An Outcast in my Home
Women in urban India are stressed. They are not only doing work outside the house, but also work full time at home. Saving the extra money to give the latest playstation game, the bike or i-pad to the children studying in upbeat schools, they have to prove themselves again and again at home and at work.
All the usual pressures of work like meeting deadlines and office politics are there in an Indian woman’s life, she also has to combat taunts and prejudices directed against her because she's a woman. Then, she comes home and has to explain to her husband and in-laws why she is late from office. All hospitality and catering to unannounced guests, upholding of traditions and customs, following religious ceremonies and rituals, looking after ailing grandmothers-in-law and extended family, relatives and husband's colleagues...the list goes on. When would she keep herself updated so that she can get her promotion due at office? When does she get time to soak her feet in warm water and pamper herself? She hardly sits to have a leisurely cup of tea. Housework, kids' schoolwork, maid problems are her responsibility. If Indian women are supposed to be superhuman, they should damn well be treated like goddesses and not sexually harassed at office and behaved with like doormats at home! Stressed she is and will be, until Indian men can swallow their pride and not just dig into the salaries of their wives, but also give them the dignity that their women deserve.
I decided to stand up against this, at the age of 23, a year after my marriage. In an affluent family with a supportive poet-husband whose sensibilities of artistic freedom transcended that of a common man, I decided to protest. And became a veritable outcast in my own home. Today, 25 years after my coming into my marital home, I still have not been able to make this my own home, I am fighting on, refusing to bow down to traditional concepts of the perfect daughter-in-law of the house. Yes, I have lived my life on my own terms and become ostracized by the members of the family I married into. I fight on, and my daughters are carrying on my legacy of fighting to change one’s own life, for society will change when each woman will learn to stand up for herself.