Mine dropped me at my doorstep and I stood facing the door, which would open only to confine me within the four walls.
I was an H.R. executive, interacted with many people in one day, read their moods and responded aptly, I drew respect, not by force. My salary was handsome enough to suit my job description.
The door opened and as usual my ma – in – law opened it, with the same condescending look as always. A feeling of compunction engulfed me, as always. I really don’t know the reason behind it.
“Freshen up and prepare tea, we’ve been waiting, you are 15mins late than usual.” My ma – in – law said, I finished this mundane chore and was granted 5 min to finish my tea.
“Start cutting vegetables, don’t do it watching T.V., finish – off soon and put the clothes in the machine, its been lying there all day.” The tone was so indignant as I wondered what the reason was, it was the same authoritative, business – like tone each day.
Finally, at 9.30 P.M all the cumbersome work was done, I picked up the phone to call my mother.
“Hello ma” I said. “The day at office was real exciting, I had a meeting with the M.D. He is usually on tours abroad. He seems very happy with my work and hinted at an incentive.”
“Sneha, good!! But beta you sound so drained out!” “WOW!!” That’s a mom. “Ye, but it is the house – hold chores, not the office, You can sense my tiredness on the phone, the people here are blind to it, though I am right in front of them. Ma, please …. I can’t continue like this…. She piles up the entire day’s work just for me to come back and do it . Mornings too I have to finish breakfast, put the vessels for the maid, do the beds and so many other things before I step out !”
“She doesn’t want another maid.”
Ma said “Stop complaining beta, she is old and what’ll they think of your upbringing, if you speak like this?” Here we go again……
The weekends were dreadful as it involved more such arduous work, which neither, fetched me an appreciation nor a friendly reaction. I was so caught up with the dilemma life had in front of me,whether to live it my way or sacrifice even the tiniest of my happiness for the sake of the family I was wedded to.I was more of a slave and taken for granted . I finally drew the line.
One day I said “I have come home from a hard day’s work, you should be the one offering tea.”
The house went quiet!! My ma – in – law sulked until Rajat confronted me. He said “Who is forcing you to work? Am I not earning enough? I married you on those terms itself.”
“I am equally educated” I said. He said ” Your are a woman, your foremost duties are towards your husband and in – laws”
“I can’t give it up! I love working and it has helped us to build this house isn’t it?” “Sneha!! This won’t go on, you have to give up your foolish ambition OR we split!”
“How can you say that? I am not a puppet that you tire of and discard, just because you realized that the puppet was actually ‘real’,with a mind and feelings of its own.”
The time had come, I had to choose between ‘What I wanted and What I had to do’ because I was an Indian woman with ‘Good Upbringing’. My parents didn’t support my stance of continuing to work one little bit as I was a shame who had come to my parents home and had decided to split with Rajat. I was persuaded to go back after a month, but I was firm to live my life on my terms as the stakes were same with both the partners in a marriage. If I should be shunned by the society so should he….. but it was not so. I did not get support ,nor wanted it any longer as I was clear and the ‘guilt’ no longer nagged me.
Then I stood – up for myself. I told Rajat it can’t be a win – win situation only for him. I wanted to be myself. I said ” You had loved the same ‘frankness’ now you call ‘audacity’, the free spirit you call ‘lack of culture’. I haven’t changed,nor will I, I have only one life and want no regrets of not leading it my way.”
Long silent days and nights were spent, cold war prevailed until the people stopped complaining and using accusatory tones, a new second maid was appointed. Rajat too had a lot of introspection to do, my own mother as well ,as her daughter had decided to live for herself First and then for Others.
These stories never make headlines,as the only thing that is harassed and finally smothered
is the spirit of the woman, unless she stands up for herself.
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