Walk The Talk – Marriage , Our National Obsession


Looking for a “suitable” prospective bride or groom for their children is an obsession with Indian parents. It doesn’t matter if they are conservative or liberal. Weddings, social gatherings are the breeding grounds for matchmaking. Keen eyes watch all your movements and scan you like an X-ray machine to see if you can fit into the role of a ‘good bahu or demand ‘for their family. There is an obsession to “marry off” the youngster as early as possible. The term itself puts me off.

No sooner is the child born, parents start dreaming of his/her marriage. In case of girls the scenario is worse. Even the most liberated parents spend most of their time planning the marriage of their children.  It is considered a moral duty to quickly fix a match and make sure that the child is ‘settled’.  I have seen many parents and grandparents pestering youngsters to get married. I have met frustrated parents fighting losing battles with kids when they decide either to not marry or they find a life partner of their choice hence shattering all dream castles of a grand wedding of “their” choice. It seems as if Matrimony is the most important event of human life.

The obsession begins from childbirth. It differs from one region to another but the entire nation suffers from it except maybe the North Eastern states. Money is put in various saving schemes specially tailored for this grand event, gold accumulated, children advised to choose their career with care so it’s easy to find a “good catch” in the “marriage market”. If one is parent of a girl then the responsibility to find her a “good home” and train her to become “a good wife and DIL” becomes the top most priority but that is another long story.

The moment kids finish high school the pressure starts building up on them. Everything revolves around one thing – marriage. Family, relatives, everyone suddenly becomes concerned to terminate their brahamachaya status and push them into grahasth status and it doesn’t end there. Then there is an urgency to have a grandchild and then the second grandchild so that they can be subjected to the same pressure. It’s a social let down if a friend’s daughter or son gets married and you are still fighting to coax yours to agree. It’s considered a stigma if your child crosses the “marriageable age”. The rants are endless and emotional drama worse than what the daily soaps on TV churn out. Torn between their desires, parental aspirations and societal pressures the youngsters don’t know where to head.

Satyamev Jayate ‘s episode on Love marriages had just finished and I was discussing it with my son when the bell rang.

“Hey, can you spare some time for me, I need to talk. Can we go out?” The young man at the door, a friend’s son, seemed disturbed.

“Sure thing my boy”, I said and we decided to walk to the local mall.

“What’s eating you?” I asked.

He threw up his hands in the air.

I told them to give me a break.  “I do not wish to marry and when or If I do I will find a girl for myself. They created a ruckus and I just walked out. There is a limit to everything. First they don’t like my choice of subjects, then they have problem with my career choice and now this”.

He was in a bad mood and I could see why. Barely in his twenties, he was subjected to the ‘career/ marriage and moral talk’ torture every day.

“I am sick of it. They push me just because they were married off early. It’s like “we couldn’t have our way so we won’t let you have it”. What crap is this”?

I completely agreed with him. Knowing the kind of family he belonged to.

“Now the latest is,” Do you have a girlfriend? What community? Will you marry her? Do her parents know? We won’t allow a “love marriage”. “Find someone from your own community. Don’t go for live in or fall for girl of other religion/ caste”. Why do you want to be an artist? Why not MBA?

I am done”.

I asked him if he can stand up against the pressure and pursue his dreams.

“Of course I won’t give in. It’s a matter of my life but think about all those who can’t. I mean, among my friends, everyone has the same story to tell about themselves or an older sibling. Girls get more harassed than boys. They are pressurized to follow a certain moral code. Boundaries are set. The moment they reach teens, their mothers get obsessed with their every move. Like watch dogs the parents monitor everything so the girl can later be ‘ shown off’ as a ‘ homely , demure’ person who can cook, clean, satisfy her husband , have babies and care for her elders. You won’t believe that even those girls who come from so-called ‘modern’ backgrounds have a certain code of conduct which they Have To follow. Why do you think they lie and make stories to slip out and breathe some fresh air? The continuous moral policing smothers them.

Why is it such a touchy thing with the parents? Why can’t they let us be? What if one doesn’t want to get married? What if one wants to marry late? Why being single is such an issue? Why is it looked upon as something abnormal? I do not even wish to go into the issue of sexual preferences. That is one thing parents will never understand”

“Well, know many parents don’t but I have no issues of any kind dear boy”, I said with genuine feelings for him.

“Yeah, how does it even matter, everyone isn’t like you, I feel it’s something to with their insecurities. ” he said thoughtfully chewing the gum.

“They want to prove to themselves, to relatives and society that they can be qualified as “good parents” because they fulfilled their duties, that their children “obey them”, that their children are “normal and straight”, that they can have kids  …God damn it. Sometimes I feel they all have OCD.  Why is so hard for them to let Us decide for ourselves, when and even, whether, we should get married.  ”

I felt sorry for him but was glad that at least he is raising questions and speaking up. The situation gets sticky when young people run out of arguments against this great Indian marriage obsession and give in. Ill prepared and forced into  institution of marriage these youngsters end up being disillusioned and unhappy.

Sometime the pressure is so much that they decide to do something even worse. They decide to marry the first person they fall in love with, without giving any thought and later either end up in early divorces or suffer the consequences of their decision.

Do we see our grown up children as “adults” and even individuals?

Do we care about their dreams, aspirations?

