From a quiet Sikh girl to an outspoken married woman


From a quiet Sikh girl to an outspoken married woman.

I've been married for a quite a few years, that number will remain anonymous since most people place me in my late 20's/early 30's- I love the compliments (and I secretly enjoy the shocking looks I get when I tell people my actual age)

But having been married for that long, I have definitely given the in-laws a good run and I don't feel any closer to my 'new' family.

I've always placed it down to the fact that It was because I married outside of my religion and caste (I'm a Sikh and he's a Hindu), so that created some animosity towards me. I was the one that stole their one and only son away from them- mind you my mum felt precisely the same towards my hubby, since I was her only daughter.

Growing up, I was set boundaries on what I couldn't/wasn't allowed to do. I had a passion for playing the piano, playing netball, dancing and singing. I was a creative soul but as I got older the restrictions started setting in.

'Our girls don't wear skirts and other revealing clothes' 
'Our girls don't dance and play musical instruments'
'Our girls don't go out after school hours'
'Our girls don't speak out'
'Our girls don't cut their hair and shave'
'Our girls don't wear make up'

with a very limited range on what I could do;

'Our girls learn to cook'
'Our girls respect their elders and do as they are told'
'Our girls make good wives'

My brothers had no such restrictions 

'Boy's can do what they want to'

As I got older I noticed other indian girls were allowed on over night trips, day timers, western clothes, make up etc etc and I was told that

'Their girls are spoilt don't associate with them' They were the type that ran away from home and brought dishonour to the family.

So I didn't and hence didn't have many friends who I felt close to that understood my home life.

'You can do whatever you want when you are married'

The latter brought hope to girls like me who had a sheltered upbringing. That we would find a partner and do all those things we didn't experience. I'd never been clubbing or on a pub crawl, or had a sleepover. I was going to get to experience all of that after marriage. I would go on dates with my husband and do holidays with my husband.

At 19 I 'dated' in college, I use that term loosely as I couldn't go out in the evenings on a date, and be seen in public with him. We spent time together during school hours. 

And then D-Day arrived my mum found out. All hell broke loose. There was drama and crying on how I had brought dishonour to the family. 

It was all fake. 

It was so fake, it's the stuff films are made of. seriously you could make a Bollywood film out of my life. The crying was a show to emotionally black mail me into guilt. I fell for it for a few weeks. But then I eventually took the leap in the hope of freedom from all those boundaries and married him.
When I dwell on it now, I think it was all the restrictions that made me run away from home in search of a better life. (So actually the girls that run away and bring 'dishonour' are the sensible ones that dare to challenge their old fashioned upbringing.) I was desperate to feel part of British life and embrace the culture. I couldn't lead a normal life like other girls my age.

Reality is there is a time and place and well I missed it all. Once married I then had to live in my -in -laws parameters. 

'You should wear a saree not a punjabi suit'
'Don't wear a skirt and tights to family functions'
'You must attend this function all the other daughter-in-laws will be there, you will be left out from the group if you don't mix in'
'Why do you two giggle so much'
'Why do you need to spend the whole Saturday together'

So once again I spent the best part of my marriage trying to fit into their box.
I did things different, like the way I cooked was different to them and I always brought a different perspective to a problem. 
I didn't understand their customs fully and dared to question them for my understanding. I wanted to go where no daughter-in-law had been before.

Did you know that Hindu Vaishnavs don't eat garlic because it grows next to graveyards and don't eat onion because it was offered to god and rolled off the plate and caused insult? I know I'm getting a little side tracked, but neither did I until I asked why at a family get together. 

Garlic has so many benefits but this community have removed it from their diets. I grew up having my food laced in garlic, so food without garlic just tastes bland to me. 

Many of my fellow married friends don't feel like calling their in-laws Mum and Dad as it doesn't come genuinely from the heart. Some of them married within the boundaries set, or both families were happy with the union, they had a big fat Indian Wedding but they still felt like outsiders too.

Why do DILs still get treated differently? 

We spend all our lives being shaped into a person that another family will accept as their own. Yet we don't get the support and rally we deserve. We bear children for them, we progress the family name and generations. In many cases its women who are the main culprits who reinforce this injustice.



Maybe it's a personality clash? Maybe the parents are stuck in their traditional ways that have been passed down, decade after decade? 

I don't know why but it's making us feel like outsiders. I left my family and everything I had known for 20 odd years of my life to start all over again only to be faced with more restrictions and boundaries.

As the mother of two boys I always say to myself that I'm going to break those stereotypes. I want to be a mate to my childrens' partners. I don't want to force a Mother-in-law relationship just because it's been tradition for centuries.  Their sole purpose is to make my child happy and be their companion, not to call me Mum or do things my way. I don't care about what people will say.
We're not progressing as the human race if we don't evolve with the changing society, and embrace the culture, right? 
Who knows, my boys may decide to bring home a husband instead of wife. The point is society is changing and we need to adjust with it, some traditions just need to be left in the past.

DILs are no longer baby making machines or maids to care for the elder generation. We are strong, independent women with careers and aspirations. We work, just like the their sons do (and earn just as much if not more) and then come home and do it all again with the household chores and children. 
It's like holding down two jobs. Some of us run business' too and If you've been there you'll know, it takes over your whole life.  But many of us just grin and bear it because we love our hubby.
It was fine when the extended family lived under one roof and all the women took charge of the household as a team and the men went out to work but we are out there side by side holding down careers just like them now. 

I teach my boys that chores are everyones job and not just mine. I don't want them to expect a wife who has been trained to be a submissive and cook and clean. If she wants to have a career she can and we will all support that, that's what family is. They are my inner circle who cheer me on to succeed. I'm not a puppet, I am person too, I have thoughts, feelings and talent too, don't dismiss me because I'm just a girl.





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