If you don’t know where your priorities lie, don’t expect others to know. You are your own best friend.
A young 22-year-old girl, brimming with energy and a zeal for life, that is who I was. Born and brought up in the UK, by a liberal and progressive family, educated in the best of boarding schools in India. My parents thought it the best to provide their children with Indian values and respect for Punjabi traditions and culture.
So, in true filmy style bag and baggage the family of 5, I being the eldest, younger sister, and my brother, land in the land of flies and files.
An exceptional student, a distinction holder, I completed my Masters. As it so happened; for the family's name and fame, proposals for marriage were being considered. I could not convince my parents to allow me to study further in the UK, as the boy’s family wanted an early marriage. What followed was a typical Punjabi big fat wedding.
Then a 'honeymoon'. No sooner, the henna colour faded off; the blue print of my life became evident to me.
My husband's girlfriend, supposedly an ex made an entry into our life. Not to say that I was in bliss anyway. A joint family wherein no lady ever worked outside the house. A competition from dawn to dusk as to the culinary skills of the daughters-in-law, least to say, was worse than Masterchef.
The mother and father in law were the dictators in a household where the men in the family had to report to the higher authorities even before any idea even entered their locked brains. The whole affair of an Indian arranged marriage is lopsided in favour of the boy’s side. Everything and anything is about their honour, reputation and image in the society.
Who is the one slaughtered? The bride. She is left at the mercy of her new so-called family. Are strangers called family?
The set of rules and regulations were stifling, the food would not go down my throat and at the end of the day complaints to my husband branded me as the one who always complains and never adjusts. The saving grace, my parents lived in the same city and I could spend a few days with them and feel looked after and fed.
The in-laws' abode was worse than boarding schools.
I was left stranded, labelled as 'married'; with no emotional commitment from my husband or financial independence, and to top it all, one room in a big house. No space both mentally and physically. It was a damaged relationship.
On the insistence of my parents, I studied further. Equipped myself with a degree in law and education. I got a job and loved the life I made for myself. The financial independence and emotional support from my colleagues coupled with the sense of achievement made my life worth living.
Staying in that very family I have drawn my boundaries. I love my life and have found my peace.
From my own experience that I share with you today, is that - never underestimate yourself. Live a life that is fulfilling to you. Set your own goals. Unapologetically and unabashedly; own your life.
Be bad, be bold if that is what it takes. It's your life and you are going to live it once.