It's astonishing how all daughters struggle to get 'some support' from their family to work on their dreams, career and education. We are not against marriage. We are against the process, the compulsion, the obligation. We daughters want to work on our career and be self- dependent. We are educated enough to choose someone for ourselves
It was a Sunday morning around 9. I was making coffee when I got a call from a friend. I picked it up, but in no time she burst into tears. I could hear her sobbing and in a nasal voice, she said, "I can't bear it anymore.' After calming her down, I asked her to meet at our regular café, where she hurriedly arrived with a worn-out face. I was immensely shocked to see her red puffed eyes and her exhausted look.
Thereafter, she told me how her family had been putting pressure on her to get married. She had told her family that she wanted to do further studies and in a city with a better education environment.
She also wanted to switch her job, one that offered a better experience.
She told me she was planning to work and manage her studies side by side. She had a vision to be a 'self-dependent' person.
All she asked was support from her family, and they were completely against it. She wanted to pursue a career in marketing as she had impressive communication and interacting skills, to which her family said 'not a job for girls'.
She was also told by her close uncle that if anything happened to her when she chose to go outside, the family wouldn't take any responsibility.
Literally, hearing this infuriated me. Excuse me, is she a burden that she be thrown from here to there? The important thing that every family with daughters needs to understand is that, a daughter is an individual, too–a human being who wants to pursue a career and has dreams, a vision and wishes.
Also, what's the guarantee that the guy chosen by her family wouldn't hurt her? She was not my only friend whose dreams and opinion had not been heard or accepted. Every day I meet girls going through similar difficult times at my workplace.
Once I was walking with my childhood friend to her relatives' home. My friend had just got her hair coloured.
However, one of her relatives yelled at her, 'Are you crazy? Do all these hair colours after you get married.' I was speechless seeing how for a simple thing like colouring her hair, she first needed to get married, then get permission from the other family members or from her husband.
Similarly, when girls seek permission to go on a trip, they get a negative response like, 'You are just a child'.
But, when it comes to marriage at the same time, she is suddenly a grown up.
Oh, what an irony!
Likewise, I have seen girls getting married due to family problems. They work to support their family, and abruptly they become a burden.
For the happiness of the family, they sacrifice their career and education. Marriage should not take place to solve a problem.
It is a matter of choice and should only take place when a girl wants to marry or marry someone she loves.
After all, a marriage is a decision to live a whole new life with a man and his family. It should take place when two souls promise to be there for each other and support each other.
I felt so helpless as I could not do anything but listen. Being a girl myself, I could relate to a few situations.
I am certain most of the girls can relate themselves to what I have just shared.
Some share their feelings while others keep to themselves because nobody is there to hear them out and extend a supporting hand.
Some give in for the family's happiness.
Others give up after trying hard to convince them as they can't go against their family. But some go against the family wishes and try to prove that they can live a better life.
To be honest, daughters in our society are considered good in the family as long as we don't express our feelings and dreams. Thankfully, nowadays we are not killed in the womb of our mothers due to voices being raised over the years about the inhuman practice. I just can't imagine how the daughters and mothers of the previous generations accepted the problems we face till this day. A bit of change has come due to many years of effort put up by inspiring women and those fighting for women's rights. Yet, here we are considered as a burden or a responsibility, which is wrong.
It's astonishing how all daughters struggle to get 'some support' from their family to work on their dreams, career and education.
We are not against marriage.
We are against the process, the compulsion, the obligation. We daughters want to work on our career and be self- dependent. We are educated enough to choose someone for ourselves.
Even if we don't find one, we will let you know when we are ready.
I know it's not easy, and we daughters don't look forward to an easy path in the near future. No matter how many ups and downs come in life, we would like to do and be everything with your support.
Additionally, I want to convey this message especially to the men of every family. In this era of gender equality, I don't see why women are not allowed to give any opinion or allowed to make a decision on their own.
I have put focus on the 'male head' since the older generation men are highly egoistic. They don't want to accept or see things from the other perspective of life.
As mentioned above, daughters are still looked upon as a burden who can't take care of themselves.
Daughters are under-rated, and our dreams or preferences are not given any credence.
A daughter's dream and capability do not hold any value. We are still not allowed to make any of our choices for ourselves.
I would like to conclude by requesting parents and families to support their daughters' dream and listen to what they have to express.
In this tough world, we want our families to support us, trust us, and believe in us and our dreams. It's not easy, of course, but for how long are you going to cage us like this? It's suffocating and exhausting.
It breaks us down when we need to fight with our loved ones whom we think would understand us.
Make a daughter strong, not a victim.
A version of this article appears in the print on April 12, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.