An Indian woman, if born, has the sole purpose of getting married sometimes as soon as she hits puberty. Right from her birth she is a vessel of the others. She has high standards to live up to. While being educated, she is expected to know the nuances of being a “good housewife”. If you don’t cook, clean, sew, wash, mend, know not only Indian but all kinds of world cuisines, bargain, bring kids into the world, be responsible for them, earn, work, in short be Super(wo)man. An all rounded woman (pun intended) is not a rare species, this exhausting lifestyle is the way of life for most Indian girls.
God forbid if she can’t make well rounded “rotis”, how will she get married? Prospective grooms and their families after all look for unpaid labour that will also earn for them in addition to bringing them “gifts” for their families, correction, sons, as the pure genetic chance that “blessed” them with a penis warrants money from the non-penis affiliated people. Dowry is like a compensation for not possessing that extra appendage that in all certainty cannot even bear a kick to it, let alone produce a child. Marriage as an institution is very strong, holding everyone by its shackles. It is not easy to escape it. Many a few have dared, but failed. I will not demonize marriage, as their have been various successful feminist marriages. Actually, the happiest marriage till date that I have seen is that of a radical feminist. But these are rather the exceptions than the rule.
Recently, a friend of my father’s made fun of him for having only a single girl child as that would mean spending money. He also expressed delight as his situation of having two sons due to which he won’t have to spend a penny for their weddings. This is the most common scenario in Indian households. This very same person expressed indignation when a young daughter of a colleague hanged herself due to harassment by her in-laws. The mother-in-law was not happy with the dowry so she pressured her “bahu” for more. Also, she never let the newly weds ever be alone. No, I am not exaggerating. She went with them on a motorcycle when the girl had to go give an exam. Talk about a bad case of Oedipus complex. She makes Mrs. Morel seems pale in comparison. Society dictates marriage, mothers get the sons married but at the prospect that he might show slightest affection for the new woman in his life, the way his father never would/could, she becomes the devil. They torture the bahus who are unable to raise their voices as women should be docile, societal shame factors in almost all cases.
While all steps taken in one’s life lead to marriage as the ultimate goal, one needs to be true to themselves.