“I admire her.” Said Shanti, talking of our old college, friend Veena, “she is so tolerant. I hear her husband is a bully and her mother-in-law a monster. Yet she has put up with all that”.
Yes, at what cost? Veena is a mere shadow of what she was in college. Succumbing to her parent’s persuasion, she gave up a brilliant academic future and married a boy of their choice; “Poor Veena” was how her friends referred to her. I would say, “foolish Veena’, if she was really keen on pursuing her studies, which she was, she should have held her own and convinced her parents.
Veena had this awful weakness for wanting to be a ‘good, obedient girl’ and as a result, became a victim of emotional pressures from all those she loved and dreaded displeasing” I don’t want to hurt my parents”, was her line of defense when we urged her to protest.
The choice was obviously a bad one as the boy had made his intentions clear – no studying or working for Veena after marriage. But as she meekly submitted, her parents went ahead and fixed the wedding date.
Only now, after the damage is done her parents say, “She should have told us then and we’d never have forced her. As she did not say anything, we presumed she was ready to marry”.
What a pity that this is not the story of one Veena. There are many young girls who labour under the illusion that being meek and submissive will make their elders happy.
Most women, like Veena are repressed by their own weaknesses. They take the line of least resistance and let life carry them along with the tide. Protest does not mean waving banners and shouting slogans. But it means taking a rational stand and doing what one is convinced about.
Another pathetic instance of self-created misery is Uma. Taken in by the promises of her elderly married boss, she went around with him for 10 years. Like a promissory note, each year he assured her that he’d get a divorce and marry her. It went on this way, till everyone knew she was involved with him. One day, he upped and left her.
Uma is now a mental wreck. Though her friends sympathise with her and curse the man who let her down, she knows deep down in her heart that she is to be blamed. She should have insisted on a definite course of action, rather than let years slip by on the strength of a flimsy promise.
Its high time women stopped thinking of themselves as sheep bleating at the sacrificial altar. It’s all a matter of perception. If we perceive ourselves as the oppressed, we have many who are too eager to take advantage. If we are bold enough to stand by our convictions, there are few who dare to cross our path. Our sympathies for the Veenas and Umas are misplaced. They are responsible for perpetuating the miseries of women.