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  • Writer's picturePanchi

Chapter - V 'Paraya Dhan' (Somebody else’s property)

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

The cry of an Indian woman! It is upsetting that a daughter must move out of her paternal home (home sweet home) and away from her home after marriage. But that is how traditions are followed, safely maintained and passed on to the next generations in a patriarchal society. A society that has no boundaries for its sons but when it comes to married daughters there is a long list of do’s and don’ts. It’s a matter of immense joy that a lot of parents now have ceased to differentiate between a son and a daughter. They provide equal rights and the almost same amount of freedom to both girls and boys, but there is a catch here! For the daughter, her freedom comes to an end after her marriage. The so-called ‘papa ki pari’ (father’s angel) turns into Ghar ki bahu’ (daughter-in-law of the house) after marriage. The girl becomes a guest in the marriage and a guest in her new home too. She is expected to remain like a guest her whole life. She has to fold into their rules and their lives if she wants to survive there.


When Queen was told by her aunt right after her marriage that she cannot return to her parent’s home now and live like a permanent member, she was shocked beyond her belief.


Aunt: Maina, your husband’s house is your new home now. Always remember they should be your first priority from now onwards.

Queen: Nobody can force me to live in Abhinav’s home. What about my free will?

Aunt: Maina, what free will? What are you talking about? Don’t mention things like that. It’s a bad omen. Your husband is your provider now. You must submit yourself to him. You should never leave his side, till death.

Queen: But I can provide for myself and he being my husband now doesn’t qualify his lordship over me.

Aunt: You have a long way to go. There are many things that need to be compromised by a girl in a marriage including your free will.


It sounds splendid when we hear that there are people in this country who are celebrating the birth of a baby girl. Yet the question is for how long will they continue to feel happy, what if there is an expiry date to these celebrations? It sounds painful when the princess you cherished the most suddenly turns into ‘paraya dhan’ (somebody else’s property) someday.


Our society needs to enquire where does the girl wish to live after marriage. If she is prepared and ready to stay at the home of her partner with his family, then the matter is settled according to ‘tradition’. But if she does not desire to leave her parent’s home, she should have an equal say in the decision of where would she like to live after marriage. When Queen’s aunt pressed upon the rule of Queen living in Abhinav’s home with his parents, she thought it was just banter. But her illusion was shattered when Abhinav confronted her to lay down the guidelines and duties of a woman after marriage.

During one weekend Queen went to visit her parents. She thought that it was quite obvious and harmless for her to visit her parent’s home as they lived in the same city. Away from her marital duties and obligations, she spent quite a merry time with her parents. Her mother made her favourite Pabho Maas Narasingha Jul (Fish cooked in curry leaves paste) and her father treated her with his famous masala chai (masala tea) in the mornings. She felt very contented and rejuvenated when she returned. But there were various judgemental talks being held between Abhinav and his parents behind her back. Although Abhinav was raised in an open environment free of any kind of injustice towards women, he and his family had conflicting notions about the daughter-in-law of the house.


For example:

· A daughter in law is supposed to look after her husband’s parents first. Their need and requirements should be met with utmost priority. This includes cooking, cleaning and doing their laundry every day without any fail.


· A daughter in law should not be greedy to spend more time with her own parents. That is her second home now. What will the neighbours think if she is absent from her husband’s home for more than one day? How will people judge her character?


· A daughter in law should only spend most of her earnings on her husband and his parents. She should not spend on her own parents as this can qualify as defiance of her marital responsibilities. All her interests should be focused on providing a better life to her husband’s family, only then she can be called an ideal daughter in law.


Now according to Queen’s in-laws and her husband her overstay at her parent’s home was eligible for a grave crime. A crime which she should never repeat in future or else there could be grave consequences. In the following week, Abhinav offered Queen to drop her at the office and also decided to give a warning signal to her on their way. ‘Your overstaying at your parent’s home is not appreciated by my parents. You are a married woman now. You have duties towards my family’ said Abhinav. He knew that the queen could not retaliate in a public place, most importantly in front of her office where any of her acquaintances can be present. Suddenly the smile on her face turned sour, the twinkle in her eyes disappeared and she felt like she was choking there for a breath of air. What just happened? Why all these allegations are suddenly beginning to pour on her like torrential rain? What wrong did she do by visiting her parents last week? All these questions were starting to ramble inside her mind.


She tried her best to maintain her composure and not react to obnoxious statements passed by Abhinav at her. Because this will only attract unwanted attention towards her. People will think Queen is a short-tempered wife who fights with her husband in public. She politely replied. ‘Okay, I won’t visit them next week.’


How are parents of a woman less important as compared to the parents of a man? So much so that they must be taken care of and venerated, while the girl’s parents are often considered a burden or formality, and ignored? What gives a husband a license to treat his wife’s parents differently than his? When both men and women, who have similar roles to play in looking after their parents, are expected by Indian society to behave differently by virtue of their gender? What about parents with only daughters in their family? Who will take care of the girl’s parents when she has left her home to go settle in her husband’s home? Why should such parents fight every day for the company and be left all alone?


And imagine how will such a daughter feel? Queen often felt deeply hurt and stressed out that her ageing parents are left to get by without any help. They vested their entire life in raising up and taking care of their daughter. Yet now their daughter isn’t even allowed to meet them once in a while. Queen wished she could tell Abhinav how dearly she missed home? How her old parents are struggling every day? How her mother eagerly waits for her arrival just to get a glimpse of her daughter’s face?


Queen tries to move on and manage responsibilities in a cordial way when it comes to looking after her husband, in-laws and all the family relationships. In our Indian society, in a family where there are both daughters and sons, the empty space created by a daughter’s departure to her husband’s home after marriage gets compensated by the arrival of the daughter-in-law. The daughter-in-law becomes the effective caretaker for the boy’s parents as well. There is bou (brother’s or brother-in-law’s wife) to take care of sisters and brother-in-law. But when it comes to a family where there are only daughters like Queen’s, cheerfulness slowly fades with the daughter leaving her parent’s home. With each passing day, the house becomes lonelier and emptier.


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Panchi

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