Being a Woman…

I had done the Being a Man post long ago. And had thought about doing this post soon after. But somehow, it didn’t happen. Majorly for the reason that women are too versatile to be taken up completely under a single post. And so I never got around to it. But off late, there have been so many things happening around, things that I have gone through myself, things that my friends are going through and it doesn’t make any sense. Or is it only me? And opposed to the funny Man, this Woman is pretty serious.

There are a couple of female friends who have apparently turned a “marriageable age” according to the parents. The girls believe otherwise. They are pretty happy with their single status and no-responsibilities-for-a-while life. Quite visibly, the parents and daughter have a difference of opinion here. But what completely evades my sane mind is why the parents choose to convince the daughter of their own opinion in an almost abhorring way. And no, I am not talking about some remote village in Haryana or Rajasthan, but about parents who always instilled confidence in their daughters that they were no less than a boy, had every right to good education and were brought up to be smart, confident and financially independent girls. And suddenly, these parents wonder about the fate of their girls if they weren’t married at a ripe age. What would the society say? They purposefully make her believe that she is indeed a burden on their shoulders until she goes off to her marital home. WHY????? I am not even trying to take any sides here, because 18+ years is a valid age in our country to get married and who am I to question it. But why are the girls always shoved onto someone else as a responsibility when they can clearly be on their own very comfortably? Isn’t there a better way to make them understand the point of getting married at an age their parents deem fit? Or do the girls have no choice at all? She can do everything like a boy, and still be a responsibility? I wonder how a stranger is ever going to treat your daughter as an equal when you so visibly don’t.

Another couple of friends have that someone special in their lives, but are finding it difficult to convince their parents of the same. Now again, I wouldn’t want to start the Arranged marriage v/s Love marriage debate, as different things work for different people. But what I clearly find distasteful is the way parents want to stick to the conventional way of Arranged marriages, wherein they are made to act like the ladkiwaala whose sole job is to appease the ladkewaale’s demands. The girls of our generation have been brought up with a mindset of boy-girl equality and no dowry policy. How do the parents even think that these girls can go on and live peacefully with such guys and their parents? Even if the girl doesn’t want to get married to such a moron to defend her parents’ honor, she is not allowed to do so. After all, appeasing the groom’s family is the norm…isn’t it? We are confused. If the norm of killing the girl child at birth wasn’t followed, then surely this doesn’t need to be followed too..isn’t it? What’s the point of making her aware of her choices and then denying them? Wasn’t she better off not knowing them? Isn’t ignorance really a bliss? Are you really that desperate to get your girl off your back that you are ready to pay any amount of money and goodies to a complete stranger to make way for her into their homes and lives?

I feel sorry for women who have been relegated to such behavior, spanning generations and across centuries. But I feel worst when I see parents doing it to their love-you-till-death “ghar ki izzat” daughters, who themselves are well read and in tune with the times. I know we have come far from those days when the girls were not allowed to study nor do anything of their own free will. But at that time, at least the people had some logic behind their behavior. They didn’t let the girls out of the house, the girls obviously didn’t know the kind of opportunities that existed for them outside the four walls of the house and were content with the house work. But it’s really worrying to see parents who have let their daughters let go so far and suddenly want to go all traditional when it comes to marriage and even expect the daughters to do a complete U-turn from their beliefs hitherto, and conform to the whims and fancies of a stranger and his family.

It would be an understatement if I said a woman’s life was tough. It was perhaps my naivety that I thought that girls were meted out an equal treatment in today’s world. Have you ever imagined what a girl would feel like when she is made to believe that she is only a responsibility on her parents? And when she does get married, she is always the outsider in the husband’s family. Is there nobody she can actually call her own? Somebody who will lover her for her person and not just doll her up so that it would be easy to get rid of her, the burden that she is? Will this regressive behavior meted out to girls ever go away? For no reason do they say, “Charity begins at home”. Perhaps some “new-age” parents do need to learn from the age old adage.

More than anger, I feel extremely frustrated and saddened. And lonely. 

And perhaps, that’s the reason why some people feel sad at the birth of a daughter. Because they understand that apart from fighting the demons of female infanticide, eve teasing, molestation and her physical vulnerabilities, she will also have to face the trauma of always being a burden on either her family or her husband, and still feel like she belongs to none in the world.

