Ask me what, being labelled as a ‘bad girl’ in a desi household implies, and I’ll tell you. I have plenty, from my own experiences.
Growing up, I was a bad girl by all desi standards. I was a little too free-spirited for my own good, asked too many questions, and wouldn’t rest until they gave me the answer. And most importantly, I questioned traditions and practices I didn’t agree with. Why does mummy eat last? Why can’t I wear a sleeveless dress at a family function? And each time this happened, they said that this ladki talks too much. And they asked me to keep quiet and be an acchi bacchi. Because good girls don’t ask questions, and dutifully obey.
This, like so many others, was an entire set of rules was something we were all conditioned to. Yet, I wish for the entire generation of women that come after me, my daughters, granddaughters and beyond, to unlearn what our generation had to learn.
Women Are Multi-Taskers
If I see one more meme with a woman who is depicted as a modern age Durga, with her arms holding objects from babies to laptops (supposedly a representation of her superhuman ability to manage every single thing with equal prowess), I’m going to scream.
Because no, I’m not superwoman. And I refuse this social expectation that I can manage everything – right from bringing up children to running a home to looking like a model, with equal efficiency. I’m a regular human being, with my own share of faults. And yes, I can’t manage all of this on my own. It’s time they understood that at different stages of my life, I have different priorities. And if everyone stepped in to help me a little, I would have it so much easier.
Women Are Primary Homemakers
Kuch bhi bolo, but ghar toh aurat ki zimmedari hai. Which implies that even though I work, earn as much as my husband, and contribute to the running of the household, domestic responsibilities like cooking, cleaning and laundry are still only my job. Because men aren’t homemakers. But that’s only because we’ve never let them be. Right from my childhood days, when female relatives scolded me for letting my brother pick up his own plate – to my cousin who got labelled joru ka ghulam because he made breakfast on Sundays for his wife, while we’ve accepted women in offices and boardrooms, a man is still ridiculed for taking care of his own house (Wow!).
It’s Okay Beta, You Know He Was A Little Stressed
Generations of women have justified male aggression, misbehaviour, sometimes even abuse in the name of that’s just how it is. And as a woman, my patni, behen and beti dharma dictates that I must not object, because that makes me less Tulsi and more Komolika (K-drama anyone? The 90s Ekta Kapoor one, woman. The actual K-drama). And this puts us in a huge problem because while we’ve shown our girls to be empowered, we forgot to teach our boys how to deal with them. And we’ve justified, sometimes even normalised mental and physical abuse. So. Many. Times.
A Right Time For Everything, Beta
This one’s the one that got me too. All my life, I believed I just had to have my professional life sorted out by 25, a big fat wedding at 27 and my first child at 30. Because beta, biological clock! Until I touched 30 and realised I was nowhere close to having a settled career, being engaged (and of course, kids were out of the question!). That’s when it struck me, my timeline has to be dictated by my own self, and not my mamis and chachis. My priorities, in my own time. And thank you Kareena, for making motherhood post 35 look gorgeous.
Marriage And Motherhood – Aar Ya Paar
Pehle shaadi, phir baccha. Ye hi sabse accha! Generations of women have been fed this formula that must be their ultimate concoction for happiness. Without marriage and kids, our lives are incomplete. Even if we decide that we don’t want marriage only. Or kids. Our careers, passions, dreams are all left on the side, while every female relative coaches, coerces and cajoles us to make good what they think is use of our vagina and uterus.
I unlearned these lessons the hard way. I hope I manage to successfully unlearn them in the course of my lifetime, only so that my daughter learns hers.