My parents have always encouraged me to think for myself and be honest in my dealings with others, yet I ask you Dear Reader, is it really possible to be honest when social conventions force us to be nice to those who clearly hate us and make us miserable?
In India, family and family values are considered paramount. In a culture that places huge importance in the collective that is the 'Great Indian Extended Family', it is hard to ignore family members who have the capacity to leach every single drop of joy from your body with derisive glances and cutting words. As a 'well brought up young woman' one is expected to show every modicum of civility to them as 'the parent's honour depends upon it'.
It is a frustrating conundrum Dear Reader, why is having a vagina in the 'Great Indian Bourgeois Family' an open invitation to disapproval, constant criticism about behaviour / cooking skills / lifestyle / body / opinions etc? I will probably be embarrassed when I read this post in future, but I have a confession...I know what it is like to feel as low as it is humanly possible. In a culture where a woman's opinions have no weightage or are considered insignificant, I feel doubly frustrated. As hosts, we are taught to be gracious, but being insulted by various family members constantly in front of one's parents as well as behind the scene is excruciating at so many different levels.
As a highly educated feminist, one can't help but chafe under the restrictions, good manners and certain unavoidable circumstances puts one under. Yet, there is another being that lives within this highly educated feminist; the daughter, who feels guilty at causing pain to the said brilliant, liberal and supportive parents who place a lot of store into good manners. By indulging in impulsive, reactionary and insulting put downs that the horrid relatives deserve, I would only expose my parents to ridicule from their siblings/in laws and lead to further embarrassment. Thus, sadly, in this struggle, the highly educated feminist loses to the daughter.
However, it is important that I share my realisation with you my Dear Reader, cynical though it may seem.... The road to freedom, equality and respect it is still an extremely daunting and difficult one, when our own kin stand in the way, presenting us with debilitating psychological hurdles, that are perhaps tougher than breaking down the walls that society places in front of all of us dedicated to the feminist cause.