“What was the state of women in your family say 70 years ago?”

I ordered Antharjanam- Memoirs of a Namboodiri Woman – from Flipkart after reading this review. (Do take a look.)

The book is an account of the life of women in Namboodiri households in Kerala starting from 1920s, 30s and 40s, when only the eldest sons in a family were allowed to marry. Since most men were not available as grooms, many women remained unmarried and young girls were married off to much older men. Widows were many and they lived hopeless lives.

For a long time nobody saw anything wrong with traditions that dictated who should marry, who should not; and to whom and how many times. (Though the rules have changed this still continues in most parts of India.)

Who did the system benefit? It empowered (can’t be said to have benefited) the upper caste, first male child and while they lived, their wives and children to an extent.  Female siblings had no rights. The younger brothers were permitted ‘sambandham‘ (informal marriages) with women from Matrilineal communities. These men had no inheritance rights.

Wearing a blouse (with sari) was considered modern and was disapproved of.

All this wasn’t very long ago.

Devaki Nilayamgode, 75, the author, says, “How much and how fast things have changed! I can emphatically say that life today is better than ever before.”

No longing for the good old days. This clarity and honesty is refreshing. No wonder she saw the reforms she did.

When I discussed this book with a friend he asked,

“What was the state of women in your family, say 70 years ago?”

Made me wonder about what was happening in women’s lives in other parts of India between 1920s -1940s?

There are so many Indias living in so many centuries at one time!

My mother is 71. Born in 1941.

How much has life changed for her?

She was the first grandchild in her father’s house and her grandfather’s way of being progressive was to treat her like he would have treated a grandson. She was  encouraged to be bold and independent – even aggressive.

Her father encouraged education and self reliance in women, preferably only as Teachers and Doctors.

Gender bias and dowry were never questioned and sons were preferred. Most sisters saw brothers as protectors and decision makers. A married woman’s rightful place was her husband’s home, her parents’ status was inferior to that of her husband’s parents and extended family – this was never questioned. Double standards were the norm. Many of these rules changed when applied to one’s dear ones. Financial status also influenced the rules. Most rules were flexible.

My mom wore saris and salwar kameez.  Sleeveless (in 1958) was not a taboo. Being well turned out was appreciated, but everything was permitted ‘within limits’.

Lighter skinned siblings were considered better looking.

What about her mother? My grandmother.

Born in 1922, she was extremely religious. She read only religious texts, mainly Ramayana. She believed in these values and also taught other women, including her daughters, to do that. (My mother did not agree with her, but didn’t express this). She also taught older women to write their own names and often read out (and taught) religious texts to an eager audience of women, in the afternoons.

She believed her husband was her god (Pati Parmeshwar), but did not agree with his progressive ideas. She fasted and prayed for his long life, many days a week. Her own health suffered. She had four daughters and two sons.

She wore sari with men’s shirts.

My dad’s mother and grand mothers were different… but that’s another post.

Do you know any women born before 1940 – grandmothers, grand aunts and mothers? How much has their life and world  changed from then to now?

If you‘d like to write a post in answer to this question, consider yourself tagged 🙂

Please do leave a link in the comments section so that other readers can also read your stories/research. Adding photographs sounds like a great idea too. Thanks for the suggesting this tag Prathama.


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49 thoughts on ““What was the state of women in your family say 70 years ago?”

  1. I saw this review just before I left India, so had no time to buy/order the book. And am not getting it anywhere here. So want to read this book.

    Women in my family were slightly luckier – side effect of being a Matrilineal family perhaps. My maternal grandmother was a member of the panchayat, and she used to teach the children of families who were less well-to-do. My paternal grandmother’s sisters all worked, she passed away when my father was very young. My maternal grandfather’s sisters were all very highly educated. One of them just passed away recently – she was 90, and she used to write, translate Bengali books to Malayalam, and was working on a book when she passed away. I can’t help wonder if all this was possible just because we were not in the traditional patriachal system.

    Infact IHM, I had a post in drafts – I saw a family during my holiday, and they just reminded me of your posts – Living in a joint family- exemplified by everybody but when you see the individuals, you can’t help wondering who exactly does this system benefit?