Do we realize that they are not extensions of ourselves and should not be subjected to perform as we want them to?

Do we realize that by making the children feel guilty about not “fulfilling” our dreams and desires and by running them down and accusing them all the time for ‘stepping out of family customs, values’ we are actually smothering them?

Do we ever think that what we as  parents, grandparents do in the name of  “love and betterment of youngsters” is actually smothering their individuality, their decision-making ability, their intelligence and most of all their dignity as a person?

Why do we always have to show our superiority and “expect” the younger generation to abide by our wishes? Why can’t we rejoice in their blossoming?

It is really sad the way we bully the children emotionally and mentally on almost every aspect of life from the time they are born, sometimes knowingly and most of the time unconsciously as a habit. We chart their paths, force them to take the road We choose and in a way make them end up being our own clones. No wonder they try to do the same with their children. Marriage is just one of the many issues which we hang like a sword of Damocles over their heads. The “We know what’s best for you” attitude continues all through their lives and is translated into their dealings with people younger than them.

It scars their lives for good.

In many families where a boy or a girl opts for ‘love marriage’ (usually against the wishes of parents), there is a complete breakdown of relationships. It is unacceptable to parents that their child can go against their wishes and marry just ‘anybody’. Nothing hurts their social ego as this one step. Most of the time the new couple face opposition and in extreme cases have to pay the price with their lives. In other cases, sometimes the families cut off all ties with the “rebel” youngsters and the worse hit are those who are accepted in the fold of family to either keep the social image or in fear that they will “lose” their son , their Budhape ka sahara.

If, under pressure, a girl is ‘accepted’ into the boy’s family, especially an orthodox, traditional one, she is expected to mould herself completely to their customs etc as in any other marriage and  if there is no support from her spouse, romance of love marriage leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

In many cases the boy succumbs to the emotional blackmail by the parents and begins to perform exactly as they want him to, forgetting that he is now responsible to uphold the dignity of his decision and that of his wife’s honour too. The guilt trip is so strong that he gives in with no second thought, hoping that everything will be fine one day. Unfortunately that day never comes in many lives.

Very few are able to create a healthy balance. Most of them are usually in the middle of a tug of war and the boy’s parents; especially the mother makes sure not to leave any chance of proving who the boss is. Interference from in-laws makes it very difficult to lead a happy life with the partner of her choice. Most of the time there is no support from her maternal family too and that makes the situation worse.

Are we responsible enough to protect the dignity of love? Do we really understand what it means in the true sense of the word? Be it love for our children or for each other.

Why is it that Indian parents have such an obsession with marriage of their children? Why is it that there is so much resistance to the child choosing his/her own life partner? Why are young adults continuously pressurized to get married and start a family? (That is another pressure that comes along  … to have kids as quickly as possible and be done with it).

We had a long conversation about this and the more we discussed the subject became murkier and complex.

“I think this obsession about marriage is the root cause of all evils. I think most of the crimes against females would end if This changes.  If the older generations do not push themselves and us to follow blindly the customs and norms set centuries ago. If they opened the windows of their minds just a wee bit.” He said thoughtfully. These urges to fit in and please the society, the regular taglines – what will people say, that’s the way our society and traditions are – are meaningless if we give it a thought.  What is society after all? It is made up of individuals and if individual thinking is changed society too will change. Won’t it? “

There was sadness on his face, a concern for the society slipping into dark ages.

“Absolutely, I am sure if the younger generation decides to break away from the clutches that hold them down, things will get better. I will try to reason it out with your parents”, I assured him though I wondered if the older generations were ready to move forward with conviction.

One can always try.

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Get Up Stand Up Stand Up For Your Right


Don’t give up the fight. Life is Your Right 

RECOGNIZE your inner strength, BELIEVE in yourself, Be Ready to SHED what is not YOU,  if you feel you are being caged ESCAPE  from the tiniest crack you find,  FIGHT for your Dignity and Worth.

Be True to self,  Be selfish Love Yourself  First, Break Away, Cut the cord that strangles you. Bend the Rules.  

Never let anyone write your story. Never hand over the pen to them.

Never feel guilty of  doing what your heart feel right. Never complain. Never explain.

There are no excuses to let yourself be treated like shit.

Never compromise yourself .

Never be bullied into silence. Don’t be a victim.

Never lose your true self  under the deluge of  masks society offers you to wear.

Society has never been kind to women who stand up and speak their mind, make your choice. Be free or be damned.

Freedom to be oneself  comes with a price , sometimes a huge one, Pay the Price or let others pay the price of  trying to cage your spirit.

Nothing is more important than your dignity.

HAVE COURAGE  to Chat Your Path. Never resign to your fate. 

Stand alone, it better  than being lost in a crowd. 

Never submit to the will of others.

Walk out of relationships that smother You. Dare to break away. Be at loggerhead with the society. It is not a cakewalk but it is worth every moment. Subjugated life is devoid of any soul.

Have the moral courage to Defy what in Unjust. Don’t be a performer.

Never let your bodies to be outraged. Never let yourself become an object.

Draw a line and stop the “little adjustment” from becoming a big compromise.  If it takes the monstrous shape it just engulfs before you know it.

Don’t wait for change to happen.  Make your move. It is never too late.

Stop living in your fears.

Think for yourself, never go in with conformity and herd mentality.