Quoting a few lines from one of my favorite books “Gone with the Wind” that aptly sum up what I feel about a woman’s life:

“Her life was not easy, nor was it happy, but she did not expect life to be easy, and, if it was not happy, that was a woman’s lot. It was a man’s world, and she accepted it as such. The man owned the property, and the woman managed it. The man took the credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness. The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him. Men were rough of speech and often drunk. Women ignored the lapses of speech and put the drunkards to bed without bitter words. Men were rude and outspoken, women were always kind, gracious and forgiving.”

That magical moment…

It’s a weekend and a perfect excuse to sleep late. Their lazy siesta suddenly starts buzzing with noises. There’s an alarm clock ringing somewhere, and perhaps somebody at the door too. They both get up with a start and shoot an alarmed look at the wall clock. It couldn’t be 11 already! They quickly get dressed, open the door for the maid and get on with their morning activities.

While the maid is cleaning, they sit out in the balcony, savoring a cup of hot ginger tea in one hand and a newspaper in the other. They are unperturbed by the clutter in the kitchen, silently enjoying a relaxing start to the day after a mad rush to office every morning the past week. They look at each other, smile and exchange the newspapers. They have begun to enjoy each other’s’ silence and companionship.

As the sun rises higher, they realize they haven’t had anything to eat since they woke up. She asks what he would like for breakfast. He smiles, enters the kitchen and starts gathering the ingredients for her favorite breakfast. Fifteen minutes later, he is sitting on the kitchen counter with a plate of hot and crispy French toast in hand, while she is cooking another batch. He offers her a bite, although he knows she hates to have her breakfast like that – standing in the kitchen and cooking. She likes it relaxed – sitting on the bed, reading a book or watching TV or talking to him. She looks at him with a half twisted face expressing her anger. He winks at her and makes her eat an entire piece.

 

She mutters a silent “Thank you” to God under her breath. For this man, who has made her life perfect. There’s an easy camaraderie between them, the one she believed she could only have with her best friends. But he made sure he became her best friend. Making her comfortable, pampering her, spoiling her for choices, listening to her, caring for her and most importantly, doing everything only for her. Not for anything in return. His selflessness overwhelms her. She seldom thinks if she can ever love him with such capacity.

Her favorite song is playing on radio, in the background. And there they are, moving about the house, doing their chores. Without any romantic words to fill the silences. Just a crooked naughty smile, winking eyes and an embarrassed anger feigning laugh. It’s their magical moment. The one, she always wants to keep in her heart. The one she always wants to remember whenever she looks back at the life spent with him. The one she wants to tell her kids and grand kids about. The one because of which she knows what Love is, without the drudgeries of lengthy promises, or commitments or words that sometime spoil the unsaid.

*photo cortesy Google

And you thought I was dead already?

I haven’t updated the blog in 20 days. To me, it seems like forever. I haven’t done this ever since I started to write here and experienced a different world altogether. But off late, things hadn’t been too promising. There was too much happening on the personal front, professional front, social front, you know? I was so caught in this mayhem of office, personal life, social commitmnets, having to pacify everyone around me. And so that left me almost breathless.

There were a lot of incidents happened that made me think, made my hands itch to write. But the mind was so overworked that I couldn’t get a single coherent thought make way to the blog without a million others bombarding my poor brain. Things took a turn for the worse when I accidentally deleted one of my stories that I had written for a contest. It was a grand idea and I had sat up late at night to finish it before it lost its charm. But! It was not to be, and ever since I haven’t been able to (metaphorically) pick the pen!

Readers have been kind enough to visit the blog regularly and some of them even professed to having missed me. Yay!! Some even came up with ideas just in case I was suffering from writer’s block! Actually it was just the opposite of that! Anyhow, I loved the compliments and affection and was longing to feel that exhilarating feeling I feel every time I unburden myself with abstract thought taking the shape of beautiful words and connecting me to a wide range of people who love me, and love to hate me!

And all this while I was gone,

-I watched a couple of movies, including the recently released barfi. Loved it completely.
-Read a couple of good books. (one of those long pending in to-be-read books list)
-Got a few surprises from H. Including new books and a very cute bag! :-))
-Fought with an old friend and that made me think a lot about people and how they could possibly outgrow each other even after a long 10 years of togetherness!
-Met my chaddi buddy N, after the longest time that we have known to be apart. We had an amazing time  like always, catching up on our lives and generally having fun!