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  2. A good topic. My mother was not born 70 years ago, But My grandmother was and I am close ot her so I have heard the stories .. When she was young She was well not sent to school after the primary which is basically 4th or 5th class.. and the school was in the next vilalge to where she lived.

    when she was grown up house work took over, preparing food for the men of the house and the ones who would work the fields .. She would have to walk to get water for the house along with other ladies in the house.

    She was very respected though she would tell stories how her father would ask her idea on stuff to do around the house , but she was married to my grand dad without asking , one day she was told she is getting married in a week , Second marriage of my grand dad — the first wife had passed away…

    She had four daughters and a son of her own but took care of two daughters from my grand dads earlier marrige , and She made sure all the daughters went to school, at least till the 10th class , the elsdest daughter became a Teacher in a Govt school, another did the degree to be a teacher too ..

    How much has changed now.. well nothing much I guess apart from being old .. but I guess she has a good life saw all the daughters married , son married , grand kids and now a few Great grand kids tooo …

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  3. Life is surely better now that then in my family as well, even given that my mother was educated professionally….great grandmothers were strong personalities and seem to have been very good organizers, in the limited circles they were ‘allowed’ to function in – mostly other village women and non-male family members. Kids were not people.

    My hypothesis is that the paternal side is more conservative and less demonstrative normally, somehow, for all the male preference, a daughter’s children seem to get more love but less privilege and bhav. Am I totally off the mark?

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  4. My grandmom born in 1930 was born into a mallu family with a very modern outlook. Her grandfather married her off at “24 and a half” – not too young by those days standards – because he wanted to find her a man worthy of her – which of course was my grandfather.
    My Grandfather has never taken a decision without my grandmom’s opinion – they are a pair…a deadly duo!

    I guess that maybe in my family i need to look into the previous generation when my grandmom’s mom was married off at 12. Though i hear her husband treated her like a mini princess. She was apparently carried in and out of the mandap because she refused to walk.

    My grandfather’s mom gave birth to my granddad at 16 and once again i hear she ran the household, the finances, the logistics, the children’s education, their choices in marriages.

    So in some ways, the standards set by all these women and their husbands have ensured that all of us look for partners where we are equal, where we are heard and where we are individuals in our own right!

    Dont know how relevant this is to your post but just loved recounting stories of yester years which i have heard through the years!

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  5. Your question could be great topic for bloggers to write posts on!
    Photo circle a Nepali organisation http://www.photocircle.com.np/ started by an incredible women- photographer and an amazing man – designer did a project called ‘Hamra Hajuramma’ translated ‘our grandmothers’ http://www.hajurama.org.np/.
    As part of this project photographers and writers met and interviewed and photographed Nepali grandmothers (their own or grandmothers-women they didn’t know). This project was made into a book by the same name which was quite a delight. Emotional, heart warming stories of Nepali grandmothers through the civil war and economic difficulties in Nepal.
    In fact I read a few months back in Indian Express Sunday Magazine EYE that Indians were
    also doing personal history projects – photos and life stories of their families going as far back as possible. Unfortunately can’t find the article now.
    It could be so powerful to do interviews with our grandmothers, their sisters, and write posts on their lives and how they see lives of women today.

    I think you just inspired me to do so!
    Brilliant post. My maternal grandma was born in the early 40’s and my paternal grandma was born in the late 30’s. I think I will attempt a post with photos and research in response to your question.

    You rock IHM!

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  6. Sorry for the long comment in advance!

    Maternal grandmother was born in 1931 in a zamindar family in eastern U.P., her Father was the eldest son and thus the head of the family. Her mother died during childbirth, Father had Gandhian values and never re-married. His two daughters were named after the two principles of Gandhi – truth(Satyavati) and love(Premvati). He tried his best to educate both the girls, the elder one did not like to study and insisted on getting married.. she was married in class 6th at age of 14. My grandmother was sent to a girls boarding school in those days and finally passed her M.B.B.S. as per her Father’s wish. She married at the age of 28, a man 6 years her junior and of a different caste. Her Father refused to disown her despite the jibes from community. As per family custom, she or her sister got no share in their Father’s property. Her married life was rife with discord, she faced domestic violence till her children grew up but never thought of divorcing her mild schizophrenic husband. Both sisters are alive and still visit their ‘maika’ time to time. My grandmother is still healthy, active and serving at an R.K. Mission charitable hospital.

