One fine day, I had begun with my room cleaning up mission several minutes ago and as I was halfway through it I realized the number of shoe pairs I had, 68 and counting and for a moment, the expressions on my face changed from subtle to dramatic. Of course it had been a conscious effort towards a collection as vast as this, and hence the idea that I will soon fulfill my fantasy of having 100 pairs gave me goose-bumps! I don’t know if I was supposed to be a proud-owner of 68 varieties of shoes or be ashamed for having wasted money over something as petty as footwear! All I believed was, “Whoever said ‘Money cannot buy happiness’ didn’t know where to go shopping and what to buy!”
Both my bedroom and dressing-room and every little corner in our house for that matter, has remains of my “treasure.” Bright, colourful pieces of jewelry, big and small, account for what I call it my “treasure.” And these are things from all over. So more often than not, the sentimental attachment associated with each piece of accessory make them special, making me feel all the more nostalgic about the place they have been bought from!
Objectification is very common in the study of sociology. And human beings tend to associate feelings and emotions with commodities. For instance, to a carpenter, his tools could be next to Godliness because they earn him a living. This is the case with many human beings, even animals aren’t an exception. Those “mere objects” then become an “asset” of your life. Well, this all not to educate you about objectification and buying things, this is just a hindsight of what it is actually with things you usually take for granted. However, my point here was not about patronizing my superfluous collection, all I wanted to say was well this, that being a girl is expensive!
You might want to argue here saying that it is very stereotypical of me. Because I see there that I have nearly overlooked a guy’s expenses. Well it is because, being a girl has always been so expensive! Now let’s take a look at what happened back then. Yes, I’m talking about the 50s and 60s when India had just become an independent country. Independent? Fine. But did all the customs and traditions it entailed, vanish? Some of them did, some didn’t and some of them were altered. One such custom is the dowry system. “Paying” the groom’s family to bear the costs of their daughter after marriage.
This “payment” is either in the form of cash or kinds. Dowry, like any other business transaction, is pre-determined, accurate and liable. So if the groom’s family is demanding for a million rupees, with a car and some share in the land or property, the bride’s father HAS TO stand upto their “expectations”. Failing of which could be torturous to the family and to the bride herself. Let’s rewind our pasts even more and try and analyze the primitive man. The commonly known “stone-age” man practiced the “Barter system.” Simply, it was an exchange of goods in return of goods. The Barter system, although rudimentary, was based on realistic and just basis. The exchange was cordial although it may be inaccurate. Goods of higher value were exchanged for those of slightly lower values but it hardly was a matter of concern to them, as long as both the parties were benefitting from the goods they desired for.
Now if we compare “Barter system” to the “Dowry system”, who do you think should ideally be “paid”? Don’t be biased here. The only thing you can enjoy without restrictions is, fortunately, “thinking.” So make the most of it. If you have now settled down with “the bride’s family” as your answer, then I’m glad that we both have similar thoughts. By marrying a woman in her early or late twenties, men “hire” a full-time unpaid servant. A servant who not just cooks or cleans for them but also the one who meets their emotional and sexual needs. It might sound a little (or maybe too much) harsh for our overtly sensitive ears, but we cannot escape reality! Besides the “conventional” roles, a married woman is in charge of child rearing and upbringing, grocery shopping, caretaker of her in-laws and a wife (the word says it all).
So, shouldn’t it be the bride’s family to be paid in exchange for the “whole package?” Times have changed, they say. Women are no longer just confined to cooking and child-rearing, they have entered the corporate sectors now and have made themselves a distinguishable place in the “real world.” But has this change been a radical change? Obviously no! It’s just an “alteration” in women’s roles. The customs are still the same. Dowry is still practiced and it is still the bride’s family only who pays! Like a man, a woman too has become a ‘money-making’ machine now. Prospective grooms nowadays HIRE these ‘money-making’ machines along with handsome amounts of cash and/or gifts. If you were wondering what “jackpot” means, this is a classic example!
And we talk about “change”, “feminism” and many such LOOSE terms. The reason why I call them loose terms is because they are just dinner-table conversations or maybe a forum discussion. Nothing really changes. Change is like fashion, the same phenomenon repeats, perhaps, after certain alterations and people come to believe it as CHANGE! Even today, a guy who hangs out with several girls is called a ‘stud’ and so if a girl does, she’s called a ‘slut.’ So where do you see change? Has society ever strived to look at it positively? Has it been adequately considerate towards women, or for that matter any “weaker sections” of the society? And the funniest part is, we console ourselves by calling it another “bitter truth” of society.
For a whole bunch of British invaders it was tad challenging to completely abolish dowry. This piece of writing alone isn’t definitely going to stand up for all the dowry victims out there, but yes I expect a little ‘enlightenment of minds’ here. So let me relax, bite a cookie and be more considerate about buying a new pair of shoes next time! Because if I am as careless about expenditure, how will I let my parents save up for my dowry?
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