Recognize Abuse , for it is often camouflaged as love, betterment, moral duty, guilt, emotional blackmail.

Speak up. Silence only helps it breed and dig its claws deeper into your being.

It is better to raise your voice against unjust than suffer and reinforce the fact that women can be used as old newspapers.

Be financially independent.

Be fearlessly yourself

Sometimes  it takes more than just courage and will to do what is “right”. Look within and you will know your reason to do it.

 Someone said to me , ”  It is all there for you to get, the only thing is How badly you want it.”   You can’t imagine how true it is. It gave direction to my life.

Courageous Risks are life giving  – Take Risks

I DID 

“My priorities are sorted out. I have moved on” , I said.

“Moved on ?”  “True moving on is to bring the past to a closure. It is done and over “

“True that ”  I said.  “So be it.”

It was last year this date that I made the life changing decisions.

This year this day  I am  That I am  and nothing else matters.

I am grateful to my friends, fellow bloggers, readers, and each person who believed in me and stood by me, some visible some invisible.

My boys are my strength and it fills me with tremendous pride and love for these young adults for understanding  my decision despite of the physical distance it created.  Thank you for  being my children and for loving me for what I am.

We all have a spark within but to turn it into a flame  one needs a breath of life –  ♥ レo√乇

Remember 

There is nothing more gratifying than being oneself. 

Don’t need no memories hangin’ round


I want to offload. Offload all the clutter from my head. Offload the memories. Who wants to remember  anyway?  Spit, gargle, scrub, wash .. I did everything to clean the scars that my life got when it touched yours but the scars settled in the corridors full of memories won’t fade. They take monstrous shapes and explode inside my head. Isolated snippets that becomes larger than life , uglier, gruesome as they flash past inside my head like lightning.  Wounds that cut themselves and come alive in flesh and blood only to drag me down the past I want to run away from. There is no healing with memories lurking inside oneself. They appear out of nothing, damage and vanish. Just like that. 

What wouldn’t I give to forget these memories, wipe them off. I am tired of  tossing and turning each night, I want to get back my sleep? I would give it all up even if it means losing the good memories from another time , another place , of some other people. Yes, I would, if it means I won’t have to remember all the crap that scalds my inner, which gags and chocks my heart.

With my life going the way it, the things I have known and those I come to know whether I want it or not, the images that I am unable to shake however I may try, the mental trauma and heartache that wears me out on daily basis, the words that resonate inside my head however I may try to shut them up, the good memories too are slowly turning rancid.

Actually there isn’t anything good about your memories to be frank.  They are nothing but poison ivy clinging to my brain and sapping life out of me.  In fact I shouldn’t have let you in.  I pay the price with loss of face, faith and everything. I left the house that once I called home ( I wonder why coz it was never my home ) but the memories tagged along. I remember it all. Every bit of it. And that is the part I hate most.  You encroached my space then and  won’t let me have it now. 

I want to  gladly clear it all.  Give up , the good, the bad, the ugly.  Just don’t need no memories hangin’ round. What am I going to do with memories? Am done with sob story memoirs. I don’t wish to dig up the graves. Am done with all that. Am done with wanting to remember. Done with you. Please Leave. I do not need a fucking rotting fungal infested tumor of memories in my brain that is You. 

I want my mind spot clean.  I want space for new beginnings to flourish. I want  peace.  I do not want an inner tumult to wreak havoc in my outer world. I don’t want memories of old hurt, anger, loss, love anything  influencing my judgement and making me read the signals incorrectly. 

So you ask,  what about “happy memories” ? Memories that warm you on winter nights and give you company in loneliness? The beautiful sunsets and the walks in pathless woods?  Well, there is nothing happy about them, they hurt big time. These attention seeking narcissists. They bring a sense of loss, a void. Some people may have them, I am not denying that but for me , I can do without them. This cocktail of bitter-sweet nostalgia and pain. I don’t wish to go on vacillating between past and present with the noose of memories tightening on my neck. The events that were , were happy , full of warmth but as memories I can do without them. I will have many sunsets and many such walks in woods in present to fill the empty spaces.

I want to “die to the past” and ” live to the present”. 

Maybe I will find a stability later sometime in life to not let mind take over but right now, Oh man! I need an escape route.  

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;

One need not be a house;

The brain has corridors surpassing

Material place.

~Emily Dickinson, “Time and Eternity”

Think Again Mister


so you think you can tame me

as you did before 

chop my life into sick sodden slices

sear my brain

suck marrow out of my bones 

pierce and skewer my heart

curve out the soft flesh

from under my breast 

and turn me into 

some luscious dish 

 gloat over my misfortune

creep under my skin

and nibble my flesh

like a parasite

reduce me to dust

 sweep me under the carpet

or chain me, a performing monkey

and command in your stringent voice

“Perform ! “

this manhood that you flaunt

doesn’t excite me

it will be your cross

and your whip your noose

and I, whom you call  dreg

will rise and blind you

am no marionette

I will end your masquerade

the show will end

and I

will take a bow

When she dares to dream of a life she imagines …


 

Amrita Pritam writes,

society attacks everyone who says its coins are counterfeit, but when it is a woman who says this, society begins to foam at the mouth..it puts aside all its theories and arguments and picks up the weapon of filth to fling at her.”

