Of all the dilemmas I go through as a parent this is probably on the top of my list. Should I impose upon my daughter the same set of rules that I was brought up with or should I move with times?
This is an ongoing debate and I really am not sure if there is a ‘right or wrong answer’ to this one. Each to their own would be my view. So, will I let my daughter pursue an ‘alternative’ path should she choose? I am torn – mainly because I am battling with two sets of value systems – that of my parents, that of my children’s generation and my generation that represents the middle ground.
As you’ve probably figured out, I draw inspiration from literature and of course Tamil – a language that is close to my heart for obvious reasons. There is a famous piece of literary work called Kurunthogai (which is a series of love songs written in the Sangam Era which ranged from 200BC to 2AD year ). I happened to read some of this work for a project I was working on. I was amazed by the fact that people all those years ago were so much more contemporary in their thinking than we are today. Maybe this is what we call evolution of society. I thought I’d share a couple of poems from this collection.
Yayum yayum yaraginaro
Endaiyum nundaiyum emmurai kelir
Nanum neeyum evvazhi aridum
Sembula peyaneer pola
Anbudai nenjam dan kalandanave
My mother and your mother did not know each other
My father and your father are not related in any way
We met as strangers – in what way did we know each other?
But in love our hearts have entwined like the cool rain pouring on hot red desert soil.
There seems to be no consideration of taboos! You and I like each other and when we come together it is like the meeting of cold rain and desert soil. So much passion and raw emotion … and it seems to have been accepted!
Yaarum illai taane kalvan
Taan adu poippin yaan evan seigo
Tinai taal anna siri pasun kaala
Ozhugu neer aaral paarkkum
Kurugum Undu Taan Mananda Nyaandre
No one was there but he, the thief.
If he denies it, what shall I do? On the day he took me
Only a heron with its thin golden legs stood by ,
eyeing the aral fish, in the gliding water.
She is only concerned that there was no witness in case he lies about their union. Not about what people in the society may think of their union!
Yet today, the situation is so very different at least in Indian families. Did we let the Mughals and Victorian British strip our spontaneity and passion in some way? Have we become a victim of their rigid moral codes? Let’s blame it on them!!!!
I am a product of the 80s and the whole concept of middle class existence appeals to me. Everything that gives me happiness today has a direct correlation to the simple set of middle class values that I hold so close to my heart. The whole idea of arranged marriage, walking into a marriage with no expectations and then learning to love and live in the following years appeals to me. It doesn’t always work out. I know of people who are in a marriage just out of habit. There is so little affection, let alone love. Living together has become a habit that they can’t break away from and also they worry about societal repercussions – and they exist together leading very separate lives.
My friends who have lived an alternative lifestyle say to me that I have truly missed out on a fantastic phase of my life because I haven’t experimented. Their thinking is – when you experiment, you know when the person is right for you. Are they happy? Not always – I see a lot of unhappiness here too. They walk into the marriage expecting chocolates and roses all their lives and sadly when the magic of early romance wears out, there is disillusionment.
I believe that each path has its own set of pros and cons and that what works for one may not work for the other but I totally absolutely believe that people should have the right to choose their path without having to worry about repercussions! Choice should be a birth right! I know I am living in fool’s paradise. I know that society is not going to change in my lifetime at least but I am an idealist and I do want a new world where people don’t feel compelled to pass judgment, a world where everyone can choose to live their lives as they please without being called names. And I think to myself – ‘Anda Naalum Vandidado?’ (Will that day not Dawn upon us?)