“I’ll address the head of the family”

This is going to be bit of a rant. Don’t say I didn’t warn. 🙂

So there’s this whatsapp conversation that happened last week that I can’t seem to get over. A very very distant relative living here, whom I have met barely twice in my entire life, had called to invite me to her son’s thread ceremony. I am not a big fan of  (mildly saying hate) attending any traditional ceremonies. I don’t understand the purpose of such ceremonies, and I most certainly don’t care about the so called pundits validating anything for me. And I’m not partial…I am disinterested in pujas, thread ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, naming ceremonies…everything that involves another human being coming and saying some mantras and sanctifying some aspect of your life. However, I accepted the invitation anyway. My mother keeps saying that I am asocial, and as I grow older, this very “I-care-a-dam” attitude is going to come and bite me in the ass and leave me without any friends or social life. Lately, I have begun to see the truth of her wise words. After all, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions, and just because I have different set of beliefs, doesn’t mean I need to eliminate others who are otherwise very nice and loving people. So in the interest of retaining peace and mental sanity in the long run, and not ending up an old scary lady with a house full of cats (although this seems like a much more interesting prospect than attending any ceremonies), I saved the date.

The next day the lady sent me a message apologizing for not knowing my surname when she wanted to send me the invite. Now you see, she actually does know my surname, but she doesn’t know my husband’s surname. And she was being apologetic for not knowing my “new” surname. So I sent a reply back telling her my original name (since I haven’t changed my name), and then telling her my husband’s full name. I told her she could address the card to either one of us. She replied instantly saying she was going to go the traditional way and address it to the head of the family.

I didn’t know what to say. What when this pearl of wisdom is coming from a very well educated and intelligent woman. I would have ignored something like this if it came from an illiterate woman who has had no exposure to any urban setting. Anyway,  rational, progressive thinking has got nothing to do with education. I mean look at Bahinabai’s writings. It’s way ahead of what a majority of women aspire for themselves even today. But still, this lady had topped her university, has worked in some top IT companies before, and has been living in a metro for over 10 years. Secondly, she doesn’t even know my husband. She has seen him all of once, but would still rather address the “HEAD”. Thirdly, even if she didn’t want to ignore my husband’s name, how hard is it to address it to the both of us?

I wrote back saying, “Your choice!”. I wish though that I had said, “Our family doesn’t have a head, just two hearts,” t0 sort of drill the point that a relationship is not about power and position, but about love and understanding. But this would probably be too subtle a point for someone like her to understand.  The husband suggested that I wrote that we were a headless body. But I doubt if she’d get his wicked sense of humor.

Honestly, dialogues like these make me want to further withdraw in my own cocoon.  This is what I get when I finally decide to socialize a bit more outside my comfort zone. I really can’t help blaming women a little for the current state of misogynist patriarchy we live in. If an educated woman who actually even has the choice to not think like this, chooses to be second to her husband in everything, there’s not much left to say. And this is coming from a woman who has a son. If the mother believes in being second to the father, what are the odds of the son’s wife being treated as an equal? Very slim I’d say.

Thoughts?

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12 comments

  1. I find the degree of education to be of little use in these matters. Back in those days when I didn’t know better, I would be shocked to find people from the best engineering institutes in India and abroad with PhD degrees after their names having the most peepholed perspectives of the world.

    In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the IT industry in India is probably one of the most socially unaware and regressive places relative to the collective ‘educational qualifications’ that it otherwise boasts of hosting. Both men and women who come from a certain positivist view of the world can’t wrap their head around alternatives and never question things for what they are or their place in the world beyond markers of a certain salary threshold. This is even reflected in their ambitions and what they find valuable or count as progress.

    However, most importantly, my thought is that you are lucky to have found a life partner who shares your worldview on these crucial matters. It is a very lonely world out there when you don’t conform to what is acceptable to the majority. It is not fun. Hold on tight and god bless 🙂

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    1. You’re right. I have indeed found myself worked up the most when I am among IT crowds. And unfortunately, I work in the IT sector. Another unfortunate thing is that salaries and wealth have become directly proportional to your opinions being heard and respected. And IT with IT sector paying so well, it’s basically such people flaunting a completely regressive and deluded world view.

