Editor’s Note: India’s thoughts are slowly progressing. But somewhere they still remain the same. Girls are still expected to get degrees to become better ‘catches’ in the matrimonial market. It is time we begin to change this. Our member Manabi tells us a story. Share your experiences with us here.

Mitali was an average student studying in one of the best schools in Chandrapur. Mitali’s father was a clerk in the coal mines at Chandrapur. As she was brought up in a middle class family of a very small town, even her dreams were also middle class. She dreamt about being a housewife of her only male friend who was her father’s best friend’s son. The daily soaps watched by her Maa made her feel that how easy it is to be a housewife who keeps getting surprises from her husband or can go for shopping anytime she wants or can wear heavy sareers and jewellery. Mitali had all her plans ready. She somehow wanted to complete her studies and become the perfect ‘bahu’. As far as studies were concerned she liked only ‘Hindi’ amongst all the subjects. That’s because she loved the stories and the poems in it. The poems by ‘Nirala’ and ‘Sudarshan’ made her sing and humm even on bad days. And the stories by ‘Premchand’ and ‘Tagore’ inspired her deep within her heart. Soon, she herself started doing poetry.

Mitali’s elder brother on the other hand was a brilliant student and a highly aspiring individual. In spite of the poor family conditions, he managed to get through the engineering entrance exams and got admission in the most renowned college in the city. Mitali’s brother was in the final year and Mitali was appearing for her 10th exams.
Mitali’s father was always good at studies but couldn’t study much due to financial constraints. But now he wanted both his kids to achieve what he couldn’t. Mitali secured 80% marks in s.s.c. This is where everyone tilted their attention toward her. Mitali’s father could see his dream of making both his kids an engineer coming true. Even Mitali was thrilled with the idea that she will be the first girl in her family to be called as an engineer. But her excellent result without studying much gave high hopes to her family. Now they wanted her to opt for medical as well so that if she secured less in the engineering entrance exam, she can become a doctor then.

Somewhere inside Mitali knew the truth that she is not made to become a doctor or an engineer. But the family and social pressure was so high that her inner feelings were dumped inside. Once again she scored fairly well in her engineering entrance exam. However she was allowed to take only the stream which was available in the college which was in her own city. So she got into electrical engineering. it was difficult for a poet who made the stars connect the hearts of the lovers in her poetry to understand that star connection is actually one of the electrical wiring connection type.

Mitali longed for those hours of writing poetry a lot. Now her life was full of big engineering books, station and classes. She almost forgot about her love for writing. The new friends in her college were all aspiring engineers. With them she developed her new dreams, dreams to be independent, dreams to work and earn for herself, dream to be someone!!

Mitali did well in every semester and now it was time to say goodbye to the college life. The final semester exams were done and everyone was ready with a plan of their future. Two of Mitali’s friends decided to go to a metropolitan city and search for a job there.And even Mitali was excited to start up her career. So all of them decided to leave Chandrapur and go to the nearest metro city, Pune.

Mitali came back home that day and couldn’t wait to share her decision with her family. She explained her family that how everything has been planned by her and her two friends to start their career. But to her surprise, her family completely disagreed to her decision of leaving her home town. Her brother clarified that if they wanted her to go out, they would have allowed her right in the beginning when she was getting a good stream in a college away from Chandrpchan. He told her that all they wanted was to make her do engineering, not because they wanted her to be independent but because it sounds good if you tell people that both the children in the family are engineers. Moreover if a girl has a professional qualification then she is preferred more by the grooms. Mitali was almost shocked to know that the four years of her hard work was only going to get her a better husband but not a job or a career. Her mother consoled her saying that she can work after marriage if she wants and if her husband and in laws allow her to do so.

Mitali’s friends left for Pune and started their career with reputed companies. Several boys came to see Mitali for marriage. And every time she had to come, sit and answer their questions as if it was a sale. Mitali was not very pretty, so had to face a lot of rejections. But finally one of the boy’s family said ‘yes’. This was almost like an achievement for her family. Mitali too was not unhappy with this however she still had this question poking her all the time that will she be able to work after marriage. Just before the day when the grooms family wanted to come for the final talks, Mitali hesitantly asked her mother if she can confirm with the groom’s family about her decision to work after marriage. On this her mother asked her to keep shut till everything was done. Her mother explained her how difficult it is to get an engineer groom who is not demanding any dowry. So Mitali should accept this marriage without making any fuss.

Once again Mitali kept quite and thought that if her would be husband has selected her on the basis of her education and not looks then surely he is looking for a career oriented girl. The wedding was commence extremely well. The grooms family was really happy with the hospitality of Mitali’s family. Mitali and her husband started knowing each other slowly. Months passed and now Mitali was waiting for the right moment when she could tell her husband about her dreams. And one day she gathered all her guts and told her husband about her wish to work and utilize her degree just like her friends are doing. Mitali’s husband did not get her point. He said that she doesn’t have to earn as he was earning enough to satisfy his family’s needs. Mitali wanted to know that why he has married a professionally qualified girl if he ‘t’t want her to work. The answer was again shocking. Mitali’s husband had married her as it was a status symbol to have an engineer wife. Mitali’s dream were shattered all over again. She had a degree, which she couldn’t use at all. She had a talent which was destroyed as the society doesn’t respect a poet as much as they respected an engineer. She was expected to just cook and take care of her family as any other women in our society is expected to do.

Mitali is not the only one. In India, after a lot of efforts we have now achieved to get the right to education for our girls. However almost 80% of these girls are not even allowed to use their qualifications as a medium toward their independence. Is’nt’t this old and sad attitude of not letting the girls take their own decisions even after giving them education or using their qualification only as a source to get a good groom or making it just a status symbol, leading us to a more frustrated society???? Just think about it!!!