Tag Archives: Daughters

‘The Lowland’

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The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

Often, halfway through a book, I wondered if that sway of a story gets lost over the years; much like relationship chemistry.  Books are supposed to pull you into its sway, making you undulate to its rhythm.  But books like The Lowland (Jhumpa Lahiri) convince me that, much like people, books too evoke different reactions. With some people you perpetually have chemistry; with some, you have it sometimes and with some others, you never have it . Also with books. Some are easy to read and make you feel bereft once you are done with the book. Others

While I was never a big fan of Interpreter of Maladies, I found The Namesake very lyrical. The language conveys a sense of the time that passes in her stories, gently, while creating a vivid trail in its wake. This book is also expansive, lyrical and spans several decades.

I found many parallels in The Namesake and The Lowland. Of course besides the setting in Calcutta. It’s set in a similar time frame. Lots of lines devoted to how bonds are formed after marriages. So many roles that come from just expectation alone, especially in the case of the women here. Mothers and daughters; mothers in law and daughters in law. I am beginning to see how my experiences shape what I read too. Resentment of traditional roles. Decision to not follow those roles. The constant social justification that needs to be given. All of these are just points in an otherwise sprawling story. But it affects the way I process and remember the story.

For me, a good book of an author makes me want to read all the other books I haven’t read yet. So Unaccustomed Earth, here I come.

 

Darwin is in my thoughts.

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I remember, even in my early twenties, I had strong opinions about having children.I did not want to have children. Then I thought it was just rebellion to not want children of my own. As I grew older it became clearer to me why I didn’t want children.

I didn’t want to pass my genes on.

As my younger self the world frightened me and I didn’t think I wanted to be responsible for bringing another human being into this world I was finding hard to navigate. Why would I willingly inflict it on someone else? If my parents had given me a choice I would have wanted to skip this life (in the whole karmic cycle of rebirth). As I grew older I became convinced of this viewpoint, along with not wanting to pass along my genes. Only recently I realised I inadvertently subscribed to the Darwinian theory of evolution. Weeding out the unfit (and by that I only mean gene-wise, or rather my gene-wise) to keep the strong evolving.

As my views crystallized, I met men who thought like me and convinced me it was the right thing to do. But once I got married I thought about it once again. And reviewed my experiences in the interim years to see if I felt different.

I but it got me thinking about people I knew who had had children. Most of them had children early on in life (I should add here that I mean mostly women). Women who forgot (for the most part) their identities and roles, except that of being a mother. A mother who became synonymous with earth mother – all giving and the best role you could play in a lifetime. Not having one of my own and openly voicing my thoughts of having one made me very unpopular and almost made me lose friends. Of course good friendship survives but then there are days when you wonder what happened to your Facebook feed.

Then I remembered the adults – older women – who thought their sons were the best thing that happened to them. Sons who were now grown, functioning men of society – but whose mothers saw their sons as their be all and end all. These were women who were great, entrepreneurial women who could achieve what they set their mind to. But these were also women who have said to me how mothers and daughters always keep their relationship alive but sons, that’s a whole different thing. “So I pray that my son marries a nice woman who takes care of him,” said one mother to me, about her unmarried son. Another stopped eating food items her son liked. Even when he wasn’t around. Another chose to go out with me for drinks, worried her son would not approve. Who was I? An ex, at the time. Mothers who wax eloquently about their sons and how difficult it is to let go, to watch your child go out there, brave the world on their own.

I have to add here that growing up I’ve known many a sisters; including my own mother who raised two daughters, and I have to say – never heard mothers of daughters talk of their daughters in a similar vein. Glorious, stars-in-your-eyes,  and unequivocal. But that may be conditioning.

It got me thinking even more. Why would any one want to have children? To be continually tethered all your life? While I still don’t have an answer to that question but I know my answer. Unchanged.