used to getting bed tea in the morning, and that is the first thing that the boy should do after getting up early in the morning. The boy should also attend all parent teacher meetings at school and help children with their homework.

Occasionally, guests will come to live with us and the boy should keep all of them very happy at all times. Our daughter likes to go to the gym and he should make energy drinks for our daughter and give it to her before she goes. The boy should also be very well versed with all the religious rituals and often visit the temple with his mother in law. Trust us, if the boy obediently does all this, we will bless him and he will “Doodho nahao, falo and phoolo“.

Believe us, he can do much more, because our daughter is the one who will work after marriage and the boy will just “sit at home” and he will “just” be a house husband. So, he can take care of all the shopping etc. Since we also want our daughter to pitch in, she can manage all the financial matters in addition to keeping a job where she will be forced to have coffee every one hour and chat at the water cooler because of work pressures. She will be very tired by the time she comes home because she will have to use her brain the whole day.
Expecting to hear back soon with a photograph of your son.

P.S.

Sounds ridiculous and unfair?

If you do not like the above ad, pause for a moment and think about the sacrifices which women make to keep the men folk happy. Let us be fair to women and have realistic expectations!

About the author:

Sunil Kakkar, an IIT graduate and a Computer Engineer, is passionate about writing poetry in his spare time. He writes romantic as well as social issues based poetry in Hindi, Urdu and English. Here is a link to his Facebook page.

Arranged marriage dating – the latest fad in India!

A dear friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, has written the following article – her views on arranged marriage based on her personal experience. I could relate to it completely. Hope everybody enjoys reading!
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AM Dating – Arranged marriage dating, is of late a fad among many Indian youths! The arranged marriage system is what makes Indian culture and tradition so unique. Over the years it has changed a lot and now it has become more westernized with the element of so called ‘dating’ being involved.

The word dating has a whole lot of connotations, construed differently by different individuals. This article is not women centric and its purpose is not to malign individuals of a particular nature. The reason I have written this article is to share my musings on this topic of arranged marriage dating as a person in the market myself.

My main source of inspiration has come from the guys I have encountered in this process and also from men and women who have faced similar characters and situations. My intention is not to find my better-half through this blog, but it will be a pleasant surprise if that happens! This article is for both men and women out there, who are seeking their soulmates.

From a high-level, the process of arranged union today, from a middle to upper middle class perspective can be described as follows:

Step 1: Registering on a matrimony site

There are many sites to choose from, the top ones being Bharat matrimony, Shadi.com, community matrimonials etc, counterparts of western sites e-harmony.com and match.com. But the principles of western dating are not applicable to Indian arranged dating. There is parental involvement and pressure, time factor to take ‘the decision’, horoscope-matching, auspicious timing for every milestone of the relationship, virtual reality of the game, the perception of the thin border between narrow and broad mindedness and various other limitations.

Step 2: Liking profiles and photos of suitors and matching horoscopes

The market has a lot to choose from. I call it the market, because choosing a spouse with certain attributes can be likened to choosing a car or a dress with X, Y, Z features for an occasion, except that the occasion is lifetime. The more the choices the more is the laid-back nature of the shopper as he/she may feel if it is not this one, there will be someone else. These choices unfortunately get limited by horoscope mismatches. Different astrologers and astrology software provide different matching criteria and results so the best matching case for me may end up being the worst for my prospect!

If I like Mr. X and he likes me and if both our astrologers give us the green signal, we move onto the next step that is dating! Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, blogs and other websites are great stalking tools that talk volumes about a prospect, something which even phone conversations that last for hours cannot provide. Birds of a feather flock together, so a prospect can be judged through his friends, family and relatives.

Step 3: Phone and other virtual modes of dating — the biggest flaw of our system!

Telephone is technologically the most useful device and I am grateful to Mr Alexander Graham Bell for inventing it! Phone connects and brings people miles apart together. This phrase has got stuck in our sub-conscious minds to such an extent that we try to achieve everything over the phone!

Mr. X, I who I AM dated on the phone sometime back, said he felt awesome chemistry with many girls over the phone. Then why didn’t he end up with one of them? Why is he even considering me? I secretly thought. He went on to say that he is wired to sense chemistry and compatibility over the phone even before meeting me. They say some men are pillars, others caterpillars. Mr. X was indeed a pillar and a caterpillar. Pillar, because he had most of the attributes I was looking for. Maybe he was a pillar too high to mount! A caterpillar, because he was way too slow in his approach and communicated just over the telephone, his favorite method. He was just not ready and did not feel comfortable to meet me or even Skype with me despite conversing for several months. He wanted it all on the phone. Alas! We parted ways!

