Mothers and daughters.

My mom visited me the other day and the first thing she asked was to watch ‘Tere Mere Sapne’ at 1 pm. I groaned aloud and explained that with Airtel IPTV, she could watch any missed shows later also.

“Great then I also want to watch the last night’s show I missed yesterday!”

So my mom caught two shows I strongly disapprove of, one after another. We ate lunch while watching a group of women circling a peepal tree, praying for their husband’s long life and listening to Savitri’s story.

Savitri snatched her husband back from Yama, the god of death. (Even if we don’t hear of it, I am sure her husband would have done the same for her.) She asked Yama for a hundred sons… (and not one daughter) so he had to return her husband so she could have those hundred sons (no daughters). Now the entire nation seems to follow numerous examples like this, and everybody wants sons.

Gandhari in Mahabharata also asked for a hundred sons. Didn’t they miss having daughters? Sons are fine and good, but isn’t it fun for women to have life-long friends in their daughters?

I saw a friend transform. She had problems at home, and she didn’t seem to care how she looked or lived. She dressed conservatively, wore drab colours and seldom stepped out of her house.

Then her daughter grew up 🙂

During the last few years she took the mother with her to the gym, got her a haircut, both got a music teacher, they go for movies and shopping together,  and the daughter gradually changed her mother’s entire wardrobe. This happens with many women. Grown up daughters become best friends and allies. My friend’s problems are still there but now she has someone who understands and stands by her. She also looks visibly more confident with her new look.

When we were teenagers, my mother used to say she had heard of mothers being close to sons, and wondered why nobody said anything about the amount of fun mothers have with daughters.

My favourite poem by Usha Pisharody says it so well!

For a Daughter I Wish I’d Had!!!

By Usha Pisharody

Audacious smiles

laughter ringing clear-
warm hugs and
little sudden pecks on my cheeks!
A whirlwind of a girl;
now here, gone in a flash!
endearing entreaties-
unquestioning love!
Long long hours of girlish talk-
boys, books, heroes and men!
Life, love, trust and THAT!
Confiding giggles-
while ogling the boys…;)
summing them up, then
walking by in disdain!!
Cheering her up
when sadness strikes-
being there for her…
just in case, she asks!
Holding her hand-
without her knowing..
as only moms can do;
though she, being mine,
would know it too…!!!
Sharing myself with her-
my fears, my joys
my secrets, and my ploys-
Ending the day in warmth
so wonderful
so fierce and filling..
Wishing each mother had
a daughter..
so like mine!!

And a little girl is 19 now.

Can an Indian daughter say, “Mere paas maa hai.”? – II

I asked my mother if she had been watching the news about Neha Chhikara. Her mother’s words on the TV shocked me. She sent her daughter back to be beaten. Shouldn’t we have a law against this?

Didn’t even animals protect their children? My mother agreed and added that even a cow, known for being docile, is known to meet a tiger head-on, if her calf is attacked.

I asked, “… supposing this had happened to your daughter? What would you have done?”

“I would have brought you back!”

Yeah? What would you have told all your sisters in law and relatives and neighbours…?”

That, I would have worried about later. First I would have brought you back.”

And I know she would have. Saas-Bahu serials she might watch, my mom’s still a mother.

With Nimmy’s permission…

There are many Indias in one India.

That some parents feel too much education might harm their daughter, would be difficult to understand for those parents who feel girls must be self reliant.

Nimmy and ‘A’ had a discussion on her blog, I couldn’t resist requesting Nimmy to let me answer some of A’s questions…

A: Girls should be married off by the age of 18-19…

Me: Not everybody is matured enough to get married at 18/19.

A: Early? Not at all…Bcoz by 20+, they will start making their own choices and will have own opinions

Me: Even when families are there to support, they need their own judgement to be good wives, mothers, daughters, and daughters in laws. Smart girls make better mothers. Children need to be guided by well educated, informed, confident mothers, and education gives all this.

A: So? So, parents should marry off girls before they start having firm opinions and start making decisions for them

Me: And god forbid if they ever need to support their families how would girls who can’t make choices or have opinions do that?

Will any husband not be happy to have a ‘partner’ instead of a ‘ward’? Someone who is a friend and a companion, not another child to look after?

Think Shahrukh Khan and Gauri. Rajeev Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Obama and Michelle…. happy couples, and compare them to families where women cannot think independently.

