‘We very much support the idea of her working after marriage. You got her educated, we can’t let her skills go in vain.’
This statement had made her believe that she is going to be married into an educated and broad minded family which respects women equally.
But the fact that her father was spending lavishly for her wedding in addition to valuable gifts such as gold, cash and a brand new car to the groom’s family still disturbed her. She raised her voice several times on this matter telling her father that this doesn’t feel right. Her father silenced her quoting traditions and customs as the reason.
Naive and young, she entered the new household as a bride and learnt soon that men of the house are the kings when they come back from work while she is expected to join in the kitchen no matter how tough her day has been. She also easily agreed to make a contribution to monthly expenses in the home, equally as her husband. One area where equality existed!
A year into the marriage and she had made enough compromises to the injustice and inequality she witnessed on daily basis at home. All for the sake of keeping her parents happy and ‘respected’ in the society.
Finally a day of ecstasy in her life, as she learnt she is pregnant and a little one will be growing inside her. That little seed of happiness gave her the assurance that soon she will have someone in her life, who would overshadow the negativity of suppression in this house.
‘We will have to go for some tests to my hometown in Rajasthan’ shared her husband one night. ‘But there are so many good clinics in Mumbai’, she was puzzled. And soon she learnt that it is to detect gender of the baby. These practices still exist in 21st century, she was completely oblivious of the fact.
Not being able to gather the courage to speak up, she decided to go ahead with it. What if it turns out to be a boy, she can then enjoy rest of her pregnancy in peace. She had several sleepless nights as the test date was approaching.
Her heart was racing fast while she was made to lie on her back and they were scanning her womb. She almost felt her heart stop and felt she is sinking in deep waters where she could not breathe, as the person said..it is a girl!!!
She then heard her husband talking to his parents about the next steps which were the most horrendous thing she had heard in her life. At last, she gathered the courage to stand up and refuse an abortion.
The matter was escalated to her parents who surprisingly told her to follow the advice of her in laws. They made it clear that they will not support her if she is abandoned by her in laws for being stubborn.
She decided to break free from all of this and start afresh with her ‘daughter’. Counting on her savings, some friends and her strength as a woman, she stepped out all alone and settled down in a new abode.
Now this mother lives in Mumbai working for an MNC, with her 3 years old daughter. I asked her, how do you feel to look back at your braveness?
‘For sure I’m depressed at times in absence of a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on, but the innocent laughter of my daughter fills my heart with so much love and peace that it leaves no doubt in my mind that I took the best decision of my life by setting myself free. I manage my finances, my time, my freedom while taking care of a precious life.’
Did your family contact you? I asked. ‘Sure they did. Once to tell me that my husband is remarried and after some days suggesting me to remarry since I’m only 27. I told them if I ever do get married, I will choose someone who satisfies my criteria.’
What is that criteria? I asked.
‘I am looking for a feminist man’ she smiled.
Disclaimer: This story is inspired from a real life incident. The person wishes to be anonymous.
Female foeticide and sex selection drugs (SSDs) are still prevalent in India and other asian countries. For more information, read: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/aug/30/men-fighting-female-foeticide-india