Thursday, March 19, 2009

Solution: Get the brother and sister married!

In college, I had a very close friend whose mom was Jewish. Looking at her, no one could have ever guessed her ethnic background. Her accent, demeanor, persona were all so desi, for lack of a better term. I was always amazed at how “Indian” she looked in a sari or salwar kameez and how effortlessly she cooked two of my favorite dishes, chicken biryani (Chicken pilaf with rice) and rajma/chawal (Beans and rice). Her North Indian cooking had a lot of Punjabi influence. Did I mention that my friend’s dad is Punjabi? Anyways, they both made for such an incredibly exquisite and warm-hearted couple, who fell in love and got married with the blessings of the family, in an era when the bride and the groom saw each other’s faces after the wedding. Sure, they were very high on our “Cool-parents meter.”:-)

The imbecile teenager in all of us couldn’t help but marvel at how “phenomenal” this couple was; the feminist in me, even today, wonders about their journey. What did my friend’s dad have to do, aside from acknowledge his changed marital status, like most other Indian men? My friend’s mom gave up her country, family, culture, food, and language for the man she loved. She wrote off her identity and never looked back, or did she? Her kids don’t speak a word of Hebrew or observe any Jewish holidays or cook Matzo Ball soup. I can’t imagine that’s very gratifying. You be the judge.

Her story reminds (abrasively nudges) me of the whole “It’s-about-the-boys-family” culture. An Indian girl is expected to embrace a new family and abandon her past after her marriage. Her priorities should be her in-laws and husband. Interestingly, this pressure comes both from the girl’s parents as well as the in-laws. The girls’ side is always apologetic in a non-traditional way. I am appalled at the mindset where people think the girl should mold her essence to feed into the male chauvinistic ego. Why can’t the families coexist by bringing in the flavor of the girl’s side as well as the boy’s family? No one family is faultless or dreadful. Why should the woman have to make all the compromises? Oh please, don’t give me the baloney about “God intended it to be this way,” or “It’s our culture.” The latter is the most atrocious and intellectually-deprived excuse for narcissism.

By expecting a woman to relinquish her past, are you suggesting that the way she’s been doing things her entire life is wrong? Well, think again! It’s but natural that every woman does things the way her mom did. That’s what she saw growing up. As Oscar Wilde said, “All women become like their mothers.” If people want a younger/similar version of themselves, for a daughter-in-law, well, here is a suggestion: Get your son married to his sister. Problem solved!

I have cousins, on my husband’s side, who are married to Kiwis, British, and American citizens. The fusion of traditions, in their homes, is incredible. Each person picks out the best from their culture and imparts that to their kids. Even the kids’ names have a blend of Indian and the other nationality. Now that’s what I am talking about.

More until next time.

Copyright © 03.19.2009

“I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity.” - Nadezhda Mandelstam, Russian writer, Hope Against Hope


S said...

I can absolutely relate!! Thanks a ton.

S said...

I can absolutely relate!! Thanks a ton.

Anonymous said...

your best ever.

p said...

Gutsy and honest article.

Anonymous said...

I can really relate to this blog. I have myself felt many of the same things over the years. I especially have a problem about the name change business.. I hope that by the time my daughters are ready to get married they will not have to have pressure to change their name or give up their ‘identity’ and give more importance to their new family rather than the family that gave them birth and looked after their every minute need since they were born.

J said...

Beautifully written

Shuchi Kalra said...

I really dig the way you express your opinions so blatantly and put it as it is.....bindaas is always cool!

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