27 March - 2 April 2015 #751

Privileged freedom

Progressive families send girls abroad for education so they come back and readjust to traditional gender roles.
Anjana Rajbhandary
Many of us in urban Nepal today are born in traditional-modern families. The parents usually provide us with all the basics and a few extras to make our lives more comfortable than necessary for which we are grateful. But this comes at a price.

We are encouraged to study hard in school so we can get into a good college to have a career, and be strong women. We are taught to fight against injustice, for our rights and to prove our equality in politics and other fields of life.

Most of us go abroad to the three generic countries: the US, the UK or Australia for further education and some exciting ones go to Canada and Germany. We are encouraged to travel, meet people, and see the world.

Then we come back to Nepal, and this is where logic collides with reality. We go from being free birds to 10PM curfew in adult life. Having a social night life becomes synonymous with having a ‘loose’ character and a reputation for not being raised right.

We move on from mismatched cushion covers to four dozen matching china and silverware with initials carved in cursive. We go from paying for everything ourselves to having someone else fold our laundry. Heck, we don’t even know where the laundry detergent is anymore.

We go from working hard without the tag of the family name, to the next potential bride whose life is considered incomplete without a lavish wedding -- a strange coming together of two families who try to one up the last relative’s wedding by adding one extra day to their already two week-long jamboree.

How can we preserve our culture and tradition by forgetting our values and moral code? Extravagant weddings have overshadowed the simplicity of permanently wanting to be with someone you love. We are reminded that without a husband who will take care of us, we are the black sheep of the society who failed in all aspects of life. Who cares about a Masters degree or even a PhD?

Of course there is the constant manipulation by relatives stating how we are responsible for their health issues due to our ‘poor’ life choices. How far will they go to make us do what they want without questioning what we deserve? Some of us give in after burying our dreams under another layer of an unnecessarily expensive diamond necklace, while some of us fight to stay true to who we are: and dear god, I must admit it is so hard.

Do I give in to social pressure at 31 (considered dangerously going downhill, eye cream ladies) and marry someone to become a Mrs. so I can spend my days at gyms and spas, adding vanity to my collective resume of Louis Vuittons and Jimmy Choos?

People will stare. Society can hate. Relatives will judge. Strangers will create new stories every kitty party. But I cannot insult life by being just another traditional modern woman. I choose not to live my life based on irrational social norms that do not care how I feel.

Above everything I choose happiness, I choose freedom. I choose the uncertainty that is leading me to my serendipity.

(This wedding season should be fun.)

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