..from anyone. Because the only nose that belongs in your business is yours. Evidently, owning a pair of ovaries gets you free advice from all sorts of people. Mostly, they don’t know you, but think that they do. Many secretly envy you your lady-balls, and many loathe your ‘feminist shit’. And then there’s the small, well-intentioned minority that wants the best for you, but doesn’t get that that’s for you to decide. A lot of it is unsubtle, threatening and blackmail-y, but can be surprisingly hard to respond to, given the unequal power dynamic involved.
But context be damned, no girl should have to hear this from anyone. Think of it as a ready reckoner and a dispeller of ambiguity. If you’re not sure how to feel about a close but self-righteous relative giving you the Biological Clock Lecture, you know where to go.
Fun fact- all of this comes from my own experience and that of my girlfriends. Do get back with your own nasty ‘necdotes, so we can compile a Great Big Book of Indian Insults To Womanhood and revel in the unease of our enemies. Huzzah!
Appearance & behaviour
1. You’re too dark. Don’t go out in the sun. Do you want people to think you’re a Madraasi?
2. You’re too short. Please wear heels.
3. You’re too fat. No figure. Do some gym-shym.
4. You’re too tall. Good for modelling-shodeling. But who’s going to marry you?
5. Your eyebrows are bushy- go wax them.
6. Your neck is stumpy. Necks should be long and graceful. But what can one do, eh? Wear a turtleneck and hope for the best.
7. You don’t look married. Married women must wear lots of gold jewellery, and a mangalsutra at all times. Where are your gold bangles, your diamond studs? This isn’t right. What are we going to tell people?
8. Don’t cut your hair. Girls must have long hair. What is a girl without her hair? A boy. Yes, that’s what she is. Or should I say ‘he’? *belly laugh*
9. Don’t wear perfume. Scent attracts men. You’re from a good family, keep it simple.
10. Don’t wear sleeveless tops, or short shirts. Midriffs are indecent and must be covered, every centimetre of them. Don’t let your waist show even in a sari. Don’t let your necklines plunge, or your hemlines rise. Are you looking for trouble?
11. Don’t laugh too much, or too loudly. It isn’t graceful.
1. How much do you earn? No, really- how much?
2. Have you thought of marrying yet? You’re already 25- and it gets tough after. I know a good family, if you’re interested.
3. You’re back from your honeymoon, eh? So when do we hear the good news? *wink-wink*
2. You’ve been married two weeks already. I hope you’re thinking of having a baby soon.
3. You’re going to keep that crazy job of yours even after you’re married? Say goodbye to a peaceful life with family, then. Really, you should have planned better.
4. God, look how thin my son’s become since he got married. What are you feeding him? Does he get good, healthy meals?
5. *at a party, introducing the newlyweds* This is our son, he’s a <insert glamorous profession> from a <insert top tier university>. And this is his wife.
6. What is it that you do, again? *after many years of knowing exactly what my profession is*
7. Our son, he’s very intelligent. He’s a genius, a super brain. I hope you know that he deserves only the best.
8. What caste are you? Are you upper caste?
9. What is this <insert discipline you’re graduating in>? Chalo, at least it can get you a teaching job.
10. *post-wedding* You have to compromise in your profession, in life. How else is our son’s married life going to be happy? These things are inevitable and you must do them. Every woman must do them for a happy life.
11. *post-wedding* Why should your name feature on your husband’s salaried account? He’s our son, it’s our right to have our name there. Not yours.
12. *post-wedding* How can you even think of moving into a place of your own? What about us? Who is going to care for us in our old age? What if we get a heart attack in the middle of the night? How are you going to feel then?
13. *post-wedding* You cannot go abroad- we will not have it. You life is here with us. You have to stay here and look after us. We should be your Number One Priority.
Phew. This was therapeutic. Good night, all!