Dear ‘Perfect’ woman,
Greetings! I do not write this letter in bitterness but in reflection of what you were then and what you’d be like right now.
I hope you are doing well. It has been more than half a decade since we met. I still remember the emaciated state I last saw you in. You had been like that for many a years.
Sucked dry from the mental torture inflicted upon you by your great husband who you thought was the most honest person on this planet. The bitterness you exhaled in each breath you took made me very sad. You could not see any situation and person without putting on your bitter lens which always made you judge everybody extra harshly. Sometimes I wanted to shake you out of your negativity and show you that the most negative influence lived right beside you. You slept in the same bed as him.
I wish you and other women from your generation had the choices that many women from my generation have. The opportunity to get an education and to pursue a career and leave behind the patriarchal bullshit called ‘in-laws’ if they wanted to.
Well! Before we lament opportunities, a reality check: a small percentage of women from your generation too achieved great heights. They fought oppression and made their mark in the fields that they chose – be it home or work. But you dear sad woman chose a different path. To revere your husband was your only aim in life. A marriage, where there is no critical thought, is bound to doom. I wish you had made your choices differently. I remember how you always said, “It is better to get snubbed by your husband at home than being abused at a job outside by men who are strangers”. I didn’t buy that argument then and I do not buy it now. After all, isn’t it more painful to be disrespected by people we call our own. You also said, “It is hard to live life as a single woman and hence we must put up with all the crap that our husband and his family members inflict on our lives”. Another thought of yours which was never acceptable to me. Life as a single woman is hard, but life as an oppressed, humiliated married woman is even harder I think.
You were one of the most frustrated people I have ever met in my life. This often happens to people who do not resist oppression and keep mum. You kept mum in front of your husband and agreed to everything he said or did. But the anger you held for being oppressed led you to ruin the lives of your children. I remember the way you treated your daughters-in-law when they entered your household after marriage. You made them so uncomfortable with your sarcasm. You left no opportunity to humiliate them and make them feel inferior just as your ‘in-law’ family and husband had done to you once upon a time. You made your best efforts to create a rift between the two and make them fight.
I saw both your daughters-in-law walk out of your household and start new lives of their own. I also saw how spineless your sons were, when it was time to stand-up for their wives. The thing that always bothered me was your obsession with your sons’ food. You expected your daughters-in-law to be their moms and run with food plates behind them to feed them. Dear sad woman – you forgot that to your generation they belonged not. They were educated, thinking women who believed in egalitarianism and equal work. I wish you had taught your sons that women are equal, thinking beings and not just kitchen queens. Your sons were your "ladla betas" but you forgot that your daughters-in-law were also "ladli betis" of someone and the least you could do was respect them for leaving their homes and becoming a part of your household. Had you accepted them as your own they probably wouldn't have left you behind.
Dear sad woman – another thing that really bothered me was the sense of entitlement you and your beloved husband had for being parents of ‘sons’. You two literally thought you could conquer the world because you had birthed sons. Your arrogance that the ‘ladki-walas’ have to necessarily bow down before you was so outdated. Seriously you guys forgot the age we are living in. You probably never imagined that both your daughters-in-law would abandon you. As a woman myself I want to say ‘bravo’ to those girls and give them a hug each. How else can we break this complacency of the ‘ladka-walas’, except by walking out on them. I read a news item last year that a girl broke her alliance on her wedding day since the ‘ladka-walas’ created a fuss over the briyani that was served by her parents at the wedding. It was amusing to read, but deep down I knew I wanted to hug the girl for the really brave act.
Dear sad woman – as I said before, I am not writing to you in bitterness. I hope you are having a good life and a great time now that both your eyesores are out of your family. I also hope you are feeding your sons very well, a job that those two miserable women failed to do. You will be remembered in history as a “self-sacrificing”, “loving” and “caring” woman for the family while those two wretched creatures will only be remembered as “selfish”, “career-obsessed witches”.
So dear sad woman I congratulate you – however sad it may have made you, you did sacrifice a lot for your family including your self-respect, your manners, and your bahus. Bask in the glory of being “a perfect Indian woman” while me and my likes revel in our imperfections.
From an imperfect Indian woman