My visitors have just left my house, phew! They came unannounced and left me rattled with their conversation. Come May and the Hindu marriage calender is buzzing again. My guests had come to invite us for their son’s marriage. I am not particularly fond of the couple, still I tried to make conversation by showing an interest in their son’s impending marriage.
“What is the girl doing?”, was my first question. I didn’t need to ask another question, the mother of the would be groom started like I had turned the ignition key of the latest model of imported cars. The girl is an MBA, she very proudly informed us but she won’t be working, she announced in the same breath. In our family we don’t want our bahus to work outside the house; we refused a few marriage proposals for our son earlier because the girl was insisting on continuing with her profession even after marriage. She sounded like the all powerful and well placed bureaucrats in the government of India who could make or break the careers of many a budding businessmen. It seemed as if wanting to be financially independent after marriage was some kind of crime. If this was the case why on earth did they want a professionally qualified wife for their son? Why force a woman to give up her years (read decades) of hard work for a man and his household?
All they wanted for their son was a too-good-to-be-true wife. One who was prepared to finish her professional aspirations so that she can devote her full attention to the big baby in her life — her husband. And about why they wanted an educated wife for their son, they had an answer. The boy wanted a professionally qualified girl who could be good company to him in ‘society’. To me it meant a bahu who is more like a trophy won by the boy and his family. The other reason was that an educated mother is always good for the children. What the prospective bride wants, is nobody’s concern. They don’t want her to be financially independent because that would mean an empowered woman who would be in control of her life and take decisions of her own free will.
All this rantings and ramblings by me no way means that in my opinion women who stay at home looking after their families are less in anyway. My point is that what a woman wants to do should be her choice and not forced on her by the family. It is not that a career woman has an easy ride in our society. She has to work outside and also double up as a full time homemaker. I do know of couples where men help their wives in the kitchen although that depends on the the level of confidence of the husband. An insecure man would never like to be seen helping his wife with the household chores. The point is that women who are forced to sacrifice their selves to maintain balance in their marriages invariably end up frustrated and disillusioned. It doesn’t matter if they are homemakers or career women.
I am not sure about who is happier, a woman working outside the house or somebody who has decided to stay at home taking care of the family, it is an individual choice. Some women may happily love to sacrifice their careers for the sake of their family and enjoy it but when they have to do it because of somebody’s ego, it is unfair.