We are the forgotten species not allowed to dream and live a life we imagine. You may disagree but truly however she may rebel against established society and conventional morality a woman is compelled to compromise with life.

However independent, aggressive and powerful Indian woman may be she still has  to go a long way before she is truly liberated.

In our country  ‘thinking’ for oneself is not encouraged at all. It is always conformity and herd mentality. The moment a woman begins to voice her thoughts she is condemned, ridiculed and told to shut up. If she rebels , her condition is even worse.

In today’s society where many women have crossed the threshold of their home and become economically independent, they continue to face oppression and gender discrimination in some or other form. Crime against women is rampant in the form of eve-teasing, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dowry,marital rape,  workplace discrimination, rape, molestation, honour killings etc. She gets out of the hold of one master into the world of many masters. this kind of independence is a relative concept.

Many women feel it’s better to stay put with the known enemy instead of  an unknown one. Women continue to struggle in our traditional patriarchal society from the time they are born. She  remains bound by the silken chains,dominated by her parents, in-laws, husband ,boyfriend etc.

Emergence of new woman who can defy everything that binds her and yet be happy is a painful, uphill task.

what does independence mean for today’s woman?

Is it freedom from oppression,  self-rule or doing whatever one wishes to without any hindrance? Is it a life of dignity where she has her ” own space” and is considered capable of analyzing and  using her own mind neutralizing the age-old male domination which is so rooted in our collective unconscious .

To me it is a simple life of dignity and respect, of acceptance as part of human race and not some scum of the earth.

Isn’t it time to raise voice against this symbolic violence of male domination ? A violence that  manages to perpetuate itself easily through various channels and is often possible for the most intolerable conditions of existence to appear as acceptable and even natural.

Women in our society, especially married women and among them those who are economically dependent on their husband’s income suffer the most. Their life concentrated between the four walls of the house , their boundaries set. Anyone crossing the proverbial rakshman rekha is doomed . It’s not just an ancient story of Sita it is the story of millions of Indian women. Sita suffered because she crossed the line of control drawn by her brother-in-law and any woman who dares to as much as think of stepping out of the LOC will meet the same fate  – A life full of tragedies. This deeply ingrained belief  keeps many women caged to their ” limited world cage” – frustrated and helpless. Mostly resigned to their fate.

These women seem like cold embers. Seething from within but docile and fearful from outside, living their mechanical lives day after day, rotting away with religious rituals, social, moral bonds, customs and duties.

Who will find this life respectable?

The whole personality of her being is stunted.

Most of them don’t revolt and those who do , cut their chains and try to soar in open sky, mostly find it very difficult to come to terms with the dazzling ever-changing world outside. Not all women have choices and some who are privileged either sacrifice them for emotional or  any inner reason. What roles are these women playing – flattering men , please them in order to survive only to be played around with and finally kicked out of houses they call homes.

I feel personally that women like me who are self-aware and have managed  to take that first step towards a dignified life still lack confidence to take on the society. Years of being home bound shred the self-confidence and gives rise to deep feeling of distrust.

The very fire that burns in them consumes them.

Social taboos and limitations , even if the women are  educated and living in urban society, makes them suffer emotional torture they are subjected to; of the verbal – or in the worst cases even physical violence. In many cases the reluctance and resentment with which their economic independence or earning power is accepted. They face rejection, envy, jealousy, subtle contempt and ungratefulness, they are not allowed to hold their opinions or exercise their rights. The sword of Damocles is always hanging on the heads of even the most powerful and independent of women.

The life of a woman, however progressive, educated or modern  is in first place under control of her parents and then in her husband’s home which becomes her permanent address for the rest of her life. She waives off her rights of the maternal home and if the new home doesn’t welcome her she is cheated of her basic rights there also. In any case of distress she is left hanging in an abyss as family structure is the only welfare sector that our society offers. Parents shrug their shoulders and under social pressures don’t  support her and she is already an outcast in her married home. Most parents wash their hands off their daughters the moment the ” burden” is off their heads.

Women are expected to adjust , compromise, suffer, make peace, forgive the offenses and injustices inflicted at them and go through difficult marriages with ” patience and tolerance” .

Their aspirations, dreams, priorities are nothing and should be put under lock and key to ensure a  ” peaceful happy married life“.

Often in lack of  a support system these women carry a heavy inhuman burden and the relationships crack up under pressure.

Is it that the moral downfall of our society turned many women into insecure lot continuously looking for support and appreciation?

Is it this what causes them to turn selfish and leave their sensitive feminine nature .

In this competitive world some women no doubt who get life in packaged deal with attractive bonanza understanding family  and great career, love support and stability but then there are a huge number of those unfortunate ones who suffer continually and their life is nothing but a struggle to survive.

The male dominated Society wants women who  sinks their individuality and drown their dreams and aspirations.

When she dares to dream  most women are caught in catch 22 situation of submission and rebellion . To free herself from the so-called ” safe and secure environment” of family and home  is a tough choice for most of women in India. Those who dare to break away are at loggerheads with the society. It is no cake walk for them.

Indian women , a major section of them, live a subjugated life devoid of any soul. They are humiliated, used , abused and preserved in stinking jars, they are flaunted as trophies, made to obey the commands like marionettes and barely a few break the chains and escape to live a life of dignity.

