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Archive for December 17th, 2009

Warning : This is NOT a book review

2 States- The Story of My Marriage

 

A friend had given me a copy of Chetan Bhagat’s book  “2 States – The story of my marriage”. 

It was an engaging read. Not literary material, but fun nevertheless. The story of two IIMA students from different backgrounds falling in love and then going through the rigmarole of convincing their respective families, the hurdles they come across, the misunderstandings, the anger, frustration and ultimately, love. 

Some snippets were really funny. 

But some, though funny, didn’t please me. Mostly because, they were too realistic . Too blunt, yet unavoidable. 

How many times have I heard people of one region bad mouthing people of another. And I just can’t relate to both parties. 

I, being an offspring of a Maharashtrian-Tamilian amalgamation and a student of the truly ‘Indian’ Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS, also called as “Central Schools”), find it difficult to understand the grudge which people carry in their heart. The inherent distrust/dislike towards people unlike them. 

– One colleague, while discussing his stay down south had laughingly said that during his entire stay, he craved to see a white face. 

– Another friend from the South had this deep distrust for North Indians, saying they lacked morals. He was reluctant to share information and knowledge with other non-South-Indian colleagues! 

– I have friends in Pune who say that they would NEVER consider marrying a girl from Delhi because , according to them, ‘ALL Delhi girls have loose morals’ 

– I was working in a team in which half the strength was from Orissa and the rest were Maharashtrians. The sparks which flew from both sides had to be seen to be believed. 

– A friend from Kerala firmly believed that non-Keralites are at a very low par compared to Keralites. 

These are just a few instances that I have listed here. There are many more such people/instances around. We talk about Americans being racist. What about us? We talk about Australians being cruel to Indians…what about how we treat our own people?? 

Living in Army quarters didn’t give us a chance to choose our neighbours. So we simply got along with everyone. Sharing anything special made at home. Dropping in at each other’s place without notice. Learning different recipes from each other…sometimes, even trying to learn the languages. 

But now, a person from Andhra will make sure that he buys a flat in a society which has mostly Andhra-ites. 

Jains will make sure that they have their own walled societies, where non-Jains are not allowed. 

Muslims try to settle with only muslim neighbours. 

Two Tamilians in a group will make sure that they speak ONLY in Tamil, knowing fully well others do not understand the language. What they forget is that it is BAD manners to talk something in a group which is not for everyone. But then , Maharashtrians also do the same. Discuss official/technical discussions in Marathi, knowing fully well that half the team-strength doesn’t follow the language. 

So many instances….so many differences…and such less effort to get together. To understand. To tolerate!!! 

And if that wasn’t enough, we want more states. More differences. More distances. 

Divide. And divide again. Till we are too weak to stand together. Till it is easy for us to be broken. Again. 

And then we rue the fact that India was always targeted by outsiders…by invaders, who looted and plundered her. The British, the Mughals, the Aryans (roughly in reverse order). 

But when have we really stood together?? Only once. That too, because one old man (Mahatma Gandhi) shook the conscience of the nation. 

And even before he departed this world, we were back at bickering. Everyone demanding his own space. His own ghetto. Wanting to be with only those people who were like him. Outsiders not allowed. 

How weak are we? 

It is easy to break up. Make a zillion different states and stay in your own clusters. 

It takes a much stronger will and heart to stay together. 

To WANT to stay together. 

Do we have it in us?? 

Did we ever have it in us?? 

Ever??

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There is this lady security guard at the place where I work. She generally takes down the list of women employees in the premises and the time at which they leave office.

Usually, while leaving the building and walking towards the company bus, we get chit-chatting…on nothing in particular.

Over a period of last few months, I have found out a few personal details about her :-

1) She is not much older than me.

2) She has two daughters, one in the 1st grade and the other in nursery.

3) She has a husband who works for the same security firm.

Also, the not-much-emphasised-but-implied part of our conversation revealed that her husband was of no good. Though he was working in the firm before her, he was not sincere to his job and hence missed his promotion many times. The lady now earns twice her husband’s salary (good for her).

She reports to work at 2:30 in the afternoon and leaves by 10:30. After reaching home, she has to feed the kids and get them to sleep. Then wrap up the pending tasks for the next day before wrapping up.

One by one she revealed the decisions she had to make for herself :-

1) She underwent a tubectomy because she didn’t want any more kids. She is content with her two daughters and wants to give them good education. she does not crave having ‘boys’. And if her husband has any issues, there is little he can do about it now!

2) She does her complete housework and packs the kids off to school before sitting down on her sewing machine to stitch clothes on order. Reason being she needs the extra money to support the expensive fees of English medium schools (to which she sends her kids).

3) She prefers working weekends because she gets extra income for those days. Secondly, she feels her husband should handle more responsibility of the kids.

All this from a diminutive , petite woman , who barely looks strong enough to lift one kid!! She has made a strong independent life for herself. Even if at any point of time her husband dumps her, she wouldn’t be at any loss. It appears to be the other way round. He is dependent on her!!

There are times when I wonder at the inner strength of this woman. How does one hold such confidence, such determination, for doing well not just for herself, but for her family too. The strength to take over the reins, to steer her family in the right direction. To not be a whimpering rag at the mercy of her husband.

Its amazing.Seriously.

Somehow, I doubt I’d have the strength of conviction to hold my own…if I were ever to step into her shoes. Life has been pretty cosy and comfortable till date (mA).

But yes, I would definitely pray to God to make all women strong , not only in body, but also in mind. Its the mind that controls us and our decisions in life  🙂

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