Don’t let me down dear daughter!

Or else…

A friend once said she was very liberal and gave her daughter plenty of freedom, with a reminder, that she trusted her and did not expect the child to ‘let her down’.

Terms like ‘trust’, ‘freedom’ and ‘letting down’ made it sound like a warning  Guidance and support towards self reliance, encouragement and acceptance would have been more appropriate, I feel.

How does  a child tell such parents that she disagrees? What if she does not succeed is being obedient? And, if she does make a bad choice? It looked more like the parents were letting down the child.

‘Freedom to obey’ is not ‘freedom’.

The children are  reminded that if they take decisions on their own – like a daughter marrying a person of her choice, she mustn’t come back home if there is a problem. (Another threat.)

And if she marries someone they choose and there is abuse? Can she come back home then? We know she can’t.

How do their ‘trust’  and their expectations help the child lead a better life? Or were they not really thinking of the child’s happiness – in which case should the child trust them?


Sangeeta from Gurjjar community, knew her family would not allow her to marry Ravinder Kataria, a Jaatav boy, she  had met in her Computer classes.

This February they married in court and also  in an Arya Samaj Temple.

‘They decided not to declare their marriage until they succeeded in convincing their families to approve it‘ and ‘continued to stay at their respective houses’.

When her family members started looking for a groom for her, Sangeeta had to tell them about her marriage.

It is easy to imagine the reactions… Such boldness must have been seen as a bad  example for other girls in the family. The news mentions many uncles, a brother, father and mother.

She managed to go to her husband’s home, but her family persuaded her to come back with them to return on 18th July after a grand wedding to save their name (honor). The couple wanted their blessings so they must have been relieved.

Ravindra lost all contact with his wife after that. Suspecting foul play, on July 13th he lodged a complaint with the police.

The Noida police launched an investigation and recovered the skeletal remains of the girl from the fields and arrested four persons, including her brother and father. The accused have confessed to the killing, police said.

In a post about a Delhi girl who died in suspicious circumstances, a commenter had said the girl betrayed her parents’ trust, she was sent to study, not to choose a life partner. Does it sound like we are talking about an adult citizen living in a  Democratic nation? Indian parents need to learn that they do not own their children, they do not ‘give them freedom’ – and they have no right to take it away.

(Details of the news from [Link 1 ],  [Link 2] ,[Link 3], [Link 4 ]& [Link 5])

Related post: Perfect parenting in 55 words


What do they choose when they have a choice?


I was startled to see a Marwari neighbour in  jeans and a long, loose T shirt. She always wore sarees with the pallu drawn to cover her head.  She saw my expression  and smiled, “My in laws have gone out of station, for a wedding.”

So what did she choose to wear when she could choose what to wear?



This article describes young women in Beirut… [Link]

‘Salwa …a student… has devised a new way of wearing the veil… leaving her neck and face uncovered… Her clothes are up-to-date… designed to appeal to the Western fashions…

These girls, wearing rings in their noses and lips, make me ask myself what the purpose of the veil is, or why they wear it at all.

Are these just regular young women who, given the choice, would prefer to wear modern fashions than traditional Islamic dress and hijabs? Is it pressure from society or their families that compels them to take the veil? Or are they believers in the importance of the hijab and their own beauty.”

…what is certain is that these young students experience a freedom within the university campus that they lack outside it.’

So when they experience freedom what do they choose?

What one chooses when one has the freedom to choose says a lot, I think.

And when one doesn’t have a choice?

I think one would naturally be inclined to make the best of the restrictions.

‘There is a TV show that… runs a competition for female viewers. Viewers phone in to win a “cool” aba’a (gown) created by a fashion designer who specializes in fashionable Islamic clothing...‘  [Link]

Give A Girl A Ball…

I have blogged about  our unwritten reservations for boys…

That is why these words in this video struck a chord.

Give A Girl A Ball
A Female Coach
A Safe Field
A Team
She Gets More Confident
And More Connected
She will start saying
Yes to Speaking Up
Yes to owning her body
Yes to a Bigger Life
Yes to New Horizons
It’s her right
And hers
And hers
And theirs
Invest in changing girls lives through sports
Empowering girls through sports

Have you seen these movies?
Which of these did you like the best?

She’s the man?