A: Ha, what is the need for girls to have so much education. The role of women in a society to make a good family and bring up kids in a good way.

Me: Educated, intelligent, strong mothers (parents) are a strong foundation that every society needs. Children pick a lot from mothers, their values, their attitudes, and if mothers are educated – she’s a great support for the entire family.

A: All this ‘men-women equality and stuff is bullshit. Women cannot be equal to men.

Me: Happy members in a society make a happy society. Equality simply means if one member is suffering it is as bad as any other member suffering. A child, a woman, a man, an old woman – each one’s happiness is valuable to the society. Each deserves respect and consideration.

A: Let me tell you an e.g. Last day, there was an accident nearby, when a lady bumped into a sccooter-wala and he died..The lady was admitted to mental hospital for weeks..Have you ever heard of a man being mentally unstable just because he met with an accident? …you women are silly and emotionally weak, and let me remind you, they are physically weak since ages…

Me: Men and women both are needed in the society. Both are equally valuable. We cannot do without either. Children and senior-citizens also. If one is weak then they should be given extra support.

About mental stability I only know a large number of women commit suicide in all those societies where women are repressed. Men tend to react the same way when fired, during stock market crashes and during recession etc. Some other men start drinking, some become violent. Both need support.

A: Ok, let me tell you something. What if I sent my daughter to study medicine? Obviously, by the time she passes out, she will be 24 yrs and so, and she will not accept proposals from any men on a lower grade than doctors themselves.

Me: If a girl is a doctor and marries an engineer/MBA etc who does not earn as much as her, but is intelligent and well settled, there is no harm in such a marriage. Many men marry women more qualified and earning more than they are, and leading happy lives. Having a compatible partner does not mean they must earn more/less.

We want the best for our children; we must open our minds to newer better ideas, if it can give them better lives.

There was a time when any education for girls was considered unnecessary; some of our elders made the bold move of educating their daughters, now it’s our turn to do the same. We must evolve.

A: Its ok with her, but not for me, as I have find Crores of money for her dowry.

Me: Look out for boys who don’t ask dowry. You will be surprised to find many such families, who just want a compatible match. In our family we never give or take dowry, and I know many other such families. The biggest blessing of a marriage without dowry is you are sure the boy really likes the girl; he isn’t marrying her for money. There are also no fears of harassment for dowry.  Such families will also respect you and your daughter more than the usual greedy families do.

A: Such people exist only in theory. In practise, all people ask for dowry, and when it comes to higher grade boys ,as like Doctors, they ask for loads of gold and money..So tell me, should I let my daughter become a doctor and finally spoil my life in the name of her dowry, or should i marry off her to an average man, at the age mentioned earlier, when she is not so firm in her choices and opinions..On another note, there is no need for lady doctors…

Me: Some women are more comfortable with lady doctors and it’s a great career for the doctors. Parents can be very proud of a doctor daughter.

A: Yes, tell me what is the problem if there are male doctors alone? After all women are weak enough not to enter areas like surgery and such complicated stuff… Tell me how many efficient female surgeons and anaesthetists have you seen or heard?

Me: Although women are made to choose between career and home, women are doing very well in every field. Class X board results also show that although girls are made to help with housework, they still manage to do brilliantly.

A: That’s the only area where women can empathize with fellow patients..But even in that field, there isn’t a compulsory need. Labour and Caesarean will be fine in men’s hands too. Coming back to the topic I still stand by what i said,” Girls needn’t study much and should be married off early”…

Me: Well educated women, who are independent in mind and attitude, make matured and intelligent mothers and life partners. The whole generation, an entire family benefits.

A: You are wrong. In real time, it is the educated girls who come back to families, while the other end girls move on with their life, rather than shouting for divorce and such.

Me:

1.) If the girl’s husband is having an affair or is unhappy with her dowry and divorces her.  Or if he dies or looses his job – then what will happen to a girl who cannot support herself and her children.

2.) If her parents have no sons, and need someone to take care of them, then will she able to support herself.

A: You are wrong, good girls will find happiness where they go…

Me: Unfortunately this is proved wrong everyday…

Long-lasting marriages depend on compatibility and suitability.

Also happiness in marriage depends on both the partners. No amount of goodness will make an abusive man stop mentally or physically battering his wife.

