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“If you bow down to everything society says, it will make sure that ‘You’ will be stripped from whom you really are.”
Here is the fourth winner of our April 2017 Muse of the Month contest, Swarna Manjari Ayyalasomayajula.
The cue for this month was from the movie Kahaani, in which the cop, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, tells Vidya Balan that she should wind up what she is doing and go back. To which she politely replies that she does not need to be told what she should or should not do.
“Let’s complete this review, then we all can leave for the weekend. What say?” Came the voice of our team lead from our backs. As we had started to act upon it, my phone rang disturbing the solemn atmosphere. Mom was calling. Mumbling a quick apology, I attended the call.
“Sweety, can you come home quickly? Your Grandfather had a heart attack. I just received a call from your aunt!” came my mom’s voice, trembling, from the other side. I had visibly paled. Reassuring her I would be there, I hung up. Informing the lead about the situation, I quickly started for home. My head was ruffled with all kind of thoughts. I wanted to reach home early and be there with my mom.
I had the cab waiting and began to run inside, when my mom came down hurriedly having seen me. We started for the hospital. I could see that she was barely able to hold herself together. I rubbed her shoulder and comforted her. I was terrified myself to say the least.
Mom has a phobia for hospitals. She is very sensitive and she cannot stay inside hospitals for more than few hours. That was the reason, she wanted me by her side before getting here.
As we reached the hospital, I took my mom straight to room 414, where my grandfather was admitted. Soon after reaching there, she broke down, crying bitterly hugging her father. I was informed in the meantime that he is condition was stable for the moment, the risk associated with first stroke had abated. He needs to be more careful from now on.
Throughout the time, I was worried about my mom too. She couldn’t stand hospitals and shaken, weeping badly over her father’s condition. Greeting my uncle, I came to her and suggested to pray at the temple for a quick recovery of my grandfather. I knew that mentioning the words ‘temple’ and ‘pray’ would divert her attention and they worked.
As we reached the temple, we could see it was crowded since it was a Friday. We stood in the queue. After about 20 mins, 3 women and 2 men came to us. They had asked us to move out of the queue, politely. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong on our part, but obliged anticipating a suggestion on joining another queue.
They moved us, but only a hearing distance away from the queue. They objected to us entering inside the temple as we are not ‘following’ our Indian culture. It was then, I realized that I was wearing denim pants and purple tee-shirt as Friday was a ‘casual day’ at our office. Since I was not wearing a traditional Indian wear, those fellow devotes are ‘politely’ telling us that we could not step inside the temple as it is no less than a sin, in their view.
I was dumbstruck. I could feel a rage surging inside me to oppose. But, no word came out of my mouth. I wanted to ask them, will god punish me since I wore jeans to his place. I had million thoughts running inside my head. Still, could not utter a one word. People gathered around us causing a commotion.
“So, you are saying that, ‘wearing Jeans’ is defying Indian culture. In that case, why is only my girl secluded here. I can see lots of children, young guys and even old men ‘wearing Jeans’. I am glad to take my daughter back without a word, if they will follow me.” My mom said in her usual calm voice.
There was silence. Even I stood gaping at my mom. I was at awe watching her resolve and the way she stood for me. I could see the ‘moral party’ turning around and looking everywhere. Probably, counting the people wearing jeans.
“Culture and devotion are two different things. Please be considerate enough to know the subtleties in them before you act on it. Culture is not just applicable to girls and women.”
Saying this she pulled me back and we joined the queue again. There were few whispers around us. People around us may or may not agree with her, but for me she was no less than a super hero at that moment.
Until then, I considered myself loud, impulsive, an outlaw and my mom a calm and understanding women who will chose the quiet way out avoiding conflict. For the first time, I had realised that to stand up for oneself, we don’t necessarily need to be loud. She was under lot mental stress, owing to the grandfather’s health. So, avoiding an unpleasant scenario, she could have opted for the easy way out. But she chose otherwise.
After the temple visit, we sat on a nearby bench. After a moment of silence, she started to speak. At that moment, she gave me one of the best advices of my life-
“Standing up for something you believe in front of your parents and before society are two very different things. Even if you don’t consider doing the former, make sure you do the later. If you bow down to everything society says, it will make sure that ‘You’ will be stripped from whom you really are.”
Saying this she continued to watch the pedestrians in front of us, leaving me to ponder over the things that happened during the day.
True that, it is easy to argue in our minds, but to frame those thoughts to words in front of some angry strangers needs courage and faith on our beliefs. My experience in the temple taught me an important lesson. I cannot say that I will go and argue with everyone about my beliefs, but will never back out to take a stand from here on.
Swarna Manjari Ayyalasomayajula wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the top winners at the end of 2017. Congratulations!
Image source: pixabay