    My paternal grandmother was the daughter of wife number 2 of her Father. They were from Varanasi, and was married at around 13, her D.O.B is not recorded. Her ‘gauna’ was performed at age of 18, she studied only till class 5. Her husband was at high post in police services, so she led a charmed life. She did wear sleeveless and was the centre of the household. Her husband always loved, respected her and held liberal values. Often she would complain loudly, while he just buried his head in the newspaper. She says she was lucky but girls today have the opportunity of choosing and they should thus make smart choices 🙂 and lap up a nice guy if they see one.

    All my grandparents had no objection to love marriages and we have examples of both inter-religious and inter-caste marriages.

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  7. my grandmother was born in 1934. from what i have heard, her family was progressive according to those times. she is a BA and her other sisters are educated too. but ofcourse women were unquestioningly considered inferior to men. my grandma is still resentful of the things her brothers were allowed but she and her sisters weren’t. or the times she had to bow down in front of her husband’s will. she gives it back to him now though :P. she made sure she didn’t do the same to her daughters (my mom and aunt). but they weren’t allowed to work though she made sure they went to the best schools. all girls from my generation in my family are professionally qualified and working though the must get married mentality is still there. luckily till now we have all fallen in love with and married good guys. i don’t know what the stance will be if a marriage turns out to be unhappy. plus the pressure to have kids is also there. for anna i must make sure that she never ever thinks that she HAS to get married and stay married. marriage is good. but not more important than anything else.
    so yes, the good old days don’t seem that good to me. things are slowly getting better. and will hopefully continue to do so.

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  8. Grandparents and the environment they grew up in were radically different.

    One on side, I know of a my grand uncle marrying a woman older than him along with being from a different religion and strangely (specially back in 40s) his family being very supportive.

    On the other hand, I have an grandmother who remembers relatives of hers living with a tonsured head, not allowed to wear blouses because they were widows.

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  9. I realize, that although the society I live in is patriarchal, matriarchs in the family have really lived amazing lives.

    Like what do you say about someone born in 1919, the second child and only daughter, amongst 3 children. Her memories of her own mother were a bit hazy, as she passed away in her early childhood, after her younger brother was born. Her father, never married again, wanting to spare his children from “step-ness” . He himself had had a hard childhood, had literally studied under lamps, with great effort and dedication, and consequently risen to a good job with the government in those days. They lived in Indore then, and all his children went to school. The daughter did particularly well, and there is a gold medal in maths from some Ajmer Board, that is greatly prized in the house today. For its non commercial value.

    And what do you say about someone who was sent to Pune’s Fergusson College by her father to study for her degree ? Lived in what was called the Ladies Residency then. Started missing her father so much, that she once ran away back to Indore, only to have her father bring her right back. And she went on to make some lifelong friends in college, from different parts of the country.

    Don’t know if it was the opportunity to travel across the country, or what , but she got more than an education when she finished college. By then her father had shifted to Pune and stayed with his married son. Her marriage was fixed in 1941 with the son of a family friend. The background and attitudes towards ladies in that family were much different. Children followed.

    And what do you say about what happened when she had a chance to travel abroad ? When her eldest was one year old, her husband had an opportunity to attend a university in Brooklyn. With no suggestions forthcoming from her in laws, her father agreed to take care of her year old son, and encouraged her to accompany her husband , and do a degree there herself. She travelled alone by a plane making several stops (there are photos of her with the pilot next to the plane !) en route to the US to join her husband who was already there, and a few years later returned with an MA in Child development from Columbia University. That was 1948.Another daughter and son were born, and the family with 3 children lived in Pune.

    And what do you say about someone who dedicated all her energies to her childrens’ education and bringing up, even maintaining a separate household in Pune for the children , when her husband was transferred to places with questionable educational facilities. Everyone was together in the holidays, allowing the children to see many different parts of India, due to their father’s job. Once the kids started college, the household reverted to a single household at whichever place her father’s posting took them, the last being Mumbai.

