I cannot say exactly when the scrawny hands of death snuck in but my guess is that it was by installments. Little by little, they tore away at the sacred threads that form the lofty fabric of womanhood, and then suddenly we see the woman no more. What we have in her stead is a mere shadow that is ever readily swayed by everything and anything.
We have a woman who would do anything to be called ‘Mrs’, and even more, to ensure that she retains this title till death does the parting.
It doesn’t matter if she loses a part of her essence each time she takes these desperate steps because it is what is expected of her. It doesn’t matter because the world would know it’s her duty as a woman; A Woman’s Birthright.
What counts for all is that she does not get to wear the shameful toga of being single, separated or divorced. What matters is that the society gets to give her the patronizing accolade she so desperately craves to keep her shoulders high and gloat amongst her single peers.
And when the pedals begin to recoil, when her marriage begins to crumble, she would stem some sort of façade of a happy wife, because it is wrong for a woman to leave her husband even if he goes around chasing after a woman/women or anything else that catches his insipid fancy at the time. So she would smile and shake hands in public, while trying relentlessly to manufacture a retaining ground in her household by giving her husband’s family a son, and all the while fasting and praying for a far-off turn around.
Because why? Why go back to a time when every waking and sleeping hour was spent scheming on how to trap a man and keep him for eternity? Why go back to the time when being identified as ‘Miss’ in her late twenties meant being talked down on by family, friends and the society in general? No woman wants to experience that again, not after ‘successfully’ waving the flag to singlehood.
So she would stay in this cloak branded marriage, smile, and fast and pray that someday she would be able to see a fragment of the man she so earnestly prayed for. Suddenly, marriage becomes a mission towards molding her man into the perfect husband; her life purpose.
Then slowly she would graduate from an abandoned wife to an unregistered nurse. But what does it matter? She is married; Happily, should the public desire to know; unlike her less fortunate friends and colleagues swimming in the swarms of a terrible condition called singlehood.
So she would suck it up and wipe her tears at night, so often that it becomes a routine, and then she would smile, trudge on each following day, waking and living an airbrushed life that the society demands, cursing the man silently at every turn for turning her into the emotional wreckage she is fast becoming.
Then one day she would wake up and realize she’s 70 (If depression or hypertension doesn’t get her first), weak and all loved out. Realization of a loveless life would kick in and she would hate herself even more.
But today is not that day, today she would wake up, feed her husband and kids, smile for the masses and live the life expected of her. A life where every peal of laughter rings falsely in reason’s ear and is merely throat deep. A life where true aspirations are deeply buried under societal expectations. A life devoid of self and personal desires. A lifeless life.
And then the line between acceptable compromise and unacceptable sacrifice begins to blur out as she misguidedly glides from one end to another. One bit at a time her essence is chipped away by family, educators, suitors and finally spouse.
By the time she’s likeable, she is no longer a woman but a product of societal expectation of what she should be.
*** Inspired by an article on The Interview Magazine***