As I’m lying on my bed, trying to soothe my unquenchable thirst for social media consumption, my mom is out there in the 1800s, acing her role as Mrs. Bennet, trying her very best to find the perfect husbands or let’s say, just husbands for her daughters. 5’5”, dusky, banker, a brilliant cook, no dowry; the keywords she uses to describe her elder daughter to the mediator makes me think how Indian mothers would do wonders if they somehow become SEO content writers.
Well, it’s hard to complain, she’s only trying to fit into the “Responsible Parents Club”, running in different localities in every city of our country.
Having born as a woman in a country as ours is already a survival task but to gradually identify yourself belonging to a caste which is looked down by everyone in the society, and then to wear brown skin and a thin body is a turn of the screw. It’s funny how I am walking around and unknowingly, giving multiple reasons to certain people to dislike me.
But the important question, I keep asking myself now and then (hoping the answer changes one day) is, if given an option, would I choose a fairer skin or an upper caste? My answer always remains in affirmation. Why would a person not like to be admired by everyone? Who would rather sink in malice than swim in privilege?
A greater part of who I like to believe I am is the product of how people I am surrounded by have defined me, until now. Some of the most common adjectives used for me are confident, introvert and fancy accent. And like every mainstream thing that I generally do, I have accepted that I am everything, people have claimed me to be.
I think more than our childhood, people around us in the present, shape who we actually are. For instance, I never thought I could sing until I overheard my maasi, saying to my mom that I have a good voice. I need these people to validate my existence. However, the minute these people change, the definition of me changes.
In Spite of all this, there’s still a small fraction of me, buried deep within, who knows what real me is like, weak, highly insecure and vulnerable.
Of all the things that I am defined through and which I am going to be defined by in the future, housewife would be the last thing that I would want to be identified through. Our fathers, and ultimately, we have made our mothers’ contribution seem so trivial that the word housewife gives an impression of a woman who wasn’t smart enough to bag an employment and had to marry eventually, even if she’s smarter than her partner in reality. I guess this is the reason that my mom felt uncomfortable every time, I unapologetically, declared her just a housewife.
Which Indian student would ever in his life forget the epic tone in which we wished morning to our teachers for 15 years, every single day? I sometimes feel that students, in the same way, should be taught repeatedly to not only just tell their parents’ occupation but also describe what they’re contributing to the family. This way we might become grateful and even acknowledge the work done by our moms. The more we learn to describe people, the clearer image of ourselves forms into our brains.
In college, 2 AM used to be the most precarious yet the most precious time of the whole day. The discussions that usually began from boyfriends to ultimately learning who we were, have been treasured for life. And it is no less than a privilege that we all have been provided a chance to find and define ourselves on our own terms which our ancestors certainly couldn’t. But are we able to? Well, it’s still as vague an idea to us as it was to them, so, we’re just settling with the identities that were assigned to us by our families and of course, our employers, just like our ancestors.
In an attempt to break this cycle, I would like to call myself a philanthropist, for now.