Bend it like Bekham?

Chak De India?

Related posts : Dheeyan di ma rani, budhape bharan paani

From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

This post was selected by BlogAdda as one of the top posts for this week’s ‘Spicy Saturday Picks’.

Blogadda's Spicy Saturday Picks

I am publishing this comment and my response to it, from ‘How Important is it for a girl to get married?’ because I agree with Ramit when he says, ” IHM This topic that has been raised by Anonymous, needs a separate post in itself so other girls can relate to it too and get a few pointers to stand up. It’s high time they need to stand up… Unbelievable that India has put men on the moon and our mother in laws even after migrating to London are still living in the 15th century! Utter crap!

Here’s the comment.

Dear IHM,

I am a 24 yr old newly wedded girl. got married 4 months ago and moved to the UK with my husband. i know this is a problem every indian DIL faces and I guess I am falling in to it too. my family is very liberal and they do not really believe in following all the customs that the entire world harps on. My inlaws on the other hand are super duper orthodox and for them every custom under the Sun is important no matter how inconvenient it is for the other person. My MIL like any son’s mother thinks that I am the luckiest girl on earth because her son decided to marry me. because her son is in the UK and he is the only one in their family to be living abroad, whereas in my family, every second person is in some part of the word other than India so to me its not a big deal at all! in fact i refused to marry this guy because he is not in India but since everyone in my family insisted that they know this guy very well and I got convinced after speaking to him a zillion times that he is genuinely good at heart.

Now my MIL has a typical characteristic trait of pointing out everything. Even if you miss a small safety pin that was supposed to be given to her or her daughter from my parents’ side, she does not waste a single moment in pointing it out and making it obvious that she is unhappy because the “custom” has been broken. Her daughter is the world to her. I am the world to my parents too but she is a little weird. During the entire wedding, she was not anywhere near us. Kept insisting my SIL stays with us all the time coz she is the daughter of the house. And made sure my SIL and her husband were served everything properly. She does not care if anyone else is not properly taken care of, but with her daughter no chance! So much that once they had their invitations ready, they sent it to my SIL first got her approval and then bothered to send it to my husband coz his approval was not necessarily important though he was the groom.

Somehow, the wedding went on very well with the help and support of a lot of family and friends. Now when I was moving to the UK, I’d left all my jewelry, silver and gifts at my parents’ place. Somehow I was not very comfortable leaving them with my inlaws coz my MIL tries to find fault with everything she sees. In some piece she will think the design is not good or she will say that we should never buy gold at a jewelry shop but make sure we get it made by a goldsmith etc etc. So since I would not be around, I did not want my mom to listen to all her nagging everytime she met my inlaws. Even though my mom asked my MIL if she wants her to get all the gifts and all and leave it here. I did not want her to ask about the gold though.

My question # 1:

Is it not my choice about what I want to do with my things? Do I have to seek my MIL’s permission for everything I do to “my” stuff? Each and every piece of that jewelry has been bought by my parents. None of it is what my inlaws gave me. The stuff they gave me is with me here. But do I have to take her permission before deciding what I want to keep with me and what I don’t? My parents will definitely not need my jewelry. They have enof of their own.

Now coming to it, she has spoken to a common friend of my family and his family recently. She has very conveniently told him that she has no idea what I have done with all the silver items (including 2 sets of thali and glass gifted by my parents) I had and all my jewelry. She tried to convey that she thinks I have given even the thalis and all to my parents and they are happily living on it. The thalis and glasses are as a matter of fact with me and with her proper knowledge coz she was pissed off when I said I want to take them with me. My whole point was I did not see any sense in keeping them safe at home when we could make proper use of it everyday over here. )

Question # 2:

Is it right on her part to speak like this about me and my parents in front of a third person? Is she not kind of insulting me and my parents?

Now the more interesting part, my SIL’s husband does not have any family of his own. His parents passed away years ago and his elder brother and all are only for the sake of being there. So all that my SIL had are at her parents’ place. So she has a valid reason to leave everything with her parents. Now for everything my MIL has one excuse that since my parents dont know all these customs, she is trying to tell them the customs.

