Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Friday, May 18, 2007

my sisters

i have spent this last week interacting with some of my cousins. since i lived in an all boys household, then school and college, the interaction with girls has been limited to my sisters.
and somehow I have also built up this image of being this fun bhai and i have been on the top of their bro charts!!
while 1 was in bangalore, it was for the engagement of one of them. while these are usually joyous occasions, i was told by the engagee’s sister (both of them are my sisters, mind it) about the events which led to the engagement. like all large traditional families, we have a of eager beaver mama/mami combination whose primary objective is to ensure that all nieces and nephews are married, whether they want it or not. nothing wrong with that of course, we need these social glues as these are sole occasions when the larger families assemble together. but the manner that this happens needed to be addressed.

so of course i figured out that it would be good to engage in a discussion with the relatives on marriage and general stuff. one of their main agenda items was to nail me. I was well past the sell by date and the core group was in deep distress…rapid and firm action was the order of the day.
I was also quite keen to make sure that they also understood my point of view. It is important in any relationship to openly and honestly discuss matters and more so within close family (and this is the place where it happens rarely).

So after my part which was satisfactorily dealt with (that’s altogether another post), it was my turn to get to my main agenda item.
All my sisters have been given great opportunities and freedom to choose their educational paths. All of them are now independent women with their own space. It is certainly a matter of great pride. But this independence has a serious dependant clause. They are independent because their parents allow it!!

The education and work is giving them a physical security as well as expanding their own sense of space and freedom. This comes into serious (but unsaid) conflict when it comes to their marriage. While societal norms (and eager beaver mamas etc) force them into quick matchmaking, their independence quivers with indignation at this breach. So this girl had a 10 minute window with her to-be fiance to make up her mind. And this is for a group which would take an hour to buy a saree. How fair is that, I asked them. Faced with this vague position of conformance and independence, my sisters are conforming silently.

Well, not anymore. I think this conversation has at least given a new voice with new ideas. I am writing to each of my sisters to get them to ponder over above and then start voicing.


Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

csm its all a big farce that girls being independent and all that. probably in deciding saris for themselves but otherwise its all decided, not even by the parents, but by what the popular culture demands. the idea in allowing them (us) to study is so that grooms in US or something can be snared. thats all.

so apparently the trend in Chennai now is to get girls married soon as they graduate (so they are 21, like even younger than my mom was when she got married). catch them before they get fancy ideas. i think this has come about because over the past decade the girls got married later (like at 24-25), and that led to lot of tension for the maamis, not to mention conflicts of various types.

open discussions and frank statings of facts? wow. please give me a detailed report on how it went. its virtually impossible to have a conversation with my brood!!!

csm said...

these are disturbing trends. there is this growing trend of marriages being social statements rather than a relationship between 2 people. families are fully on display to flaunt away.

while accepting this, i was trying to indicate that there is bound to be a conflict in the minds of the girls who 'taste' some level of independance with education and working, which is totally blown away with the way marriages are forced down their throat.

the talk was not too long, but i had made it quite forceful and told them as i felt strongly. my mom was right next to me reading when i was typing out the post and she was smiling and also made some contrite noises on my sister's situation. our brood also has poor attention span.