There is this strange entity that exists among us, is seen and yet unseen. It is so important that we dare not raise our voice against its notions. So, we end up pushing our daughters to marry against their wishes. We end up mortgaging our homes to spend lavishly on the weddings that we can ill afford. We trample the happiness of those close to us and crush their dreams. We end up doing things against our wishes. Essentially, we go on living our lives to please this thoroughly inconsequential entity. Yes, I am talking about log or people (the society we live in). I get incensed when I hear ‘Log kya kahenge’ as the reason behind doing something.

Yes, I know that human beings are social beings. We enjoy social interactions. We have a life beyond our immediate family that includes our relatives, friends, neighbors and community. But we start endangering our sanity and that of others around us when we allow these outsiders to dictate how we lead our lives. Why must we give them so much power that they give us diktats? I had this question when I was younger. I have this question even now, as I watch helplessly.

Luckily for me, my husband and I are pretty much in sync regarding this. It is not to say that we do not listen to others. We have a set of people who tell us like it is meant to be told. But even with them, we always use our discretion to make our choices. I live in a large gated community and have never felt bogged down to toe the line just because most people feel that it is right.

If I pray, I do it on my terms. If I don’t, that also works for me. The poojas (whatever few were held in my home) never placed restrictions on people attending, their attire or what they should bring along. I have never really cared for society’s norms as such. I married, irrespective of caste or creed. My sister and I were as much a part of my mother’s funeral as were my dad and brother. I guess this strength to stand up to inane customs and rituals comes from my father who always led by example.

I hold strong opinions and I stand by them. I am an educated and intelligent individual and by virtue of that fact I weigh things and make decisions. If I feel strongly for a cause, I try to volunteer and contribute instead of making empty noises. Yes, I am slightly crazy that way.

And, if you tell me that you consider me a non-believer because I may not follow your path of prayer, loud bhajans and a certain way of dressing up, then who cares. I don’t have to justify my choices to you. Yes, I know many of you worry a lot about me and my family. And I understand that completely. Our society loves to gossip and poke its nose in others’ affairs regularly. This is our national pastime. We have to grin and bear it. But don’t expect me to pay any heed to your unsolicited advice or slants.

I have never cared for and don’t intend to worry about ‘Log kya kahenge!’ Next time, you are trying to convince me to do something, remember not to use this reason. I have stopped being a people pleaser a long time ago.

I wind up this post with one of my favorite songs that expresses the same sentiment:



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63 Thoughts on “The malaise of what will people say

  1. I wonder what ” Log kya kahenge ” after reading this post… this mentality of worrying about ” Log kya Kahenge” is so retro and so 90s and have killed more dreams than anything else….

    • The mentality may be retro but it is alive and kicking even now. I have personally seen this logic being tossed around for the most inane of things. Yes, it has killed many dreams for sure. Thanks for reading, Prasad, as always!

  2. Bah! logon ka kaam ‘HI’ hai kehna ………….. though worrying about it not only the raina but whole LIFE paases away without our notice … Nice post Rachna, as usual and we know that we (some log who are not log in the proverbial log ) will not care about the proverbial log … as usual … Quite confusing ? well this is me … as usual 🙂 😀

  3. Kuch to log kahenge, logo ka kam hai kehna- As the famous song goes!
    I too have stopped bothering about people. It’s not worth it- making your decisions based on what people will say. High time we stop bothering about such things.

    • You are right, Akanksha. Sometimes it may not be that easy though. You will need the stanch support of your spouse and those close to you. Because there are consequences of not toeing the line. You may end up being excluded and socially alienated as a result. You may end up alienating people who care about such things. And you have to have the mettle to not let all that affect you.

  4. Super post so so true..loved the fact that you say that prayers are our own..just because we dont follow rituals doesnt make us different!! loved the post

    • Thanks so much, RM. Absolutely, just because we don’t do the showbaazi, it does not mean we don’t connect with our Supreme Being or our own core. Glad you liked the post.

  5. I love this song…one of my all time favourites…I get teary eyed every single time I hear it because its truth sounds so true to me deep inside. I have never been a “what will people say” type of person nor I have felt the need to explain or defend my choices. This is something my first feminist teacher my grandmother taught me by her example. She was never a protesting or rebellious woman but who always knew what is the true and right thing to do no matter what the society says. These are the kind of people who truly bring about lasting change in society through living a life on their terms yet without any propaganda or shouting from rooftop like activists of today!

    • It is my favorite song as well, Beloo. So proud of your grandmother. We are after all a reflection on our parents and grandparents. For me, it is my father. Like your grandmother, he quietly breaks stereotypes. No fuss, no noise, just lives a life that inspires me every single day. And somewhere I think I have imbibed those ideals. I only write about this to reiterate to myself that I will not be cowed down.

  6. You already know what I think about “log kya kahenge”. More power to you, Rach.

  7. People will talk, no matter what! It’s up to each person to decide how (s)he reacts, if at all, to people’s talk. As far as I’m concerned, after listening to the opinions of a few people whose opinions I choose to listen to, I make my own choices. I guess many of us do that. However, when the situation arises, do we wholeheartedly give our kids the same freedom of choice?