I had no intentions of having any ill feeling towards my in laws but this is making me very very sad. I wept all of yesterday and as soon as my husband came home, he realised something is wrong with me. He managed to get me spill out everything (and i am cursing myself for it), spoke to his mom, my mom and tried to convince me that his mom is only trying to tell us the customs and all. He is otherwise very understanding. he knows how his mom has a very weird character and tells me the same thing but when it comes to this particular issue, he says it was a casual talk between my MIL and that common friend and he took the liberty to call up my parents and speak to them about it. What I dont understand is if this ‘casual talk’ was a month ago, why did that man call my parents now and speak to them? I am a new DIL and so I am not supposed to question anyone. All I am supposed to do is keep quiet and see my parents being nagged every now and then because they did not some custom about a piece of haldi or a saree that was supposed to be given.

Question # 4 :

Is that all my parents are supposed to do all the time? Keep giving things to me and my husband? They do give us a lot but is there no break to it? Do they have keep giving us gifts all their life? They have already done enof for us, is it not our turn to make sure they have everything they need and care for their wellbeing (including his parents). Is a piece of jewelry and a set of clothes the only way to show they love us and care for us?

Question #5:

My parents still dont have an account of how much they might have spent for my wedding coz his parents wanted a grand ceremony because they were not taking any dowry. I’d already told my parents that I dont mind staying single all my life but I don’t want them to pay a single penny as dowry. I am beautiful, educated, had a very very good job and I am self sufficient in all ways. There is no need for someone like me to get married by giving dowry etc. My husband also was very particular that he did not want anything as dowry. So since there was no dowry in question they wanted the event to be a grand one. My parents wanted the same thing and so they made sure everything was remarkably exotic much against my wishes coz I dont see the whole point in spending so much money on something which lasts just a day or 2. Is a simple ceremony not worth enof to get married?

I am soo disappointed now that I can’t express it in words. I wanted a family where human values are more important than customs. Thankfully, to my husband all that matters is human values and feelings but I am very disappointed by his parents coz I realised that for them customs play a higher role than human values.

I wanted to spill it all out coz I am just not able to take it anymore. I am a regular reader of ur blog and all I could think of was you when my mind went completely blank.

Please help me.

Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

* * *

And my response.

Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter I was thinking maybe this should be published as a post … it’s such a typical situation!
At 24, and when you are married, you should be left alone and not suffocated with such controls!

I am amazed women achieve so much despite such cruel and horrible circumstances. Just be brave, remember that you are absolutely justified in wanting to be free of such controls, and you are NOT WRONG in expecting your parents to be treated with respect and basic decency. Malicious gossip against a DIL’s family is not something a girl can be expected to respect. And what you do with your jewelery is upto you, even if you do sell it or give it away she can only express an opinion – no matter what our conditioning tells us, it is wrong to to try to control another adult’s life. She is also trying to control her adult, and married, son’s life.

The sons grow up and are conditioned to believe that since mothers only want what is best for them, it is fine if they also want to monitor their entire lives.

This is where Joint Family and patriarchy are so wrong.

And don’t feel guilty if common sense tells you this is wrong, just because somebody is older or is a spouse’s parent, they do not automatically become right.

Expecting your parents to keep spending is wrong; discussing them with anybody, least of all mutual contacts, is not going to build bridges. Discussing you is immature and cruel, and I think if they really care for the son’s happiness, then it is essential that his wife is shown respect… your MIL does not seem to realise that no man can be really happy if his wife is treated like this. Happy wives make happy families.

Don’t feel guilty – you are right, and tell your parents to be stronger, I always say, Strong parents have happy daughters.

Don’t give in to such controlling, keep your jewelery where ever you prefer to keep it.  And quite definitely not with your MIL. Not even if it means a lot to her (Why should it mean a lot to her?). Not even if it makes her feel you love her like your mother. Not even to please your husband. Keep it pleasant but be firm. Maybe just smile and change the topic.

You could tell your mom in law or husband that even if this is done in every next house, you do not like such indulgences in petty gossiping. Convey that you may find it difficult to show respect to  your mom in law unless she (and he also) show the same respect to your parents.

No harmony is possible unless their is justice. Bitterness and oppression can not bring peace. Be tactful, remain polite and respectful, keep your cool …. but do not accept such treatment.

