An Ode to Desi Mothering: Desi Daughters on the Shoulders of Giants

8 May

An Ode to Desi Mothering: Desi Daughters on the Shoulders of Giants

Last week I met a just turned 21 pretty, petite, some 90lbs civil engineer in training from Bangladesh. She had been in pardes for four years now. This bubbly character is full of stories and dreams. She wants to be a lawyer some day and work with victims of human trafficking. Usually most desi students come abroad for masters only a handful makes it here after high school. I asked her about her journey at 18 from a land of scarcity to a land of plenty. Here is what she told me:

I come from a middle class single earner family. My mom is a homemaker I have two older siblings and my father passed away last year. Even as six years old I knew I wanted to go abroad. My parents never took me seriously. None is so ambitious in my family. While I was in high school some people from American and Canadian universities came to school and they spoke about admissions abroad and how they were going to setup their office in our town. I felt my dream coming true. I told my parents of my intentions they did not pay much attention. I started preparing for SAT. To appear for SAT parents had to get me a passport. They thought I’ll fail and get over it. I cleared SAT and submitted my scores and application at the newly opened office of the foreign universities I kept waiting for a call. When I did not hear for a month I went to their office to ask. I was told they called and spoke to my mother. I was really disappointed. I confronted my mother, at first she denied and then she said daddy did not want me to go abroad as I was too young. I cried, begged them and even went on a hunger strike. But no one moved daddy’s was the last word, NO. The last date to submit fees was approaching; I was getting desperate as nothing was happening at home. By the end of the week mother came to me and asked how much money I needed I said it is in thousands. She said don’t worry I’ll do something even if daddy doesn’t give it to you. And next day we heard Ma lost two of her gold bangles while she went to the local ghat and rest is a history. Daddy and grandma were mad at her but she did not say a word. I filed the fees and received the I-20s from two schools. Finally Ma fought with daddy and here I am.

Ma’s parting words at the airport were “I entrust you with the honor of our family be wise and do not do anything that will close the door of education and other opportunities for the women of coming generations in our family.”

I looked an eye full at her beaming eyes and her tiny shoulders that were bearing the load for the generations to come. Here she was standing on the shoulders of a giant mother.

On this Mother’s Day I recall how I reached where I am with multiple degrees and a life unthinkable by numerous women around the world. I too stand on the shoulders of a giant mother. I remember at eight how my mother fought with my father to send me to dance classes. Singing and dancing are looked down upon in my feudal family. I don’t think she wanted me to be a performer; she just wanted me to learn dancing. Initially I sucked but she would encourage me and help me practice. I quit after four years due to my stubbornness though I regret it now but I can say I can dance. At 14 my father had this strange idea that I should no longer be wearing skirts but salwar kameez in adherence to our minority community traditions. My mother not only fought with my father but she would buy or even stitch skirts and middies for me. In return she wanted me to do the chores and not talk back and ask too many questions (chore I did do rest I didn’t follow through more than I week I remember). I guess it was her way of resisting the male dominance in the family and giving me what she could never have. My mother has supported me through my higher education (dad always threatened to withdraw me from school if I didn’t stop talking back), inter catse-inter religion marriage (dad was against it, mom wanted me to be happy), divorce (dad was pretty unhappy with it, mom wanted me to be happy and safe) and now a single life full of wanderlust (both of them have made peace with it). Often it makes my father uncomfortable but she is always there like a rock. I write this blog standing on the giant shoulders of my petite mother who fought against all odds to give me a chance. I love you mom.

Amu shared how her mother has supported her through her higher education and divorce. Her father would have preferred her dead than come home divorced. Atiya concedes though her mother was mostly emotionally unavailable but as a first generation working woman she made sure her girls were treated at par with her boys against the wishes of her in-laws. Shanu recalled how her mother though scorned by in-laws for birthing four daughters still managed to fight for their higher education and postponing their marriages until their mid twenties. It is true we weren’t given this life we enjoy today without a dose of conditions of our pay back: maintain the family honor at all costs. We have defied many rules and circumvented many by laws with our marriages and divorces. We survived because we had giants for our mothers and higher education on our side. We owe it to our mothers not just our birth but our lives full of dreams and possibilities. Desi Girl and friends salute Desi mothers for all their strength and compassion to make it possible for our generation of Desi Daughtesr.