    • People will talk no matter what. You are absolutely right. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t please all. The difficulty comes when your family does not support your ideas. You may be looked down upon or emotionally blackmailed to do what the society deems fit. That is just the saddest part. We all know how one can face social isolation and even ostracization at times. The situation is changing in large cities. But look at small towns and villages. It is still societal diktats that reign supreme. About your question, I would like to believe and I know in my heart that they will be free to pursue their dreams and desires.

  8. I have a personal relationship with this phrase. When I went to my Punjabi parents and said that I wanted to marry a Keralite, one of their excuses was “Log kya kahenge!!” But my husband is someone who couldn’t care less. And after getting married to my mallu boy, I have also gotten to explore and exercise my devil may care attitude! And true enough, log never bothered to turn around and find out if I was happy in my marriage and wouldn’t set things straight if I wasn’t. I just hope that we bring up our children to believe in themselves and follow their heart.

  9. Well all I can say is more power to you…I think interfering and forcefully giving advice or rather imposing opinions on others is something so intrinsic to the society we live in… I say to hell with ‘log kya kahenge’ and oh yes ‘samajh kya kahega’ another phrase I want to blast 😀

    • Thanks, Naba. I think I derive this strength from my parents and my siblings who have stood by my choices. And now I am blessed to have a spouse who has broken some stereotypes of his own. If not for the support of this system behind me, I wonder if I’d have the courage to do what I do.

  10. An insanely big force in India, where ‘samaj’ dictates everything for us. I too have lived by life on my own terms by having a very unconventional way of living – married out of caste, dont follow many rituals, term myself agnostic so don’t follow many festivals to the T, have a questioning attitude towards most conventionally accepted things and also many times am ignorant of customs or rituals – SO I found find myself alone.Not that I am complaining as I prefer my solitude anyday BUT it also means I have withdrawn socially. I think its a mental barrier that one needs to be break about society to be really able to live one’s life.

    • Absolutely, Ash, I know where you are coming from. Yes, social isolation could be one consequence. As a matter of fact, most people force you to follow inane rituals and customs by making you fear — either it is God or society or something else. I agree with you that it is a mental barrier one must break. If you show the courage, others will back off to a certain extent. We need to do that in a society like ours which is overtly intrusive.

  11. Rajeev Moothedath on September 15, 2014 at 10:03 pm said:

    Well Said!

  12. hahahha!! The song that came immediately to my mind when I saw the title of your post on Facebook! 🙂
    I never cared for Log Kya Kahenge mentality. My side of the family lives life on its own terms. It is unfortunate that my in-laws do care a lot, even though my husband doesn’t. It helps that my husband was always fiercely independent so they know that most of the time, he will not heed what they say unless there is a logical reason for it!
    And, yes, it does help that the community around us is very hands-off and does not poke their noses into our or others’ affairs!

    • Yes, it did :). The same applies to me, Rosh, ditto. My side of the family especially my own father, mother and siblings never cared for these conventions. My in-laws, however, are a bit conservative. My husband is just like your hubby. It amazes me at times how similar you and I are and in so many aspects :).

      But the community in which we live in not that hands off. You know how it is in India. But I prefer to live on my own terms. I don’t care about what they call me behind my back.

  13. Completely my thoughts, Rachna. This log kya kahenge is so putting off…logon ka kaam hai kehena. I mean we lose the self as we get influenced by society’s yard stick. Sometimes back, I wrote a post on similar lines.

  14. There was a time when I used to care a lot. To be honest, it is after my child’s birth, I realized that you have to do what you have to, no matter what others think or laden you with. That’s how life should be lived.

    • I completely agree, Jas. I used to try and please everyone when younger. But the past decade I’ve seen a transformation in myself. I genuinely don’t care now. Of course, it hurts if I come to know of rude things said about me or my family. But, I guess one has to develop a thick hide and ignore it.

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  16. Rachna, this is SO you! I was grinning as I was reading this. I seriously feel sad for those who live within the limits of what others will think/ say. Life must be so hard for them. And people like us must be such a thorn in their side. It must hurt them to see us disregard societal opinions. For them societal rules must be as painful as those iron shoes the Chinese make their daughters wear while you and I run about bare-foot. Do you blame them for their ire? I don’t… 😀

    • Dags, it wasn’t easy. I used to pander to others’ whims and fancies when I was younger. We all love to be accepted, to belong. But then I realized that you really can’t please all. So at least please yourself.

      I can totally see why people like you and me do not fit in their scheme of things. They label us rebels, infidels and I don’t know what else. No, I don’t blame them for their ire at all. :). Thanks for your affirmation as always.

  17. Haha!! I was so wrapped up in myself while growing that I hardly knew or cared what others were saying or doing. Have always done what felt right to me. It may not always be the best decision in hindsight, but at least it was my decision and my parents allowed me to do so. Have become a little more aware of surroundings, post-marriage, but again with a supportive husband and non-interfering family, who cares about xyz’s. A big thumbs up to you!!

