By Anuradha S. Bannore
Ananya was married much against her will while she was still studying. Her in- laws belonged to South India. She could neither speak nor understand their language which was very exasperating for her. She wondered how she would survive in such a family though luckily for her they could understand and speak Punjabi although not very well. Initially all seemed to be well for a few days but then she realized when everyone was together they preferred to talk in their own mother tongue which was beyond her comprehension. It made her feel lonely and unwanted for when everyone laughed she was the only one sitting silently wondering what the joke was about. At times she just smiled little realizing that she was the joke! What was surprising was that her newly wedded husband, Prashanth too made fun of her in front of everybody and they all would have a good time at her cost. It was then and there she decided to learn their language as her kids too wouldn’t be her own whenever they spoke in their ‘father tongue.’ She did learn it with great difficulty although her husband never encouraged her, in fact he never did support her for anything instead he would quite often laugh out at her very sarcastically and say, ‘You, you think you can do it! If it were my sisters/brothers they would be able to do such and such a thing but not you.’ This is how Ananya was welcomed in her new family. Her maiden name was Jaswinder Kaur. She didn’t like this idea of trying to change her identity by changing her name but her Mum told her ‘it’s ok, you’ll get used to it’ but she never did. Sometimes she wouldn’t respond when called by her new name much to her in-laws irritation but it wasn’t her fault she wasn’t used to it.
Soon she shifted to Amripur where Prashanth worked. She thought now her life would be better. She did have good times but there were frightening moments too because she would be accused of speaking lies, robbing money, serving bad food to his friends and so on. Life became a nightmare for her! Some men as well as women have this habit of accusing their spouse for just anything and everything which is a ghastly experience for one coming from an educated cultured family. She hardly seemed to be doing anything right in the eyes of her in- laws (it includes the brothers and sisters too) and of course her Prashanth too. Ananya decided to take up a job which she finally did though her husband was sure she won’t be able to continue. What was disgusting was she had to keep a record of her expenditure on house stuff as well as personal which he didn’t have to. She once boldly asked him, ‘Why don’t you too write so that we can make a monthly budget and that will be good for us.’ He immediately retorted,’ I’m writing it too’ but he never showed it to her because he was the ‘Man of the House.’ Our education hasn’t helped in washing off ego in human beings irrespective of whether one is a male or a female!
Their holidays were planned by his brothers/sisters well in advance. It was said Ananya keeps going to her Mother’s place every holiday and doesn’t visit her in-laws…that was the biggest joke of the millennium. When she didn’t even get a chance of planning anything about her holidays and was told by Prashanth who had no guts to stand against his dear ones where they would be going in the holidays then how she (Ananya) could be at her Mother’s place in every vacation was beyond her intellectual capacity. It didn’t mean she never went to her parent’s place she did but not as her in-laws proclaimed. No one had respect for her parents too and they made fun of them in the presence of others. Prashanth too would speak rudely and sarcastically to her brothers and sisters. He didn’t like her parents telling him anything even if it was for his own good. His facial expressions and muttering was enough for them to keep quiet. Once Ananya’s mother went to the extent of saying that she would touch Prashanth’s feet and ask for forgiveness. Ananya angrily stopped her from doing anything of the sort.
Prashanth never ever supported her when her in-laws accused her of a whole lot of lies. He would just sit tongue tied listening to all that utter nonsense which emboldened them. It shattered Ananya’s life because she believed that when someone doesn’t oppose a wrong thing that means he/she complies with it. This was a usual feature in her life and after such a showdown and when they retired to their rooms he would shout angrily at her (as if it was her fault) what rubbish they were talking and if she asked then why he had kept quiet when he could have supported her he would accuse her of being an unnecessary burden on him. She was considered to be an untrustworthy person and whatever she said was invariably crosschecked by questioning her uncooperative husband whose silence put a seal of it being true that Ananya couldn’t be trusted at all and she was a bad effect on their poor, simple, quiet helpless son. The poor babe was suffering because of her! It’s the usual story of the victim being the victimizer! All of them were probably of the opinion that Prashanth had obliged Ananya by marrying her so she should be grateful to her in-laws and be a bonded slave to them which she never was nor would be, hence arose all these problems in her life which unfortunately continue to disrupt her life till today. What is weird is that if their own daughter was treated in this way then her (daughter’s) in-laws were extremely bad people. What a wonderful positive way of thinking!
Moreover when a boy’s parents take a dowry that means they have sold their son. In no market can you get money as well as what you wish to buy same is the case in a Marriage Market if you wish to call it so. What is surprising is that even today some educated families with sons drawing a handsome salary still demand a dowry while preaching one shouldn’t ask for a dowry. True their preaching is for others not for themselves. Greed is the master in such peoples’ life. Shamelessly they deny having taken a dowry (which they definitely have) because they don’t want to be considered as ‘leeches.’
Anyway the truth is if we can’t live peacefully in our own house then how can we maintain peace in our own Motherland full of diversity?
NB: It’s just a story. It doesn’t refer to any person living or dead but one thing is true that if we wish to achieve National Integration then first and foremost we must learn to maintain peace at home without being communal that is family integration is extremely significant in bringing the Nation together. Otherwise our dear Motherland will be divided on the basis of language and the state we belong to and then there won’t be many Indians but only Punjabis, Hindi speaking people, Gujaratis, Bengalis, Maharashtrians and so on. No good will ever flourish if such pillars of division are erected by some egocentric people for their own selfish gains and narrow mindedness.
About the Author: Anuradha S. Bannore is a prolific writer and an alumni of Jabalpur University with M.A in English. She retired as a teacher and currently lives in Vadodara India. Following are her thoughts on some of the questions we asked her.