Feminism India

Dear Biased Indian Parent

I recently spoke to one my of dearest friends after a break of a few months. She’d contacted me to let me know that she’d changed her number. She’d relocated, she’d moved across cities and when I asked her why, I received some very disturbing news.

She and her boyfriend had been together for around six years. From what I knew of their relationship, I felt that they were good for each other. They were supportive of each other. They helped each other grow. And I truly believed that they would get their fairy-tale ending. Because why not? Even the pretentious societal restraints that some families in India cling on to worked out in their favor. You know what I’m talking about – they were from the same religion, same community, same caste, same blah, yada yada yada. But she told me that it was over.

Sometimes things don’t work out, people break up, people move on and such is life. However, it’s what she told me next that was horrifying. The reason for their break up was that the guy’s family thought she didn’t look good enough for their son. That he could land a better-looking girl, a more qualified professional, a girl from any region but that region on the map, etc. It got me confused. I can try to understand (yes, try) that they didn’t approve of their own son’s choice. But the son who made the choice, what of him? He made his choice, didn’t he? He made a commitment, didn’t he? Why would anything anyone else said or thought make a difference to that choice, to that commitment? And why now?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is a reality for the youth of our country. This is not an isolated event in itself. This happens in every part of India. And it happens all too often.

I took this apart systematically and tried my best to be objective. To make my thoughts more coherent in my own head, I decided to pen down an open letter to the parents of my friend’s ex-boyfriend. I later realized that this letter addresses every biased parent in the country. So here’s what I have to say to them:

Dear Biased Indian Parent
I understand that you disapprove of my friend as a match for your precious son. Allow me to list down a handful of your reasons to hate on her, followed by what I, and the youth of our country have to say to you:

She’s dark, short, fat and ugly: Your son didn’t think so while he was with her for not 1, not 2 but for SIX whole years, that’s one more than the number of fingers you can count on one hand, and he never thought she wasn’t good to look at. But maybe you don’t approve of his choices. Well then TOUGH LUCK! You should have taught him to make the “right” choices. By blaming a girl he chose for himself, you’re basically telling me that you’re dissatisfied with your own incapability to instill all of your unworthy biases in your own offspring. You’re telling me that you failed as a parent to raise a kid who would satisfy you with his choices. Did it hurt when you realized that you had given birth to a human being who is capable of independent thought, and not a machine that you could control forever?
We’re from an even more “illustrious” family, we are royals: Of course. You poop glitter, so you want the girl your son ends up with to at least fart confetti. I’m glad that makes sense at least in your little brain.*

You could marry a professional, a doctor, but she is just an Arts Major: Rich, coming from you who share her educational qualifications, or worse, don’t even match up to them. Please shed some more light on why it’s any of your beeswax what she studies/does for a living. Are you implying that you’re interested in the money she makes? Admitting to that could get you into a LOT of trouble, you know? Just saying. Or wait, are you implying that you have no respect for anyone who hasn’t joined the over-saturated herd of cattle Doctors and Engineers that our country has churned out in the past decade? That speaks volumes about you.

She’s from that part of the State/Country where all people are liars and thieves and try to trick our innocent sons into marrying their daughters: And you’re from that part of the State/Country where all people are biased, pretentious, racist, and sexist . Same difference. Isn’t that how this works?

Now, for a reality check. Here’s the thing. Some day, your suckling baby boy will grow up. By then, he could be married to a fair, tall, and thin doctor from the right part of the State/Country. Pray for your own sake, that your precious offspring is happy in the place that you have landed him in. Pray that nothing dissatisfies him when he finally grows up and snaps into reality. Because if he isn’t happy, he’s going to blame you for the rest of his life. He will blame you for ruining his chances at being happy with the girl he loved. He will blame you for making him marry the girl you loved. He will hold it all against you. Why? Because you never taught him to own up to his mistakes or to stand up for what he believes in. If he was a coward to his girlfriend all those years ago, he’s going to be a coward to you. He will never own up to anything that went wrong in his life and you will lose both him, and his goodwill. That, dear Biased Parent, is what you should be truly afraid of. Because then, the fact that the girl you despised so much dumped his ass won’t be the only thing to feel ashamed of.

Yours truly,

The Modern Indian

Ankita Narayan

Edinburgh, Scotland | http://ankita.ink/

I'm a blogger, podcaster, wife and feminist. I record snippets from my life on my blog, tackle social issues on my podcast and work with my team of fellow feminists in this space.