Greed, violence, lack of consideration, cruelty etc cannot be cured by goodness. This can be somewhat controlled by endless supply of dowry and/or fear of consequences.

Parenting is a serious responsibility. Teaching a girl not to complain is convenient for parents, but it is also irresponsible. Daughters should be able to find ways to solve their problems and also take responsibility for their decisions. Guiding them and helping them achieve this is the parents’ responsibility and duty.

*    *    *

PS: Please do not criticize the person and say anything bad about her/him, as I don’t intend to hurt the person…But her/his thoughts are surely worth discussion, aren’t they?

My wasted advice!

I was driving and Daughter was gushing over how much she loves the vibrant colours of the ethnic wear we had just bought for her, and then Radio One plays this beautiful song, “Aaj din chadiya tere rang warga…”

The beauty of his plea was striking after the post about Stalkers and Losers yesterday.

IHM: ‘”Wo jo mujhe dekh ke hanse, pana chahoon raat din jise, rabba mainu naam kar use, tainu dil da wastaa…” (The one I meet in my dreams, the one I want to be mine, God, give that one to me, my heart is breaking…) I never noticed the lyrics before!  …this is a lovely song.

Daughter: I would be scared to ask God for something like this, … what if God grants the wish and I realise he wasn’t the right guy?

IHM: You can add a clause in your prayers, ” God, only if he is the right one, then and only then should he be mine, if he isn’t, then may I feel nothing for him, and may he feel nothing for me.”  😉

Daughter: The best I like are the yellows! Mustard would go well with red.

My advice is wasted on them!

Her grandmom’s daughter?

Somebody is traveling all by herself for the first time today. It’s no big deal except that when they were young I was sometimes told I was overprotective, generally on occasions like weddings because I didn’t let them out of my sight. I feared it was on such occasions when everybody thought someone else was watching over the kids, that kids were most unsafe…

When I let her go to a (well-organised) trip to Europe some of the same people were surprised. They didn’t realize that my worry was never the chance of their becoming …err corrupted, but their being safe. We tend to mix mistrust with protectiveness. Anyway today my mom (she never thought I was overprotective) called to say she was proud of her grand daughter, and was glad she was more like her than me 😉

So the sounds heard in this house might be different for the two following weeks.

Endless conversation. Constant music. Excited barking. HBO. And an occasional sibling argument.

Two pairs of eyes will follow a human and they will look like they understand every word when she sings to them, her usual…

I better rush, it’s time to pick her.

Mamma Mia, Juno, Chocolat and motherhood.

A single mother Donna’s twenty year old daughter Sophie is getting married and would like her father to ‘give her away’. Her mom won’t tell her anything about her father (because she doesn’t know herself), but Sophie discovers her mom’s old diary and finds the three men, [click to view this hilarious scene] one of whom could be her father. She feels she will know him when she sees him and without telling her mother, invites her three potential fathers to her wedding…

I watched this crazy, funny, spirited adaptation of a popular musical, on HBO. After ages I liked ABBA again…  Money money money, SOS (Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep), Does your Mother know (with a difference 😉 ), Take a chance on me 😆 , Dancing Queen, Voulez Vous, Honey Honey 🙄 , many more, and of course Mama mia.

But why blog about just another funny movie?

Donna reminded me of Juno. If Juno was heart broken, pregnant and thrown out of her house, and if she had happily raised her baby on her own on a beautiful, sunny Greek island…??   🙂

Chocolat (the book, not the movie. The movie isn’t as good I’ve heard) and Mama mia have this in common: both are beautiful, moving, happy stories of single mothers and their daughters. I just couldn’t help wondering how some women raise their little girls with no support and how some other mothers agree to abort them (Edited to add: I only mean females fetuses/sex selection)… and never learn what they have lost.

Donna’s love for her daughter and her reluctance to let go can be heard seen in this moving song… Slipping through my fingers [click to watch].

…but how did she guess?!

My mother in 55 words – I

Notice a hungry dog outside mum’s house.

Consider that she disapproves of feeding strays.

Confirm she’s busy in the kitchen.

Quietly open the fridge.

Verify she’s busy.

Pick Kaju-barfi.

Indifferently stroll out…

Open the gate quietly.

Feed the dog.

Tiptoe inside.

Jump at a dry voice from the kitchen…

“Sweets are bad for dogs”

55 WORDS FICTION

A literary 😉 work will be considered 55 Fiction if it has:

Fifty-five words or less (A non-negotiable rule)

A setting, One or more characters, Some conflict, and A resolution.