Then there is the other perspective . The male perspective which is deeply saturated with years of conditioning and domination of women. They do not see any flaw in a woman living within the four walls doing what she is ‘supposed” to do . Even if reluctantly they “submit” to her ” rebellious emancipated ways poisoned by the  ‘feminist ideas” she is always a butt of ridicule.

One can see why.

Mainly because they can’t think otherwise. Their thinking is limited , they are repeating only what they have seen and learned from the women in their household and community but that doesn’t make it justified , does it ?

Does it mean that the woman should be sympathetic and understanding and even after all her efforts for a healthy dialogue  fail she should continue to be humiliated?

We all know women are being oppressed , we know the reasons What then is the solution?

Is the institution of marriage losing its importance in the fast paced society ?

Is marriage essential ?

Is it not more like a relationship problem ?

What about single unmarried women , widows, single mothers? Are they liberated ?

What needs to be done to the sick society we are living in?

Are all these orthodox rituals, customs, codes of conduct , so called moral values  generated by the double faced society worth anything for the growth of human race ?

I ask these questions to myself and to all my readers .

What change is needed individually and collectively that will ensure a dignified fear free life for women?

Looking forward to your responses on this rather long post.



Relationship Dysfunction: The All Engulfing Apron Strings And The Parental Guilt Trip


This is not just my story, it is the story of all women who dare to dream , who dare to step into the home maker arena and face the Monster – in – law from Hades who is a pro in running the show and is the master puppeteer. It is the story of women who are financially dependent and have been  dreamers all their lives. Who believe in ” and they lived happily ever after ” stories.

The hard truth is that all men have mothers and some mothers just don’t know where to draw a line and let go of their sons .

These controller moms invade the fabric of their son’s  life till the core and leave it tattered.

Have you ever wondered, Why?

Why do they smother their sons?

Why don’t they let them blossom instead of stunting their entire personality?

How does one find a man grown-up enough to have disentangled himself from those unrelenting, all-engulfing choking  apron strings?

Why is it that men  are unable to cut the strings and release themselves?

Doesn’t it suffocate them to lead a life on a leash with a guard on their mouth and brain kept in vegetative state ?

I am married to one such man and seriously don’t understand WHY he accepts all this with head bowed. It is always a guilt trip, an emotional blackmail, a constant tug of war.

Parents constantly hammering the fact that the son is duty bound to look after them in their old age  even if it means killing his desires and submitting to his fate designed by them.

What is the mystery behind these apron strings that become a noose for the woman the son marries?

Why cant the MIL exit gracefully and let the son and DIL live their lives? Why is it important for her to constantly prove the superiority and criticize  everything I or her son do?

What makes her irascible ?

Some questions only she has answers to.

Overbearing suffocating love which turns to manipulative scheming  emotional blackmail holds back the freedom to grow and simply turns “mama’s boys”  to “mama’s Men” . The dominant matriarch  not only controls the son but her hubby too and practically every person.  I have seen by experience how for each decision he has to seek permission of his parents and give in to their demands and wishes irrespective of his desires. He folds his passion for life, his aspirations and dreams and tucks them in a dark crevice knowing that he would never gain enough courage and strength to stand up for himself.

This kind of man is molded in a special mold from birth. Designed to take commands and lead a life of suppression. His mind is trained to just look at one angle and not revolt against what is being said and done. He is given a life which seems like a ” comfortable setting” but is basically a ” dog’s den”.

I have seen my MIL say with pride how she has taken care of all the needs of her son all her life and he had obeyed her without questioning  like a “dutiful son” until now when I came in the pretty picture to ruin his life and theirs.  However I may abide to the so-called “norms and customs of their family I am an outsider. My place is below her jutti ( slippers) and am a non entity with no respect dignity or standing of my own. She doesn’t want her beloved dutiful son to turn into ” hand pecked” husband to such non entity.

I used to wonder if it is only  true of  “love” marriages and inter-caste marriages  but I realized this wasn’t the case. This breed is found irrespective of caste, creed, social strata , economic background. It just varies in its shades.

The relationship turns sour with each passing day and the guy becomes a martyr. Poor chap is caught between the love of his mom and wife who has barely entered his life. The blame game starts and the DIL becomes the butt of insults, accusations and the suppressor becomes the victim.

I have seen the emotional dramas, the hunger strikes, the silent treatment, the cold shoulder, the constant cribbing and the sorrowful complaints and I have seen how t is taken with bowed head and sealed lips.

In the scale of relationship always the scale tips in favor of mom( parents in some cases like mine) .

You are guilty of wanting a life of your own.

You are guilty of dreaming of a happy home with your life partner and kids if any.

You can guilty if you open your mouth in protest or want to assert yourself in any way.

You are the disrupting factor in the “mum’s world “.

I have come to a conclusion that men whose  mothers take every opportunity to stay involved in their lives have bad marriages and poor, disturbed relationship with their partners.  These men consider the behavior of the mother normal and support her cause  mainly because they are conditioned that way for all of their lives and secondly they don’t know anything else.

Instead of lovingly raising their sons and setting them free  some mothers remain entrenched in the lives of their sons causing major havoc in the relationship of the son and his wife. These perpetual adolescents never really grow up and remain tied to the apron strings of their mom’s. I feel personally that such men are not emotionally balanced or equipped to handle adult relationships and fail miserably in their constant battle to keep everyone happy. Their life is always hell and full of conflict and heartache.

