A Guest Post by an Anonymous Indian Family Vamp.

Dear IHM,

Just saw this comment in one of your blogs:

“People think that girls in love marriages do not pay due respect to in laws. My cousin had a love marriage in Jain’s and she is living a great life.(Our family is liberal). She was a non vegetarian and Kayastha by caste. She is an IITian but knows and has accepted every element of Jainism now (by choice). Her In laws boast about her in their community. Her daadi in law does’nt go anywhere without her. She is an ideal Bahu and loved by all.”

 I am sure the writer did not really intend to offend; I can understand that growing up in largely patriarchal and sexist social conditioning changes one’s perception of normalcy.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist commenting. “Love marriage” or “arranged marriage” hardly affects the life of a woman after marriage (read after honeymoon). Results can be quite surprising.

I had a “love marriage”. Incidentally, my ILs also had a “love marriage”. More interestingly, my MIL’s parents had a “love marriage” too. So, the concept of “love marriage” wasn’t alien to the family and since my ILs themselves did it, they were a lot more accepting of me than they would rather be.

Now, many people would think my ILs are a liberal sort. No. They found my “love marriage” normal because they did it themselves. For all other things, they are as much a typical orthodox patriarchal family.

As for crossing heavens, my MIL is touted as the ideal DIL. She did B.Com. and a degree in music in a major city and lived a somewhat modern life (by the standards of her time). After marriage, she immediately got pregnant (my husband). She was hardly 21 or something. To this date, my grand MIL proudly proclaims (especially to irk me and make me retort and stir things up) that her DIL had just one period after marriage. Interestingly, my MIL was so madly in love and crazy about getting married (thanks to my FIL who is extremely manipulative and can easily convince people), she didn’t even bother to collect her degree certificate. Some achievement (sarcasm alert)!

I think from my previous post, it is evident that she has been suffering from domestic abuse and domination for about 30 years now. She is also severely Diabetic. Anyway, she is extremely timid, subservient and submissive and has sacrificed her happiness, job, health, freedom, and peace of mind and what not for this family.

Now, my ILs are quite impressed and they have a “good opinion on love marriage” because a DIL who came in through “love marriage” was the perfect DIL whom nobody could have found even through “arranged marriage”. In fact, she is considered the best of the three DILs there are (my FIL has two brothers).

In contrast, the youngest DIL, who hated their double standards and domination (like me), openly rebelled and seceded from the joint family. She was brought into the family through an “arranged marriage”. In contrast to MIL, she was from a village and had probably only done her matriculation or something. She insisted that she wanted to study. ILs nodded and got her married. After the marriage, they told her to get pregnant immediately and that she can study later. This, the pressures of a joint family, my typical villainous grand MIL, the abusive men of the household, the restrictions and everything and my FIL’s drinking habits (even on her marriage my FIL was inebriated to the point of going into a coma) drove her to openly rebel. She tried every trick in the book and aborted twice. Finally, they pressurized her so much, she had to relent and finally had two kids. But, she was so bitter by now, she managed to convince her husband and separated from the joint family. Then she did her 12th, BA, MA and now, she is doing her PhD.

This woman, who was “arranged married” by the entire joint family that “selected” her on her “girl-seeing” ceremony, is now the family vamp and all DILs after her (including me) are not-so-subtly warned of the consequences of defying this family. In fact, when I got married, my ILs even warned me to be careful of her (as if she were kidnapping me for ransom) as she would “poison” my mind. My husband has mixed feelings towards her; he knows in his heart that she was right, but being a product of patriarchy, is unable to openly acknowledge or support it.

Anyway, today, I am vamp number two (yay!). Number two because I did not actually openly fight like she did, but I did my share of convincing and peacefully moved out, leaving no quotable evidence in my wake. Vamp, I am, because “I split the family and separated the child from his parents” (as if I was automatically orphaned the moment the thaali came round my neck) even though my ILs still don’t have proof that it was my intention.

My husband, though the main orchestrator of this evil secession plan, is also secretly worried about my reputation. However he is getting more and more relaxed with the comparatively liberal and non-patriarchal living in our new house, albeit slowly.

Three women, two vamps, one “arranged married”.

Now, let’s compare what really happens to the children of women who “cross heavens” and the children of family vamps.

When I compare my MIL’s family and Vamp no. 1’s family, the latter is clearly happier, more well-adjusted and peaceful. Their kids are a lot happier, freer, less frustrated and more comfortable with their parents than my husband and BIL were at that age. In fact, vamp’s daughter recently spoke on a public forum. Her father is thinking of enrolling her for journalism, as that is what she wants to do (despite the fact that she has a “good score” and can actually do engineering or medicine). She is bold, outspoken and is the only kid in the family who is openly not on speaking terms with FIL and grand MIL.

My husband, in contrast, was prohibited from joining a medical college (even after passing the coveted medical entrance) by his controlling and emotional-blackmailing parents. He was put in a random college and course chosen by FIL.

In fact, when he joined, he did not even know what his course was about.

It didn’t stop after he successfully finished his graduation and got a job. He got selected in Infosys with a very good salary to which FIL objected and forced him to abandon.

He finally got a job in a **** company. But being extravagant and alcoholic at that, FIL forced him to send his salary home with hardly anything left for his personal expenses. Please note that my husband was working and living in an expensive city. To manage this, hubby often went hungry. But the family cared a hoot, as this was what eldest sons were supposed to do.

What hubby went through in name of tradition is so horrible to even hear, it brings tears to my eyes even today.

I believe that arranged or love married, only strong, stable and brave women can have well-adjusted and happy families (if they choose to). The rest merely pretend. Scratch the family’s pleasant exterior, and you find it all rotten.

Sincerely,

Family Vamp Number Two

Related Posts:

“I had written an email about being a DIL in the joint family, I am happy to share my current state …”

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

To an Anonymous DIL

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

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