Even in this day and age, forced marriage, dowry deaths, bride burning, abuse, rape and torture are everyday occurrences in India. Khushboo Aulakh's poignant and emotional essay voices the cry of many Indian women who are taught to be subservient to men, and forced into abusive and unhappy marriages.
Why do we call ourselves Generation Next when we haven’t gotten rid of the ghosts of the past? Wraith figures which haunt our existence, so much, that we follow them in a trance, forcing ourselves into drudgery and subservience to people who deserve no better.
Forced marriages – a very well fitted straightjacket from which breaking out is an arduous and impossible task. We feel so proud to talk about women exploring the space, winning literary acclaims, reaching beyond the glass ceiling and scaling new peaks.
Yet at the same time we forget the women who are stuck in the same moments for years on end because there is no knight in shining armor and no flashing camera lights. It is only acting demure, docile and meek with just unfulfilled dreams tearing the soul and aching to get out, with the want of seeing the world with their own eyes.
It is not only women from the economically weaker section who get forced into marriages, but educated, modern women like you and me, for the want of a greener pastures in the ‘phoren’ land maybe, for the want of money, for the want of a husband who is ‘socially’ more suited, for the want of anything except love.
Yet, we tie our lives with these men and go on for years and years on end, an entire life wasted to the core, not to mention the depression and longing that follows as a result of this. In some cases the family is responsible and in some, no one but the woman herself.
Don’t rape my life! Let me just be because my life is mine and belongs to me. Don’t take it away; don’t tie me in a golden cage. It’s impossible to break away.
How true are these lines! Forced marriage is nothing but a rape of the mind and the soul and the entire life.
What triggers it apart from the factors above is the favorite tool called emotional blackmail. Stop for a moment and think if you can really be happy when someone forces you to get married to a man you cannot even fathom living it. Yet we do it so as to not upset the family, the relatives and everyone at the cost of our lives, sacrificing our whole being just so a few people can be happy.
Catholics consider forced marriage to be a sin but we would laugh at them. We Indians know everything that is there to be known because we know what has to be done, our children don’t! Doesn’t even matter if they are mature adults, we have seen life closer front than they have.
What is love? Just a four-letter word, money, social status and moolah are more important than a mere four-letter word. Rape is also a four-letter word, because marital rape is what follows the so-called marriage.
Coupled with this is the daily ritual of abuse, taunts and assault and as a woman, you have to bear it everyday. No, don’t you dare raise your voice at a man! He is on a higher altar than you and you must under all circumstances, worship him.
He is God and you are just a mere mortal. Isn’t this what most of us have been taught? This is what one of my friends narrated to me, and no, she wasn’t sad or worried or irritated when she told me this. She was reeking of subservience, an idea which is abhorrent to me.
Everyday, almost every single day, I read – a woman burnt, a woman dead, a woman burnt, burnt to death. What is the reason? Dowry, a term which our history is colored with, is such an integral part of our marriages.
Mere neighbor ne apni beti ki shaadi mein Ikon di hai ladke waalon ko, main to Octavia dungi…
How many times have I heard the similar lines! Even my home is not bereft of this! Our social worth seems to be so dependent on this question – what did the girl’s family give.
Give all that you want because tomorrow, the demands would increase and then when you do not complete them, you will be harassed, abused, beaten and the worse, burnt. What is surprising is that women burn women, shockingly true!
Forced marriage or not, dowry can never be given a more appropriate name, reminds me of the song by Black Eyed Peas’ ‘where is the love?’ Good morning honey! The love was never there, it was just desire to get the most materialistic of things.
Emotions are such a baggage, true to this situation they sure are! Even though numerous help lines are there to rescue women caught in bondage (Marriage is a word which cannot be used) with no meaning, who would actually cry for help? A marriage, oops, I mean bondage is meant to last forever, so what if you are so depressed that you contemplate committing suicide?
What will mom and dad say? They will break all ties and you would not have a home or a family. What will society say? Especially our society, where everything is blamed on a woman, including the husband’s philandering ways?
What will God do? Nothing! Reclaim your life, woman! At least take one step forward towards your happiness. Why be bonded to someone who can never be yours, to someone who can never take the place in your heart.
People will wag their tongues, they just need a reason to do so, but not at the cost of your life. Take up a job, no matter how meager, just so that you at least have a financial backing. Even if you have kids, a job will help you take care of them if your parents close their doors too.
Nothing is more important than the four words of life. It is one life, ending it will not help, crying it out will not help, the only thing that will come to your rescue is battling it out.
Well, of course it is easier said than done, but someone has to take a step forward, even though it is one tiny step. It is better to be single than be a slave to someone.
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