The Perfect Daughter-in-Law
When I searched that on Google, the first link was to Times of India article about being the perfect daughter in law, advising on how to respective, communicate and be sensitive to your new environment and the new people around you.
It got me thinking, the values mentioned in the article were the basic characteristics of the good human being and it should be practiced by both the daughter-in-law AND the son-in-law towards each other’s families.
In Asia there is a lot of argument over whether a woman should be able to maintain a career after marriage.
In developed cities, we don’t see it much as girls are encouraged to be educated and get a well paying job due to economic reasons. The standard and cost of living is high and you need to be able to afford it. However, it is an unspoken truth that a working woman is criticized on many levels due to her responsibilities. If her child falls ill, it is said to be due to her inability to take care of her child as she is “always working”, or, if a deadline at work is not met it is labelled as because “she has a lot going on at home”. No one notices that the woman is trying so hard to keep everyone satisfied that she has lost the essences of herself.
But what about in rural areas and small towns?
Let me tell you, It is the complete opposite. Despite the cost of living, there are families who believe that they may die of starvation but they will not eat from the salary that their daughters or daughter in laws earned despite their qualifications. It seemed very backward minded to our modern minds but that is the reality well educated small town women face. They are made to leave behind their education and focus being the “Perfect” daughter in law, unable to pursue their dream career.
Of course it’s another opposite when you look into the ugly face of poverty.
There you will see that females are exploited for bread and butter. I say females because there is no age limitation, they are exploited from as young as 4 years old. Everyday they are made to do unspeakable things at a small price to fill the hungry stomachs of their family. The next day, they are made to wipe their tears and start the whole routine again. And what to do these women get in the end? Labelled to be unfit for the civilized society.
Look past their work ethics and we find more humanity in them then in the most civilized person.
It is shame that the sacrifices of women are left unmentioned.
No matter where you live, modern or traditional societies, women are put under extreme scrutiny. The best part of it all is that most of their critics are other women. Driven by our own petty insecurities and jealousies, we judge and criticize each other, not allowing the other the satisfaction to feel good about herself. It has blinded us from seeing that every women gives the same sacrifice for her work and family, that none is better than the other. What monsters it creates out of us.
I wish to say that this judgmental behavior has to stop, but I can’t because it is unstoppable.
It has become a part of us, deep rooted into our psychology. We can’t get rid of it, it’s a part of us. I can only pray that we be human sometimes and try to empathize if not at least sympathize.
Above is an oil painting by artist Patrick Ng Kah Onn named Membasoh Kain Di Tepi Sungai meaning Washing Cloths by the River.