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Loneliness vs. Conformation: A Snapshot of the Life of an Indian Girl

I have always been expected to CONFORM: I conform to the code of body language; dress code; manner of speaking… to be precise, my entire behavior had to be modeled in a mold, closely supervised by those around me in order for me to become a perfect “Female Role Model” for the family. A girl is appreciated for being sincere in everything she does: her academic pursuit and her other achievements…but the moment she clearly expresses her independent mind, she becomes the center! of controversy! So it was natural that my independent search for the truth and validity of the opinions expressed by “authority” in the home, or the values ​​imposed on me by the morality police around me, would always provoke criticism!

A girl is praised for her beauty, her beauty, her impeccable manners, and the courtesy of her behavior in India, but never for her individual expression, which can be dangerously unique. A conservative Indian girl like me is not expected to be “Unique”.

Those were the days when, in a family setup, mothers are fallible angels quite often, but fathers are infallible… I couldn’t hide the smirk on my face when I was often asked “Are you being raised to argue with me?” your father?” or “How can you be so arrogant as to contradict his views?” Sometimes they would ask “Girl! Haven’t you learned manners in your school?” However, the situations that prompted such a barrage of questions could be extremely hilarious! I often laugh at those memories of my salad days! Anything could be scandalous…it could be my skirt above the knee, a loud laugh, or, when caught off guard, exchanging sweet, inviting glances with my secret admirer. The poor lad looked wistfully at our terrace, like a Bollywood hero, every night from my terrace next door in the neighbourhood… It all boiled down to the same old thing. cliche: ouch! She will learn it the hard way from her Shosurbari (house of in-laws). It was from my childhood days that the term “Shoshurbari” cast a shadow of fear in my heart. This fear was mixed with feelings of hatred for those imaginary enemies that hung in my consciousness like an imminent danger…

Well, one day, it was all about an issue about two talented singers. One of them turned out to be my favorite and my teenage spirit rebelled at my father’s unkind words to her. Her unpleasant comparison of her to the singer of her own time hurt me. What dwarfed my insult was my aunt’s secret pleasure at my bewilderment. It was a common issue of generation gap and perception, and yet my impulsive teenage blood coursed through my veins to react. As my anger grew, I was consumed with the idea of ​​proving her verdict wrongly critical. I secretly enjoyed the way I passionately explained my point of view in front of the stunned onlookers at home. A father was proven wrong and that too by his doting little girl! My little brother secretly gave me a thumbs up! Good! I never anticipated how much ado about nothing was to follow…

I saw dark, ominous clouds gathering on my father’s forehead and a strange mixture of excitement and fear hovered in my mind at that moment… I dared to justify myself, letting out a foolish statement with pride in my voice, “I participate in a debate at school to prove my point… I’m justifying my point of view to you in a logical way. What’s wrong with that?” “I just wanted to tell you how different singing styles make a difference in performance. If you can’t accept the new style, you have no right to despise it.” Time stopped for a few seconds. My aunt, who often visited my home from her village to receive financial aid from my dad, raised her eyebrow and joked, “I often warned you, brother, never let her go to any fancy public school. You never cared to listen, TRUE?”. See now?” Then, turning to me sternly, she said, “So you have been participating in the debate to contradict your Father? Even my mom joined the fray and threatened me that she would talk to my class teacher about my degrading manners and indiscipline. She would! I frowned at the woman who never found a voice in the family no matter how fickle her protests about her problems were at times. I pitied her at the time. I left the dinner table in a huff and slammed my bedroom door shut.

My heart sank as his muffled voice of surprise shattered my nerves. I knew there was no chance of escaping since my homeroom teacher didn’t appreciate my independent ways very much and tomorrow was the damn parent-teacher conference! During those days, a teacher enjoyed the status of Mini Hitler in his domain. Today, however, these poor souls are left at the mercy of the classroom gang of mini-mafias that parents send to schools for a few hours of heavenly rest!

It was a sweltering summer day and my classroom was packed. I joined my friends, answering their queries in a disinterested voice. The class teacher, Mrs. Roy, sitting on the flesh of her, serene and serious, as usual. I looked away from her because I hated that perpetual frown on her forehead. Some of the parents had already slipped into the room and sat down. I awaited my mother’s arrival with a somber mood, anticipating my painful humiliation in front of my classmates whose mothers already viewed me with suspicion for my high spirits and tomboyish ways, as they said. It was natural that they did not consider my example to be of any benefit to their growing daughters. I wiped away the droplets of moisture that were beginning to collect on my face and neck. Trying to lift my spirits, I looked out my classroom window when suddenly the sight of a pair of pigeons making love on one of the windowsills of a nearby building mesmerized me! I felt excited! The mango flowers in the school garden smelled sweet…

However, the dark hours of humiliation were mercilessly approaching…so my bower of happiness was short-lived. I was suddenly woken up from my oblivion when the class teacher called out my name in her intimidating voice: Mandira! I came to my senses with a jump and saw my mother sitting on a chair in the corner with cold detachment. When she slipped into the room quietly? I asked myself. I felt curious eyes turn towards me. I stood up with trembling fingers, weak knees and a pounding heart… I braced myself for the next moment and faced Mrs. Roy’s stern face as she suddenly declared how pleased she was with my performance in the session before summer vacation… Before my mother could react, Mrs. Roy informed her that I was also awarded the District Championship trophy in the debate! I saw that familiar curve at the corner of my mother’s mouth every time she had a pleasant surprise waiting for her. Her eyes lit up as congratulations rained down on her from different corners. A moment of vertigo that was… she was happy because she made her happy as she always secretly wanted.

As we walked out in quiet closeness after the meeting, my mom suddenly looked me in the face and said, “I know how you are, my young lady… but no matter how you are, you must conform.” She continued, “In our society… I mean, in real life, you won’t be allowed to win the championship trophy… always remember! I don’t want you to feel lonely…” I touched her finger and declared mom! Don’t worry… I’m strong enough to handle that…

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