And then there is this 21 year old.

She has a job and she earns more than most people do with her education and at her age. She loves her job and leaves no opportunity to learn more (and earn more). She has a boy friend who she says she fell in love with only after she was sure he was the kind of guy she could spend her life with. So how was she so sure he was the one? She says he was good looking, didn’t have any ‘bad habits’ and he traveled by train to her home town in West Bengal to meet her parents and take their blessings, “Only after that I loved him“.

And what if your parents had not approved of him?“”How could they disapprove, he came to seek their blessings and he took care of me when I fell ill here, so far from home!” (She sees his taking care of her during her recent illness as a sign that he would make a responsible and caring husband, unlike Anaya/Shravan Kumar who feels she needs to be grateful for this).

And how did they meet? It seems she called him from her cellphone and he was angry when she claimed it was a wrong number, and she apologized but they continued talking. His parents were initially not happy, “They know their son is good looking but they had to understand that he loves me.

She has bought a refrigerator (which they switch off during winters), a desert cooler, a large screen TV, a food processor, a bicycle and hire a room which is on the main road and gets plenty of sun light.  When the temperatures dipped to .1 C and I offered her some woolens, she accepted only a pair of jeans. She wore it with a kurta two days later. I asked her how her family and boyfriend would react to it. “What’s there to react, it covers the legs, has pockets to keep my pass, is thicker and warmer… when I wear it in my home town everybody is going to be astounded! Nobody wears jeans there!” But, “Worn like I have done, where’s the problem?

So this young woman is earning, supporting her family and she brought her younger sister from her home town to NCR and got her a job in a Mall. She takes initiative in romance and ensures that parental approval is got (and has no doubt they couldn’t but trust her decision). She also gets her in laws approval in her no nonsense style. “At first they hesitated because their son is so handsome, but looks are god given, and if he likes me then where is the problem.” What if they had still not approved? “We would have waited. After they get to know me, how can they disapprove? What is wrong with me?

She has broken traditional taboos. She initiated her romance with this young man, she uses a cell phone and wears jeans. She doesn’t think she needs to forget her family when she gets married, she expects her boy friend to respect and care for her family and is willing to reciprocate (“They will see how I am when I am married to their son, when he cares for my parents why would I not respect his?“)

Full of common sense, positivity, assertiveness and confidence – women like this are a Shravan Kumar’s nightmare. This young woman has studied till class seven and had to start working after that.

She works as a cook, and her boy friend is a driver.

Do you think she has just been lucky? Or is it the right attitude? Did it help that she moved away from home and is financially independent?

Updated to ask:

Did it also help that she has EXPECTATIONS, that she did not expect to be miserable? How do you expect to be happy if you are raised to be grateful for not being treated shabbily? What do you think?

84 thoughts on “And then there is this 21 year old.

  1. I love her ‘where’s the problem’ attitude. At no point does she feel like an impostor, undeserving of her good life or the need to feel submissive or ‘grateful’ to anybody. She is a modern, independent woman, what we call a ‘feminist’ around here.

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  2. This girl has all my admiration. What an attitude! Yes, it did definitely help moving away from home and becoming financially independent. It is the middle class in India that has to bear the burden of conformity. Other’s have less of a burden.

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  3. Glad to read this tale. Goes to show that education is not as important as self confidence and self respect are. I wish this young girl good luck on her journey.

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  4. Just yesterday I wrote a small rant post on my blog saying positive examples are so hard to find around us these days and today I read this!! So positive and heartwarming! Such a breather in a world mostly full of shravan kumars! This is the right attitude to live! With common sense and confidence in oneself🙂

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  5. The world is full of such girls. If only we picked on them to highlight, the others would have courage to follow suit. Instead we keep showcasing the other side. Good post. Loved the positivity.

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    • “The world is full of such girls” I agree…may their tribe grow!

      At the same time its also important to showcase the other side…for various reasons.

      I, for one, consider myself to be a feminist like this 21 year old. reading about the other side reminds me to remain careful, count my blessings, gives me the courage to carry on against the tide and never ever give up critical things like economic independence. It also helps me to understand and handle nauseating people like Sravan Kumar better. I guess such showcasing helps different people in different ways and the platform IHM has given to all of us is wonderful!

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  6. She has the right attitude. She seems to have a sensible head on her young shoulders. Oh yes, such girls are nightmares for those with overblown and fragile egos that need constant massage to assure them that they are indeed kings.

