The Indian daughter-in-law’s response to the new Supreme Court ruling
This account of an Indian bahu, who did it all to be the perfect Indian daughter-in-law, is something you can relate to.
It’s the year 2016, and let’s just say we are well into the 21st century, and at this time and age, our country still needs one of the highest body of law (Supreme Court) to tell our Indian society that yes, it is important to treat your daughter-in-law as a family member, and not a house maid.
Definitely not the one who is there to work from morning till night, looking after the home and you, and be treated worse than a house help. I am an Indian daughter-in-law, I have been one for a decade now, and let me tell you something. As the one who is part of this ruling, being a daughter-in-law, I am sad, ashamed, happy and ecstatic – all at the same time – for what the ruling implies.
Before I go into the details, let me tell you a little more about myself.
I grew up as a really pampered daughter
I grew up as a really pampered and loved daughter, in a family that also has a son, who is my younger sibling. We were never treated differently. In fact, I always felt my parents loved, and still love me, more than they do my brother.
I was brought up to be an independent and intelligent young woman, who started earning from a young age because she wanted to, not because she was forced to or made to. I was brought up to be a kind, caring and responsible human being, someone who was expected to be polite and respectful towards elders, and was always given the freedom to live her life her own way.
The values of relationships and family were deeply ingrained in me, even though I was a free spirit in my own ways. Which led me to the meet the man I would marry – and the people I was expected to call in-laws.
I tried really hard
I tried, you know? I really did. Even before we got married, from the time the families just met, and my future in-laws met me for the first time. I was courteous, I was aware of their expectations, I was careful to make sure that I keep their preferences before mine before doing anything at all.
I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought this is what it meant to make another family your own, to become their own, to start thinking of their well-being and their needs before your own and feel happy about it.
I didn’t realize this was just what was expected of a typical Indian daughter-in-law. To keep your dreams and hopes to yourself, to always stay at the back of the family, at the rung below the lowest, to never let your voice or opinion be heard, to never be seen except as a smiling and happy daughter-in-law, to schedule your days and work based on the time you devote in the kitchen.
To eat after everyone has eaten, to never show your tears, to never expect any love or respect, to be that one line of vermilion that is always meant to be alone, kept at a distance from a family that I was supposed to treat as mine, that I did treat as mine. But which, time and time again, failed to acknowledge me as a living, breathing entity.
And the worst punishment of being an Indian daughter-in-law? The fact that no matter what you do, they eventually even start poisoning your children against you, in an effort to earn some brownie points.
Thank you Supreme Court – maybe this is really what we need, even now, in the 21st century.
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