“Mum, K maasi (mum’s cousin sister) called me today. She was asking about kids and I told her I and R don’t want to have kids. It’s a life-long commitment, and we are happy like this! She also asked about A and K. I told her A is not having kids either and K is not even sure if she wants to get married. She was very surprised hearing all this.”
“Why did you say these things to her? Now people will talk behind my back that my daughters talk like this. Badnami hogi meri (translated to I will get a bad name in the family).”
“But ma, what’s wrong in what I said? I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m just choosing to live life the way I want to and do what makes me happy.”
“But where was the need to tell her all this? You all live your life the way you want. Why do you need to broadcast it?”
“But what’s wrong in what I said?”
“In the Indian society, it’s still wrong to not have kids?!!”
And her heart broke into a million pieces… All her life, she had looked up to her mother for raising three independent daughters. She was proud of her mother for never giving up in the face of an abusive marriage and constant financial difficulties – she made sure her daughter’s got excellent education and were financially independent. She didn’t want her daughters to depend on anyone and have to face what she had to. But for what – so that they could grow up to obey the society’s rules?
She wondered sometimes if her mother really believed in equality or feminism. She wanted her daughters to live life on their own terms, but with certain restrictions as per society. Did her mother agree with the fact that women should work and be independent but in the end, must know their place in the societal hierarchy? Was she expecting too much from her mother? Or was her mother right in saying that she has changed as much as she can to support her daughters, but in the end, she can’t change the basic ideologies she grew up with?
She laughed at the irony that her mother always asked her to respect her father just because he was her father. Her mother’s side of the family all kowtowed to her dad because that’s what he expected and hence, she wanted. But she couldn’t understand how an abusive husband/father is more respectable than a mother who raises her daughters to be independent and live life on their own terms or more respectable than daughters who don’t want to have kids or get married?