Wednesday, September 7, 2011

For Your Own Good - Jourdain 3

Author's Note
I realized I didn't know the name of my grandmother. She was just dadi to me. It was then that I realized how marriage affected women, dissolving their identities, abrading their will to be successful. Typically we chase success because it's a package. Because the winner get's the money, the girl, the biwi, the bungalow and the gaadi. But what if success took away some of these things. What would it be like? If you can picture this situation, then you would get a glimpse of what it feels like to be a woman. The more they are successful, strong willed, independent, the less likely they will "adjust" in their new homes. Ergo, some parents are concerned about the success of both the girl and the boy child. Concerned, that the boy has enough of it and the girl, not too much for her own good. The story is about one such parent, Mrs. Talwar.
You can take sides.

Suman’s room:
“Ma, please talk to daddy. I know you can convince him. At least give it a try!!” said Suman, sounding exasperated. 

“Beta, you know how your father is. Once he makes up his mind, he doesn’t budge. Besides, he is just doing what he thinks is best for you,” her mother replied in a soothing tone.

“But Ma, how can this be the best? Like I’ve told you a hundred times, my degree is useless without an MBA. With my BA in history, the best that I can hope is to be a teacher in some run of the mill secondary school. I don’t want to tell tales of Akbar & Birbal to pesky eleven year olds!!” replied Suman, her voice rising involuntarily. 

“Do you have any idea how much this is going to cost us,” said Mrs.Talwar sharply, her voice rising to match her daughter’s. “This will eat into our savings. Spare a thought for your parents too, if you can.” 

“I know Ma. I know I am being selfish. But think of it as an investment. You’ll see, in no time the degree will pay for itself, 10 times over!!” Suman felt she had made her point. 

“I know the degree will pay for itself beta, but not to us,” said Mrs.Talwar.

“What do you mean?” asked Suman, confused. 

“What I mean is that you’ll be in a different home by the time the MBA gets over. You will be earning for your own household. What will happen to your old parents then? In a few years, your father will retire and we’ll have to live out the rest of our lives off your father’s pensions and savings. Your father has done his best to give you everything you ever wanted. Suman, it’s now your turn to repay him for all the affection he has showered on you.” Mrs.Talwar fell silent as she saw her daughter plunge into thought.

 Suman mulled over what her mother had said. The frustration and anger she had felt earlier was now replaced by guilt. She felt ashamed of how easily she had overlooked the wellbeing of her parents. The expression on her face cleared into a look of determination as she made up her mind. She would not be an ungrateful child who would use her parents as stepping stones. “You are right Ma, nothing is more important than you guys. The MBA can wait.” “I knew my daughter would understand. We are so proud of you!” said Mrs.Talwar as she hugged her.

The Drawing Room:
“So, did you talk to her?” Mr.Talwar shouted over his shoulder as he flicked through news channels on TV.
 “Yes I did," replied Mrs.Talwar.
“So, what did she say?”
“She says she doesn’t want to do an MBA after graduation.” 

 “What! What do you mean she doesn’t want to? Only yesterday I saw her poring over a brochure for a private B-school,” shouted Mr.Talwar in disbelief. 

“She said she’s lost interest in it after she went over the curriculum in detail. Ma, I would die if I have to study so much, she said to me,” Mrs.Talwar explained.

 “Kids these days,” Mr.Talwar sighed, shaking his head, “they’re never sure what they want to do in life. I tell you, you can never become anyone in life if you are so indecisive.”

 “Now, don’t you criticize our daughter like that?  You know very well that she took up history only because you wanted her to. Only I know how she has struggled to keep up with the course. Studying day and night to pass her exams,” Mrs.Talwar defended her daughter. 

“I guess you are right. I always wanted her to do an MBA. I would have loved to see her work for a big MNC. But more than that, I wanted to make her independent, truly emancipated. But I guess you have to let your kids make their own choices. As long as she is happy, I am happy.” Mr.Talwar sighed resignedly.

Mrs. Talwar’s Bedroom:
Mrs.Talwar admired herself in the mirror. For most of her life, Smita had been Mrs.Talwar, having been married off by her parents when she was 22. She remembered how men in those days wanted their wives to be at least or sometimes at most to be metric pass. Clever enough to add two and two but not wise enough to assert themselves. Times had changed since then. Now men were comfortable with the fact that their wives could be educated. Able enough to assist their husbands, but not shrewd enough to question them. These were terrible times. Social order was crumbling. Marriages were falling apart. She strongly felt the onus was on the wives to make the marriage succeed. Smita pitied these silly girls. In her 25 years of marriage, her husband had hardly complained about her cooking, or how she ran the household. What more could a woman ask for? At the dawn of her old age, she felt like the most accomplished woman in the world. She was happy, and wanted her daughter to be just as much.


  1. So after some humorous posts, here comes a post about "Social Order" .. nice .. different views of different characters emerging in a single house .. i can say it was mother's parochial vision & the fear that forced her daughter to leave that thought about MBA .. Very well written .. you really made me think that mother is not totally wrong in her vision, considering that she was doing so out of her care & concern ..

    P.S: I think that mother needs to be informed that Girls nowadays get extra marks & more extra perquisites (that is out of frustration .. being a guy) in B-School admissions. I m sure that would change her mind .. :D :D

  2. Ahh.... so, if I could call it that, black humor now. This one surely makes nice reading, and is somewhat like talking to you. Makes you think about people and their ways.
    There isn't just a 'black and white', nahi...??

  3. Nice read.

    Reader's note:
    No action can be termed as good or bad. They are just binary opposites, whose definition depends on the other. It's all about perspective.

  4. I remember you were discussing this in a class with a professor , never thought that you would actually write it down.Very well written, worthy enough to be included as a chapter in school's english literature books.

  5. depressing but true.. sadist Mrs.Talwar

  6. Good going Piyush, you amuse me with every new piece !! well written indeed, a soul curry kind of a reading.. so think your job is giving you ample time to invest in your hobbies... Keep it up..

  7. What happens next? Any sequel? I want to see Mrs.Talwar repenting for her mistake! Surely she did a mistake, didn't she?

  8. As always I will just say Very Well written... Better than the previous.. Some solid thought..
    Keep it up!

  9. Very nice. Even though you cannot like what Mrs.Talwar does, you cannot bring yourself to hate her. Gray-t story, awesomely written. Thumbs up!

  10. A very interesting character, this Mrs. Talwar. But somehow, Miss Talwar seemed an unrealistic character to me, mainly because she went down so easily without putting up any credible defence.

  11. @Sushobhan Sen: Notice how any defense she would offer would rely on the "I" or "my" word. "I don't care, I want to do it" or "My life, my choices."
    She felt prey to the "iGuilt" chip which comes preinstalled on most children, which causes children to confuse individuality with selfishness.
    Not to mention Mrs.Talwar was a sly sadist saboteur ;-).

  12. Awesome !! Interesting read and thought provoking!

  13. oh god...dis is just d 2nd blog dat I have read of yours and m already ruing for not reading them for so long tym...Awesomaxx !!