I wish you (or any human) didn’t have to go through this, but since you have to …

Also ask your husband to remember you also have the same feelings, how would he like to be treated EXACTLY the same way by your parents? If parents love their children, shouldn’t they be nice to their spouse too…?

He cannot keep speaking to his mom on your behalf – she will start calling him a JKG. he just has to very clearly let her see that he will not allow his family to treat his wife shabbily, when a husband stands by his wife, nobody from his family bothers her.

Take a look at this post,

No jeans for an Indian Daughter in law.

Two more posts by Unmana you may like to read,

In-Law Advice: What Husbands Should Do

In-Law Advice: What Wives Should Do


Response continued,

@Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter, Of course human values are more important than any customs … in fact the only purpose of all customs is to bring us together and make us happy, ‘customs’ by themselves are of no other value, don’t get bogged by all these thing that you forget that these are the best years of your life, remind your husband also.

I fear sometimes elders use customs to show they know more or know better … I feel bad for them, maybe they feel you know more in some other ways so at least here they can show some superiority .

Newer customs will be brought in by newer generation … we  will  change with times, so will the customs.
You will be fine, be brave … hugs, God bless, IHM

What I love the most about my country.

I receive email links from a reader who signs as  ‘Moral Police’ 😆  Moral Police complains I see nothing good in India. 😐

Moral Police is mistaken.

I love the fact we are basically a tolerant and peace loving nation.

I love the colours we love, amongst my favorites is the Pink of Pink Chaddies.

I love our arts (which include Hussain, beaded necklaces sold on Janpath and Khajuraho),

Our dance and music (including bhangra rap and Bollywood remixes),

Our culture  of inclusiveness… where cricket has become an Indian game.

I love how we can ignore our moral police’s politicians’ worries over our  ‘Pub and Mall culture’.

I love it that we have activists who can take on our politicians.

I love how we love to look good. Men too.

I love our  food and sometimes I tweet my breakfast menu. I love the fact that it’s so mouth-wateringly easy to be a vegetarian in this country. I love it that a chapati made from whole wheat atta is known to be the healthiest of all breads. (But I don’t own the chapati or the art and culture and I don’t think my loving them gives me any special rights over them.)

But what I love the best about my country is it’s Constitution. I am glad it has acknowledged me as an equal citizen. Can’t thank Jawahar Lal Nehru and Dr Ambedkar enough for this.  I am glad Khushboo, You and I can voice our opinions.

I love the fact that it has empowered me to marry or live with whoever I choose, no matter how much some well meaning local citizens’ sentiments are hurt. Sania Mirza has this right too.

I am glad I cannot be chopped into pieces by those well meaning people  for marrying the one I like. I am glad if someone does that they can be hanged.

These headlines in The Times of India made my day today.

CHANDIGARH: In a blow to the Taliban-style caste panchayats of Haryana, a sessions court in Karnal on Tuesday sentenced five people to hang until death for killing a couple from the same village and gotra.

But does loving one’s country mean one has to be an ostrich? Does acknowledging the fact that parents in India feel they own their children mean one sees nothing good in our country?

Do we have to live in denial to prove our love for our country?

And who does one submit these claims of patriotism to? To the moral and cultural police who has been taught a lesson by what I love the best about my country?

What would you not change for love?

I have been receiving email links that accuse Indian women of dereliction of duty, when they marry men from other faiths. Indian women are solely responsible for the honour of all Indian religions and cultures so these accusations are not new.

Love Jehad [Do read this link] should not become another tool to control women.  As an adult, a woman should remain free to marry anyone from any religion. And if she chooses to, let her convert.

But my personal opinion is that love and marriage should not require either of the partners to stop being who they really are… simply because they can’t.

1. I feel one should not need to convert to a partner’s religion.

2. I feel one should not need to change names or surnames. It is inconvenient and unnecessary, but even if it was convenient, it’s based on the principal of ownership of another human. So the very premise, in my opinion, is wrong.

3. I feel one should not need to change feelings towards one’s own parents and family. Unfortunately girls are sometimes expected to do this; especially in joint families… Marriage should add to your life, not take away from it.

4. Friends and family are a support system, nobody should be asked to give them up.  Also isolation of the victim is common in cases of Domestic Violence. (Now, the Domestic Violence Act has made it an offence to stop a woman from meeting her family).

