Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gup shap - 4

I once overheard a mother telling a friend that her son had agreed to marry a girl of his parent’s choice but would settle for nothing but the best.

“And why not?” she beamed. “He is qualified, good looking and has no commitments. He’d be an ideal partner for any girl.

I intervened and asked what she meant by ‘best’. Was it possible for anyone to be the best in everything.

The lady gave me a look that said it all.

‘You have neither looks nor status. How would you know?’

The other lady was less opinionated.

“One cannot have the best of everything. Marriage involves a lot of give and take.”

“I don’t need to take anything from anyone.” Said the first lady. “I have enough to give and more to spare.

I burst out laughing. The term ‘give and take’ was certainly not literal. A well qualified daughter in law with a good job may also say –

I have enough to give and more to spare. I don’t need to take anything from anyone.”

At the time of my own marriage a family friend had something different to say when he left for Madras after the function.

“Life is going to be different from now.” He said. “You will be taking on new responsibilities. Your mother in law may be the best person. But she can never be your mother. Never compare the two.( I have mentioned something to this effect in this post of mine). Learn to accept and love her for the person she happens to be. Follow your instincts and adapt according to the situation. You have inherited great qualities from your parents. It is up to you to make them proud.”

In the initial years of my marriage I lost count of the number of times I remembered his words of wisdom. I do remember that they gave me a lot of strength to my troubled mind. It was as if my dead father was advising me.

I don’t mean to say that it is the whole and sole responsibility of the DIL to adjust. Her acquired family should also be willing to compromise. The mother in law may want to listen to bhajans while attending to her morning chores. The DIL may want pin drop silence to practice yoga and meditation. The husband may be an early bird and the wife a night person. Compromises have to be made and they cannot be one sided.

I was surprised that an acquaintance of mine rejected proposal after proposal because they did not measure up to her expectation. Her mother once approached me for details about a colleague of mine. This man had started as a Lab Attendant, improved his qualifications and had become a Lab in charge. He was an asset to the college and was in great demand whenever there was a mechanical/electrical problem. I foresaw a fairly good future for the couple and suggested that his parents be approached. The girl was visibly upset.

“Would you consider him for your own daughter?” she asked.

Her question baffled me. It really did. My daughter was in Standard III at the time and I hadn’t given it a thought. While I agree that I would have looked for a better placed match for my daughter, I certainly would not have insisted that she should have no commitments towards her husband’s family or that her in laws should not spend more than a fortnight with her when they visited her. These were reasons for her rejection of other proposals. Ultimately, the girl did not marry but my colleague married a nice girl from his native place and his son is now doing his engineering.

What then is meant by ‘give and take’ in a marriage?

Give your time and attention.

Give your love and affection.

Give your care and compassion.

Give your support be it physical, moral or financial.

In short give your best to make your relationship work

Take correction and remember that it will help you improve.

Take criticism in your stride and remember that no one is perfect.

Take on responsibilities. You will be an indispensable asset to everyone.

Accept life as it comes and deal the most adverse situations with a smile saying that ‘this too shall pass’.

Take some moments from your busy schedule and count your blessings.

All this applies not only to the relationship acquired by marriage. The rules are the same in any relationship. What then are we waiting for? Why not get started right now?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gup shap-3

We had a marriage in the family and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. People from different corners of India got together and celebrated the occasion. I had almost forgotten that a cousin of mine could sing very well and he entertained us with melodies from the movies of the 60’s and 70’s. We spoke of the childhood that we spent together, the fights we had, the good times we shared and it appeared as if the 3 days we had together were just not enough. Two of my cousins spent two days with me and we left for Calcutta together. Coming back to an empty house brought tears to my eyes and I found myself wanting to return to my childhood days. I brooded over the days gone by and realized once again how lucky I was to have spent the formative years of my life in the company of such people.

Marriage is an occasion that brings the family together. A social gathering. People talk of doing away with elaborate rituals to save time. But each of these has a meaning. The simple act of two ladies welcoming the couple with an aarti for instance. It is usually done by including one each from the bride’s and groom’s side. This is a way of introducing one’s relatives to the other side. The maternal uncle and paternal aunt (Mama and Bua) feel puffed up and important.They are in great demand all the time! Each one plays a role and everyone feels included.

The marriage is over and people have already started looking forward to the next occasion. But more than the celebration, marriage means the coming together of two families. Very often it is the coming together of two cultures. It is an occasion for mutual respect. The girl enters her new home not really knowing what to expect. If she is received with love and affection there is every chance that she’d reciprocate in the same manner. The girl’s parents are equally anxious that their precious one is comfortable in the new set up. If initial hiccups are attended to, it may not be long before the two families bond well and become friends for life.

We have started living like isolated pockets of society. Let occasions such as these bring us together – so what if it happens only once in two years!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A welcome tag!

Tags are always welcome when one runs out of ideas and this one came right in time. Thank you Usha. I hope I’ve done justice to this one. Who ever thought that a talkative person like me would actually run out of ideas? (:-((

My oldest memory:
My maternal uncle’s wedding when I was about 5 years old. I played a lot in the sand and called my maami by her name and someone admonished me for it. Around that time my older brother was learning to ride a bicycle and met with an accident and my dad bandaged his forehead. I remember that my cousins from Bombay were visiting us then and we were staying in Coimbatore.

