The scene is set in a brightly lit drawing room of a sparkling clean house. Guests are ushered in through a large wooden door and they take their seats on the couch that displays its newly puffed pillows with a great deal of pride. The hosts wring their hands nervously while the guests sit with an aura of self-importance. The smell of freshly cooked desi delicacies wafts through the air, making the guests salivate. But no, they’re not here for the food. Well, not primarily. They’re mainly here for the one making the food – the potential desi bahu.
How many times have we heard about the rishtey waley scene ka qissa?
The process has become such an integral part of our society that almost everyone has a story to tell. But there’s one theme and one scene that is constant throughout most of these stories, and this is how it plays out:
Girl’s family: Jee humari beti ne MBBS kia hai abhi abhi.
Guy’s family: Bas MBBS hee kiya hai na? Kuch ulta seedha toh nahi kia na?
Okay, maybe this isn’t EXACTLY how it pans out, but the questions the guy’s family asks are usually within the vicinity of crossing certain boundaries. And here’s why:
Everyone wants a zero-meter desi bahu.
What is a zero-meter desi bahu, you ask?
Someone who is the flag-bearer of sharafat and pakeezgi. But like, just some guidelines; a zero-meter desi bahu has never:
Been to parties i.e. done drugs or been drunk
Because party = drugs and booze after all.
Had a boyfriend
What even are men?
Talked to guys
Hello, hi sahi hai, but waisay it’s just morally wrong in the eyes of the guy’s family.
Worn “inappropriate” clothing
This can range from a pair of jeans to Victoria’s Secret lingerie. There is no in-between.
All of these zero meter bahu requirements really make you think, you know? Kya larkon ki bhi yehi requirements hoti hain?
Well, okay so in an ideal world, there would be no requirements of such nature from either side. But for now, these are some pretty one-sided requirements. Dekhein, larka jo marzi karey, boys will be boys. Unki toh age hai to enjoy, shaadi ke baad theek hojayeinge. Bas beti ko khush rakhega aur wohi zaroori baat hai sab se.
But once you break this down and start saying out loud, you kinda wonder how any of this adds up. The scales seemed to be tipped heavily against women, with this entire concept of a perfect, paak bahu, especially when most of the men make it a mission to check off most of the ‘nevers’ on the list for women.
Moreover, who are these women accountable to? Parents of sons of who have had the freedom to do as they please? Seems a little hypocritical, don’t you think? The premise, to begin with, is ridiculous. Someone’s personal life is not dirty laundry to be aired at rishta meet-ups. Or ever, for that matter. Secondly, aap ka kisi ki zindagi se kya kaam? Whatever someone has or has not done; whatever choices or mistakes someone has made in the past – are we really saying that we’re in a position to judge? And why is there this need for this double standard where men can get away with the exact same acts, but women must be cast aside because they don’t fit a certain moral code? The entire basis of this concept seems a little shaky when you put it that way, nahi?
While it’s great fun deconstructing how baseless this concept is, unfortunately, it is one that is deeply rooted within our society.
We have yet to come to terms with the idea that women can make the same choices as men and can have just as much liberation as well. And if we have a problem with that liberation, maybe curbing it should be extended to both sexes as well. The extent of the freedom extended to one sex should be equal to the other too, nahi? Additionally, and I suppose this is the major takeaway: shouldn’t we do that thing where hum apne girebaan main jhaankte hain before trying to pass moral judgments on others? Seems like a fair deal.
All of this kinda negates the whole zero-meter desi bahu scene (which was kinda the point, in case you haven’t caught on.) So, really – maybe this is something we need to really mull over and think about. Khair, while everyone else thinks it over in their mind, you can let us know what you think in the comments below. Go ahead and share your thoughts on the matter.
Cover image via: Maha’s Photography