Tag Archives: Desi Mother

Desi Fathers: Super, Lesser and Some in Between

2 Oct

Yes, DG is still alive. Yes, it’s been a long time to be exact 3 months and 20 days since she last posted on GGTS. What did she do all these days? Not that busy readers are interested in her not so happening life. Her basement apartment flooded and she literally survived electrocution. One Saturday morning in early September while she was still drifting in and out of sleep she thought she was dreaming until her hand hit the floor in six inches of water. She jumped out of bed to find she was still alive because in her sleep she pulled the plug to heat pad and fan. She blessed her stars for she is not a parent. She salutes you all parents out there, kudos for how you do that. Now you have another one for your arsenal, “be happy DG is not your parent, or else you would have been… surviving on raw food, green smoothies, steamed veggies, sitting in 6 inches of water… (You can add whatever to the list). DG is definitely not parent material she is just as good as Gabbar Singh to scare kids in the neighborhood though she is a good auntie to spoil your kids and talk to them about everything under the sun. Her friends tell her she gives very good parenting advice that is possible only because she is not a parent. 😛

Her social life might be nil but her Karma life is pretty interesting… Now everything is almost under control, all suitcases are wet and have gone bad, mission impossible to find a new place is on… Hope readers had a good time while she was away. In continuation to the previous post, though it was DG’s assumption that it will be in two parts but it appears it will be in few more parts.

By definition the super father, did not have to struggle to establish his hegemony it just came by virtue of his birth order. There after he had to maintain it by asserting his might and right at all the important life events in the family such as, birth of children, birth rites, finding matches or spending on wedding and sickness in the family and so on. To have power and absolute power is no big deal the skill lies in maintaining that power over a life time for this a person has to learn to execute power in a balance so as to not alienate the menials or push them into rebellion. Constant stiff upper lip is one way to do this but it is pretty threatening and alienating thus a super father has to occasionally shower affection at distant quarters so as not to destroy his in-control image. For example, a father who is known as terror incarnate to his children is often viewed as kind person by his nieces, nephews and neighbors. He’ll be readily available to guide and support his siblings and their children at the cost of his own progeny; rather he is obsessed with them. According to him his children by default should excel in career and social life and take his baton further. His filial loyalty is secondary to his filial piety (sharing his parents’ duty of raising their progeny, his siblings). Though his children often grow with emotionally absent father and resentful of their aunts, uncles and cousins but he makes sure he gives tips on parenting to his siblings. Often these kids rebel and super father loses grip on them.

With such a super father in picture all other fathers in the family become lesser fathers and they have to establish their own pecking order. There is a natural unspoken competition between siblings for parental attention and approval; all their lives they do tango and once they have children this burden to provide them with identity falls on them. Thus children become poster child of “My dog is smarter than…” So each father not only minds his children to save face but also pokes nose in the upbringing of those of his siblings’ (if possible then neighbors too) to maintain pecking order. In this double and confused parenting their own children rebel and move away from them thus to feel in-control they take it up to themselves to discipline other people’s children. The only way to deflect attention from their errant (rather resentful and disrespectful) children they interfere in other people’s disciplining regimes; they find faults in other people’s children to an extent where not only the children but their parents too resent them. Although the generational reverence and gender hierarchy prevents any direct confrontation with such nosey pseudo fathers but after a point a mother will stand up for son(s). This double edged sword often falls on male children and thus their mother emerge as their saviors.

It is mommy’s job to protect her sons’ from daddy’s unreasonable wrath and that of other fathers in the family. Thus mother son dyad is further cemented as her emotionally absent husband further drifts away. Her rising to protect her son(s) immediately brands her as family breaker and an outside (her association to family is through marriage and she’ll remain outsider until her death, she’ll be inducted into the clan only after sharad, a death feast is organized in her name).

These are not set in cement rules of desi parenting they are just prototypes there are numerous variations and combinations depending upon where they stand in social pecking order. It is true that it takes a village to raise a child but it is also true that too many chefs will only spoil the broth…

PS: These fathers are not bad people they are good providers and law abiding citizens they are just confused and they do not know any other way to behave. It is time we created new parenting role models. The world of desi parenting is evolving and some young men are stepping up to be “Dads.”

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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.

From the wet market

Mostly vegetarian meals from Asia

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