Had some blooper moments too.
-Like I washed my awesome Sony cyber shot camera in the washing machine and no points for guessing, it’s broken and can be fixed for an amount equal to its original cost. And so, (no points for guessing again) we have decided to buy a new camera.
-I also dropped my phone a couple of times. And one of those times, lost my 4GB memory card. And with it, all my data, photos and most importantly my song list that I had so painstakingly created 🙁

H has been a real sweetheart after recovering from his illness and acted so cool after I “washed” the camera. He even jokingly remarked that now the pictures would be so much cleaner! Ha! Now you know why I married him! 😛

And it feels like I have lived the excitement of a whole life within the last 20 days while nobody could guess from the outside, that so much action could be happening in my life on the inside. But now I think that I am back for good and doing what I do best – blabber!

And oh yes, my twin M has completed her Ph.D. And is now officially a doctor. And are we immensely proud!!

Stay blessed until the next time!

Poll khul gyi or really?

I have done a poll after a really long time. Not because I didn’t have any bright ideas, but because the poll option in Blogger wasn’t working. And so, I broke up with it and hooked up with PollDaddy. And I really liked it because it has way more options than the Blogger one. Anyway, I digress.

So this time, the poll question was “Why do you think people get married?” And no prizes for guessing, I really found asking myself this question after writing this post. I mean, why take so much pains for manaoing your parents to agree to a love marriage or go adjusting and living with total strangers in an arranged? When all you could do with your time and money is sleep, watch movies, read, and shop and have fun! Why this pressure to get hitched and settle down? And yes, it really is settling down because you are down and out with all your energy zapped because of the zillion responsibilities that come with being married. I think that the debate should ideally be “Marriage v/s Single/Live-in”. But whatever. And so I decided to ask this question to you guys. And as always, was I surprised.

The results look something like this:

And at least I had thought our generation didn’t fell prey to this “don’t know and doing it because everybody else is” and got married for some reason, even though that reason may be dowry, sex, love, or societal acceptance. Our society isn’t really keen on live-in relationships even though half the world I know is doing it. Live-ins are quite the ‘settling up’ thing as you get to stay together with your partner with the all perks of marriage without having to take care of the baggage of relatives, attending parties/functions of both the sides or trying to impress the in-laws. It’s like living the best of both worlds. But I think our society is really sadist in a way that people got married to get what they wanted and they make sure that nobody else gets it easy! It’s like, making you realize the importance of your action by having to pay for it! How mean!

 

But having said that, that’s a long road ahead and nobody knows in today’s world who’s going to remain married for how long. People change partners as quick as jobs and clothes and there’s nothing that can keep them together if they don’t want to, not even a marriage certificate. And that again brings me to the question, why do we get married? With all that fanfare? The phenomenon that has given rise to the dowry system. And dowry deaths. I mean, if you really need to change partner, why invest so much money on dikhaawa and marriage and dowry. Live with whoever you want. Live as long as you want to and then move away, without ugly divorces. But I guess the social bondage that comes with a marriage gives people the much needed blanket of security.

Interestingly, an equal number of people voted for Love and sex. WOW! Love equals sex? hmm…believe our generation to be practical and blatant. And how! But at least we are honest about it. But guys, seriously, a free advice here. If all you want is the four letter word, take my word. Marriage is the last thing you want. 😉

There are hardly any takers for the other options. Our fast-food generation doesn’t seem to believe in the institution of marriage, and neither do they see it as an emotional retirement plan. At least I thought that if you could somehow resist the temptations of marriage, you could do well for yourself only up to a certain point. But at a certain age, you need to have someone who would love you enough to find beauty in your wrinkles or poetry in the way you wobble without your walking stick. 

And now the most interesting part of the poll. People had a chance to write in their views too if they didn’t agree with my options. The top 5 happen to be:

1) To bring more complexity in their lives 😛
Haha…completely agree. Bang on!

2) Because their parents won’t let it be any other way!
Hmm….quite true…isn’t it?

3) To alive the ancestory (family) given name
Really??? To have kids? Please go watch Vicky Donor my boy! 😛

4) Social pressure on a girl
Or even a guy for that matter. *Sad but true!