I read in a book by Kenneth Adams and Alexander Morgan, “There is a universe of difference between a mother who loves her son dearly and a mother who makes her son the primary focus of her passion and preoccupation in an attempt to compensate for her own emptiness.”

These men not only have sexual dysfunction but they also direct their anger towards the partner , are people pleasers and can never ever stand up for themselves leave aside for their partners.  I agree 100% with the author .

I have lived  for 20 years with such a man and know what it is. All the efforts to make him understand seem like a conspiracy to distance him from the woman who gave him birth and raised him  with such difficulties. His life becomes ridden with guilt and anxiety  if he says as much as one word in favor of  me.

He would  rather destroy a relationship that is good for him than stand up to the omnipresent female power in his life called MOTHER. It is extremely sad to see an otherwise wonderful life  getting destroyed at all possible levels  just because the  mother is so tightly woven into the fabric of his life.  My MIL always strokes her son’s ego and unfortunately he, blinded by her love and scared of social stigma, continues to wear blinkers and follow quietly on the thorny path they have paved for him.

Unfortunately in my case it wasn’t just the mom( sometimes benevolent and caring and at others a mafia don like figure )  but both the parents who slowly drilled holes in a marriage they never approved of. They  seized upon the problems in our relationship which had mainly sprung from their deeds and his laid back attitude towards it and then used those issues to create unpleasantness and rift between us, all the  time  maintaining their control.

They acted liked gasoline on the fire and over the years by remote control or by being there as a hanging sword they managed to bring a relationship to a point of no return. They messed up a marriage, destroyed their son’s dreams just to be supreme controllers. I find it very distressing  and disheartening to see these men  spend their entire  life living  mediocre lives caused by their  narcissistic mothers’ ideals or parental overbearingness.

To see that so called social stigmas, morals, the intense desire to seek social approval, the complete surrender to absolutely unjust demands and emotional guilt trip and much more is capable of overthrowing the love and stability, caring and respect, togetherness and blossoming is  unbelievable.

Today after 20 years of my marriage I have found my voice to stand up for a life of dignity and to bring it out in open not to humiliate anyone but to make people see sense and let their grown up children be. To let men think again what a relationship means to them and how important it is to find a balance in some complex relationships like these.

It is heartbreaking to see all your efforts in building a relationship go down the drain just because the man you trusted tour life with did not know how to take care of it. Each one suffers in his/ her own way. Children are also at the receiving end  where mother is fighting for her rightful place and is unable to take that one strong step of stepping out because of financial dependence and the father is too weak to stand up and face his unjust parents especially the mother.

I have already written about adjustment and compromise that a woman has to face  and it is not that I am insensitive to the elderly people  but I also feel that we need to give roots and wings to our children.

Parents who see their sons as investments  almost always end up as losers. They lose respect, love, their child and a happy family they could have been a part of. It cut my heart to let go of  relationships that I had so painstakingly nurtured with my tears, sweat and blood but there is a time when one realizes that there is live much more important and worthy of attention – One’s own life.

We bury it under layers and layers of commitments and duties and somewhere forget to live. Choked by apron strings a son lives a suppressed life unwilling to break the shackles and breathe free  and in that process smothers a marriage, a relationship which could have been a life long source of joy and togetherness.

Sometimes good emerges from the dark harsh realities. I know that my life has deeply instilled one important thing in the minds of my sons – Respect for women as fellow human beings.

Having lived a home bound life of total financial dependence it is hard to start on a fresh note. As a close friend said ,” it is all there for you to get, the only thing is How badly you want it.” To have a financial independent life is extremely important. So is a family that understands the daughter’s predicament in her marital home and doesn’t abandon her in this rough patch. I may not have the first but have the second and that makes all the difference.

I hope men would realize how important it is to cut the strings and blossom as individuals and that parents are irreplaceable but so is every moment of their own  life.

Story Of A Pathmaker and My Search for a Space


A great scholar, academic, feminist, pioneer in women’s studies in India and a leading figure of the women’s movement in post-independent India Dr.  Vina Mazumdar or vina di as she is lovingly known  is an inspiration for all of us.  It is always a joy to spend an evening with her listening to stories from her life. When she narrated the story of her pishima ( bua) I instantly thought of sharing it with all of you and she was more than happy to grant me permission. A woman of great determination and courage.


The time was somewhere in early 1900. In the middle of inky East Bengal ( now Bangladesh) night a door opened and closed in silence. A  young Hindu Brahmin woman aged sixteen, covered from head to toe, breezed past the winding lanes and by lanes of the village where she had come as a child bride.

She walked seventeen miles to reach the river. The river listened to her hurried footsteps with rapt attention ready to carry her to away from her wrenched life as an abused wife of an ill treating husband and his family. Grateful to be a part of her courageous escape to freedom and dignity. With no formal education she defied the system where men did not know how to treat their women.

An old  Muslim boatman sat dozing near his boat. She woke him gently and requested him to row her to her maternal village . As fare she offered him her gold bangles. He asked no questions. Under the night sky he rowed all night while she, exhausted and drained from her efforts, fell asleep.  Each enveloped in silence of their thoughts.

