Friday, November 4, 2011

I conformed and I am guilty.

I am so damn a conformist that I want to kick myself for this once again. Being a conformist , seeking approvals , pleasing people has been characteristically me  but damn it ! I am not bringing an iota of change around me.
This Diwali was a very cozy affair for us. No invitations given , none accepted (in fact none received) being in a  new city and my poor inclination for socialising .The only three people who visited me were my bhabhi's mom  and  sister and the sister's co-sister. The co sister lost her husband a few months back so they very thoughtfully brought her along so that she gets some change from her otherwise subdued mood. Everything  went on well . we chatted , we laughed , we discussed kids , heard of old times when bhabhi's mom was a young bride .It was an all-women party .  My GMIL( age 100 years and is hard of hearing ) , I and those three had a good time together. We were women from three different generations and were  talking about the changes that have come in last century in a woman's life and her expectations from her family and expectations  from  her by her family . We all  by and large  agreed that things have changed for better.
     It was time to say bye and  just then GMIL suggested to give them haldi kumkum ( as is customary in traditional way). I  don't offer haldi kumkum to anyone but mostly around festival times and when GMIL is around she insists on offering it to married women . Me being stupid me , cannot ignore what elderly people in the family suggest ( Mostly some innocuous though mostly illogical requests are made which I try to follow  as my conflict avoiding  mechanism like  offer blouse piece to ladies visiting (matching be damned) bring red roses for God ,bring beetle nut , paan and some useless stuff to be given to ladies which I am sure  would be lying in their fridge  for days on) . I don't do it if not reminded but I invariably do it when  old people insist upon, but for once I should have given her suggestion a neglect . Asa GMILmade suggestion the cosister immediately left and started wearing her sandles and lingered outside in Verandah , bhabhi's sister  ofcourse was ill at ease like me  while her mom and aji(GMIL) were looking at me with expectation that I would go in  and bring haldi kumkum box .I felt the pressure and did not want to make it very obvious that  I  was avoiding it as bhabhi’s mom (who was a young widow herself) waited . Finally I gave haldi kumkum to the only   Suvasini(whose husband is alive) among the  three  hastily .
The granny has been staying with us for more than 15 years now and is almost 100 years old , I do not expect her to make a change in her thinking  and on top of it she is stone deaf and we have to engage in a lot of dumb charades in order to communicate with her . Bhabhi’s mom is from previous generation  and comes from a very traditional background so she must have resigned to her fate and still attaches importance to haldi kumkum and stuff ( I remember last time when I visited her for brief time , I despite being in a great hurry , she took me to her DEV GHAR ( god’s room) and asked me to put haldi kumkum for myself(she is not entitled to put it on my forehead herself  because she has lost her husband) .
This lady(C-S) who is still grieving her husband’s death , already learnt the dirty rules by which traditions go. She is  intelligent enough to know that haldi kumkum offered or not is not a big deal  but discrimination she will have to deal with is a reality and I feel she experienced it pretty early and may be in a  bitter way.
And you know what  I feel?I feel  such TRADITIONS BE DAMNED and PEOPLE CONFORMING (be it wily nily)to such traditions be damned .
Guys! I plead guilty.


  1. Sigh. Could totally relate to your post. I plead guilty too.

  2. Pepper,
    welcome here .
    My upbringing had a lot of emphasis on 'respect the elders' words' .Its so deeply ingrained that I feel I lack diplomatic skills to dodge such situations and many a time end up doing things which my heart would not allow.
    I am feeling wretched eversince this episode .

  3. i also did many things to conform to tradition. slowly, i am having my out. Husband supports me and that is a great relief. mom-in-law always insists on some puja or the other to appease this God and that. i ignore and do not take part.

  4. I understand the "respect the elders, and pretty much don't question us" upbringing...We all have it, and we all also suffer from a modern outlook that has more understanding and acceptance towards the unusual...I always feel caught and pulled between, what feels right in my head, to what is expected from me (especially since getting married). Still hoping & trying to find that delicate balance, where I can live in peace with myself without offending too many loved ones...

    I can imagine the conflict being 100 times worse if you actually live in India with the elderly...I think I would have done the same thing, probably a lot more awkwardly. Don't let it bother you too much....

  5. I have been a person who likes to respect elders by all my means but yes, unfortunately this is something you can't go on maintaining for ever. The whole idea of respect being a subject of age, qualifications n all is absurd....human feelings and sensibility should be valued more.

    Liked your post very much , written in an engaging way it makes one think. It was my first visit on your blog but i will keep coming back to this thoughtful place :-)

  6. Thank you Sangeeta for visiting here and your kind words .
    i so loved the way you put it that-human feelings and sensibility be valued more over traditions.

  7. Thanks shruti for visiting here. You are so right that we are very often faced to make choices between following the heart or traditions for the sake of peace ( once we get married).
    Sadly , sometimes this peace in family is at the cost of peace of mind.

  8. Arunima,
    My GMIL ,until recently, used to do a lot of poojas and my contribution into them was to provide logistic help and this qualified me as a religious person.I consider this a better option than actually sitting for pooja and doing things mechanically.

  9. Kirti, you have won an award and are tagged: