“Why are your children so thin? Aren’t you feeding them well?’”
“Ask her to use chironji with milk; that will brighten her complexion. Otherwise, who will marry her?”
“Why haven’t you conceived this far? I can suggest medication and postures!”
“Why is your husband at home? Who earns?”
“How much are you earning? Give me exact figures.”
“So what if she is good at studies, she is only a girl! Once she grows up, all she will do is raise kids and do housework.”
These are all face-to-face conversations, each one I have been party to. They are relentless, annoying and they hurt too. At the bottom of it all is the way we are as Indians. I am sure other cultures have their fair share of intrusive relatives and nosy neighbors. But what I’ve experienced in India would have been utterly unbelievable if I had not experienced it first-hand. Is it that we are generally ill mannered or used to putting our feet in our mouth?
Now I do agree that everyone gossips. We are not blind and we do have opinions about others – how they live, what they wear and how they lead their lives. Fair enough! But what makes these people walk up to someone they barely share a smile with and say these intrusive and hurtful things is completely beyond comprehension.
In a country, where comedy and fun is synonymous with making fun of people’s physical traits and even disabilities, how much sensitivity can really be expected? Growing up in this scenario, all of us have cultivated our coping mechanisms. When I was younger, I would try to ignore or seek shelter in the soothing words of a loved one. I was painfully shy and could not answer back. But I hated every word. Why couldn’t they leave me alone?
As I grew older and grew more confident, I began to take it in my stride. It helps to have people in your life — your immediate family, your friends and your teachers who love and boost your self image.The exposure to other cultures and reading helped a lot. It widened my horizons, helped me appreciate my own qualities and convictions. Then blogging happened. And speaking with other people made me realize that this is a national disease so to speak. The barbs are even harsher on the women who are scrutinized, taunted, traumatized and hassled every step of the way for every choice they make – whether it is to study, work, stay single, get married, have children, not have children and so on. Every decision of ours is insanely analyzed threadbare. The offensive aunties or your own age women (why isn’t it the uncles) never miss an opportunity to bring you down. Perhaps they are idle, have really low self esteem or they may be jealous, and this is their only way to make them feel good about themselves.
Whatever be it, as I got older I started fighting back. No one will say something rude about my family to my face and expect to get away. I will give it back, sometimes sarcastically at other times in amusing retorts. But yes, the underlying message always from me is “Mind your own business!”
The underlying motto is: My Life, My Choice!
You have a problem with that then keep it to yourself. Unless you are planning to raise my kids or run my home, I have no interest in hearing what you think about my life choices. I would suggest that instead of stewing in misery and feeling hurt for days by these awful comments that people regularly offload on us, we give it back and let it out of our system. Rationalize or even understand that it is lack of exposure or etiquette that makes them shoot their mouths off, and let it go. But don’t let it affect you. Acceptance that some people will just be morons certainly helps.
Think before you speak!Words cannot be taken back.