Before the slumbering sun woke up they reached the destination and he took her to the house of her father. She spread her shawl in the open veranda and lay there waiting for the dawn to break. He sat nearby watching over her .

In the morning her father opened the door to find his daughter at his threshold with an old man.

The boatman folded his hands and said ,” I rowed all night to bring her to you.  Here are the bangles she gave me in lieu of money. I want you to promise me one thing before I go that you will not send her back to her husband’s home and take her in and will not thrash or ill treat her. If not , then I will take her to my old woman and keep her with us as our child as Allah has not blessed us with children. ”  He  also told her father that his daughter’s unhappiness must have  been truly unbearable to make her do what she did.

Her father promised the old boatman and then only after a lot of insistence he took one bangle and said, ” I will never sell it. It will stay around my old woman’s hand so she can draw courage from it and in that way from her.”

The young lady stayed at her father’s place and no one in the house ever talked or questioned  about her past.  Vina di recalls how she came  to know about the details of pishima’s life later through her mother and elder relations. She passed away when Vina Di was barely five years old but the enigmatic presence of pishima remained to guide many generations of girls for years.

For a woman to say that she will fend for herself if her brothers did not care for her needs was unheard of and a bold statement for those times.

A  young bride of all but 11 years ( Vina di’s ma) came to the house from the interiors of Burma’s jingles and instantly the sister-in-law took the girl under her charge. The new bride learned all about traditions, customs, social ethics and much more from her and worshiped her like a Goddess. She became the little bride’s friend, philosopher and guide.

The  new bau had tremendous desire to study and the sister-in-law made sure she was tutored by her younger brother-in-law(who was actually elder to her)  against all the traditions. This created a huge controversy in the household. It was intolerable conduct for a young bau to be taught by a brother-in-law seven years senior to her. Maybe it was pishima’s conviction, courage and determination that made her defy the norms and have her way.

It was amazing to see a fiery young woman in those times to first leave her abusive husband and then within five – six years take charge of educating new bride of the house ( just a few years her junior) and other girls.

Years passed every woman, child drew inspiration from this brave woman who could defy  all social norms and break herself away from the shackles that usually bind women and keep them confined to the interiors of male dominated society. By ensuring education for the new bride , pishima began to quench  her own thirst for learning. Vinadi’s ma would read to her about various topics.

Both women developed a strong bond in that process. It was beginning of a campaign  to provide formal education to all the girls of her household against  resistance from the elder men of the home. She made sure that the girls were put in school  no matter what.

Although she managed to put all her nieces in school , in her absence the elder men ( mainly fathers) promptly took them out and that interrupted the studies. The younger generation which included Vina di and her sisters got uninterrupted formal education just because of sheer determination of  the pishima and vinadi’s ma, who supported her sister-in-law in her cause.

By 1920 pishima ( as she was fondly called) had acquired a reputation for being an ardent supporter of women’s education. When a new school for girls came up in the area she persuaded  local families to send their daughters there. She was an enigma and the fact that her social unexplainable status posed no hurdle in getting her way with people around her was something remarkable.

The families were hesitant to send young girls without an escort and pishima , with a wet towel on her head, collected a group of about 20 girls and escorted them to and fro from school each day.

She died in 1932 and everyone from the local girl’s school including old and new students , staff and principal came for the funeral. Many became pallbearers as a mark of respect to her and helped carry her body for cremation.

It was remarkable and extraordinary to see the women who themselves never received any formal education  start a revolution and have strong views on women’s education and other issues. They saw education as a tool to widen the mental horizons and social concerns. Pishima was a part of Vinadi’s childhood, and, perhaps, left an indelible mark  that helped propel her into the struggle against gender violence of later years.

You can read the entire true account  here A heritage of Heresy Within Tradition

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As I listened to Vinadi or ma as we call her , I wondered how many middle class or lower middle class women have that courage and such fortunate circumstances to rebel against the existing norms of this society, to boldly spread their wings and take a flight to dignified living.

Circumstances, especially lack of a back-up support system, comes in the way of many women who are either financially dependent on their husbands or are emotionally bound by the guilt of moving away from the so-called ‘rulebook’ for married women that has been instilled in them since their birth. In fact this whole conversation made me think of how a woman right from  birth is assigned her roles and given  initiation in a moral code of conduct which she has to abide by all her life.

When I talk of women I talk about them in general. There are many who have moved away from such bondage and live an independent life but when I look around I still find the deeply ingrained guilt factor combined with smothered desires and unfulfilled dreams.

I have seen how girls who played in their mother’s kitchens  later spent their entire life caged within those very four walls. Their dreams and enthusiasm consumed by the same fire that warmed their hearts as children.

As they grow up, even after basic formal education, they become part of the grind especially the non working women.

Financial independence is a must I feel now. Having given up my job to become a homemaker by choice at that time proved a wrong decision in my case.

It is strange how a woman becomes a nomad if her limit of ‘adjustment’ and ‘endurance’ crosses its mark in her husband’s home. It is strange that the very house where she grew up in ‘unconditional love and care’ becomes inaccessible to her. It closes its doors to its very own daughter leaving her to discover her own path once their duty of ‘marrying her off’ is done.

The home where she goes with the man she dreamed of spending the rest of  her life with  becomes her cage. The few windows become her only contact with the outside world . Restless, caged within the four walls of her own emotions and restrictions and of those imposed on her she looks at the piece of sky and cringes from within with a mixed emotion of longing to fly free and her own constrains and inability to do so.