(Not limited to moral of the story)

But how did she guess? 🙄

When a daughter refuses to go back…

Sita and Geeta worked for us when we were newlyweds. Geeta was eight, Sita a little older. We offered to sponsor Geeta’s education but their mother said she had seven kids to raise and she needed the girls to work.

We found the kids adorable, bought them trinkets and treats, but we let them do the dishes and clean our homes.  Then we moved to another part of the city and lost all contact.

Around six years later I was in-between-maids and buying veggies when a young woman in a colorful sari and bangles greeted me with a huge smile. She was Sita. She said it was God’s wish that she found me, she needed help.

She moved into our servant’s quarters and pleaded with me to speak to her parents and let her stay there and work –she wanted to leave her husband. She said they were married three months ago, she was afraid of him, he had a bad temper and he had threatened to kill her if she tried to leave him, he also threatened to chuck her out of his house. She didn’t care, she was sure he’d kill her if she lived with him. She hated him. She feared her in-laws also. She had been making similar appeals to other families she had worked for. She looked afraid.

Today I feel if a girl says she does not want to go back to her husband’s home, it is reason enough to let her stay. No arguments. No attempts to ‘reason’ with her. No assumptions that she is behaving like a spoiled brat who has never learnt to adjust with her in laws. No insisting that she would ‘get used to it’. No talk about her ‘sanskar’ or her duty towards her parents. No demands that she must try to make the relationship work.

But I was inexperienced then. I asked her how she was going to manage on her own. I asked her what she did to anger her husband. I wondered if she liked another man. (As if that was the perfect reason to send her right back to her husband). Basically like everybody else I assumed she couldn’t possibly know what was good for her. I thought her parents (obviously) would want the best for her, and would do what was best for her*, even if they had married her to a much older man when she was less than seventeen.

Her parents did speak to her husband but this angered him, he insulted them too. Within weeks her in laws wanted them back in their joint family home in another part of Bombay, they left.

We moved to another city and I forgot about her. Such stories are extremely common; most girls learn to live like this, and their marriages ‘work’. Happy or not, they manage to keep the system of semi-forced marriages going. We Indians are grateful to thousands of Sitas who live with some violence and abuse. Their sacrifices are appreciated.

What is happening in Afghanistan hurt because it is not unfamiliar? Even though we are conditioned to treat anything common as ‘normal’.

Around five years later we were back in Bombay and one day I called a malish wali. She saw me and started crying. She was Sita’s mother. She said Sita had died of third degree burns. She was making tea and the stove burst, and her sari caught fire. Her in-laws did not inform the parents until two days later.  While dying Sita begged her mother not to leave her three months old son with her husband. She told her it was not an accident; her husband had poured kerosene on her. She made conflicting statements in her dying moments. This seems to happen all the time.

But I read, “If it’s an accident, you can almost always escape the fire. It’s not really possible to burn all of the body,”

Everybody blamed the parents. Her father died of grief within six months of her death.

Sita’s husband died a year later, of something that made his body turn black as coal. Her mother said god punished him.

She sent the grandson back to his paternal grandmother when he was three years old.  She wants him to be close to his paternal grandmother so that he does not loose his father’s share in property.

I felt little sympathy for her, although she brought a happily married Geeta to meet me. Nothing had really changed for her; I feel she would still do the same if any other daughter of hers were to come pleading for support.

And we have millions of parents like this taking life changing decisions for their helpless daughters.

And this doesn’t just happen in the lower or uneducated classes.

It’s good to be back home…

So I entered an empty room this morning, let in the fresh morning sun light.

Husband and I discussed how our lives have changed.

Called friends who have kids around the same age, and talked some more about how our lives are changing. I watched the news and switched on the laptop.

I watched the news about Omar Abdullah’s resignation. I read and fumed at the virginity tests conducted in Madhya Pradesh. I heard the news about a woman in Bihar being humiliated, molested in broad day light, watched Andhra Congress MLA slap a supermarket employee.

Air-washed Son’s pillow.

Breathed in fresh, cool, clean monsoon air.

It’s good to be home when you have been away so long.

Even if a room in this house is neater than it has ever been before.

NOTE: I had diabled comments thinking this post was too similar to’Where was I?’… but have enabled comments now…