Friday, June 24, 2011


Rights without Responsibility

In earlier times, the son was considered the heir to all property and wealth of the parents. Also, it was the son who had the responsibility to look after his parents in their old age. Thus, the rights came with a concomitant responsibility.

Nowadays, daughters have an equal share in the property of their parents. However, it seems that daughters do not want to shoulder the responsibility to look after their parents. In prevalent society it still remains the son’s duty to look after his parents. Thus, while a son gets rights with responsibility, a daughter enjoys rights without responsibility. This is unfair. If a daughter want a share in ancestral or parental property she must be prepared to share the responsibility of looking after her parents too.

The fact of the matter is that whereas most daughters are quite vociferous in demanding their equal share in property they are not similarly forthcoming when it comes to looking after their parents. This onerous task they expect their brother and his family to do. Of course, the worst off is the poor daughter-in-law, who gets no rights but bears the brunt of the responsibility.

You don’t agree? Well, here is a recent example.

An 80 year old widowed woman had a serious accident involving multiple fractures and injuries. The old woman was in a critical condition when her son rushed her to hospital. The son’s wife (daughter-in-law) rushed to the hospital from work. The old woman has undergone multiple surgeries and is still in hospital and it is her daughter-in-law who is constantly at the bedside of her mother-in-law caring for her and nursing her with dedication and selfless devotion. More than 15 days have passed and the son’s and daughter-in-law’s life had turned topsy-turvy. They have taken off from work and have to be in constant attendance nursing the serious patient.

The old woman’s daughter was on a holiday abroad when the mishap with her mother took place. She was informed of the seriousness of the accident. She did not cut short her visit and return immediately. In fact, she was thinking of extending her stay when someone put some sense into her head and she returned to India as scheduled a week after the accident, by which time two major surgeries were over, and the stress, tension and brunt of the situation was already borne by the daughter-in-law and son.

When the daughter landed up in hospital to see her mother, the son expected that his sister would now share the hospital duties with his exhausted wife who had spent seven sleepless nights tending to her mother-in-law. The son asked his sister to stay for a few days so that his wife and he could recoup their energies, but he was stunned when his sister announced that she would be only staying for a day, and the next day, along with her husband, she went back to her home (which is just a three hours drive away). It is now evident that the daughter wants to shirk her responsibility and faced with a fait accompli the hapless daughter-in-law (and son) will have to single-handedly perform the difficult and strenuous task of tending to the old woman 24/7 for a long time till she recovers.

The mother insists on talking to her daughter on mobile phone every day, and the daughter keeps expressing fake emotions of how concerned she is and shedding crocodile tears, but it is the son and his wife who are actually doing the onerous physically demanding and emotionally draining task of nursing the incapacitated woman. You will not believe it, but the old woman tells visitors how upset and “concerned” her darling daughter is while ignoring the sterling performance of her daughter-in-law and son, especially the dedication of her daughter-in-law, which she takes for granted.

Of course, when the old woman recovers, the daughter will be back on a visit with lip-sympathy and “overflowing” love, and the son and daughter-in-law will be relegated to second place, as the daughter is the favourite of the old woman.

Tell me, does this daughter deserve a share in her mother’s property? 
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