For those who have a little more opportunity to spread their horizon it remains a problem. It is frustrating to see the open door and the still no power to cross that threshold for various reasons including lack of monitory backup and a roof over her head to begin with. Why?

Why are we afraid to take our chances?

Will it be worse than what we go through in a mindless existence that drains us of our own life as a human being ? Is it the fear of losing it all?

Or

Is it that years of home bound life makes us weak and unsure of what the world may offer?

Why is it that parents, siblings turn away their eyes (even some of the most radical ones , who talk of women’s rights and social reforms) when it comes to their own daughter / sister?

Where is such a woman supposed to go? What are her options? Isn’t it not difficult for her to fit into the ever-growing , rapidly changing and much advanced society and make her place ?

I remember my house help telling me one day ,” we are lower class and poor women but better off still” . I asked her, how ?

She replied,” we can go work at people’s homes, do anything and earn to support us because no one will give us a second glance but when women like you and many more need to break away and find a source of income after years of subjugation and dependent lives , they are helpless and lost.”

” They don’t find jobs easily, living day-to-day becomes difficult for them and in anticipation of that fear they remain buried in that coffin called “sasural” . ”

I watched her, trying to control my tears and was happy at the same time to see how enlightened she was.

Most of what she said was true.

Considering that I too am looking for my place of dignified living and don’t have a concrete backup or financial independence, the conversation stirred something deep within.

All these questions and many more haunted  me all night after my evening with Vinadi (ma) . Am still unsure and looking for a direction. Although I give a hoot to so-called social morality it still is a big issue to find my rightful space to live and do what I wish.

My mother, unlike many, understands the  dilemma and hurt. She is ready to support and take me back in her fold if needed and still there is a void. The very fact that she is in her eighties and living on a pension in her son’s home makes it difficult to take action on her own.

So, even if the mother daughter relationship is good it is marred by circumstances which are not in control of either for various reasons.

I have always wondered, what does ” see the bigger picture ” means? What is the  measure  of endurance ?

What is the limit of  ‘adjustment ‘ and where does ‘compromise ‘begin?

I ask these questions to people around me, people who give me advice to hang in there and try to make it work . I don’t really get any worthwhile reply.

Why is it that a woman is only  loved and appreciated, nurtured and defended from hostile forces by her so called family till the time she doesn’t lift her head and open her mouth ?

Why is it that when the question of a woman’s self-respect, dignity and freedom to live her life comes  people turn their faces or give a blank look as if it is a thing unheard of ?

That brings me to mothers. Mothers who stunt the growth of their sons by tying them to their apron strings. My husband has one. I have  first hand experience what it does to men who are never “allowed” to grow up and how they waste themselves in the very hands that once taught them how to stand up and take those first baby steps. The very son she claims to dote upon is not allowed to blossom . His life is one big guilt trip if he as much as says one word in support of the woman he married by choice.

Why do these men ever marry if they have to spill tears later when their mothers wail, ” she stole my son” ?

Hostile , unreasonable ,  jealous,  insecure  and emotionally charged she makes life hell.

Do I ‘adjust’ because she is elderly like my own mother?

Do I give in and let things be just because for 20 years I could not muster courage to step out and say ENOUGH ?

Do I need to take in the vitriol and deliberate malevolence  all my life for a ‘mistake’ I made in marrying her son?

Why do women want to control all the time?

I find it difficult to understand this attitude.

I find it difficult to swallow that a man is weakened and manipulated  to such an extent that his whole life becomes nothing but a twisted entangled mess shoved inside a small hole beyond which he doesn’t want to step.

It will be covered it another post.

The wounds these women inflict on other women do not heal.

Conditioned by society these women are tough to handle and the men who grow up under their shade even more difficult to handle.

I even found that those so-called “open-minded” men who would otherwise scream freedom for women are curled up inside when it comes to taking a stand for their own sister or female relation.

It cuts me to the quick when emotional and mental abuse is not understood and talked about mainly because there is no physical  evidence of it.  It is not even considered abuse and one is told not to create a hype and these things happen in all relationships.

It hurts when marital rape is shoved under the carpet and becomes a taboo topic. When women of all people sympathize but shrink from supporting the woman who goes through it.

How do you define marital rape? , I was asked by a close relative.

I explained and she felt I was being egoistic, stubborn and denying the basic right of physical aspect of marriage by refusing any physical contact.

Who determines the pain and humiliation of a woman who goes through it? Who draws the line?

If I do, why is it that people find it difficult to digest it?

Do I have to barter myself for the dignity and self-respect which actually is mine?

I know many women are seeking answers to such questions about their lives.

I am numb now. Ahead of me there is blank space . I have to pavé my path and I guess it will be a lonely battle. The turmoil deepens with each day. I wont give up or give in but what course I will take remains undecided. The questions are looking for answers. Even I am.

I know my voice was stilled .

But

In this silenced voice lie the stirrings of an awakened heart, buried this long in drunken slumber.

The article also appeared in Talking Cranes , Social site for women of South Asian heritage .

UPDATE – Dr. Vina Mazumdar passed away on May 30, 2013.

Zubaan books published her memoirs – Memories of a rolling stone