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  7. Response to the updated part . Spiritually speaking ! And also from experience yes, it makes a lot of difference on how you imagine(d) your world to be. The deepest desires of the soul are always fulfilled. So, if someone is actually going through a miserable life it is because the soul came into being to experience that. Without judgement on the person or the soul (it never is on the soul anyways) the person called for it. And if you want to change your world any moment you have start imagining a different world. Slowly the people who create this go away you will shift to a different plane of awareness where it won’t matter to you. You will see the dance of human behavior and scoff at it.

    Essentially if you believe in something, then every pointer, every little cue you get in life you tend to relate to the experience you are expecting and slowly that builds up in your physical experience too. So when even if positive intentions where there you will only see negativity.

    In the same vein (read – The Diamond cutter – Michael Roach – Buddha philosophy) it all about the imprints you have in your mind. Example say you never knew what betrayal is – you won’t experience it because you don’t even know what it is (say even if someone does it). It is different way of saying “sankaras” in you bring it to your experience.

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    • I am unable to agree with this philosophy. Or may be I have not grasped what exactly you are conveying when you say,

      “Example say you never knew what betrayal is – you won’t experience it because you don’t even know what it is.”

      Little children do not know what betrayal means. But they are betrayed brutally by some adults in spite of not knowing what betrayal is. The same goes for the highlighted part of your comment. How do we accept that in relation to children? Enlighten please🙂

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      • Shail, you make an important point. The easiest (& so the difficult to grasp too) way to explain is that past-life imprints (or sanskaras) – in plain English the energy would have been created in some experience that is getting chance to balance now. I hope I’m leaving you less confused. I can give a bigger answer – maybe offline?

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      • Okay, now you are clearer. I was not sure you were talking of past life imprints.🙂
        But yeah, I’d love to hear that bigger answer. shailsnest[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  8. I am glad she is able to break the social indoctrination and the mental barriers which even educated women who have lived abroad for 2 years have not been able to.

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  9. By the way, this story reminds me of my wife’s friend who waited on her parents for some 4 years to get approval of the boy she wanted to marry. That was her way of saying she don’t want to hurt her parents and yet she wanted them to see her point too. Ultimately the parents surrendered and they are happily married. By the way it was a north/south marriage🙂

    Just felt like sharing to say that if the attitude is gr8 and if intentions are good, things will happen for you ..like in this beautiful story

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  10. This is one cool feminist! I think the credit goes not just to her right attitude but also to her upbringing. Her parents raised her to live a life of independence. I can infer that from their letting her leave her parental home to get a job and trusting her choice of life-partner without creating any drama. How many girls get such support? We hear innumerable cases of parental disapproval for marriage in case of well-educated, professionals due to caste or religion or language differences. How many parents really feel that their daughter is capable of supporting their family?

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  11. Do you think she has just been lucky? Or is it the right attitude? Did it help that she moved away from home and is financially Do you Do u think she has just been lucky? Luck might have been a minor factor. Or is it the right attitude? Yes attitude is very important. Did it help that she moved away from home and is financially independent? Yes She moved from a feudal village to a Capitalist City. In her village she never would have been independent or prosperous.

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  12. Thanks! Great post. But missed the Shravan kumar post & am thoroughly confused by the comments. Gathered that he objects to fathers wiping baby-butts, but otherwise lost! Send the post by mail? Or provide a summary for late-commers?

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  13. Do you think our middle class values and education make us feel inferior and undeserving of any happiness? I have found the maids from the near by villages have more confidence and feelings of equality (at times) than us. Love her confidence and practical common sense.

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    • Very true Ritu. I feel the lower income groups have more confidence and feelings of equality than the middle-class. You should hear my maid outlining her household expenditure. “I will pay half the deposit for the rent. You (her husband) pay the rest. I will pay the school fees, but you get the school books and uniform for kids.”
      In how many middle class homes are wives allowed to say, “My money” or “I will pay” or “I won’t pay”?🙂

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      • Ritu, Shail, my theory is it is the compulsions of the poor to balance the budget under adverse economic circumstances that make the women more assertive. If the middle class woman became poor due to some reason, she may become more assertive.

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      • @Arun, Yes, you are right., when you are pushed to the wall, you tend to assert yourself (though not all may be). I was really amazed at the way she planned her budget. If my MIL had ever heard me talking that way, all hell would have broken loose.😛

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  14. I think its a combination of various factors like upbringing, financial independance, setting the right expectations & achieving them.
    And most of all, having the courage to stand up for her own life without letting herself hurt and thereby slowly winning the confidence of all the people who were related to her and the her BF. Sky is the limit for such people. There is so much to learn from her and thank you for this cool post …

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  15. I simply love her attitude. She can be a role model to the so-called ‘modern women’ who after doing their PG and Phds still believe in ‘the husband is the superior and that we women are supposed to be not the decision makers’. Seriously…I see many women with this kind of thought process.