    And then what do you say about how she brought up her own ? Her daughter was , like her, one of 3 children. She was given almost all the opportunities the sons got, sometimes even more. The daughter played sports, both for her school and college, in the appropriate garb , greatly encouraged by her. She herself always wore sarees, but realized her daughter’s life was to be different. And it helped that they lived in a colony, where weekend mornings, someone would string a tennis net across a tennis court marked out in a large gap between two houses, and one could be treated to a sight of middle aged women women in tucked-in sarees, whacking shots across the net. (Eat your heart out, Sharapova).

    And what do you say about her, who was so different , in a gutsy way. But was always involved with the extended family in various ways. She was great friends with all her husband’s maternal cousins, and there was a constant flow of folks coming to stay, and various traditional functions being held to celebrate something or the other. Someone was always asking her to come along for some medical stuff happening in the family. Her mother-in-law had several sisters, and so many of them came to stay with her , much older to her , just because they liked to visit her. They liked that she drove a car in the crowded roads of Pune, and took them to visit many places.

    And so what do you say of someone to whom age was just a physical count, and minds were more important. All her children decided on their own, what they were looking for in prospective partners in life, and she and the father never forced their opinion on any one in this regard, but were always available to listen and give opinions.

    And finally, what do you say about someone, who although getting on in age at 83, and afflicted with typical old age maladies, still braved a 23 hour plane trip, all alone, to be present at a grandson’s graduation in the US ? As avidly as she attended her her daughter’s daughter’s swimming races back in India, where she and grandpa loudly cheered. ?

    To her education was not a label. You had to show the benefits of it. One of the biggest gifts she gave her daughter was that of strength of mind, the ability to say NO, based on your own convictions, however unpopular they may be, and to handle failure and treat it as a stepping stone, rather than something to make you collapse….

    She was ahead of her times , and her life almost spanned the previous century. She passed away suddenly at the turn of the century, after a brief hospitalization, with only her daughter by her bedside.

    Her daughter had adopted a little girl, and many years later , while travelling once in a rickshaw with her own daughter, she said ” You know, in your future, if you ever get the feeling that you are alone, there is no one , and so on, this little girl of yours will always be there for you. She is so young now, but she has something special. I see it in her.”…

    Mothers have a way of being right. I know. She was my mother.

    (Sorry about that. Almost became a post ….:-)

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  10. The first person who came to my mind on reading this post is Sethu Ramaswamy, about whom I had read some months back.

    Here are some links to Sethu:
    http://www.hindu.com/lr/2004/06/06/stories/2004060600240400.htm

    http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/mp/2004/09/25/stories/2004092500540400.htm

    http://jagadananda.blogspot.com/2010/03/vijaya-ramaswamy-and-sethu-ramaswamy.html

    The other person is a well known blogger whose accounts of her life in Trivandrum make an interesting read:

    http://memories-and-musings.blogspot.com/

    http://lifeinpondicherry.blogspot.com/

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  11. I had written a post about my maternal grandmother earlier. She would have been in her nineties if she had been alive today.
    http://arightowrite.blogspot.com/2010/08/story-of-this-lady-i-love.html

    My paternal grandmother came from a family of landlords. She is still alive today, again in her late 90s. She was married when still a baby in her cradle, and my grandfather was 8yrs old. She stayed in her parental home till in her teens, and then came to her matrimonial home. She would often tell us stories about how she would go horse-riding as a kid! Something we found so unbelievable as grandchildren!:)

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  12. Thank u IHM for linking my post and posting about that book. 70 yrs ago Indian society was much more primitive,patriarchal and casteist in nature. May b in t 1950s & 60s there were a brief period when it seemed religion/caste barriers will disappear and gender oppression will cease soon. But revivalism of some feudal values in all communities resulted in delaying of t inevitable

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  13. My mother is 1935 born, the eldest grandchild on both her paternal and maternal sides. She was also the symbol of a new generation. She was the first girl child to be educated, to be trained professionally in music and also the first in the family to be certified as an AIR artiste. All this before she got married in 1956. She was also the first girl child in her family to be married after she attained puberty.

