Motherhood is the essence of being a woman -- was what Former Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen said when she was asked to explain the essence of a woman. Not in exact words, but this is what she meant. Certain oppressive Indian customs can show us how this most beautiful period in a woman's life can be filled with turmoil and tears.
One of my colleague was in the 5th month of her pregnancy and she had not come to office for few days. I went to visit her. As I entered her house, I could hear her speak to someone on phone. The pitch she was using was really high, showed she was very disturbed. Since she was speaking in Kannada I did not understand, but when she faced me, she had tears in her eyes and I was not that stupid to realize it was not a happy argument. She was immediately apologetic and made me comfortable. Just then her Father-in-Law appeared and ignoring me (how dare) he asked her...Did you speak to your mom?...Yes I did, she will call you tomorrow...said my friend. Then the FIL noticed me (finally) and after a hi hello session left us alone.
"Whats the matter ?" I asked my friend. " Nothing ya, its just my fate." "Ya alright your fate but just tell me what it is this all about, do you need help ? " I have to admit here that I am not very patient when it comes to asking someone to share their problems with me. She finally said...I was talking to my mom when you walked in. My in-laws want to know when and how she is going to come and take me to her house for the child birth. Those who are not aware, in most Indian cultures the ritual is that the woman has to be taken to her parents house for her first pregnancy and brought back after the child is born. All the expenses are to be borne by the woman's family. It is not only the child birth expenses, but also includes expensive gifts for the in-laws and to the new father.
Now the problem my friend had was, she had just lost her dad, her mother was not earning and her little brother was still studying. It was not possible for her mother to do all the so called social customary things. But who was going to hear. Her in-laws were making her life hell, and guess what my friend's mom finally took her home and managed everything. I am sure Aunty borrowed money from somewhere to do all that. I had been to the naming ceremony of the newborn and none from her in-laws side seemed to be happy about the gifts they received.
This is not an incident which happened ages back, this happened in the our own Y2K age. Disgusting and inhuman this may sound, but this still is the reality in many many homes in India. If the mother to be has a wealthy and able family then its fine, but if she comes from a family which cannot afford all this, then the labor pain for her starts right from the day she is pregnant. All this in the name of some idiotic social culture. BTW once when I asked my grand-mom why and how this culture had developed she had said that in olden days women used to be doing a lot of housework and they also had large joint families. So when she got pregnant it was good for her to be at her parents place so that she could take rest (as though taking rest in your husbands house will entitle you to a death sentence). But this system slowly became a new looting method for the grooms family. A new channel to make the girls parents realize that what a mistake they have done by giving birth to a girl child.
What a world we live in, where upon hearing the pregnancy news, a debate starts as to who will take care of the mother-to-be. Hello, excuse me, where is the gentleman who is called...The Husband...What a jerk such husbands are, who can only impregnate their wives and not take care of the child birth. One thing I am damn sure of, that no marriage vows in any culture, ever says...I will take care of my wife and her needs... with conditions applied at the end !!!