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Breaking the Tradition of Enduring Pain

 

 It is strange to see how we face testing time in life due to gender bias. It is there right in front of us, right from our workplace to our personal space. The major influencing factor being hundred percent tolerance – a quality the women have always been admired for. I have seen the previous generation of women, who followed all the traditions and rituals, trying to please others. They did gain a peaceful life but at the cost of their own dreams.

 

So what is the punch line for our generation? Women have to be 100% tolerant and always have to be at the receiving end. They should never protest and always have to endure the pain in silence. I would like to share a not so pleasing story and definitely would like to know, if anyone can relate to such a similar experience.

Being born in an affluent family, I always had high dreams. I never faced a situation where my family outcast a girl. In my family, men and women were always treated equally. They shared all the household responsibilities and financial decisions. I got enough space as a child when it came to decision-making and the necessity to express my own thoughts.

 

Being a doctor by profession, soon after completing my education, like any other independent women I too had a notion that life was going to be very easy. My parents, like any other typical Indian parents, decided to get me married. They were very much convinced about Athish being the right choice. With mutual consent of both the families, I met Athish. And yes, we got along well.

All were good after marriage. Athish had a modern outlook towards life, and always supported for all the progressive ideas. His family too was very supportive and treated me very well.

But the fairy tale did not last long. It was during one of the visits from his relatives, I came to know the fake image they were portraying in front of me and my family.

It is very important to understand that when two individuals start to live together, they should be given enough space to decide on how to live. However, it is weird to see people interfering in others lives, ruining the peace and purpose.

After three years of marriage, we always had to testify and reply to all the filthy remarks made by my husband’s family members for deciding to not have a child. I always wondered what made them worry so much. Initially, I thought, they were genuinely concerned. But later, I realized that every talk was well planned by their family. And they made sure to put this topic for discussion in public so that they could make us feel humiliated for not having a child. Someone once even suggested me to try Ayurvedic medicines (a form of alternative medicine, popular in India), which was very suggestive that I had some medical issues or infertility.

Worst was the case wherein I received a text message written by my father-in-law who was circulating it around, within the family “ Kindly do not follow her (mine) footsteps, as she is a barren lady who cannot bear children.”

I was not sure if these words were to be taken seriously, but it did break me as a woman. It’s a shame that even today, there is a certain category of human, who consider a woman’s respect lies in her womb and not in her.

Can you imagine, if the same concept is applied for a man? I think it’s worth giving a thought.

I was going through emotional turbulence, not because I didn’t have a child, but because of the way, my private life has been showcased as if someone had a hold on it. I also got to know through a person from their family about a story of my abortion, which I never had.

After experiencing so much trauma and humiliation, I  decided to end this relationship and to take legal action against my husband’s family. However, my husband was never a part of this. He being a person with a very timid nature, has never encouraged or actively been a part of such corrupt ideas. To be frank, it did take some time for me to realize that he was not a part of this scam. I am grateful to my own family, who have stood by me and supported me through this phase of life.

 

Eventually, we took a very hard decision of not keeping any contact with my husband’s parents. And they too have disowned their own son now – for being different from their generation, and for “not producing babies” soon after marriage. It is said – “Sometimes people come into your life just to teach you how to let go.” And I had to let them go, for my own good.

Sadly, they do not have the slightest grin of their lost character. In this 21 st Century, we still have such people around who nurture such regressive thoughts, is something that I wonder.

 This is a kind of story that many of you would have heard, or experienced but preferred to ignore or endured silently. This is sad.  Somewhere each one of us is responsible for tolerating such inhuman behavior silently.

 

While I was depressed with the whole thought and it took a lot of time for me to overcome this ordeal. I met many women who had similar tale to narrate on how they were treated unfairly. But, why don’t these ever come out ! And why they haven’t taken any stand! Or why don’t they even take a stand for another women!

Being an Indian woman, disowning or completely cutting all the connections off with husband’s family was really very difficult, but not impossible. I too have to deal with a lot of Social pressure, cultural and traditional dilemma and blames. It is not easy! At times, I feel depressed and suffer alone.

BUT,  I stand strong as an Independent woman, who thinks her self-respect is the most important to her. I do not have to be nice to someone, who was trying to tarnish my image, behind my back. And most importantly, as appropriately said by the great philosopher Seneca – “What you think of yourself is much more important than what people think of you.”

 

This is my journey and it continues….

 From what I understand, this is the kind of social behavior which were accepted by all since generations, particularly by women. This is a wake-up call to all the women who receive this kind of disgusting attitude from anybody – By not standing up or speaking up for yourself, you are setting a wrong example to the coming generations. Women need to adjust, forgive and accept – this is a very common expectation in the Indian society. 

 Is it not time to change this ?!

 

 

** This story is written by an Indian lady who preferred to remain anonymous.

[The context of this narrative lies in a deeply implanted gender discrimination in Indian society. Infertility in women is considered as a stigma. ONLY women are held responsible for not having children ( many elderly people don’t even believe that there is something called male infertility). Women are often tortured, humiliated and stigmatized for not able to bear children. At the end of the day, it is the decision to the couple whether to have a child or no. Nowadays, many even want to opt not to have a child – but pressurized by society, couples do not have their own choice]

33 Comments

  • Melissa @ Always, Lissa

    That is a truly sad story and I am horrified at the way the in-laws family acted towards the wife. I am very glad to see that she took necessary actions and cut them off. I can’t even imagine what she went through in order to cut off ties.