    She is quite an independent woman, and yet sacrificed a lot for her family, particularly her music as my father had a transferable job. Today, she is a bundle of contradictions as she is quite radical and traditional at the same time. She is quite happy with me being single, is perfectly okay about live-in realtionships and yet frowns if I wear jeans or decide not to wear a bindi. 🙂

    I did a post inspired by the Indian Memory Project on my family history. Though it is not only about my mother, it does mention her as well.

    http://thatandthisinmumbai.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/a-sepia-toned-history-of-my-family/

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  14. hi,

    My maternal grandma born circa 1919 had studied upto 10th std, refused to study further.. was well read and could read/write and speak fluent english…. had a damn clear mind of her own… got married arnd the age of 30 .
    my paternal grandma born much earlier than her also studied upto the 10th was an Army nurse during WW 2 … have stayed /travelled alone in an era when it was unheard off. she went on to be a high court clerk later in her life. married my grandpa somewhere in her late 20’s and had 6 kids. She was pretty independent ziddi and level headed..

    my mom born in 1949 is a masters degree holder and was a scientist. She is a highly ambitious and a very strong person but still succumbs to what others think at times 🙂

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    • oh.. i forgot to add…. both my grand moms lived in their nuclear family( no joint family business for them) and pushed their kids hard to succeed… my mom once told me of her dad’s plan to get her married off at the age of 14 how my grandmom and some school teachers literally shouted at grandpa till he saw reason… mom too married in her 30’s….

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  15. My mom was born int he 40’s , a doctor and one of 7 children, all girls adn 2 of the boys were drs.. her father ( my grandfather) was a dr. henc ethe affiliation to this field. Her mom ( my grandmother) was the daughter of some customs official andhence travelled widely with her dad, went to england too, so my mom considers her more liberal than most parents.
    She was a career student , went to various classes and was educated in calcutta in those days which was considered a great feat.
    My dad’s mom on the other hand was born and raised in TN, however took part inthe freedom movement – jailed and married my grandfather ( engg for the grand anicut) and apparently lived in tents with him .. my dad was and is a very open,liberalman who thinks once his kids reach the ripe old age of 18 should be let loose and allowed to torment the world 🙂 he has never had a say inmy mum’s life — but i see the love shining in his eyes…
    now intheir 70’s mum still works a bit ( she loves it) and dad lounges at home enjoying retd life and cooking 🙂

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  16. My Grandmom who was born in 1920s was married at 14. Her FIL and Husband ensured that she went to college (an English medium one!) I should mention that they were high class Zamindaars. So, she had a battery of domestic help, travelled in cars, wore expensive clothes. She was very polished and could talk fluently in english.
    She also called all the shots at home (absence of a MIL empowered her I think 😉 )
    Sadly my mom was more surpressed because of such a dynamic and agressive MIL.

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  17. My great grand mothers were 9 and 11 when they got married, my grand mothers 10 and 13 and my mother 21!

    The woman in my family never got an opportunity to excel academically, but they were the smartest, wisest, most practical people I ever came across. I have seen what they had to go through in Male chauvinistic society, they lead their lives without any complaints, if anything they made sure their children, especially the daughters had a better life than what they lead.

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  18. Dear IHM, I have been an avid reader of your column but have not commented on it till date.

    I am a descendant of the so-called Namboodiri clan… except that in our case, my great grandmother’s mother was married off to a member of a lower caste , and then sent out of their tharavaadu (family home) on a boat accompanied by servants, jewellery and property deeds to the other side of the Ashtamudi river in kerala. They then did irikka-pindam (funeral rights while still being alive) so she could never return to her family. That was their way out rather than have daughters live unmarried for their whole lives.

    She had one daughter (my great grandmother) and five sons. Am not sure how educated she was,but have heard that she could read ‘The Hindu’ as well as anyone else! My grandmother and sisters all went to university, although they did not work.

    My dad’s sisters were also very well educated – and they all held good jobs as well. In my generation, all my girl cousins, sister and myself hold professional degrees and most of us are working.

    My maternal grandmother was one of the first women to study at the Kerala university and married late for her times. My mother, surprisingly, got married before she completed her degree , then finished her degree but decided to be a stay-at-home mom (not sure if it was totally her decision) but she was very clear that me and my sister had to be on our own feet before we got married. She has drilled that into our heads since we were kids that we never considered any other option!

