“Long tresses are important for a good match. Dont you ever dare mention cutting your hair again”, her mother reproached her.
“But Ma I want to look smart like Tejaswi. I look so nerdy with my hair oiled and braided into tight plaits. I want a fringe to play with and short hair to swing around my ears”, pleaded 12 years old Ananya.
“Girls dont cut their hair as a husband like a wife with long hair”, teased her grandmother from her perch in the verandah.
Ananya scowled darkly, muttering to herself, ” When I grow up, I will shave off my hair.”
” Ma I want a pair of jeans like bhaiya. Can I get them for my birthday please?” Ananya beseeched with a lot of hope.
“Dont be silly. Good girls dont wear tight fitted clothes. Besides jeans are for boys. And I will be buying a beautiful saree for your trousseau with the money I have been saving up for your birthday,” Ma told her firmly.
It seems all her mother did was shop and hoard for her wedding trousseau since the day she was borne.
“When I grow up, I will only wear jeans and burn all these sarees,” Ananya thought mutinously.
Her mother stressed the importance of being a perfect cook everytime Ananya would plead for some time off to play with her dolls. “How will we find a good match for you if you dont know how to cook?” her mother would intone sagely.
Time spent in the kitchen with her grandmother, taught her to cook wonderful food. She also developed an affinity for flavours and discovered she was happiest when she was cooking. Her grandmother was very patient with her unlike her mother who scolded her every infraction.
“The rotis are not round; dont cook them on such high flame. Learn to be patient or else you will not win your husband’s heart “, her mother would shoot out her instructions, one after the other, punctuated with matrimonial wisdom. She wouldnt let her experiment with the flavours or the time tested recipes either.
“When I grow up, I will cook only what I like to eat and give him only chillies to eat,” Ananya promised herself.
So Ananya grew up in a household full of lots of rules and advise for the women; how to sit, how to dress, how to speak (or not), how to behave…………. and with each rule she made up one of her own for when she would be able to be a grown up. She believed that once she grew up, all the rules would be lifted and she would breathe as her own woman.
Her mother and other relatives drilled it into her that every woman is born to serve a man and bear him children; she was being groomed as many others before her have too.
Academics never featured high on her list and with so many cousins in the house; neither did friendships with other girls her age who thought her snooty and aloof. Truth be told, she was just shy. She was also protected from the outside world by her father, brothers and uncles who believed that girls should be seen and not heard. She developed into an introvert with strangers as a result and learned not to assert herself.
But the gem that was most precious was the conditioning placed on the fact that a woman is incomplete without a husband. This one was drilled into her with great reverence. “A woman who cant find a husband is as good as a woman with no virture,” was her mother’s sagacious advise at the drop of a hat while her grandmother nodded wisely to it and added fondly, ” Our Anu will not be one such, for we will ensure a prince for her.”
“When I grow up, I will kiss the prince into a frog, ” Ananya swore resolutely.
This post has been written to explain Ananya’s personality and her beliefs that she grew up with. Lots of the readers, while sympathising with her plight, also wondered why is she so weak and immature? So I thought it was time to explain some parts of her thought process. This is the conditioning almost every household in India drills or yearns to drill into their girls. At the end of the day, every parent wishes to “settle” their daughter with a well-to-do suitor and hope for grandchildren.
Posting my day 12 post for #Dailychatter Here as I take my blog to the next level with #Blogchatter and #UBC – the ultimate blog challenge in October 2016 through fictional series which will become a regular feature on my blog under #FridayFiction