Thursday 31 March 2016

"A"trocities in The Disguise of Tradition : The Shut Doors

All through My life, I chased my dreams...
So that my daughter doesn't go through, all that I did..
I fought all odds to give her sunshine...
Still when the time came, for all my efforts, I got a long dark night

"India is the land I am born....and I take pride in it....yet being a woman , there is so much I want to change about it...Don't get me Wrong! I look up to my traditions and have no intentions to demean my motherland in the eyes of others but does that mean I accept all atrocities that come in the disguise of these traditions???

I am Avantika...I am a small town girl with big dreams, lost mom at 17, single child , school & district topper ,mechanical engineer , working as a manager in leading IT company & mother of a 5 months old.

Through this article, I want to highlight another kind of taboo associated with menstruation/periods in India. This is a personal experience which has once again forced me to think 'Why am I a girl '.The purpose of this article is not to hurt any ones sentiments or culture.Neither I have any complaints from my family.They are extremely caring & loving.Its just my way to unleash pain & anger.

As I had already crossed 30 and there was high family pressure for baby. We were planning for  family since last 1 yr & One fine day I realized that I have missed my periods.After pregnancy test, it was confirmed and entire family was elated with the news.On an ultrasound scan at 6 weeks, when I first saw the glimpse of my baby, world became a better place...I had started growing each day with the little one.Though,I hardly knew with a new arrival, arrives bags of rituals & myths.

As I was working, my in laws came to stay with me when I was 5 months pregnant.Being high class Bengali Brahmins they are extremely religious.Now starts the real fun, I was told from 5 months pregnancy women should not pray and  not even touch temple stuff.I accepted thinking there is a scientific reason of not to overstress expectant mother.

In 39th week of my pregnancy, I delivered a healthy baby.It was supposed to be a normal delivery but last moment  complications led to a C- Section.First thing I was told that in a way its good ,baby didn't follow dirty path( Vagina).I just though,at its inception baby actually followed this so called dirty path.
After 5 days, I was discharged from the hospital.As I was stepping out of the hospital with a new life, I was elated & excited oblivious of what's in store.My Mom in law told there would be inauspicious period of 21 days called 'Atur' as per Bengali tradition.
Before entering the house, I was taken to a saloon to cut my hands & feet nails.Don't know the reason though..On entering the house, I was welcomed with 'Ganga Jal' drops.Soon after entering my room, I realized my husband's wardrobe was vacated.All his clothes & belongings were moved to another room.For next 21 days he was supposed to stay in another room.None of the family member including baby's father was allowed to enter my room, touch me or baby.No visitors ( including my maternal side) or outing for me.Even maid was not supposed to clean my room or wash my mine or baby's clothes.As a result I have to do everything.Mine and baby's clothes were not be kept along with other family members.I could only dry my clothes once others clothes are removed.I was not allowed to enter kitchen, puja place or any other part of the house.Whenever anything was offered to me, it was given in a manner that hands of the giver should not touch me or the place I am sitting.So ideally  things were thrown on my bed/chair for e.g. mobile, keys etc.

You may also like to read The impact of treating Menstrual cycles as Taboo on the conscience of Little Girls

To my surprise I was given food in a plate in my room.I can't sit on dining table and eat with my so called FAMILY.In case, if I happened touch any item of the house, it was immediately purified with 'Ganga Jal'.Whenever  mother in law visited the room, she used to change her clothes and come.In case she touched me or baby, she would change clothes again and then move for other work.I had to make few visits doc along with the baby.Post return,our car used to be purified with 'Ganga Jal'.

Despite being educated & financially independent, I succumbed to all this.Unfortunately ,My hubby couldn't say anything to his parents.May be he wanted peace & harmony in the house.

Following all these rituals, somewhere happiness of new arrival was lost.After almost 10 years a new member joined our family but instead of celebration it got tagged with tearful nights & some painful memoirs.I was treated like an untouchable & ostracised from the family. And all this because I was BLEEDING & Hence I was IMPURE. I thought it was a natural process of recuperating body and settling back to its original position, but the way I was treated resulted in adding more pain to the wounds.Body healed but soul never did...

When I got my first period my mother told me that I have now got a magical power of becoming a mother..This is a blessing from almighty and I should be proud of this natural transition.I never knew this blessing will appear as a bane someday.

Some of you might feel that I have overreacted and these rituals are designed to give mother and child ample rest and allow body to heal.I understand the scientific reason behind this,but the way they are being practised in our society appears as a question to woman's dignity.

My ordeal lasted for 21 days and I meekly followed all rules.Yes I couldn't do anything (For all obvious reasons).But, I promised one thing to myself..I won't let this happen to my daughter or daughter-in-law."

This is a fictitious adaptation of a true tale of an Indian Woman who still could not summon the courage to reveal her Identity....She is educated, lives in a metro yet felt so helpless...Her entire Divine Motherhood experience was turned into a nightmare...The moments which were to be forever imprinted on her heart as sweet memories became the most dreaded ones...It is not only she but thousands others facing the same plight in Silent Tears...

Who's at fault? She who chose to bear it? Her husband who didn't come to her rescue or her in laws trapped in superstitions in the name of traditions...I am not here for the fault finding dears but to create awareness and to awaken your conscience..The sooner we stop all this, this world becomes a better place to reside for our moms, sisters and daughters ...Let equality Prevail and let us be the "Face of Change"!

"The Shut Doors have started to creak and open slightly....I wish and pray they open wide...
The Ray of hopes peep inside and all darkness get replaced by Bright Sunshine"

Share this post as much as possible to awaken the conscience of people who commit such Atrocities

Author's Note: This Post is a part of #AtoZChallenge 2016 under my theme #FaceofChange
In the 26 days of this coveted challenge, I am going to precisely talk about the need of Women Rights and Liberation as despite of them, working shoulder to shoulder with man in all walks of life, Crimes against Women and Gender Inequality are the two menaces which are still destroying the foundation of Peaceful Happy Co-existence in our society (in most Asian countries).
Herein, I shall be narrating real life stories of Indian Women, how their souls are charred each day and how they still dread the patriarchal society which always treats them as the lower and inferior sex

My earnest endeavor is, these posts reach the maximum people and serve an eye opener to the preparators of inhuman crimes against Women...My heart would be in peace, even if I succeed partially in this mission of mine!

Trust we will be connected straight from the Heart, in this journey for a cause and be the FACE OF CHANGE...

-Truly Yours Roma

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