Being an only daughter from a middle-class family, I was taught the meaning of hard work, the value of money, and being ambitious in life. Mostly because I saw both my parents working hard.
Having a similar ambition in life, I started my graduation, worked hard during the course. However, things didn’t go as planned. It can be a very intimidating and confusing time for a person to realise that the time and investment one has put in on a course turned out to be namesake only. Undoubtedly that too can happen with anyone.
But, once I completed my course, I observed a change in attitude of my parents towards me. Parents and relatives who were supportive before, passed remarks with a side eye. Like Hmm “paise waste kara die gharwalon ke, humare bacche to free mein padh gae”. Such remarks hurt me more, since I was brought up to learn the value of money and it felt bewildering as I could not really figure out what I did wrong.
“Ab to shaadi karado iski” Bachhon ko ek baar try karne dena chahie” were some remarks my parents often heard. Eventually, in a confused state, I moved out of my house and decided to figure out life on my own. I felt like somebody else, just passing through life, with no one really to talk to, mostly sad. I took a shabby room in a pg in the same city where my parents had a house, just because I was tired of feeling like a burden and did not really know what went wrong.
Why are women constantly told that marriage is the last option? If you fail in life, how can a marriage fix it? I chose to live beneath my means, rather than being married. I used to crave to have a loved one to talk to, a decent conversation with my mom, but every conversation with my parents started with, ‘so we have found this guy.’
When I Started Earning My Own Money
After a few years, I managed to get a job with enough salary to live. Despite financial independence I was constantly reminded and scrutinised by my own parents that since I have already wasted money and time I should get married now. I avoided them and in return they did not start a conversation without reminding me of what I am missing in life. Even attending a friends marriage was remarked with taunts like “Apne baare mein kuch mat sochna”.
At this point in life, I know a lot of women who give up, some of them thinking that their parents obviously want the best for them, some worried about agar ab ni to bacha kab hoga and some like me, who were so teared down and fatigued from the loneliness which was caused by their own beliefs the point where I felt loneliness and then depression.
Because of the trauma of having nobody in life, because of not being where I was supposed to be. But I used to ask myself why am I being punished for something which I have no control over?
I feel there are a lot of women who face this, the ones who stand up against such age norms are labelled difficult, rebellious and some eventually give into it. “Ye to hota hi hai”. However being difficult comes at a price. The price of not having anyone around and somewhere after facing so much backlash, you tend to believe what others say about you must be true.
Through my story, I want to convey that no matter how demoralising or frustrating our life can get, be your own light. Do not give up on who you are, based on stereotypes based on is umar tak bas career, uske baad bas shaadi and time pe bacha.
Eventually I learnt that through any phase of life, the only person who stood by me was me only. I slowly and gradually learnt how to love myself more than anyone or anything else. We are all different and unique and when will society learn to accept as who we are instead of baby making, slim looking, doing just well enough in career machines who ultimately sacrifice everything to be a good wife.
Views expressed are author’s own