“Have you learnt how to make chapati yet?” came the voice at the end of the phone. It was 2009 and I was engaged to someone who was not my husband. I was training to be a dermatologist and quite honestly my chapati making skills weren’t a high priority back then (or now for that matter). Fortunately or unfortunately, depends on how one views the situation, it seemed to be a skill my future in-laws seemed to value alongside a degree of subservience above all else. Fortunate, you ask yourself - how so? Well, fortunately for me, what was becoming crystal clear was the lack of alignment in my mindset and theirs. Needless to say, things didn’t work out - “dodged a bullet” my friend Simon, says.
What I am about to speak of is my experience. I am not undermining a culture in its entirety but I am going to speak of the things I saw and learnt that to this day do not sit comfortably with me. Indian culture is still rooted in misogyny. There is still an idea that women belong to their men. As women your sole purpose is to sacrifice yourself - first for your husband and his family and then your children. If you do not fit that mould, you are labelled as selfish and don’t understand the value of family. If someone really wants to insult you, you’re a “coconut” - brown on the outside, white on the inside. If you’re not married by 30 you’re past your sell by date, your ovaries are disintegrating by each passing second. If you decide to call off your wedding because you know it will be an utter disaster, the assumption is that as a woman, you must have done something wrong. You’re either too opinionated or arrogant is what they say. Heaven forbid, you’re confident enough to say “no”, i’ve had enough” and “i will walk away if you continue to treat me this way”.
Everyone has their own decision to make about a life they feel willing to lead. Indian society, even in the UK, still has an idea of the “right” way it treats its boys and girls. Girls are still expected to behave differently, be more agreeable, pander to its men. It is still easier for a female to lose her reputation or “honour” than it is a male. Cont 👇🏾👇🏾