things you shouldn’t have to hear..

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..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.

Life decisions

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!

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9 thoughts on “things you shouldn’t have to hear..

  1. (after explaining what my start up is all about) chalo ghar pe ho, toh ab chunnu munnu ka kya soch rahi ho? (as if that is certainly the most logical step, and i am a machine that would produce them, the moment i decide to… and wait, how do i ensure that chunnu and munnu will come together!)

  2. (Relatives, to my in-laws) Ab aapka beta, aapki kahan sunega!
    Bechara Bacha, ab akele ghar ko sambhale hue hai (and that’s a double whammy. If you are working, they don’t like it, and if you aren’t- they obviously don’t understand what startups are- they still don’t)

  3. Why have you chosen a creative field when you know you won’t find the right kind of guy who understands you who is also a sardar. Also, why are you living in Bombay, you know we don’t have good punjabi families there, how will you find a boy. Must come back now. You are 25. Also, aren’t most of your friends married, you are 27 and nowhere close!

  4. Nerdy Devi,

    I’m going to give you one task.

    Draw an imaginary circle around you, and pull in three, ok maybe 5 people in it.

    Then Draw another, and put in say 10 people in it…

    And then there is the rest of the world….

    Those in the first circle (including you) – would only say or do things that truly affect your life, those it the other circle – well, Im sure they are well meaning folks, who’ve probably seen what they are dishing out themselves, and give their two bits with the goodness in their heart, and the ones who dont belong to either circle…. Jaane de na yaar… kya farak padta hai. Let them say what they want to, and do what they want to.

    I’ve made peace with a lot of stuff in life, one of them is that however much I like or dislike it, I cant control 90% of the things that happen to me/ or are said generally in my direction, so i need to find the coping mechanism that works best for me, and one such mechanism is “Ignore”.

    Chill Babe – Continue Live life on your terms, do what gives you happiness – Cause only when you’re happy, people around you would be happy. 🙂

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