“The girl looks alright, is a classical dancer preparing for her first stage performance, works as a teacher and earns a decent salary. When she met us, she said she would continue performing on stage if the extended family permits, else would give up dancing. She also said after marriage, she would continue to work only if her husband and his parents allow her to. When we met her, she was wearing a lovely sari, had jasmine flowers in her hair and was well-behaved.” This was my uncle waxing eloquent about his nephew’s fiancee-to-be. His face shone with pride as my mother sat in rapt attention, soaking in every bit of information about the prospective bride while I drowned myself into a question the girl herself may not have the answer to. Why was an educated urban girl like her being so submissive?
We are modified creatures. We are taught to behave, respond, think, react and perceive life questions in congruence with our family, the families we associate with and of course, the society we are part of. We do it to be considered “acceptable”. As children, we are taught to fold our palms and bow our heads in front of deities. We are taught not to question the elders who laid the foundation for the mores we now live by. We are told that a man is a man, the stronger sex. But the idea does not adhere to the ideal of the goddesses we worship, the ones who, without consulting their better halves, wielded weapons to tame or slay evil.
We are made to believe that life consists of milestones. We are told that the destination is what matters, not the journey. We are judged if we harbour thoughts against what has been instilled. As children, we go through character-building routines and as adults, sermons which are never altered to fit us.
Through all this, what gets ingrained in us is a trait that forbids us from being an entity — submission.
The more submissive we are, the more it adds to our image of being brought up well, being cultured and socially acceptable. Compromise is another word for it. Or so they say, to deprive us of our liberty.
Why do we allow ourselves to be defined by others? Why is a submissive person being worshipped and why is a rebel treated as an outcast? Why is a girl called a rebel when all she wants is to be herself? Why should a girl give up on her passions for a boy she has known for just hours? Why should she allow the reins of her life to be handled by someone else? How does she respect her own choices when she was taught not to?
Marriage sounds more like a chore than an institution these days. People claim there is a gaping hole in the roof and a deep crevice in the foundation of this institution. I beg to differ. The reasons vary from one marriage to another but sometimes, marriages fail when the act of submission reaches a point where it is a mundane parlour trick. The mask falls off, the voice from within becomes louder and the submissives rise to their feet.
But some remain there in the shackles. While I sat feeling sad for the girl, the same chauvinistic voice shook me from my reverie and said, “It’s time you agreed on someone and got married. Let us not waste any time here shall we?”
— The author blogs at http://tracerbulletdiaries. blogspot.in/