Indian Society Mother Daughter Marriage Opinion orthodoxy

Dear Mother: If Your Daughter Ever Asks You Why She'll Have To Leave Home After Marriage, Say This

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

One day a little girl asked her father, "Dad, why do girls have to leave their parents and go away from them, forever?" The father replied, "My child, that’s because every girl has to go to her own home eventually." The little girl didn’t understand what her father meant and curiously asked again, “But, this is my home, isn’t it? You are my father and just like any other child, I am supposed to be living with you. So why are you saying that I have to go to my home? Where is this other home?

Unable to answer her question, the father told her that she will know where her real home is, when she’ll be slightly older.

The little girl decided to address her mother on the same issue and asked her the same question. In a soft voice, the mother replied, “When you’re older and wiser, you’ll get married to a prince charming and then his castle will become your home. Every girl has to leave her parents’ home one day and adopt a new family, a new place and a new way of living. It’s among the biggest changes that come in a girl’s life and just like I went through it, you’ll go through it too, when you grow up.”

The little girl innocently replied, “So… you mean that every girl has to give this test, like you did and grandma did too? But what if I don’t want to go and live at someone else’s house? What if I want to stay here, with you? Why can’t the man who marries me, come and live with all of us and adopt my parents and my life, instead?” 

The little girl’s grandmother was listening to their conversation, and as soon as she heard her speak like this, she got angry and upset. In a stern voice, she said to her granddaughter, “No, it’s not possible for the guy you marry to come and stay with us, because this house and this property only belong to your younger brother. Not to you and your husband.”

She then turned to the girl’s mother and told her to teach her daughter about the ways of the world. “Who is feeding her all this nonsense, at this age? What will anyone think, if they hear her speak like this?”

The mother took her daughter in her arms and after making sure her mother-in-law was out of earshot, she said, “You can change the way this world works, my baby. Achieve something in your life and then you can have a house of your own and do whatever you want in it.” 

After listening to her mother, the little girl finally relaxed a bit and kissed her mother goodnight. But her mother couldn’t relax. She was upset with the burden of the truth in her heart. She couldn’t muster up the courage to tell her daughter that the world wasn’t a nice place. That the society they lived in was run by men.

All these years, women had learnt how to live beneath their men – their brothers, fathers, husbands – and now they had become so habitual of this enslavement that they quietly, meekly followed all instructions and rules made by men. But she knew that only men were not responsible for this sorry state of affairs in our society. She knew women were equally responsible for keeping quiet and for not fighting back.

She couldn’t tell her daughter about the many women who accepted their lives as second class citizens in their marital homes, at the hands of their men. She just hoped her daughter wouldn’t meet the same fate.

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