HOME- the word provides us with immense peace, a feeling of security, a refuge where we come back after a hard day to let ourselves be, even birds build their nests, animals have their dens because we all need a place we can call our OWN. But do we, the INDIAN WOMEN really possess any HOME? Because merely having a residential address does not qualify having a HOME. 

A house can be build with stones, cement, sand, pillars, human effort but a HOME needs much more, Love and respect being the foremost, but alas in our country we women are as homeless as those slum dwellers, even when we reside in opulent high rises in posh locales.

I will start with a fiction and here it goes:
Riyansha found herself quite in a mess draping the saree, the mystery of the nine yards was becoming as difficult as solving the evolution of human race, she was getting hyper  with each turn she took to put the flowing material in order. She was twenty seven, a doctor by profession and as per her parents and our societal dictum’s, has attained the age to get hooked or married in a more sober term.

Riyansha was finally done draping the saree and was put on the light make up with trembling hands; she was blushing in anticipation and needless to say excitement blended with anxiety of embarking on a new life with Aahan. The alliance between Riyansha and Aahan was fixed by their respective families and Riyansha was happy about her upcoming nuptial. Today was the final day of meeting between both the families to fix the date.

Date fixed, two hearts were beating fast, and two pairs of eyes were engrossed in the rosy dreams of future. Long phone calls at night and meeting at coffee shops holding hands, discussing future plans, stealing glances amidst sea of strangers- a perfect setting for an arranged marriage slowly and steadily culminating into love.

Finally Riyansha and Aahan got married after much fanfare. Relatives witnessed a swanky glitzy ceremony declaring the financial status of both the families. Teary eyed Riyansha was touching her parents’ feet before leaving for her in laws place, cloud of gloom and constant sobbing made her eyes red and with veiled eyes with unshed tears she looked around the abode she calls home, the place she was born, took her first steps as a toddler, spend her quirky exciting teen age, burnt midnight oil while studying medicine, spend endless hours chatting with mom, got indulged by dad, enjoyed house parties with friends, celebrated every occasions, laughed, cried, rejoiced. She looked at every corner of her home which spoke a different story of her growing up years. And then spoke her father, “Riyansha, from today this is not your home any more, you will now start your life in your actual home and ensure to make that home a haven for you and your family. Go, with our blessings and wishes and never look back.” In a moment her HOME was snatched away from Riyansha, she was pushed forward to create another HOME for herself. She became homeless for the first time in life.

Well, for my readers, my own story is little different from that of Riyansha. While I was crying and taking leave from my father’s place, he holds me with his hands in a steely strong grip and told me in front of hundreds on lookers, “This is and will always be your HOME. You belong to this home and as a person can always have two homes, you are just about to join your second home but nevertheless this is your HOME” , I was lucky, I guess to have a father like that with that kind of progressive mentality.

Now coming back to Riyansha and Aahan’s small nest of love, here it begins.

Riyansha’s journey could have been concluded here by preaching sermons to fathers who still believe in the prehistoric mentality that a daughter’s actual home is her in law’s place and not where she was born and reared up. But no. In reality Riyansha and likes of Riyansha face another dilemma which comes from their spouses. They are made to feel and realize that whatever a woman does to create a home with love, whichever corner of the home she nurtures with her affection, is still does not become HER HOME. It is either her in law’s home or her husband’s home. She is a mere caretaker.

Aahan proved to be no exception to the rule of the patriarchal society and soon the realization dawned upon Riyansha that she is homeless. The place she was born and brought up does not belong to her any more, her father has expressed that thought or ideology in clear terms, her in law’s home too does not belong to her, according to Aahan, “You are staying at my home, enjoying the perks of my social status, this might be your address, but not your home.” Writing address of the place we reside and calling a place our home has a difference of light years. These two concepts are as different as chalk and cheese.

But is it fair? Why does a woman become homeless the moment she is married? Why can’t a father say this to his daughter that it’s okay you are married but this is still your home, this is still the same place where you have played as a little girl and grown up to a beautiful soul? Why can’t a husband tell his wife yes you are married to me and this is your home too which we both will share and nurture with our love? Is it too much for a woman to expect? We become homeless, in spite of having a residential address, but why? 

Yes we are caretakers and caregivers, we cook, we clean, we adhere to all social norms as a wife, mother, daughter in law but sense of belonging gets left far behind where the HOME is not MY HOME. WE stay there, we don’t THRIVE there. At the onset of a mild argument where it is not necessary that a woman is always wrong, booms the husband, “Stay if you want to or else leave, this is my home, so my rules will work.” And yes working women who are financially independent also get to hear this magnanimous dialogue of the equally magnanimous husband who is brought up in a pseudo sophisticated, pseudo cultured and refined family as the in laws claim. My daughter is 9 years old and I have told her not to ever get married unless you have a home of your own, not your father’s home, but a home you have made from your earnings, don’t let yourself be HOMELESS like thousands of women, I would not want that for my daughter.   

An archer by heart and a writer by passion. Have had a decade long career in Human Resources with reputed organizations like Simplex Infrastructures Ltd, GPT Infrastructures Ltd and Emami Realty Ltd, but the role I enjoy the most is that of a mother to my 9 year old daughter.Reading enriches me, travelling rejuvenates me.
Educational Qualufication -MBA (HR) and M.COM (Banking and Insurance). You can ask any question to the author on this mail: shoumibhattacharya@yahoo.co.in

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