PS: Readers may share their stories and salute there mothers on GGTS.

Last word:

Some mothers were too confused by male dictates of honor and shame they could not support their daughters and lost them to this brutal system. Many Nirupamas, unborn baby girls and unnamed female toddlers are lost over centuries to this brutal system but these are just incidents not trends.

6 Responses to “An Ode to Desi Mothering: Desi Daughters on the Shoulders of Giants”

  1. psharmarao April 15, 2013 at p04 #

    This is so inspiring and empowering ! sharing our stories and our experiences . thanks for creating this space.


  2. shail June 7, 2010 at p06 #

    Heart warming stories.


  3. P May 28, 2010 at p05 #

    Great article, great job! I’ve just added to my bookmark list. I’ll back for sure


  4. Nis May 24, 2010 at p05 #

    “I entrust you with the honor of our family be wise and do not do anything that will close the door of education and other opportunities for the women of coming generations in our family.”

    it is this dialogue that makes you feel guilty! if i decide to do wat i think is right and not bother about the society, i become responsible for the other gals in the family being confined to their homes. because sending a gal away from home for work/studies before getting her married makes her too independent and forget her duties towards the family and society and the family’s reputation. she forgets how lucky she is to be able to earn a living and it is her turn to pay back by obeying her parents, even though it means living a life she doesn’t want!


  5. Nishant May 9, 2010 at p05 #

    Hello Desi Girl!
    I am not going to comment here on your post above, rather, I applaud your attempt in dissecting the issues of premarital sex and legitimacy (Nirupama’s case) in the blog of Shivangi.
    I’d suggest U keep in touch with ‘Chokher Bali’ Hindi blog. There, some bloggers are bringing out very good content on such issues.
    One more thing, if U are keen on experimenting with the theme of your blog, I must recommend U try have a look in Mistylook theme. It’s a great feature rich theme.
    Once again, it’s a good time visiting your blog. I should read your old posts to edify myself.


    • girlsguidetosurvival May 9, 2010 at p05 #


      Welcome to GGTS, a safe space.

      Thanks for your kind words. Please share this message of hope with who ever will benefit. I will try Mistylook. One of the readers, iniyaal is try to help me redo my theme. I’ll suggest them your idea.

      I appreciate your suggestion to get in touch with Chokher Bali. Please do visit again.


      Desi Girl


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

From the wet market

Mostly vegetarian meals from Asia

****आयुर्वेद : आयुष**** ई०टी०जी० आयुर्वेदास्कैन ****AYURVEDA : E.T.G. AyurvedaScan **** ****आयुष आविष्कार**** ई० एच० जी० ****होम्योपैथीस्कैन **** E.H.G. Homoeopathy Scan