    • I saw some nasty relatives and acquaintances when I was growing up. I used to be baffled how they could be so rude. Why couldn’t they mind their own business? Just like you, I have followed my heart. It may not be right at times, sure. And like you said, one does need a supportive family to truly follow one’s hearts. A thumbs up to you too.

  18. Nice one! I love the song!

    I am a bit ‘different’ in our family too! I try my best to try to be true to my conscience than to ‘what people will say’. I respect others to some extent and then do what I think right. I don’t seem to compel my sons and urge them to take their own decisions. My son told somebody that his parents never compelled him to do anything and he loves it!

    • That is the best compliment to get, Sandhya. You have done good. I think it is important that we teach our children to take their decisions and don’t bog them down with all kinds of social barriers.

  19. I too think and believe like you, Rachna and has never been affected by the ‘log kya kahenge’ syndrome!One cannot please everyone:)

  20. Yup – Chodo bekaar ki baaton mein kahin beet na jaye raina, indeed 🙂 Me – I am only too happy if people consider me important enough to them to be talking about me, even pejoratively 🙂

  21. Please all and you please none. Btw lovely song.

  22. I have never cared about this aspect.In our family,we do what we think is right for us and the society we live in…

  23. When I was younger, I have heard somebody tell me “A 1000 people will tell you a 1000 things. And if you listen to and try to follow all those 1000 things, you will just end up going mad”

    And I have always followed that since.

    • You are absolutely right, Jairam. It took me some time to gain that understanding. The problem mostly arises for me personally when someone in the family especially elders push you to do something to appease others. That creates a clash for me. Follow your path and you end up upsetting them. Do what they say and you upset yourself.

  24. Me and my husband also don’t believe in ‘log kya kahenge’. But when it comes to our parents wishes, we have to abide.

    All of us worry about the ‘log’ bit failing to understand that it is us who make the rules. I’m glad that a lot of people around me are breaking the so called rules. Here’s to a better future generation 🙂

    • Yes, Nisha, I know what you are saying. I am blessed with a father who is extremely mature and gives all of us complete freedom to make our choices. Sadly the same cannot be said of some others. Your point about each one of us being part of ‘log’ is so true. If each one started affording another leeway in living their own lives, quickly this syndrome will vanish. Here’s indeed to better future gens. :).

  25. Me being a muhfat and straight forward, many times i ended up in soup.My mum always get a bashing from the relative advising her to put a tight leash on me. But never once she asked me to be hypocrite. I am straight forward caz i speak truth and with sincerity in my thoughts equally for everybody. To hell with “log” if they don’t like it. I am what i am.Love me or hate me,Your choice.

    • Oh these idiot relatives. I had a fair share of their stupid advice or more likely my mom when we were growing up. Exactly, love me or hate me but this is the way I am. Am so glad to have known you, Anu.

  26. It is truly a malaise. One of the primary reasons my inlaws opposed our marriage so strongly is because they were too scared of facing the society they lived in. It was a real fear because they had actually seen people turning into social outcasts because their children married out of their communities. Sigh..

    But having said that, I keep telling myself to not care about these so called ‘log’ too. The truth is I do. It reflects in the way I dress, speak and behave at times, much to my husband’s displeasure. The day we truly stop caring about others will be the day we are truly free.

    • Yes, Pepper, I know what you mean. I think there will always be some log that we will always worry about in the way we live. But hopefully most of us will break the shackles of trying to please all and sundry and end up being unhappy.

  27. I wish many had the chance to live a life like yours. I mean to adapt the ‘I don’t care what people think’ attitude. As good as it may sound, not feasible and possible at all times. Been there, done that. And it sucks.

    • Yes, I know what you mean, Latha. It takes two to Tango. I can adopt the attitude but I do need the support of my immediate family and friends. That I am lucky to get. And sure, it is not feasible always.

  28. Thankfully it’s we who get to decide where to draw the lines. If we start living according to others, we also start blaming them for our unhappiness.

  29. Very true. It’s nice to listen to what others have to say but our decisions and actions need not be based on that alone. We need to think carefully how a decision would have an impact on us and not just what people might say.

    Very well said!

  30. You sound quite incensed! You have to tell me what brought this post on. 😀

    • You are right, Rickie. I remember writing this post when I was quite upset. This was in my drafts folder. When I re-read it I sensed the anger in the post but left it as is. Nothing to do with the virtual world, I assure you :). But these thoughts when read years later will still be applicable. Sigh!

  31. ‘LOG KYA KAHENGE’ is the serial killer of dreams and wishes.
    We need to believe in ourselves and stand by our convictions….our dreams.
    People will take…even if you become an angel.

  32. This ‘what will people say” mentality have have successfully extinguished many fires, many talents…surprisingly, we still are much driven by it. I wonder why..for fake popularity may be…

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