July 17, 2009

Wishes For A Woman

ACCORDING TO THE calendar Parsis follow, today is my birthday. It is an event only family and very close friends know about, the more popular occasion being my date of birth next weekend. Of the seven people who wished me a Happy Birthday today, four followed it up with blessings for a good sasroo, i.e. marital home/in-laws’ home. All were women above 50, all educated, all married themselves and surrounded by several singletons of their age who appear fairly happy and not about to kill themselves from the ignominy of not being part of a pair. (Parsis have the lowest rate of marriage in India, with significantly higher levels of social acceptance for those unhitched than most other Indian communities.)

Some years earlier, this act of wishing a sasroo upon me would have irked me no end. Now it must be old age and its consequent mellowing effects because today I was only mildly annoyed and half-amused that educated, supposedly liberal women in an urbane setting still think of the seeming security a husband and his family can offer as their foremost wish for me.

Oftentimes, it isn’t a well thought-out greeting, just a bouquet of lines trotted out over generations, dating back to an era when a marital home indeed meant security and the blessing of a stable life. My mother mentions with a touch of sentimentality (and she isn’t even a sentimental sort of person) that the “Now next year, celebrate your birthday in your sasroo” wish was bestowed upon her year after year by her own mother, despite knowing full well that her daughter was going nowhere until she finished her accounting degree (which she did at age 28).

I know they only mean well, all these women, and I view them with a recently-found tolerance that has me quickly scanning my hair for any change in color. But I do wish they would realize that the best blessing they can possibly bestow on me is success and happiness in the face of life’s challenges and the ability to be my own safety net. And the freedom to choose my own path, even if it doesn’t lead to the much-exalted sasroo.


6 comments to Wishes For A Woman

  • Aunty G

    Happy Birthday to you
    Without much ado
    You just be
    Whether in, or out, of a sasroo!

  • I have an aunt who talks about my future wedding everytime I meet her. And I’m only 18!! She talks about how my mother will be so lonely since in two years, my sister will go to college, and in five, I’ll be getting married. And she always laughs in disbelief if I tell her that that’s not happening for at least 10 years. She even pointed out a sari in a shop, saying I should wear something similar when I get married.

    I find this very, very irritating! I have a hard time not snapping at my aunt, I always try to politely but firmly ask her to not talk about my wedding at all. My mum wants me to accept the talk and not get upset or irritated by it… she says that it’s not like my aunt means everything she says, it’s just something she’s used to talking about, used to seeing and believing. But I don’t think I can do that yet.. I can’t sit and smile and nod when talks of my marriage go on. Marriage is not the aim or part of the dreams I have now.

  • Sumedha, Unfortumately, your priorities are no longer just your but decided by others…it is an illogical claim of social proximity…it is a complex social matter and we have increased the complexity. So chill …

  • Many happy returns of the day, though now belated.

    What you said made me think of my grandmother, actually. She’s an amazing woman. Since I struck out on my own around the age of 30, whenever we get a chance to talk, my gran asks me if I’m happy. I say I am, and she tells me that that’s all that’s important. She’s 80, lives by herself and runs a small school, and she never stops reminding me that one only answers to oneself, and one has a responsibility to keep oneself happy.

    Quite a contrast to all the “well-wishers” who would doom us to a prison of unwanted matrimony at the slightest chance, and see no other alternative to self-actualization for a woman.

  • Dilnavaz Bamboat

    Aunty G: Thank you!

    Sumedha: I understand. I felt the same way at 18 (and now I suddenly feel very old typing this 😉 ). I wouldn’t tell you to “chill” though, like Joy of Having has suggested. Find a middle path that you’re comfortable with.

    Payal: God bless your grandmother. She sounds fabulous. And thank you for your wishes. 🙂

  • Thank you for your blog post.Thanks Again.

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