Made in heaven, need to survive on earth

Educated women suffer the most. Caught between what they want and what they get, there is the indescribable feeling that they are somehow trapped.
Image used for representational purposes only. (File Photo)
Image used for representational purposes only. (File Photo)

Educated women suffer the most. Caught between what they want and what they get, there is the indescribable feeling that they are somehow trapped. Education teaches young girls to dream. Of freedom, of independence, of careers that will bring them the good life. And it can do all that, for most of them apply their minds to good effect and bring home shining report cards. But alongside this dream, another runs parellel. The dream of a home of her own, a partner to share it with, to talk to, discuss, fight and love, an equal—a friend packaged as a husband. Some find their dreams, in the workplace, in marriage; the lucky ones who find their life buttered on both sides. This is not about them.

This is about the educated girl, who obedient and holding her dream close to her heart, agrees to a wedding arranged for all the right reasons. Her parents care for her, so the values deemed most important for her happiness in her new home are a decent man, earning a good income, of good family background. So, roses bloom, the shehnai sings and a match is made in heaven.

Yet, often, with the placing of her auspicious right foot into her new home, the woman’s life changes. She realises their expectations from marriage are vastly different. The pressures stack up, depending on the situation. To be a wife whose duty it is to forget everything she was used to, and learn the ways of her new home; or be a job-holder and home-manager simultaneously. And to tackle the when-will-you-become-a mother questions aimed her way at family dos.

Little matter that the man she married lived on toast and tea and canteen food for most of his bachelorhood, she must tie her pallu to her waist and rustle up three meals every day, as his mother did for his father. Little matter that the child when it comes is a delight and the apple of her father’s eye, but it is she who must cook and clean, feed and spend the day tending to it between her chores, washing away all dreams of putting her education to use as she washes nappies. She bears it all with a smile, telling herself that once the baby starts school, the pressure will ease. She can take up a job, or pursue further studies, or just find more time for herself at home. Sure. Unless another child comes along and it’s a repeat of the previous story. 

Routine and endless repetitive chores have snuffed the joy in the eyes of many a young woman who, even as she dotes on her family, steps into middle age with the dour feeling that she has missed out 
on the true meaning of a marriage. Which instead of a partnership between equals, has cast her in a role that she had imagined had been left behind with earlier generations. 

So is this story going to end as many others have done in the preceeding centuries? With two people who are living together, but have nothing to communicate, few joys to share, and nurse bubbling resentments deep in their hearts that erupt in harsh words and tears at times?

The scenario could change dramatically, if the man decides it’s time to be a sharing partner. Sharing chores, joys and the dreams of his wife, and helping to fulfil them even as he fulfils his own. Of course, many a partnership has worked out this simple formula. But more often, two people setting out to sail into their future together, hold different versions of what marriage means in their minds, and find themselves rowing in different directions. And whichever way the current takes them, the danger of a whirlpool remains.                                                

Sathya Saran

Author & Consulting Editor, Penguin Random House

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