Married away?

Married away?

Caring, affectionate, warm … these are some adjectives that describe a daughter.

The picture may look perfect as long as the daughters stick to the quintessential virtues that make them ideal. If by any chance a daughter gets into the messy affair of exploiting the love and affection that comes her way unconditionally, she might end up becoming the object of aversion, even from her own parents.

Recently an interesting news item caught my attention. This was a good indication of how a believingly strong relationship can crumble under the weight of undue expectations, particularly on the daughters’ part.  

In a ruling issued in response to a case registered in Bombay high court involving a daughter and a father, the honourable judge came up with a clear cut opinion about married daughters. According to the ruling “... When a daughter gets married and leaves the house of her father to reside with her husband, she ceases to be a member of the family of the father and becomes a member of the family of the husband where she has got some rights under the law.

After marriage when she goes to the house of the parents, legally she is only a guest in the house and does not have the legal rights to continue there. She can stay there as long as parents permit her but she cannot force herself on her parents in the house.”

One feels perplexed about what brought the father and daughter to the court of law, but the writing on the wall is clear; marriage brings many changes in a daughter’s life; one is realising the limit where the responsibility of parents reaches its point of termination.

Although the honoured judge declared these words where a father and daughter were at loggerheads over some tenancy issue, I as a daughter was left thinking if marriage could axe all the prior filial relationships of daughters; A voice within whispered “No.”

Some daughters who reacted to the judgment wished that instead of making a sweeping statement about all married daughters, the court could have dealt with the case more sensitively.

Namita Rao, a homemaker, feels the court could have gone deeper into the case to clear out the cause of friction between the father and daughter. “The tiff between the two should have been carefully examined and analysed. A generalised opinion about all married daughters seems disheartening,” she rues.

In her view marriage cannot change the nature of relationship between daughters and parents. “We tend to become more caring and sensitive towards them after marriage. Even if we are miles away a part of us is still in our parent’s house,” she feels.

Commenting about how fair it is to give daughters the status of a guest after marriage, Meena Jayadeva, a writer, states, “I think it is ridiculous. How can marriage alter a bond that has existed for 20-odd years? I think the whole concept of a girl having to sever ties with her family on marriage and ‘belong’ to the family she has married into is regressive and cruel. It belongs to another age and social fabric.”

She feels the ruling would have sounded more balanced and fair had it been applied to both sons and daughters. “If the judge’s statement applies only to daughters, it is out of sync with social and familial relationships today. It is in contradiction of current attitudes and policies related to emancipation of the girl child.”

However, she maintains “I support the point that adult children cannot presume that they have the automatic right to live in their parental home.”

Curious to know what actually transpired between the father and daughter in that particular case, daughters indeed are not happy to know that a seat of justice has reduced them to mere guests after tying the knot.

Trying to find the possibilities that could have prompted the court to issue an encompassing statement, they are examining and dissecting the case in their own way. “Mumbai is a flourishing city, with escalating property rates, maybe there is some element of greed on the daughter’s part that forced the father to approach the legal authorities to keep her out of the house,” observes a home maker, Samina.

Making some realistic observation about daughters coming to parents’ house informally, she feels as long as the parents are there, daughters feel encouraged and confident to come and stay but once they are gone, naturally visits become rare. “Parents’ absence is enough to let them know they are not welcome anymore. In such cases ‘coming like guests’ becomes evident,” she opines.

Any relationship of love should not come with a shelf life, believes, another daughter, Seema (name changed). “As a daughter I feel bad. We grow up emotionally with our parents and if we are told that we are simply guests in their house at some time of our lives, this is upsetting,” she says. “If we do something really wicked and grave, then perhaps our parents would want to shoo us away,” she quips.