Ten years ago:
I was on a confrontation mode with the Principal of our college. At that time I’d be discussing our Principal or my son’s teen troubles with any one interested or disinterested.

My first thought this morning:
‘Four more days to go before my cousins arrive’.
I am really looking forward to their visit on their way to Kolkata. I am just counting days. These two are cousins who are like sisters to me this is their first visit to my place. Funny how sentimental one gets even after becoming a grandmother.

If you built a time capsule, what would it contain:
Some interesting books, a laptop to play computer games and CDs with carnatic music by M.S. Subbalakshmi, K.J.Yesudas and Balamuralikrishna.Also some old Tamil classics by Kalki and novels by Anutthama and Shivashankari.

This year:
Has been good except for my sister in law’s illness and my dear friend and colleague losing her husband. But then that is what life is all about. The optimist in me is glad that my sister in law is recovering and we welcomed two grandchildren to our lives. Career too has been satisfactory. I have actually reached the stage where one has to think of tax saving options after 26 years of service. I really thought that I’d never get to pay taxes and the 5th pay (due since 1996) would never get implemented. It hasn’t been implemented even now. But the government has been kind enough to grant some interim relief.

14 years from now:
I hope I am as loved and wanted by one and all as I am today. In other words I hope that I continue to make myself useful to society and remain as flexible as I am today. But who knows. In the process of ageing I may just turn out to be the ‘crazy old woman’ whom everyone avoids. I think I’ll read and re-read my posts and draw some inspiration from them.

I almost forgot. I'm supposed to tag people. Well I tag hillg'mom, Renu and Ugich to carry this tag forward.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dowry demands.

We hear so much about dowry demands and how the girl's parents are humiliated at the time of weddings etc,etc. Well I for one feel that there have been good people and bad at all times. there have been grooms who choose to remain silent spectators while their parents make atrocious demands even today and others who have stood up for what they felt was right even some 100 years back.

I wish to share with you some such stories and leave it to you to judge.

My maternal grandfather got married at the age of 13. It was actually his upanayanam (sacred thread) ceremony and my grandmother had come as an invitee. she was around 12 years old and well past the marriageable age of girls at the time. Her mother being a widow approached my great grandfather to help her find a suitable match for her daughter.

"what about my son?" my grandpa's father asked.

The lady was overjoyed and they got married then and there.

But then came trouble. My greatgrandfather expected a decent amount of dowry and unless the demand was fulfilled the actual nuptial ceremony known as 'gauna' in Hindi would not be performed. My grand father stood up for his wife and argued with his father that when his mother in law did not have the means it was not fair to pressurize her. The father had to give in and my grandmother was brought home without the gifts and jewelry that were usually given at the time. My grandfather was perhaps in his late teens when this happened.

I compare this to another marriage ceremony I recently witnessed. At the tilak ceremony held 4 days prior to the wedding the groom's sister demanded that her brother be given 2 lacs in cash and a Santro car.The boy had no father and the girl's parents had been given to understand that since the girl was herself earning Rs.70K per month there would be no dowry demand. The boy's mother and brother kept mum and the boy sat there beaming as if it was some kind of joke that was being played. It took the girl's father sometime to realize the demand was being seriously made not in jest. negotiations began and finally the girl's brother agreed to pay 2 lacs immediately and buy the couple a car within a year. The car has now been 'gifted' to them.

In such cases I blame the boy more than his parents. A well placed groom should have the confidence to say NO to dowry. I hear of a girl who witnessed such a negotiation where her mother in law haggled over the dowry and was upset when her son was given a Maruti 800 (which is like giving a bicycle these days) and pressurized the girl's parents for an Esteem and finally settled for a Zen. The girl was naturally upset and refused to allow her husband to do anything for his family.

'My father has purchased you." she'd say. "your mother has been paid with cash and kind. Your salary now belongs to me". she has since relented but the scar remains.

The other aspect in these dealings is that women are easily blamed for these negotiations. In an otherwise male dominated society how come men hide behind their women when dowry demands are made? No boy agrees to marry a girl as per his mother's wish. He sets his own conditions. The girl must be educated, career minded, sociable and what not. There are many mothers who are insecure when the daughter in law walks in speaking convent english dressed in shorts and Tee shirt and can do nothing about it. The same boy will become an obedient son when she creates a ruckus at his wedding. Most of the problems created by the mother is due to insecurity. She feels that once the daughter in law comes her own importance in the household will take a beating. If only the husband says 'I am there for you, why do you worry about them' or if the son is able to impress upon his mother that he would still remain her son and his wife would be a daughter to her, she would feel more confident.

What about me? I can hear you asking the question. I have just one dowry demand. My DIL read my posts and appreciate them! I was joking. I want her to enjoy a warm relationship with me just the way i did with my own mother in law.

some lighter episode of marriages in my father and father in law's time later