5) To live with the person you love for the rest of your lives
True my friend. But the irony of life but Love is the most expensive thing you can ever afford in your life – in terms of money, energy, relationships and emotions involved. Choose wisely 🙂

I don’t know about the guys, but the real reason I think girls get married is for a wedding dress. Don’t we girls just love to shop till we drop? And what better way to do it other than marriage? And get drowned in the endless world of buying sarees, suits, bangles, necklaces, bindis, purses, and what not! And the effing wedding dress. I mean, pray tell me, why otherwise would any sane person wish to end her own life with responsibilities of managing a household, of being the perfect wife, DIL, and various other relations that come with the package? I think we are a narcissist lot who enjoy all the attention that comes with being a bride. I think the marriage industry is also to be blamed for it to a great extent. They have kind of romanticized the whole thing so much that girls all over the world have unrealistic expectations from it. Marriage in a real world means something else altogether. And just for the clarification, I am not cynical about the whole marriage thing. I am just trying to paint a realistic picture here. I think most people get married for the whole romance thing. It feels so good to be doted on at by all and sundry, laden down with gifts, parties thrown in your honour everywhere. Its like, you become the centre of universe for a couple of days. But that’s that! Some days later, it is someone else’s chance and you look around the money wasted on decoration, jewellery, clothes and food and have no option but to sigh!

 

I say everybody should get married at least once! Nobody is a success at it but then, you can always become a philosopher… 😉

O (Wo) Maniya !!

The other day H and I were discussing about how a man woman relationship evolves from lovers to spouses to parents. Now this kind of conversation is often triggered whenever we visit my home or his. You know, seeing our respective set of parents married for over 30 years now, and still bickering over the same issues as 30 years ago makes me see red. The last thing I have on my mind is to spend the next 25 years of my life bickering and fighting and tearing my/his hair out for stupid things.

 

A few days back we had a small fight about something inconsequential and I jokingly remarked that if we were to ever have a son, I would scold and even beat him (if required) so that he should never turn out to be like  H  (the wicked wife that I am!). So H got all worked up about this and said that whatever fights/issues we have each other should always remain between the both of us and that we should never involve the kids. Talk about future planning! :-D:-D

And so that got me thinking about how men are such a strange species and that it is nearly impossible for women to live with them peacefully (If any of the men reading this feel the same way about women, I agree with you completely :-P). Men like their wives to NEVER behave like their mothers. Even though they want us to be fussy about them and pay attention to them and massage the Man ego every now and then, they really hate it when we say something like, “Don’t do this. It’s bad for your health!” Because while you are expecting your lover’s eyes looking at you in an appeasing way for being so thoughtful about your health and all that, all you get is a set of rolling eyes. And if this were to repeat a couple of times in a week, you are sure to hear the quintessential words from the “horse’s mouth” (pun intended!) “Stop acting like my mom!” 

Now when did the tables turn, you would never know? The last time you remember you did this, he was sufficiently happy and even told you that you reminded him of his mom. Maybe you should go see a doctor for a suspected case of STML (Short Term Memory Loss). And so, I did the same and went about happily following the doctor’s advice – shout at him like a wife, but don’t (read NEVER) care like his mother. No more picking on him, after all he is a grown up man and can take care of himself. That is, until  H  happened to fall ill. I took care of him and cooked for him, gave his meds on time and blah blah. But he was acting cranky and impatient, to the extent of being PMS-ey. Now this was more than I could take. After all, I had married a man capable of living on his own and having his own family and so on and so forth and I didn’t really expect him to throw tantrums like a 5 year old. The wife in me was irritated. But the mother in me saw through his actions. His actions were not really to harass me or irk me, but he was really having a bad time coping up with the illness.

I was in a dilemma. Should I switch roles? I couldn’t be sure if the tables would turn yet again. So I decided to talk to H about it. I told him that I couldn’t take his nagging another minute and that he should behave like a grown up man. Which 27 year old have you heard of, who lies on the bed and stomps his foot because he was denied a chocolate after the medicine? He said what I had guessed, that he was cranky because of the meds and that he really hated the house-arrest part, the restless kid that he is. But then, I told him that he shouldn ’t expect me to have any sympathy, or that if he did, he shouldn’t crib about it later. He laughed his guts out. Did it sound funny to you? Atleast I had berated myself in my mind a thousand times for acting so cold. After all we girls have always been raised with notions of pati parmeshwar and other shit!:-

And with that laugh, I realized that we too had evolved and transitioned from lovers to spouses. Here I was wondering what role to take up, but we both think I am best when I am the wife because I can make him laugh. Or more importantly, I can still make him laugh AND I get to be myself (Read: can shout at him at my discretion). So ladies, while you make a note of the doctor’s advice above, the men can enjoy this quote by George Burns that I have so thoroughly begun to understand now:

“Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who gives you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you are in the wrong house, that what it means.”

 



*All images courtesy Google