Changing your family is the most necessary and the most difficult life task

It was the year 2008, and I had just finished my 10th std. To my shock, my father did not want me to study further. I knew my family was conservative, but not this much. He said that I could only study if I wore the burkha. At that point, I was not entirely convinced of the burkha. My mom wore it, but out of choice. I knew women who wore and did not, and I do not think the cloth per se made them more or less pious. We somehow got him to agree that I would do it post my 12th.

Two years later, I was still not convinced. I researched a lot, and the evidence was sketchy at best, about it’s requirements. Besides, the burkha as it is came because of Khomeini’s campaign in Iran during the 70s. Back then, I was still unsure of my arguing powers so we settled on the midway of a headscarf. I stopped wearing it after a while. I didn’t think it was necessary to wear a piece of cloth to prove my worth to anyone.

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Now, my stance on that was very clear. I guess somewhere my father had realised that. I would be ready with all Quranic evidence and hadith always. Another fact was that I would bring up what men were “supposed” to do as well, according to Islam. That would shut them up.

But what mattered along with that was that my academic record was impeccable, I would go out of my way to help out at home and get a lot of tasks done. And yes, there were never any late nights and for the longest time, most of my family did not think I have male friends. In an ideal world, I should not have to be a typical “good girl” to get basic rights like education and freedom. But this is not an ideal world.

While I was working up to my education, I agreed to certain things and challenged certain things. My dad said I could do my masters only if I agreed to seeing potential grooms after the first year. I agreed. But I’m still not married at 24. Most of these things don’t even happen. It was just a way for him to show him who is in control. While I agreed here, I started challenging that women should eat yesterday’s rotis if they were left. I said, divide the leftovers equally. I helped mom to start questioning things. I helped her stop being a slave for my brothers and bring them down from the pedestal.

The point is, change is slow. And, change is difficult when you have to change the people you love. Because repulsion for their beliefs and love for them as people – both have to exist together and that makes it hard for you.

But it’s possible. Its all about the negotiation. Agree to certain things, and push them for other things. Shifts in reality are always slow.

Recently, a cousin of mine was almost forced into an engagement. She wanted to talk to the guy a little more before deciding, but her parents did not let her, because their society did not allow that. They valued society’s opinion more over their daughter’s happiness.

When my dad came to know this, he said “How can they do something which will surely make their child unhappy?”

Would my dad of 2008 have said this? If this is not change, what is?

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The Incident of the Leather Bag.

Okay, before you are misled, I want to tell you’ll that this isn’t a feeble attempt on my part to recreate Sherlock Holmes by trying to write something Doyle-esque. My little efforts at writing have amused people, especially those pieces that I had courage to put up on this blog, but this particular piece is far from fiction. It’s a reality. A fairly mundane piece of family related anecdotes, and yet, I feel it is a mere symbolism for our larger confusions regarding People in general. Sounds too philosophical? Read on. It’s not. At your own risk though. It’s fairly domestic.

My dad was in Dubai recently and got back yesterday. He called from the airport regarding certain medicines he needed, and due to some misunderstanding, he yelled at me on the phone. I had my first fight with him before he even got home. No matter. That thing was sorted.

Then he came home and as he always does, showed what all he had gotten for us, either by himself, or gifts sent by relatives. (They send a lot of stuff. All my tailored clothes are dress-pieces sent by my aunt. No, she isn’t generous. She has a dress-material business. So, yeah)

Anyway, he showed me a shiny bag that he got from Dubai duty-free for me. It was very lady-like. And Prada (don’t know if really original, but looked quite original to me), oh and Leather. I know what you will react with, “Your Dad got you that and you have a problem??You and your #firstWorldProblems!” At least, that is how twitter folks would respond.

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But those who know me, know I’m just the opposite of the leather bag kind. I’m usually clad in Kurtas and their equivalents, and choose to trudge around with cloth bags, a.k.a jholas. They are humble, eco-friendly, and good for carrying books and other college related things. And even they fail to prove as college bags for me. I have too many books to punish my one shoulder with, so I go for the back-pack kind. Sadly, school hasn’t gotten over for me in this aspect, even in the last year of degree college.

So, the first question is of utility. Where will I carry it. Secondly, did my dad not realize that it does not go with who I am?

Of course, my wise friends would suggest that I shut up, keep the bag and not use it if I don’t want. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

But my question is, did dad not realize that it will not go with my personality? Or did he, consciously or unconsciously choose such a bag on purpose? you know, in order to change my rebellious traits into feminine chic ones?

If you think I’m overanalyzing, of course I am. I’m a psychology student.

So now the bag rests in the deep recesses of my cupboard as I ponder,

Is it better to not expect and not get anything from people, or to react with mild irritation or more when people think they understand you but they actually don’t and you can’t even point it without things getting somewhat uncomfortable which seems to big a price for such trifle matters?

Still pondering. If you have any suggestions let me know. Till then, that’s all folks.