AYUSH means A.Y.U.S.H. य़ानी Ayurveda + Yoga & Nature Cure + Unani +Sidhdha + Homoeopathy ; आयुष पान्च चिकित्सा विधियो को मिलाकर एक टर्म बना दिया गया है , जिसका मतलब [१] A word से आयुर्वेद [२] Y word से योग और प्राकृतिक चिकित्सा [३] U word से यूनानी चिकित्सा [४] S word से सिध्ध चिकित्सा [५] H word से होम्योपैथी चिकित्सा ; आयुर्वेद के अलावा भारत में आविष्कार की गयी और भारत सरकार द्वारा परीक्षित की जा चुकी मान्यता प्राप्त विश्व की पहली और अकेली आयुर्वेद की शत-प्रतिशत पूर्णतया स्वदेशी तकनीक "इलेक्ट्रो त्रिदोष ग्राफी : ई०टी०जी० आयुर्वेदास्कैन " , जिसका आविष्कार जून, १९८६ में कानपुर शहर, उत्तर प्रदेश, भारत के आयुष चिकित्सा वैग्यानिक डा० देश बन्धु बाजपेयी - मोबाइल: 09336238994 - e.mail : द्वारा किया गया और जिसका लगातार विकास कार्य जारी है / E.T.G.A.S. तकनीक द्वारा (1) आयुर्वेद के मौलिक सिध्धान्तों का स्टेटस क्वान्टीफाई करने और इसी तकनीक द्वारा (2) शरीर के सभी अन्गों और प्रत्यन्गॊ में व्याप्त समस्त रोगों के निदान ग्यान की वैग्यानिक aproach की जानकारी कराने और सबसे नवीन दूसरी आविष्कार की गयी निदान और रोग ग्यान तक्नीक आयुर्वेदा थर्मों ग्राफी ; आयुर्वेदा ऊष्मा-स्कैन ; आयुर्वेदा थेर्मल मैपिन्ग एवम स्कैनिन्ग के अलावा आयुर्वेद की अन्य की गयी खोजों में तीसरी खोज ”आयुर्वेद हीमो-मीटर मशीन” द्वारा रोगी के रक्त का परीक्षण करके आयुर्वेद के सिध्ध्न्तों का मूल्यान्कन तथा चौथी खोज रोगी के पेशाब / मूत्र का ”आयुर्वेद यूरीनो-मीटर” द्वारा परीक्षण करके आयुर्वेद के सिध्धान्तो की उपस्तिथि के अलावा मूत्र के अन्दर पाये जाने वाले पदार्थों का विष्लेषण करके रोग निदान की विधियों की खोज रिसर्च सेन्टर द्वारा कर ली गयी है और रोगियों के लिये उपलब्ध करा दी गयी है ...आयुष AYUSH चिकित्सा विधियों के बारे में विश्वसनीय और सटीक और अचूक और सही जानकारी और शोध पूर्ण और शोध युक्त ग्यान बोध कराने वाला द्विभाषीय चिठ्ठा ...................................Ayurveda and AYUSH Therapies including Chines Accupunctur, Magnet Therapy,Physiotherapy etc and with this in June, 1986, invented by KANPUR, Uttar Pradesh State, INDIA based AYUSH Medical Scientist Dr. Desh Bandhu Bajpai - Mobile : 09336238994 - e.mail: , completely indeginous AYURVEDA SCANNING Technology - "Electro Tridosha Graphy ; E.T.G.AyurvedaScan " system, EXAMINED & APPROVED BY GOVERNMENT OF INDIA , by which (a) status of Ayurvedic Fundamentals are quantified and (b) examinaton of whole body for diagnosis of presence of anomalies and ailments , Second scanning system of Ayurveda Discovered and Invented by Dr. D.B.Bajpai ; Ayurveda Thermal Mapping and Scanning , Other research in Ayurveda is Third one which analysis Blood by AYURVEDA HEAMO-METER devise and Fourth one is AYURVEDA URINO-METER for analysing the contents of urine and status quantification of Ayurveda Principles and is avalable for patient in our research center...... provides information about Research and Developments technology provider , authenticated subject material publisher, Bilingual Hindi and English informer Blog


जनसंघर्ष को समर्पित

Talking to the Wall

Posting about this and that :)

Surviving Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI - Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends


मेरे विचारो का

समाजवादी जनपरिषद

वैश्वीकरण विरोध हेतु

Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.

W.S.S.A @ UWindsor

Women's Studies Student Association @ University of Windsor, Ontario

Shafiq Ur Rahman Khan

Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.

Beyond The Second Sex (स्त्रीविमर्श)

Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.

नारी , NAARI

Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.

Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.


Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.

Zerqa Abid

Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.

Sex And The Indian Cities

love, friendship and life in the Indian cities

%d bloggers like this: