As I sit here at my in-laws’ place on a weekday having spent the entire day here with them, I wonder, what is it with men in India and their indifference towards their in-laws? And what’s with the in-laws being totally in awe of their damaads and just constantly dying to do their seva?
It’s 5:17 pm on an unusually hot day in March and I just made myself some green tea while my in-laws took their afternoon nap. It’s like any regular day I would have spent at home. But I’m here today because I wanted to spend time with them.
And guess what? I’m not here with my wife. She’s at work. Yes, we exist.
Most men I personally know have extremely fragile egos when it comes to being the ‘man’ in the relationship. They all need to establish their control over their wives in some form or the other. And, within this system, if you don’t match up to their standards and treat your wife as an equal, you’re considered to be a joru ka gulaam.
While I live with my parents along with my wife, and it may seem to be like a very patriarchal setup from the outside, it’s actually quite cool if you get to know how we function. To start off, for my parents, having a bahu at home doesn’t mean additional help to do the household chores. It just means another child in the house. She’s treated EXACTLY the same way I’m treated. You know, like a useless little brat who’s good for nothing and comes home drunk every Saturday night.
But jokes apart, being treated equally is one of the most important things in a setup like this where the girl has left her home to come live with another family, she now calls her own. There’s no ‘role’ that she’s supposed to play and there are no tasks that she’s ‘supposed’ to do. Other than being a civil human being living with other human beings, we’re quite ok with doing whatever the heck we want to do. And that includes lazing around on a Sunday afternoon, waking up at 4 pm and starting the day with some beer with ma.
What really helps us, as a couple that believes in equality for all genders, is the fact that we both want the same things in life. Okay, she wants Viggo Mortensen and I want Margot Robbie when it comes to a hall pass but other than that, when it comes to the bigger things in life, we’re on the same page. And you know what, we’re both working together to achieve those goals in life. No one person in this relationship is pressurised in any specific form due to the traditional gender role they need to play. She’s not sitting at home wiping her sweat while she massages my mother’s feet and kneading dough for dinner and I’m not, in the meanwhile, sitting in office, smoking with my pals and high-fiving them and joking about how we all have our wives under our control.
This is a marriage. A marriage of equals. Too bad if my friends think I don’t spend as much time with them as I used to. Too bad if my parents think I don’t cling to them when I feel sad but go to my wife instead. Too bad if the world around me thinks that I’ve become any less of a man because my wife is better than me at SO MANY things (it’s not even funny). This is life. Times change. People change. We all evolve. And if we don’t, we’ll continue to remain in the dark ages and will continue to propagate sexism and patriarchy through our actions.
It’s not going to lead us anywhere. Feminism is not only about women empowerment. It’s about equality of all genders. That’s where the core lies. And a marriage is not supposed to be an ehsaan that the guy does a girl. It’s an equal partnership where two people come together and start a new life together. As one.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to be. At least that’s how I treat my marriage to be as.
That will be all.