I am rushed with disappointment and anger right now and this leads me to write this article. My anger is not only to this shocking incident questioning my cousin’s life but also to the woman who wrote a more dramatic version of my cousin’s death, on her Fb page. This incident occured in 2011, I shared a post a week ago and today one of my Fb friend has an ‘inspirational’ looking post but with so much of what sounds ‘nonsensically dramatic’. Are we women done beating each other down?
Before I share this incident, I want to ask you all, if I share that she did not want to marry her husband who was her childhood friend but finally married him because she felt persuaded, does it make you question her integrity? Is that what we women can ‘gift’ other women?!
I was in Tanzania, Africa. As usual we were out of electricity. My in laws were dining and I was in the kitchen, finishing up the dishes before it was time to retire for the day. The phone rings, my sister on the phone tells m e – “______ committed suicide_______” details follow… I am frozen with shock! Can’t believe it. Is it this same cousin who was so close to me several years ago.. the same girl who was always so affectionate, so full of live and so beautiful? 5 years ago as I got engaged and married, I left country and lost touch with her. I was surprised when one day I got the news that she finally married him after even breaking her engagement with him. I had passing thought why she did it but not the faintest idea that she was stepping into what news say was a ‘hellish’ place.What a misery that it seems like my cousin lost her life because she did not or wasn’t able to step up to the insensitive and greedy behaviour of her in-laws. But notice how I write “it seems”. There is no conclusive evidence so far and I was in a totally different country for several years to know any of that. Her name or the link to her news is not important. What is important to know is that as far as the news went, she was earning very well, was in her later 20s and hence capable of being independent. I know that the person she got married to was her childhood friend and she was doubtful about accepting his offer of converting the friendship to companionship. Alas, it hit her hard when she finally did!
While all the talk about her dowry, in laws coercing her for money, her great job position and the fact that her father refused to support her after her constant requests goes on, I wonder if there are any answers to some mysteries. Our family still questions if it was murder or suicide? I don’t know what truly happened but this incident and news raises some key issues in our Indian society. I ask all women to rise above ‘society pressures’. If your parents are unwilling to accept you, are too bothered about ‘log kya kahenge’ then do hell with them. Tell them that society will say that you were not a fit parent!!
Women, you no more need permission of your parents to leave abusive relationships, nor do you need to feel guilty or doubtful of stepping out of households where you are treated as a ‘commodity’ or with a ‘give and take contract’. I know today of a friend who lives with a highly abusive husband who curses her with the worst comments, hits her, drinks, abuses her in front of her family members, does not allow her to own and yet she wants to stay in the marriage because her parents want her to continue living with him, just because of “log kya kahenge!!!” Today we have multiple women empowerment centers, homes, places to turn to in times of need. I know that nothing can stop a woman once she makes up her mind. The immense strength we show in caring for others, we must show in caring for ourselves too! It cannot be harder to walk out of a monsterous home than to hear judgement from others for a few months. People talk, forget and accept. The ‘spicy talk’ lasts for a few days and burns out. This society needs more women leaders that step up to injustice and LET-IT-SHOW.
Will the society come to wipe your tears, to free your soul, heal your bruises? Such parents must be shameful of themselves for these are not what we call parents. Culture and tradition is good within limits but when it moves into orthodox rigidity where women are forced to bow down to injustice, gender bias, severe prejudice and abuse, we must reconsider our cultural ways. Is this want you want your daughters to grow up and hear from the news? Is it so important that if our kids do a love marriage, they must be held responsible if the marriage does not work out and furthermore if the in laws lash out torture and coercion? I do not know what happened to my cousin and my facebook post was a scream of pain to ask for help for someone who may be able to help me know the intricate details around her death.
Unfortunately, someone who I called my friend says that it makes her question the girl’s integrity and that I share information that is confidential. Really! Is it so hard for today’s modern world to accept that women have as much of a right to be loved as men? That women have a right to choose partners and deny if needed and that boys can be ‘just friends’ too. How sad that we can’t just get over pointing fingers at one another and then ask men to show us respect. Wake up women, if you want freedom, justice and respect, ask yourself if you watched an item song along with your boyfriend, ask if you thought of another woman as a ‘slut’ in your mind and if you play cheap tricks on other women, shaming them and even worse, exercise negative power against other women…Charity begins at home and so be it!