Dating Mr. Y on Skype showed me our wavelength mismatches. Atleast Skype showed me that this would not work, which proved to be much better than talking to a faceless someone on the phone for an eternity! It might have worked had we met. But Alas! We parted ways!

I met Mr. Z who seemed fine over the phone, but we did not have any attraction but infact had repulsion and arguments over the meeting! He was not the guy which his profile spoke of and he was not the guy who he seemed to be on the phone and Skype. Atleast he was the bravest of them all as he had the courage to come out of the tele-world and meet me! But again! We parted ways! There were others too who did not cross significant milestones.

Step 4: If all goes well meet up, court and marry!

This is the best part- meeting a few times, getting engaged, courting for few months and finally tying the knots! After the ‘yes’ comes in, days fly by so fast making arrangements and preparations for the wedding.

My take 1. Arranged marriages are not for losers!

‘Shudh desi romance’, is a film which portrays the modern day Indian way of thinking about marriage and relationships. The hero in this film gets marriage jitters and runs away from his AM and opts for a live-in relationship. Such films which portray AM as terrifying must be slammed. AM should not be portrayed in this limelight. Many feel that it is for losers who failed to attract the cool ones out there! Nowadays there is less of the element ‘arranged’ in our weddings. It is more about choosing a partner you think you may fall for one day. This does not mean I am anti-live-in. This just means that I, despite the fact that I am a modern independent woman, prefer getting hitched the arranged way.

Education, work and being in the US has made me independent. The reason I am going in for AM is not because I am a sucker who did not find love, but because I consider it as a fun-filled challenge of getting to know an unknown someone from scratch, committing to each other and falling in love later.

It is an ordeal mainly for parents who go through tons of profiles, get them shortlisted though horoscope and various criteria set by us, the AM daters! It doesn’t end there, this is the beginning of talking endlessly to prospects, one after another, saying goodbye to a few, saying hi to the new till we get the proof that we have indeed found our soulmates!

My take 2. It just happens? Make it happen!

Love is not a fantasy. Sayings like ‘A goddess does not hunt for Mr Right, she attracts him’ and ‘Do not seek love, it will find you when you least expect it’, just do not seem to work much in the world of long distance and virtual dating. Prospects need to make a deliberate attempt to know one another, respect differences and overlook flaws. Getting involved and being vulnerable require courage and are not to be looked down upon. Vulnerability is the test that filters the worthy ones from the ones not worth fighting for. Pestering from parents is a major force which either pays off or snaps the so-called budding relationship.

Unless we live continents apart, then we can consider reaching to each other’s hearts through video chats before meeting but not through just phone. Only shallow conversations about day-to-day life, likes and dislikes, hobbies and general world topics can be had on the phone.

The game must move onto the real world ASAP! Live-dates provide the much needed level of comfort and pave the way for attraction, a broader context and deep conversations which can be subsequently had on the phone. Chemistry and compatibility which are proportional to physics are results of attraction. Both, physics and chemistry are essential for creating and sustaining the ‘spark’.

My take 3. Not interested in arranged marriage? Well, don’t register!

A humble request to daters out there – If you are not ready for marriage please stop the process right away! Delete yourselves from the matrimony sites. Shopping for the perfect match does not work when you are not a 100% into it. Do not do it for your parents or because people around you are getting hitched. Wasting time by shopping and trying out a list of people and giving false hopes and expectations is the most immature and uncultured thing of today. Don’t keep people guessing as well. If you do not feel a match would work in the long run, pull the plug on it as soon as such a thought hits you, preferably in the initial stages itself, rather than experimenting for ages.

If you want to be modern, date in-person, like in the west. Do not complicate matters by trying to achieve chemistry, compatibility and a lot more on the phone. A person who is scared to meet up, get involved or reluctant to reveal his countenance on video-chat, is simply not worth wasting time over. Slow, laid back individuals who take no responsibility or make no attempts to make it work must be avoided too. There is always a ‘next please’ in this game! As per Dante’s Divne Comedy, To reach Paradise, one goes through Inferno. Similarly the AM dater goes through many toads and ‘just-friends’ to get to her prince charming or to the princess of his dreams!

