30/05/2015 8:40 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

The Woman On The Bike

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The other day, when the car was at a traffic light, I noticed a young couple on a bike. They would have looked like any other young couple on a bike except that the girl had her arms full of red bangles. They both were dressed in jeans and tees. Normally, we don't mix Western attire with Indian traditional accessories like glass bangles, especially with the fear of being labelled behenjis. The only time you see women do so is when they are newly married.

She was clinging to him and they seemed quite unaware of the others around them. The sight brought a smile to my lips. Indeed, the days right after marriage are brushed with magic dust. The newlywed couple has only eyes for each other -- the stolen glances, the not-so-accidental touches, when every joke seems funny and when every tantrum leads to the making up of the best kind. And women, they dress to please. They are also happy to flaunt to the world their marital status. I remember I did that.

I remember quietly removing my toe rings that hurt badly right on the day I got married. My mother would have gone crazy had I told her. She always wore those silver toe rings and sindoor in her hair parting. Being North Indians, the mangalsutra was not a big deal for us till Ekta Kapoor's serials made them fashionable.

Anyhow, being brought up in Bombay, I was snooty about fashion. Who wears braids and bindis with jeans? Ugh! But here I was after my wedding, flaunting my hennaed hands with those same symbols that I had stayed away from -- bangles, mangalsutra and sindoor even with my Western-style clothes.

Luckily, there was no social media back then, and my mind wasn't reeling with opinions that these symbols were demeaning, patriarchal and so on and so forth. In a sense, I had the choice to do what I wanted, what made me feel happy instead of doing something to make a statement.

While we always complain about the judging we all face in real life from neighbours, the dreaded aunties and from relatives, hardly anyone speaks of the judging that the virtual world subjects us to. There are certain known stands on subjects, many times aggressive, that are favoured by social media. God help you if you share an opinion to the contrary. You would not know what hit you.

There are only few right/politically correct opinions about dressing, marriage, premarital sex and so on and so forth. Just witness the hullabaloo that happens every Karwa Chauth. It would feel as if you are the betrayer of all womankind because you wanted to fast. I stopped a few years ago, but when I did do it, it was out of my own free will. But those who believe they have proprietary rights on "liberation" will not hesitate to sneer at you even though they are mere strangers.

So, I am glad that just like I did so many years ago and even now, this girl on the bike chooses to do what makes her happy. Everything in life is not for effect. Some things are done spontaneously without caring for what others may think.

This post first appeared on Rachna says.