I don’t know where to begin this post.

On Sunday I traveled to Veraval… my mom’s birthplace. Mom comes from a large joint family. Her father and 3 brothers built a house and business together. Every year during vacations, my masi (Mom’s sis) and mama (Mom’s bro) would gather in the house. Nothing extra-ordinary except… I have 5 real masis.. 1 cousin masi… 1 real mama… 3 cousin mamas… and it doesn’t end there. Each mama/masi has atleast 2 kids. You can imagine the havoc created during vacations. I would cry when I had to leave Veraval and head home. Cousins and I fought.. laughed… cried… teased… played.

Then we grew up… things changed. Problems started creeping within families… cousin mamas lost their business… they went bankrupt… everything fell apart. I avoided going there… I didn’t like the bitching, sadness, hypocrisy.

On Sunday when I reached Veraval it felt like I had stepped into another world. Sure, I have stayed in small places… but this was personal. My cousins have grown up with only one aim in life- marriage. A female starts dressing in salwar kameez after reaching puberty. Talking to guys is considered blasphemous. Love marriage is unthinkable. Ambitions of earning money are not encouraged. I wanted to scream to them; “What is wrong with you people? Go out… see the world. Things are changing. Move on and move out.”

When masis and mom were conversing I had nothing to contribute to their household tips. It is only the men (mama, cousin bro) who asked me about work… FMCG market… distribution etc.

During festivals at home; bro and I never contributed in any way to the Pujas and stuff. Sure, we made rangoli, lit diyas etc but ‘coz we enjoyed it. Mom has never liked the detached attitude… for her festivals are about family, happiness, traditional Pujas, cooking new varieties… everything the joint family way. For us, it is more of a formality. We play Holi ‘coz we like it… not ‘coz it is a festival.

When I look back at where I come from… it is scary. Doubts start creeping… am I doing the right thing? Am I right or are they right? I feel like an alien among them.

My parents wanted us to get a good education but retain traditional values at the same time. That has not happened… I think they would have preferred a demure, seedhi sadhi daughter to an educated, headstrong, independent, ambitious daughter.

Sigh…

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