On a recent trip to Mysore, I met Mr Prasad at a relative's place. Mr. Prasad is sort of a local influential person out there, or at least he said so. (I would say he was the local moral police). The kind of guy who would tell people what is wrong and right, sort out petty domestic issues, get the neighbourhood kids admitted to engineering colleges with lesser donation, etc, So, you basically get the drift about the kind of person he is (hes the kind im allergic to!!)...okay read on then...
Well, he boasted about himself endlessly...later about his family - his wife (homemaker), his son (engineer in the making), and his daughter( sitting @ home after completing her MBA). He added his son is studying electrical engineering...and quickly asked which stream of engineering I had done...to which i said - none. I'm not an engineer, I had a masters in sociology. He looked disappointed to hear that and quipped what was sociology and what could I do with it. He was also surprised how I had found a job in an big IT company...maybe my dad's influence...hmmm and then said - aap dilliwalon ki baat hi kuch aur hai!! (Wow! what was i supposed to make out of that??) anyway im confused, i smile ...i move on.
I asked him about his daughter. This is what he had to say:
She is a good and pretty girl.
She has completed her MBA and now at home.
She is waiting to get married.
We are searching for a good engineer match for her.
We are collecting a good dower for her.
She is learning how to run a home under her mom's supervision right now.
She has mastered cooking.
She goes to the temple regularly with her mom.
Well so much for who his daughter was...I asked why she was @ home and not working in Mysore or nearby Bangalore, where most young boys and girls have moved to for work. He added...I have educated her...that was my duty and now it is the time for her to learn household jobs and keep herself ready for marriage. Sending her to work will corrupt her and she will meet all sorts of people which might not be good for her (ladki barbaad ho jayegi). Moreover, sending an unmarried girl away to Bangalore is a no no...city girls these days are too much. We read about them in the papers..to which I wanted to say quite a few things to him about his sense of morality and right and wrong...well, i did not. My husband was giving me very uncomfortable looks and praying I don't start off...and since it was his relative's place i shut up so that i don't embarrass them!
He said as soon as he finds a good match he will marry her off and be relieved...u know the types who would say beti ki shaadi kar ke ganga nahaunga...just that Ganga doesnt flow in Karnataka...thank god for that! (gosh! is she after his life right now...that she must be thrown out asap!!...I was getting so mad at him). He added when she gets married it is up to her husband and in laws to decide what has to be done with her...if they want her to work she will work and if they want her to run the house she will do that. He was very clear that as soon as she gets married she will be settled in life and its none of his business anymore and she is her husband's property and he will dictate what has to be done with her!
By this time I had lost it! I mean did he think his daughter was cattle to be given away loaded with jewellery, lots of cash, TV, AC, utensils and what not...when she is out of his shed in somebody else's shed, she becomes his property and then he doesnt give a dam! She was like a puppet who would dance to her new family's tune. For him his daughter settling down in life was she getting married, preparing idli dosa, having 4 children!
There are so so many such people in this country, who still have well defined places for women and make them abide their rules and stay within boundaries. Scores of Mr. Prasads all over this country have laid out the rules in their homes, communities, and neighbourhoods. Lakhs of women in this country have been forced or conditioned to believe and accept the roles that their 'masters' have carved out for them. The whole concept of getting settled in life differs for men and women. Men are settlled when they get a good job and start getting good cash home. Women are settled when they find a good husband and get married. Till then Mr. Prasad rules and then another Mr. Prasad in the form of the husband takes over! It is a vicious cycle, which produces more and more Mr. Prasads who trade in cattle each day!