Dodda: Can you sing?
Me: No, I can only croak :) !!
Dodda: What about embroidery, sewing etc?
Me: What about it?
Dodda: Do you know that?
Me: Mom knows that.
Dodda: Humph.......girls these days....now, do you know how to wear a saree?
Me: Ayyo......I can hardly go to work wearing a saree right? It’s too difficult to manage.
Dodda: Ayyo HuDugi..... how do you expect to get married if you do not know all these things?
Me: (grinning gleefully) But Dodda, I can always marry someone who knows how to cook and sew, right? Ya.........I have to think about the saree part.
Dodda looked as if she would throw a fit.......while I was grinning from ear to ear having fun at her expense.
Dodda stands for Doddamma – my Mom’s elder sister - who has come to stay with us for a few days. If there is a better word than old-fashioned, then it would suit her to a tee !
So here I was baiting her for all I was worth when my Mom walked in on to the conversation.
While Dodda took on the role of Vividh Bhaarati, I watched Mom’s expression change from curiosity to concern and finally resignation. I had to stop Maa before she revealed the truth.
“Mom, what are you making for dinner tomorrow?”
Mom did not even pretend to hear me.
“Mom, did I tell you what happened today?”
“But Dodda, she knows all that and much more…....” Mom's plea sounded plaintive to my own ears.
My grin changed into a grimace. Damage done. Sheesh !!
Dodda’s jaw dropped open making her look like a fish gasping for breath. I knew what she was going to state next.
“If that’s the case, why is she not married yet?” the very tone indicating any or all the following:
- Something is seriously wrong with me.
- I may be mentally deranged.
- I have shady past – drugs, a lover or two stashed somewhere.
- I am so proud and haughty that I do not need a husband to support me.
I watched pain flicker across Mom’s face before she muttered something completely irrelevant and fled to the kitchen.
Damage control needed. Double Sheesh!!
I slipped into the kitchen while she was pottering around.
“Mom, you know all that is not true. Why do you get upset?” I slowly ventured.
“Mom, do you hold me responsible for the time you have granted? Do you think that I am guilty?”
“Mom...... haven’t I given you my consent?”
Finally “No Chitu..... I do not hold you responsible for anything (mental sigh of relief on my part). Right things should happen at the right time and marriage is one of them. It’s just that ......I am tired of hearing all this from almost everybody. Every day. You believe in yourself. We believe you. But they....they do not even try to understand us."
I calmy replied, “Why should they? It’s not their business right? Why do we have to make them understand?”
“Because we live in a society, Chitu. We have an intrinsic need to a part of one. Society respects money, beauty, brains and prestige. Anything abnormal will be shunned upon. And unfortunately, since we do not have all the three in abundance, this has all the makings of one. Remember when you were upset because you were not a part of your college gang? There was nothing wrong with you. Yet..........”
I argued “But Mom, these experiences have made me strong. In choosing my friends, in saying ‘no’ to something/someone I do not like............”
“You are young, Chitu. And mentally capable of facing your peers. But what about us? We are on the other side of the experienced world. And we do not want to go through all this again. Apart from the rest of the world, we have to put up with our own folks’s so-called ‘suspicions’. “ Like Dodda, was left unsaid.
"You are tired of hearing. I am tired of convincing" - I had to stifle these words.
Sigh.....what’s my mistake?
One of the few times I hate being a woman............ Happy Women's Day.