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  16. Glad to read about another romance between a cook and a driver!

    But there is a precedent right here in my own house.
     My wife cooks for me while I chauffeur her around.
    Our  36 year romance is still going strong.

    Convey my blessings to this couple.

    Regards
    GV

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  17. What an inspiring story. We need more such women. Shows education has very little to do with self confidence!
    I think moving out of parental home and becoming financially independent helped her to be confident. Living on your own does that, it helps us understand our strength and weakness much better and provides a new perspective on life. I say to all my female friends/cousins, pls get a job rent an apartment and live on your own for at least a year before thinking about a marriage/serious relationship. This period definitely helps to come out of the ‘social conditioning’!

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  18. /After they get to know me, how can they disapprove?/
    Love her confidence!! Such a heartwarming story!🙂

    Of course one has to have the right attitude in order to succeed in any field and she clearly has loads of it. She is very wise for her age.

    She has also been lucky in having parents who first allowed her to leave her village and go to a big, bad, faraway city to earn a living, and then also accepted her boy-friend, because they cared for HER happiness more than anything else. These things are NOT a given in the Indian society, even among people who are much better educated and way better off than her parents.

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    • I think this girl might not have been ‘allowed’ but forced by economic reasons to live the village in search of job. Probably she might have been send with a distant relative who is already working in the city. It is usually the compulsions of economics that bring change in the society, A middle class , upper caste not so poor girl may not have been given this kind of freedom.

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      • She came here as the second in a family of five kids. Yes her reasons for coming here were economic.

        Many young girls come to work in big cities like this, I knew another one in Pune, who despite complete financial independence and despite all the employers supporting her refused to marry a man she was in love with, and her family married her off to another man. Her reason for refusing was that although he was a good man and she loved him, he belonged to ‘ambedkar caste’ and her family would never accept him. In fact her uncle came and told me girls in their society did not do ‘such things’. What kind of things did they do? They went back to violent, unemployed, alcoholic husbands who had lied to them and already had a wife before them.
        So this 21 year old is definitely special.

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        • IHM, I did not mean she is not special. But for that courage and spirit to come out of her, there is need of certain economic circumstances. All ppl in the same situation may not react similarly. But I am sure more and more women in future in similar situation will emulate this girl rather than the Pune girl,

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        • IHM, is the heroine of this post the same caste as her lover? How far away the Pune maid’s family was residing from her place of work? ( just to find out why this 2 girls behaved differently)

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        • The girl in Pune was from Karanataka, Hubli (Muthalik’s home town I think) no idea about her caste, but she said she was both Hindu and Muslim! She used to wash her feet and hands every evening and go back home for Muharram holidays. Her aunt explained that was because they had earlier worked for a Muslim family.The girl here and the her young man are both from West Bengal – one is settled here for a while, one has just arrived.

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  19. What a cool kid. I love how she is so self assured and quietly confident. My salaams to this sister.
    Also, totally agree that women feel grateful, at just not being treated shabbily, that they don’t even stop to think if they deserve to be treated better. We need to set the bar higher.

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  20. That was heart-warming to read! We certainly need more of her kind!

    I agree with your last para. I guess all those factors had a role to play. Having expectations, not expecting to follow other people’s rules, being independent, and away from ones own environment, all of this must have made her the way she is…

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  21. She definitely has a positive attitude towards life. And I also feel that moving away from home and being financially independent has attributed heavily in boosting her self-confidence. She has expectations about not being miserable and what I gather from this post, she won’t let anyone make her miserable.

    How do you expect to be happy if you are raised to be grateful for not being treated shabbily?
    Only those who are exactly like Sharavan Kumar’s imaginary ideal wife can expect that. So far as this young woman is concerned, she’s kicking a$$!

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  22. Absolutely! She has the right attitude. I love her confidence. Wish we’d have more girls like her. I hope I am able to raise my girl with the same kind of attitude and confidence. I hope parents realize how much they can help by raising their children with the right mindset and attitude. If today’s children grow up to be someone like this girl, imagine the bright and positive future in sight!

    I think yes, it does help a person, a woman in particular to grow if she has expectations- if she expects and therefore chooses NOT to be miserable, expects to be treated with respect, to be treated as an equal member with an equal say in family matters and decisions. But sadly many women still choose to ACCEPT to be treated shabbily, to be snubbed into submission, to compromise on their self-respect.

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  23. Yes, I think she definitely is lucky. And I find her enthusiasm sweet, and her positivity a bit naive.
    I hope she gets everything she asks for. But even if she doesn’t, she seems like the kinda girl who’ll be okay anyway!

