Portrait of Ramlal’s friend: A successful working woman who was born in a middle class urban family in India’s Capital. She is in her mid 50s right now and is happily married with 2 daughters.
Most of her family members were non- religious. Thus, even in childhood it did not take much effort for her to free herself from the shackles of religion. But Religion is not the only issue that she had to struggle with in an infinitely patriarchal society. As she grew up she was not allowed to do many things that she wanted to do, just because she was a girl. She could not go outside to play cricket or football like her brothers, or swim in a community swimming pool which didn’t had “only female” time slot available. She was not allowed to ride a bike while she always wanted to ride one. As she grew to her teens, her mother was always keeping an eye on her, especially whenever she was talking to a male friend.
It is not that she was not a privileged girl. Her father was an engineer, a rationalist and man of science. He arranged best of education for her. She was the last one to get married among her friends. While almost all her friends married (willfully or because their family wanted them to get married) around the time they reached puberty, she was fortunate enough to complete her graduation before getting married.
She grew up in times when achievement, diligence and toeing the line were regarded as great values. She was an obedient daughter; and turned out to be a successful professional. Her husband supported her in almost all her endeavors (except one when she wanted to go alone on a vacation! God knows why?). He was happy when she gave birth to their twin daughters. They were forward looking urban middle class couple with two beautiful daughters.
As she grew up, she realized that her religion treats woman as intellectually, morally and physically inferior. Gradually, she realized that it is not only her religion which was overtly gracious towards men; granting all possible rights & freedom, sexual & other pleasures followed by a guarantee of merry-full after-life but it was the case with all religions. And what was the reward for pious woman? Nothing but same old husband promised for next multiple lives!
Last year her elder daughter told her that she wants to marry a professionally successful man whom she first met during her collage days but he is from different religion. She didn’t approve. Her daughter couldn’t understand why? Especially because religion was never important to the family, religion did not give their family any identity, they gave it up a long time ago to say the least. Why then?
Why then? Any possible answers; why then?