5. One should not need to change one’s Personality. For example, no extrovert should be asked to become an introvert. That’s controlling.

Everybody, including women, must have some interests of their own, and some me-time, so if she is asked to stop interacting with the world (to protect her!), she better watch. Insecurity and mistrust are not good signs. And…

6. Trust must include faith in and respect for her judgement. Giving in to the spouse’s unreasonable wishes does not improve a relationship. Such controlling might be the beginning of Domestic Violence – verbal or physical.

7. The woman should be trusted to decide how she must dress, and not her husband’s grandmother’s cousin’s daughter’s brother in law.

Do you think we should need to change ourselves for love or marriage? And how much? Is it true that we can find happiness in our partner’s happiness (after the first few months of a relationship), or do we need our own happiness too?

Supreme court has made it clear that a girl above 18 can marry or live with anyone of her choice.

Of suparis and tomatoes.

Supreme court has made it clear that a girl above 18 can marry or live with anyone of her choice.

India needs such reminders because although parents know of custodial deaths and custodial rapes they still get the police to arrest their adult and married sons, daughters and  their spouses. Pregnant girls or mothers with small children are also brought in court for marrying their husbands.

The confidence of these parents is unbelievable, they are convinced that they know better best.

Or perhaps there is no love or confidence involved? The child is seen as a ‘possession’. That is why sons are seen as assets and daughters as liabilities.

Since daughters are not an asset, they are more likely to get killed. A mother and grandmother in Chennai, killed twin girl babies by suffocating one and  slitting the throat of the other. No political groups made this an issue. I only receive links to self righteous websites worrying about protecting adult citizens (only girls) from  inter-religious marriages.

Apart from the fact that these attempts encroach on an adult citizen’s legal rights, which is reason enough to condemn them, these groups change their tune from case to case. It makes no difference which community, because when it comes to a girl’s right to choose a life partner – the view is no different.

One more thing ‘traditional’ thinking has in common across communities in India is that it is assumed that a girl is not old or matured enough to choose a life partner but is matured enough to be married off to a man several years older and to raise future citizens. She cannot consent to having sex (is often a minor when married), but again she is old enough to have and to raise children.

Amina from Kashmir married Rajneesh Sharma on Aug 21. Her father filed a report with the police saying his 17-year-old (27-year-old, it seems from Aanchal’s account) daughter was missing. Srinagar police arrested her husband, he  was brought to Ram Munshi Bagh police station, where (according to a probe) he hanged himself with a pheran. [Read details here.]

Earlier this year, Fiaz Ahmed Ahanger ‘s Hindu wife  – ‘with an infant in her lap, stood before the Bench, braved questions and was unflappable in her resolve to live with her husband. But, there was an urgent plea from her to save her husband from harassment at the hands of the police and threats from her parents and brothers who did not agree to the inter-religious marriage.’  [Details here.]

I also blogged about how a teenager was harassed and molested for meeting a boy from another community by a political group, the girl was so traumatized that she hanged herself.  She was not yet sixteen.

I read this news yesterday, and then reached the bottom of the page and what do I  see?  Take a look.

What does this mean?  I chose to throw a tomato, maybe you’d like to give a rose?

Utterly Twitterly …

Some see humour, some dont ;)

Storm in a Tweetcup?

Couldn’t help sharing this!!  Love these ads!!!

(The picture is linked to the original site)

If he were a woman, he would have filed a case against a man everyday.

British student Kaya Eldridge alleged that she  was molested by the local plumber  in her flat in Ahemdabad.

I am not surprised that the defence lawyer allegedly wanted to know if she drank or smoked, I have no idea if he wanted to know what she was wearing… but I would be surprised if he didn’t.

But what puzzled me was that they allegedly spoke to her in Gujarati.

Elridge found the “experience in court ” “intensely humiliating.  [link]

‘Even public prosecutor J S Joshi left the court during cross examination to attend hearing in another case, she complained.’ [Link]

‘Eldridge broke down in the court and pleaded for privacy in the trial after alleged hostile questioning by the defence lawyer. “I felt powerless and helpless–as if I did not have a voice. Nobody was listening. I felt as if I was not being respected. I felt as if I had been stripped of dignity.’ [link]

Why is this so easy to believe ?

