If I was God,
I would want to make sure women outlived the men in their family.
Not all, but some at least.
Genetics, and hormones do this for us, most of the time.
But I would want this because I have seen the Indian man.
You know, the Indian man who can’t find his socks on his own.
Who can’t drink water unless someone puts a glass in his hand.
Or can’t eat unless he is served, because he can’t transfer food from the serving dish onto his plate.
Sorry, not can’t. Won’t, because it’s not a part of his role as an Indian man.
His wife does these things for him when he’s well, and looks after him he’s unwell.
She doesn’t expect much when she’s unwell, because she’s like –
The bottom of the barrel that bears the pressure,
When it’s filled to the brim and there’s no ease or leisure.
The support for the busy of everyone else,
And when she’s not well, the support for herself.
– from “She’s the bottom of the barrel”.
She knows this, and she accepts it.
Until she doesn’t.
And then, she realizes that she has a job to do.
A job that her mother-in-law should have done, but didn’t.
Because, you know, her mother-in-law –
Was an obedient daughter-in-law, who accepted without a fight.
‘Cos she learned from her own mother,
That it was the only way.
To a stable successful family life in the years when it was her day.
The young Indian woman can sometimes let customs and tradition pull her one way,
Even when she thinks another has more value.
She takes time to realise that there are many different paths.
And that there are many different ways to take a stand.
She learns. Slowly.
She learns that there are many shades of grey between black and white.
And that there is plenty of space for negotiation in-between.
She has learned. And she is learning still.
She wishes the politicians would learn too.
But they are busy with other things.
So she sits at home, pushing the boundaries of patriarchy, the customs and traditions, and the self-imposed barriers that hold her back.
Until she makes a space for herself within these boundaries.
A space that brings happiness and freedom to her. AND to her husband.
Because change that is good has a positive impact on all. Not just on one.
She has learned that sometimes, we have to unlearn old ideas in order to move forward. In order to create an atmosphere where family learns too.
She knows that she could be A Victim like some women who constantly complain about their families.
But she has chosen a different path.
If her family can’t learn, or won’t, she will Teach Them.
I decided to use ‘found’ lines from my own poems, using techniques for writing found poetry. More on this in my post Learning to write ‘Found’ Poetry
Reading a little bit of ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ by Gill Sims made me want to try my hand at a different style of writing. Light hearted, but with a message.
I know. I’ve not quite ‘got’ it, and the excerpts I’ve ‘found’ from my poems don’t fit quite in the light hearted category.
I also need to apologize to the Indian Man.
I understand that patriarchy, the high rate of inflation, long commutes to work, and expectations from society make the Indian Man live within boundaries too. And that he does push to make space within these boundaries and support women when they push their own boundaries.
I know that many of you CAN find your socks. And eat and drink water without assistance. And that many of you help out with chores, parenting and looking after the elderly, despite the pressures. I know that the Indian woman in your family is grateful for your efforts and your caring.
I hope you will take this post in the spirit it is meant, and not take it personally, because there are some Indian men who CAN’T find their socks.