    All the best to you sweetie! Don’t ever lose that attitude of your’s and don’t ever take BS from anyone! God bless!

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    • She isn’t really naive, she chose a guy she found suitable, arranged her own marriage and has no guilt about falling in love – she’s a kind of a go getter. If things go wrong, I feel she’d be prepared to look for alternatives.

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      • I only meant naive in the optimism that she has where it feels like nothing will go wrong. But yes, I do believe she can get through the whole thing even if things do go wrong.

        The decisions she’s made are admirable of course! Definitely a go-getter!

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  24. Thumbs up for her attitude…..these type of examples are such a breather in otherwise typical people around world….but i feel it has nothing to do with any class ( upper middle or lower income…)… there are many women in upper strata of society who take all the s**t in the name of preserving the culture & religion….even in many of your post we came across such ppl….similarly there are women from middle class as well who took a stand for their own life….it is about right attitude

    my maid works in many houses from 6am till 2pm so her husband helps the kids(8 yr & 5 yr) in getting ready for school , drop & pick them up from school and cooks rice ( she cooks the other stuffs) and feeds the younger kid (5 years). he goes to work in afternoon. As per Mr.SK/Ananya my maid should have washed his feet & drank the water but she nad her husband thinks that if he doesn’t helps this much then “zindagi ki gaadi aagey kaise jayegi”…..I found this attitude rare even in some middle or upper middle class working women…

    “Full of common sense, positivity, assertiveness and confidence – women like this are a Shravan Kumar’s nightmare”….ha ha well said

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  25. This self respect is true form of education, which I am afraid does not come only with higher degrees. This attitude is very important to turn our extremely patriarch society into a free field of equality.

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  26. Hats off to the self-esteem in this girl! Almost all problems our Society throws at us can be countered with a healthy amount of self-esteem. I wish this girl could be a part of that TV show you were talking about many posts ago! Is that possible?

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  27. “After they get to know me, how can they disapprove? What is wrong with me?“ Her attitude reflects her level of confidence, and I love it. However, that still does not erase my apprehensions. The inverse of this theory is not true either. I might be extremely confident and sure of myself, and yet I can have in laws who disapprove. I know lakhs of confident girls who have encountered disapproval from their in laws for no reason at all. In my opinion, a girl’s confidence in herself and her in laws’s approval of her are not always related to each other. A confident girl might have her way, though not necessarily the required ‘approval’. There is ofcourse, nothing wrong with the said girls. The in laws, a lot of times, just create the ‘wrong’ in their heads.

    Years of witnessing irrational and illogical behaviour from parents in law has made me too skeptical. I do hope this young girl’s faith is never tested.

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    • Here’s another thing she said (something like this), “Phone calls and conversations are not the end of the world… if things don’t work out, they don’t work out..”
      But I agree with you, confidence can be shaken by unjustified disapproval from in laws or anybody. She has a long way to go. What makes me feel hopeful about her is her common sense and practicality, and a no nonsense approach. She chose a guy, she took the initiative in arranging her own marriage (sort of), she wasn’t very emotional about all this, though she really likes the guy, she wasn’t blinded in love.

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    • Agree with you Pepper.. We may think we are not letting nonsense from in-laws affect us but I still can get it out of my head…and its been 3-4 years since I left that house. such illogical, mean, toxic behaviour can affect our self-esteem and our soul forever and I too hope this wonderful girl has to never face it.

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  28. What I would like to know is how she managed to get here without being trampled on by ‘society’ or the ‘what will they says’. What kind of parenting can make this happen? Even conservative parents do bring up taboo breaking kids – they have to have done something right or at the very least not hindered. Could you try and figure this out further, IHM? Would be very useful to learn from.

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  29. This young woman has studied till class seven and had to start working after that.
    My jaw dropped when I read up to this part. And this coming from a so-called lesser educated woman….who seems to have far more common sense and logic than all the chemistry professors put together!!🙂

    What a refreshing breath of fresh air to hear about this case. May there be more of her breed. Amen!

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  30. That’s why I firmly believe that your literacy level has nothing to do with your outlook and attitude in life. You could be a double PhD and yet subscribe to the most narrow mindset ever.

    I believe her financial independence and success in life – her being able to move away and successfully establish a stable and safe environment for her is a huge deal maker. But nothing is possible without the right attitude. Kudos to that!

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  31. I agree with Yuvikachaube. Irrespective of your financial or educational background, truly successful people are those with the right attitude and outlook. She was willing to lead by example and be a good DIL and expected the same respect back. I wish more women took their circumstances by the throat and did something to improve it.

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  32. Pingback: Are these advises and suggestions possible for an Average Indian Woman to even consider? Will she be able to think that way… educate me | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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