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  19. I Wish I had read this post earlier.
    I would have loved to share my family history in detail.
    I guess the subject is now “cold” so I will content myself with being brief.
    I am now 63
    My mother would have been 85 if she had been alive.
    They “married her off” at the age of 14 and she wasn’t even allowed to complete her schooling by her in laws. Ninth standard in her village school was as far as she got.

    My mother educated herself informally after her marriage and the birth of three sons , but she never gained any degrees or diplomas.

    My Paternal grandfather ( he would be over 110 if he was alive today) was widowed after the birth of his fourth child.
    He did not marry again.
    Instead his elder sister who was widowed as a child bride moved in with his family and took care of his children and managed his household.
    They had shaved her head clean when she became a child widow and she wore only ochre robes (widow’s uniform ) all her life.
    She assumed the role of mother to my Dad and his siblings.

    In stark contrast, my paternal grandfather’s cousin (sister) did not marry, defied patriarchal authority, Sported bobbed hair, migrated to a city, studied hard to become a doctor and successfully ran a Nursing Home in Bangalore for many years. None of them are alive today.

    My mother married at the tender age of 14 and never saw my father’s face before her marriage, my wife was just 19, in 1973, when I was introduced to her as her prospectve husband. She actually married me two years later, at the age of 21, but this was due to circumstances described in detail in an earlier post published here in this blog. She was not expected to turn me down without causing an uproar.
    My daughter holds a Masters degree in Environmental engineering, and married at the age of 24 and chose her own mate.
    I guess we are making progress!

    Regards
    GV

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  20. I saw this post of yours only now. I remember my mother’s mother. She was the third child of the family. And the first of her generation to go on to study till M.A. 🙂 My grandfather and she had a love marriage (they were ex-classmates who later met up coincidentally, grandmom was not yet married due to financial difficulties in the family and grandpa promptly proposed to her!). She worked as a college lecturer for awhile, went on to have 2 daughters (did not keep on trying for a son after that) and she was the first in her generation to stop at 2 kids – all her siblings had 3 or 4. She also resigned her job because by then my grandpa was earning enough and she focused her attention on her kids. She had her own opinion on a lot of things (and a quick temper to match), so a lot of times she argued for what she felt was right. That’s the good part of it.

    Now here’s the part I don’t like. She was pretty submissive, to the point of agreeing to what my grandpa said. Of course they’d argue, but in the end grandpa’s opinion ruled the roost. She was also very traditional. She was not outgoing and preferred not to mingle much – which her daughters grew up seeing and became more seclusive themselves thinking that’s right. My mother’s married life was also influenced by this since she did not mingle much my dad’s parents. She was also biased to her first daughter’s (my mother’s elder’s sister) son since she did not have a son herself.

    This is what i know of her life. 🙂

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    • Thanks for sharing Ashwathy!
      It seems all parts of India lived (and still live) in so many different centuries! In every generation, some were allowed to study till MA, some weren’t even allowed basic schooling! Which year was your grand mom born in? In a small town, in a village or in a city?

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      • The quantum leap happened from my mother to me. My mother was a good student but my grandfather being traditional, wanted her to study only till graduation. It was not necessarily about controlling or repressing her, but just that the mindset was such, they thought of marrying her off. My mother also was conditioned to think so, and she was not ambitious to want a career so that never really took off.

        My grandpa came to his senses when he saw her disastrous marriage and her inability to counter the outside world because he had over-protected her through her life. He brought me up trying to reverse that mistake. He made sure I became everything she was not – fiery, opinionated, independent, bold, and also assertive to a large extent. It helped my life in countless ways. Although I’ve been labelled as a rebel many times, my grandpa backed me up and told this is the way to be, never cow down in front of others and let to them think what they want. I did my schooling in Trivandrum, my graduation in delhi, went on to do my Masters in London and am now working in Mumbai. Marriage happened by chance this year, else I would have been single in the city, working, living by myself and comfortable with it.

        Today I have a husband who wanted to marry me BECAUSE I have an opinion on things and think for myself. 🙂 I guess I got lucky.