      Also, “This is even reflected in their ambitions and what they find valuable or count as progress. ” …very true. I was having a discussion about this with a friend. She was basically trying to tell me to have a the kind of hobby where success or failure can’t be measured. To do something just to get pure happiness, and not “achieve” something by “defeating” the competition. When I say things like I want to go back to a smaller town when I am 35, people look at me like I was a naive child. I agree, that 35 is quite a young age to make such an important life choice. But if not 35, 40 it is. I can’t wait to not start counting my success in terms of salary hikes. I really want to understand what it’s like to be happy even when you live comfortably, but maybe cannot afford luxuries. But may be this is just wishful thinking.

      I know what you mean by finding the right person when you don’t conform. A very close friend is facing this first hand. She just didn’t find anyone who shares her world view. But she does want to get married, which leaves her with no choice but to go for an arranged marriage. There’s nothing wrong with arranged marriage, but the guys out there are so regressive, empty-headed, deluded, and completely oblivious to even the existence of an alternative world view. I really wish there was more casual dating in India where people could just hang out, talk, travel together, have a good time, without having to always think about it moving towards the goal of marriage. She would have a much better chance of finding someone right, if that was encouraged.

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      1. I want to live in really small towns all over India too. I don’t know how it will happen, but for some part of my life, I would like to hop from one to another studying them as I go along.

        I am also thankful to have a mother who as much as she wants me to have something to cheer in my personal life does not push anything on to me knowing that it would be disastrous. I am truly thankful for it because I am simply not strong enough to settle down for anything less than what I know I need because it will break me up. I don’t know if casual dating, even if it were around, would work for me. I am not cut out for that game at all and I can’t help wishing I were because everything would be so much more simpler 😦

        So, I cheer loudly for the ones who go ahead and do it knowing what it takes to put yourself out there in the hope of finding a mate. Tell your friend to hang in there. It is tough, I know.

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      2. Yes, supportive moms do make a lot of difference. My friend’s mom has also come around when she realized that marriage would mean her daughter having to settle down for something that wouldn’t even make her happy.

        I wouldn’t have been able to go for casual dating either. But I mean it in the sense of a setup for getting to know people and exploring till you find out what’s right. Younger generations seem to do that quite a lot these days. I see my little sister’s generation quite comfy with that. But I’m not quite comfortable with the way they look at it. They are not doing it to see what works, they start off with the premise that anything they get into is necessarily short lived.

        My friend is so happy that her mom is okay with her not getting married anytime soon, that she has decided to take a Europe trip all by herself. Isn’t that cool. The joy of travelling alone, and I mean as a tourist…just for the sake of travelling, is so unique.

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      3. Ooooh. The young ones are living it up. Good to know 🙂 Hope they find their balance. Traveling alone depresses me even more these days. It used to give me a high like no other once, but not any more. It make the isolation even more pointed at my age. Sorry, I am not cheerful company today at all. I wish your friend lots of great memories from her trip.

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      4. Oh don’t you worry. I am in a cheerless mood most of the time. Moods keep swinging between cheerful and cheerless I guess. I find it even worse when I am in between. I’d rather be at the very end of the spectrum. 😛

        I find travelling alone in India depressing. You don’t get a moment’s peace. Have to be on guard all the time. Just defeats the purpose I guess.

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    2. You have a point. IT does not reply a wide skill base. You are not even required to be proficient in English as long as you can write and debug code.

      Intellectually speaking, IT attracts people with quantitative skills whose understanding of the world, and their place in it, is very black and white, and binary.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True that. Even I have begun to realize that more and more, now that I am in the IT industry myself. Life in the university was a lot more intellectually and emotionally stimulating and challenging. Here it’s mostly frustrating.

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