When I first came to Jamshedpur I was surprised to see the open display of emotions when a young bride left home after her wedding. She would weep profusely hugging each member of her immediate and extended family. I come from a community that considered it inauspicious for a girl to cry when she left home. We were expected to control our emotions and put up a brave face while leaving home even if it meant that we had no idea of the kind of person our husbands happened to be.
“A daughter’s tears will ruin her paternal home” was the familiar refrain I grew up listening to.
I wonder now whether the necessity to hold back tears and control emotions was an unrealistic expectation from women or was it a way of preparing her to face an uncertain future? My north Indian friends tell me that a girl would be considered shameless if she happily accompanied her husband post marriage and the ‘vidai’ ceremony was supposed to be a sad one and shedding tears was a must. I agree about the sadness involved but it may not be possible for every girl to wail and cry to prove her affection for her parents.
All this does not make much sense these days. Girls have in all probability left home to pursue higher education and/or career and are quite capable of managing quite well and better equipped to deal with minor hiccups that she may face in her future home with or without her in laws. My own daughter got married in Mumbai and left for America from there. It was only when I returned to Jamshedpur that it dawned upon me that she would no longer be part of our family as before. I did spend countless nights worrying about her well being. Living on her own in a foreign country with neither set of parents available for advice immediately she could have had her own set of teething problems. I never came to hear of them.
This brings me to my next question. Have we actually trained our children to deal with adverse situations that they are likely to face when they leave home? Leaving home need not necessarily mean getting married. I deliberately use the word children because I am sure boys too have to deal with a bullying senior or a partial teacher. We never tell our sons that it is okay to cry once in a while nor do we encourage them to share their problems with us.
My days of parenting are almost over. I have made my own mistakes and regretted them too. I would advice young mothers to just be there for your children. Even if you feel that their choice in life (not necessarily marriage) is wrong they ought to know that you are there for them come what may. Shedding copious tears during ‘vidai’ is not sufficient. Lending them a hand in support when they need it would be a better way of expressing your concern.