In lieu of my 25th birthday and so my expiry date, my parents have started pressurizing me, sorry brainwashing me into accepting their choices. No, they haven’t told me their choices but there is increasing pressure and lots of shouting at home to get me to give up.
Pursuing medicine is akin to a 9-5 job in terms of the number of hours and the workload it requires. Student is a misnomer for my classmates and I are finding it comparable to an office job. So, I told my parents that they can find a suitable husband for me however, this person has to be supportive of my studies for the next 3 years. By supportive, I asked for equality. If you expect your son to cook dinner after he returns from his job, then you can expect the same of me. I will not shoulder extra responsibilities at home simply because I’m a woman. I’ve got a dream, a job to work towards just like him. To this, my mum was aghast, “They’ll throw you out of the house if you say you’ve got a test to study. Are you stupid?”
Then, my mum came up with a solution. “Here in Singapore, they expect the bride to come stay at the in-law’s house. They’ll control you there and make you do housework in the evening. It’s better if you marry a guy from our hometown in India, bring him over, let him stay in our house. He will work and you can stay in our house to study. Your father and I will support you.” I laughed. The level of patriarchy and misogyny I was expecting of the Singaporean Indian man was at normal levels. Now, you want me to marry someone who’s going to exhibit even worse toxic masculinity? This riled me up and I refused point blank. I had already experienced this Indian hometown guy who thought he was superior to women. This wasn’t new.
My parents are arguing with me that it is impossible to find a local man who will treat me equally so the only option is for me to have the upper hand by having the India guy live in my house, have him figure out life in a new country away from his family and so prevent him from exerting his power over me. If I/my family holds the power in terms of money, house and visa, I cannot be subjugated.
Then, there is the emotional trap. “You do not respect your parents who are helping you achieve your dream . By insisting on someone local you are choosing to live at your in-laws place and I will be left alone as an orphan with no children to take care of me in my old age,” my mum says bitterly. Where is the balance between living in both houses. This is fucking Singapore which takes 1hr by Grab to get to one end of the country. Where is the balance to say a married couple will take care of both sets of old parents. Where is the balance to say, I can be treated with respect.
You might wonder, are you sure the in-law horror stories are true and are you sure men are like this in Singapore? Some are. The fact is these conditions are being relayed from one mother to the other mother during marriage talks. While the groom might have a more progressive thinking, either he isn’t communicating this to his parents or even worse, he has no influence over the decisions taken.
I am standing my ground. If I cannot find a partner who treats me equally, who understands my struggles and dreams, I can live my life on my own. I just don’t know how long I can hold out under my parents’ taunts of me being an arrogant daughter who doesn’t listen, who disrespects, who is selfish that she prioritizes herself. Every attempt at explaining that I have my rights to disagree gets manipulated into arrogance.
All I want is to pursue a dream in peace. If I cannot get the support, then I’ll do it alone. If you’re doing something good, why do you need to fear. This is my body, my life. I will clench my teeth, gather every bit of my strength, wall up and away from the chaos and hold my ground.
Wish me luck! I hope God’s hearing me:(