She also said, ‘Everyone in the courtroom was laughing at me.'[link]

So I am glad she is strong and says “It is important to come out and say that this is unacceptable behaviour. I will stay in India till the end of the case. I don’t intent to be chased out soon.” [Link]

Made me want to clap. My best wishes to Kaya Elridges.

‘The girl’s lawyer Meena Jagtap strongly objected to defence lawyer Sanjay Prajapati’s remark: “If I were a woman, I would have filed a case against a man every day.” The Bar Council of India has also reportedly decided to file a case against the defence lawyer.’ [Link]

I agree with Indo Canadian, a commenter, “The level of sexual abuse attacks in India is disgusting. A woman can’t even walk down the street without having strangers grope her, it’s even more horrifying when a man does this in her home. Indian culture needs to develop respect for women.” [link]

It really does.

No Education For The Fashion Conscious?

We had tried everything from nail-polish remover to Kerosene oil to fade the henna from my daughter’s  palms in 1999, she was in class III then, and her Delhi school forbade Henna on hands. We had just come back from a wedding and I understood that the school had its rules, if I did not like them I could take her out of the school.

She had seen another girl  being told not to come ‘dressed like a bride‘ and being made to sit on the floor. The eight year olds had discussed that God was going to punish the teacher who did this. (Is that what the rule aimed at?)

Now even though nobody noticed her henna, she was terrified for days. All I could do was give her a letter requesting the henna be excused, to be shown if someone checked her.

I have no idea how these students benefited from not applying henna. Clean hair, sparkling uniforms, shining shoes, confident smiles, a love of learning, and also a love for the school were what I valued. I would have added henna application as a fun-filled extra curricular activity.

My son has a mark on his forehead, so when he was young, I got him a haircut that covered it. He has gorgeous, straight, silky, shining hair, and a mushroom cut was most convenient and neat, kept his ears, neck, and eyes clear in hot and humid Delhi summers, but then we moved to Kerala and a school didn’t agree with kids being made ‘fashion conscious‘. He was in class III. His parents were fine with his looking like one of his favorite Westlife boys. The school wasn’t.

An older boy’s parents were ‘called to school’ because his mother allowed him to colour his hair.  Again I wonder if students do not have a life outside the school. Was it really that important? How does one be an all-rounder but not wonder how they might look with ear studs or coloured hair? Should the parents have a say in this?  How does long hair in boys mean lack of discipline?

We could leave our hair loose in my school, (meaning we could get away with taking off the hair bands and slipping them into our skirt pockets), and some of my friends who plaited their hair all through the school years complain that now they find hair left open very uncomfortable after all the years of two tight plaits.

Many schools have switched to traditional salwaar kurta for girls, but continue western wear for boys. How do they explain this bias to the students? They don’t think they need to explain. Is this discipline or authoritarianism ? How does this help with discipline? I know girls who resent this and have much more to say than the girls in class three mentioned above.

I consider grooming as important as being able to speak on stage, being good at sports or being polite. A lot of people look at taking care of oneself as the opposite of being ‘simple’. I feel well groomed (not necessarily good looking) people have an edge over those who aren’t. And grooming requires discipline too.

What schools seem to disapprove of is ‘fashion’  and a desire to look attractive. But why do we look down upon any desire to look one’s best?

So I was pleasantly surprised to read this morning on the front page of ‘The Times of India’,  ‘Supreme Court Raps school for beard issue’.

“…a Bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi expressed its deep anguish at such ridiculous rules framed by schools.

Agreeing with Salim’s counsel senior advocate B A Khan, the Bench said: “How on earth could a school disentitle a student from pursuing studies just because he has kept a beard?” 
“Then there will be no end to such prima facie ridiculous rules. Tomorrow the school authorities would say they would not allow entry to students who are not fair in complexion,” wondered the Bench.

What I liked even better…

“These days it is a fashion for youngsters to sport an earring. Can these boys be denied admission to a school,” the Bench asked before issuing notice to the principal of the convent school and directing it to allow Salim to continue with his studies there.

Note: Personally I would be most irritated if my 17-year-old coloured his hair or kept a beard, but then why should I decide how the rest of the world chooses to look? And what has acquiring basic education got to do with neat beards, washed and coloured hair, or ear studs in ears that have been scrubbed from behind?