Why Is It That A Country So Obsessed With Marriage Does Not Recognize The Need For It In Old Age

I had just returned from Seattle, from my best friend Sandra’s mother’s wedding. It was the first time that I had attended an American wedding. I was excited to watch a wedding of this kind, not just because it was in a foreign territory but because it was a foreign concept. I had never witnessed a priest pronounce as man and wife, a couple whose reunion was attended by their delighted children and even more ecstatic grandchildren. What this couple had was so beautiful.

A second chance at love and marriage, at the dusk of their age.

I gave a warm hug to the glowing bride. Her beauty was unparalleled today, exuberating an aura of confidence. She looked complete. As she was dancing with her new husband, she pulled me over and whispered in my ear, her eyes gleaming, “The youth is dedicated to earning money, discovering oneself, traveling, exploring.

The youth is greedy, and craves for much more. The youth experiments. But the old age only yearns somebody to talk to, to share the morning cup of tea with somebody who also has nowhere to rush to, and enjoy the mundane moments of life that the youth was too busy to notice and relish. My life has just begun!” Her spirit was contagious. I have never felt so refreshed and inspired after any wedding.

Back home in Mumbai, I was invited for dinner at a childhood friend, Arunita’s house, whose mother was visiting her for the third time this year. It was one of those planned visits, where she had shortlisted prospective grooms for her daughter, a very tight schedule where they were scrutinized and eliminated one-by-one in the quest for a perfect son-in-law.

My 33 year old single, successful, journalist friend whose life was fulfilled in every respect, who meets new people regularly from work, business travel, and reunions with school friends, college friends, and friends of friends (and has a very happening romantic life too), was being bombarded with convincing arguments to marry at the earliest.

The distraught mother, Shukla Aunty, looked at me, soliciting sympathy,

“She does not understand that she will be alone one day. All this work, friends, everything will lose its charm. She needs somebody to grow old with.”

The entire table comprising of random senior citizens nodded in agreement. With the happy image of Sandra’s mother’s wedding very recently etched in my memory, I remarked in supreme innocence and brutal honesty, “Aunty, Arunita is single, but not lonely. She is building her career, which she does not want to compromise on. I think you should consider remarriage. You have been alone since Uncle passed away. You deserve happiness too.” The entire table stared at me in horror, including Arunita.

“She has gone mad,” Shukla aunty said, visibly embarrassed. The rest of the people looked offended as well, expecting a prompt apology from me. I had spoken the unthinkable.

The following week, I was attending one of my youngest cousin’s wedding in Delhi. With all the elements of the big fat Indian wedding in place – the band, baaja and baraat, I could not help but drift away from the vibrant young couple to notice the elderly members of our family – the buas, the chachas and the mamis, who had long been bereaved of their respective spouses, who I suddenly saw in a different light. Somewhere, amidst all the glitter, a widowed aunt would sit quietly, distancing herself from rituals dominated by women belonging to the more auspicious marital statuses.

Why is it so that a country so obsessed with marriage does not recognize the need for it at a later stage in life?

The most obvious reason to enter matrimony is companionship. But why do we fail to realize that the need for togetherness does not fade away with time, but only gets stronger and more raw – as grown-up, independent children leave the once full-house into empty nests, and spouses on whom one has depended for decades are gone forever. Since when did the holy matrimony become so unholy for the people who have spent their prime years shaping our lives?

Who ensured that our futures could be secure? Who made sacrifices so that we could lead a decent life? Why is it shameful to seek companionship at the age when you require it the most? Why is the marriage / remarriage of senior citizens such a taboo in India? Are parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents any less human than us?

Or is it because we are still selfish enough to use their old age for our benefits as well – as readily and freely available babysitters for our children? Or housekeepers for our homes while we struggle with the installments of home loans? Or have we for generations, lacked the empathy to even ponder on this issue? Or is it just our culture? The root to all our problems anyway?

Somewhere near Kota, a reluctant minor child is getting married. Somewhere, in Bombay, a 29 year old woman is succumbing to the pressure of an arranged marriage. Somewhere, in Florida, Sandra’s mother is renovating her home with her new husband.

And somewhere back in Calcutta, in the desolate, haunting emptiness of her house, Shukla Aunty wished somebody at that dinner table that day cared to refute her disregard for my suggestion.

Also published on Womenweb.