        Errr….back to the point. My mother however learnt from her mistakes. Today in her second marriage, she is happy. She chose to marry the man she loved. She is now one rocking daughter-in-law, taking over the role of bhabi in her in-laws place, interacting with everyone, has a busy social life (used to be a recluse for a long time) and has much better control over her own life than just being in her own shell.

        Life sure changes! 🙂 Touchwood for that!

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      • Having said that, there are certain elements which remain traditional for me as well. My parents would freak out if they come to know I have a live-in relationship with a partner – possibly less for society and more fear for me being exploited. They would never accept it if I were a lesbian – the concept is alien to them.
        The idea of having a boyfriend, breaking it off, then having another boyfriend – namely, many relationships – would also scare them.
        These are the main things I can think of. Probably other things like dressing while exposing or in tight clothes, staying out too late (I do that only when I am staying by myself, I prefer to reach home by 10pm max if I am staying with them, just as to not inconvenience them) also matter.

        Let’s see how much they change in my daughter’s time… 🙂

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      • Don’t bet on it 🙄 They believed in me, but they still wanted to stick to the usual norms for marriage, having kids etc. particularly my dad. My grandpa had by then passed away so I really don’t know what comments he’d have said.
        My dad has these brilliant ideas with regards to “marriageable age” like, above 25 yrs is a decline time in a girl’s life so she should get married by then, have kids IMMEDIATELY after marriage to ‘secure’ the marriage (!!) to which I reply that having me did not save my parents’ marriage, to which he says don’t act oversmart (!!). He also thinks arranged marriage is better than love marriage since love is blind and one may not think of the practical aspects – I don’t blame him totally for this one since he truly has no idea how a love marriage works, his mindset is such, for him marriage means conventional terms. He was always against me being too outspoken as he wasn’t sure how society would take a girl being too forthright. He always says girls should not do anything without the consent of their husband. I argue that the vice versa also applies. He agrees reluctantly. He thinks Engineering + MBA is an idea combination for a guy to come up in his career!! That led to some clashes in his search for a guy for me as you can imagine. All and this more I had to dogde to be able live life the way I saw it becoming.

        He is liberal in certain ways but super conservative in some others. He and I had severe tussle because of our drastically different thought processes. It’s the same who wanted me to finish my studies and then get married. He wasn’t totally happy about letting me go abroad by myself to do my Masters but reluctantly consented and later applauded since it did me good. He was mainly worried I’d fall into the hands of some scheming seducing gora (poor me – I did not find one 😦 :mrgreen: LOL). He thinks getting into marriage for the sake of marriage is not required.

        He says he won’t interfere when it comes to decisions for my kids, but I am sure this is not the last I’ve seen of his attitude 🙄 sigh…. u win some, u lose some…

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        • One thing about our traditional system is once a woman is married, she is kind of seen as suddenly very matured and capable, and if her husband approves of what she does then even the elders concede respectfully. Agree?

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      • Partly agree and partly not.
        Agree, because yes the system sees her as suddenly mature just because she is married and I guess in a way responsible for her husband and a family rather than the time when she was single (and stereotypically responsibility-less), hence more capable. Whatever that means! 😛

        Partly not agree because the respect from the elders comes even today – and not just earlier times – to an extent from whether the partner respects the spouse (and that works for both genders). When you yourself downgrade your partner in front of your family even if it is pulling the leg (with an intent to ridicule), well then why should the family by itself respect the partner? Atleast that’s the idea. On the other hand, even if the family may not be in support of the partner, if the spouse stands up for him/her, whether in front of the spouse and/or behind his/her back, it makes a difference.

        Me – I agree.

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  21. Pingback: The whole nine yards to liberation | Greek and Latin

  22. My mother was not formally educated, she got married as a teenager in 1935 and passed away long ago. I often marvel at the vast changes she witnessed during her lifetime from cooking on ‘chullah’ to using a gas stove and other new comforts of life She attended my PTA meetings and conversed with my teachers in Hindi with confidence and lived her life with dignity and respect. I never heard her raise her voice in anger. A perfect lady!

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  23. Pingback: Personal History Projects | Towards Harmony

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