Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rules are meant to be broken

A typical day at my parent's house would begin with every one rising early in the morning. This practice was followed even during holidays and weekends. I do not remember ever having woken up after six, till I got married. Seated around the dining table, sipping  cups of filter coffee, my parents would wait for us with mugs of  hot Bournvita. The underlying rule was everyone had to shower  before heading for the dining table. We all then would merrily chat and drink together. My mum would then proceed to do her pooja while my dad organised breakfast for all of us. He loves to cook. He would prepare chutney, curry or any other accompaniment depending on the breakfast and wait for mum. In the meanwhile  we would tidy up the house. After her pooja, we  all would have our breakfast together.

Dad used to leave house at eight and come back at twelve for lunch. We would while our time playing with our friends or helping mum in the kitchen or reading a book during school holidays. Since ours was a small town and communication wasn't so good in those days, newspaper used to arrive around lunch time.  Dad would have lunch, read the paper and leave for office, only to be seen again at six in the evening. All meals were eaten together. We would play board games in the afternoon. Mum would retire to her room for her  siesta. Sometimes even she would join us in playing  some games. One of us took turns in preparing the evening tea. She would then cook dinner and all of us would  eagerly wait for Dad to come in the evening.

Evenings were my favourite part of the day during holidays. We had a huge terrace and all of us would sit there watching the moon or gazing at the stars, listening to melodious Hindi songs on Vividh Bharathi and Binaca geethmala. We chit-chatted and had so much fun sharing events of the day. Every task involved collective effort.   If we too sisters were ever seen gossiping with my mum working alone, my dad would immediately remind us to help her. It seemed  like we were all linked by an perennial  thread of warmth amongst us. We two children basked in their warmth. However all the warmth came along with some discipline. Ground rules were made very clear. Being girls we were never supposed to be seen without bindi, bangles, anklets and a chain. The official permitted language at home was only Telugu. Sleeveless dresses, short skirts, unplaited hair, lipsticks, nail polishes and boys were an absolute no - no.

Having grown in such an atmosphere, I presumed most middle class families fell in the same pattern. However life had surprises in store.  I got married into a family full of boys.  My husband did not have even a single female cousin on either side. He had two younger brothers.  Being based in Vizag, many of his cousins would come visiting and it would only add to the male head count. I never had seen so many boys under one roof. I felt my privacy was being invaded.

Marriage literally turned my world upside down. Rising up early, bathing, looking prim and proper were alien terminologies for these  boys. Brushing was done minutes before breakfast and bathing couple of minutes before lunch. Newspaper occupied the central role and the sports supplement was the most sought after. After  waking up late, everyone would just settle on sofas grabbing  to devour each letter in the newspaper as if appearing for an exam. Magazines were a substitute if  newspaper came late. No one was questioned about anything. My mother-in-law was so happy pampering the boys and even me. She had many servants and kept herself occupied with them.  There was nothing to do and I found it difficult to digest this new found emptiness. The most complicated bit was no one talked much. They talked only when they needed something, like a second cup of coffee. The only other time their voices could be heard was when they discussed cricket, politics and bikes. I wondered how these guys could go on speaking on such mundane topics and get excited about it. They bonded so much over cricket. Even old five day matches were watched with undying interest.

It was a totally different world for me. I felt so lonely in the midst of  everyone. I missed my home, my folks, the caring and sharing. I was dying to talk. Even my husband was such a quiet person then. I sometimes felt like conducting a class on spoken skills to everyone. But I did not voice my opinion. It took me  quite some time to adjust to this new pattern in my life.

Slowly time brought a change in my perception.

Though I initially resented absence of any discipline, I started liking it over a period of time. I realised that heaven does not fall apart if I get up or shower late. I also discovered that it is not a crime to talk to boys.  Leaving my hair open and walking around without any jewellery is absolutely fine. It took me a long time to alter my opinions on all these matters.
Both families got connected with each other over marriage but are two complete opposites. Each of them adapted values what they thought was right for their kids.  Today, I still juggle between these two worlds. But, I have learnt and am still learning some valuable lessons of life. The most crucial lessons being,  never look at life with any pre-conceived notion and there is nothing right or wrong in this world. The essence of life lies in being  happy in whatever each of us do.

1 comment:

  1. Somewhat different, but i feel every girl faces a similar story. I totally agree with young heart, in life if we let everyone enjoy moments in their own way we will see happiness lies in every little thing we need not search for it.