  • Johnny Quid

    A powerful post indeed. I’ve never adhered to the idea that a woman should just take verbal, mental, or physical abuse from anyone. I don’t think ANYONE should do that. And yeah, if you need to cut off certain family members who don’t support you for one reason or another, then that’s what you have to do. It’s lonely, but if they’re not gonna support you, they have no business being a part of your life and you are better off.

  • lforsythe7040

    This is a sad story that many of us know nothing about. There are many people saying that they support woman’s rights, but I wonder how many of them really understand cultural problems like this one. It’s definitely an eye-opening story.

    • The Storyteller

      Many cultural issues are very subtle and complex for people from other cultures to understand. Unless more and more people really open up about their personal stories of oppression and discrimination, the world will never know about these…and these will continue to happen silently.

  • Despite Pain

    I don’t think I will ever understand why people feel it’s ok to treat others in this way. This lady was treat as inferior. She’s not. I’m glad she was able to stay strong. I’m also glad that you write about matters like this. We wouldn’t know things like this go on if people like you didn’t write/speak about them. Thank you for being a voice to many.

    • Swagata Sen

      Thanks so much! I chose to highlight social issues affecting women’s life and freedom because I knew how many women have never got the chance to have their voices heard. I decided to provide a safe space to all women who can open up about their life without feeling intimated by the society .

  • J.L.Misener

    Thank you for having the courage to do what others have not: to share your story. I am sure there are many woman reading this and feeling a little bit stronger because of it. It is stories like yours that drive me, because I believe there is only change where there is action, and only a solution when both parties are prepared to listen and make adjustments. I am so sad you went through this, thanks for being so strong.

  • Megan McC

    I appreciate the bravery of the woman that wrote this piece. Her courage for telling her difficult experience with choosing not to have children and about her husband’s family. Thanks you for helping make her story known to more in hopes that we’ll all understand each other a little better.

    • The Storyteller

      Thanks a lot Megan! Yes, in fact it was not easy for her to bring this out and share publicly. I am glad and proud of her that she agreed to do it, for the sake of all other women who are suffering silently. I am also very happy to be able to provide a platform like ‘Rights of Equality’ to all women, where they feel safe to share their stories and to interact with one another about issues which they never spoke about before.

  • Luna S

    It is terrible they tried to make you feel guilty for not having a child and worse they made it a public affair, I am sorry you had to go through that.

    • The Storyteller

      It indeed is terrible. Even today, specially in rural India, women are tortured, outcast, abused and even killed for not having children!!

  • erica3639

    Wow, what a powerful and painful story. Thank you so much for sharing! I don’t fit the mold of my husband’s family either, and it can be very difficult. After this last Christmas, it was painfully obvious how they feel about me, and I’m electing not to speak with them anymore. I don’t care if my husband does, as I would never ask him to cut his family off. But I will not be forced to be a part of it again.

    • The Storyteller

      Thanks Erica! I don’t think we need to keep in touch with anybody who don’t make us feel good and respected. Thanks for sharing about it!

  • Lindsay Rae

    This story makes my heart hurt and I feel deeply for the woman and all women who can relate to it. While not nearly as upsetting as the story told here I had a wake up call similar to this when my husband and I started up our restaurant several years ago.

    Once we began telling people that we were planning on starting a small business the responses we each got were vastly different. while he was asked about the logistics of the business and what his plans were to make it successful the only things people focused on when talking to me were our children.

    “What will you do with the kids?”
    “How will you juggle a more than full time schedule and your children?”

    He was never asked about how he would work while being a dad whereas that was the only thing I was drilled about.

    I’m glad that women are beginning to speak out and tell their stories, the more we share and bring these issues to light the easier it will be to stand up for ourselves as individuals.

    • Swagata Sen

      Lindsay, First of all, thanks so much for sharing your personal story here! I can relate so much with it ! The world makes such a big issue out of each and every ‘unconventional’ step a woman takes in her life ! I faced this several times.

      I would be really glad if stories like this work as a wake up call for the so called ‘well wishers’ to stop interfering in our lives and let us live peacefully.

    • The Storyteller

      Thank you for your comments and glad that you liked it! Hope we all can participate together in creating awareness against this type of social evils.

  • Nominal Nomad

    If we take it upon ourselves to see what inside of us they are pointing toward, all grievances become opportunities to heal and love ourselves.I think you are doing well !!!

  • tcleland88

    Good for you for standing up for yourself. A decision to have or not have children should be undertaken by the couple, not by his or her family. I’m so happy that your husband was not a part of the emotional blackmail.

  • angienh86

    I truly don’t understand how some people can think that children are a must “have.” No one should have children until they are ready.

    • The Storyteller

      Totally agree with you. Specially in a situation where the world can not feed, accommodate or provide a safe future for its existing population and children, not having children are rather a wise decision.

  • Ayanda

    I can relate very well to this story. Our cultural context is quite similar. Women are not seen as such if they are not married and can’t produce children. We are still valued based on our attachment to a man.

    This is a very touching story. Thank you for sharing.

    • Swagata Sen

      Hi Ayanda, thank you for sharing that! It really helps create a lot more awareness when we open up about cultural issues which people from other cultures don’t even know. Would you like to share a guest post on any gender based issue particularly prevalent in your culture? Thanks again.

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