Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Cup Runneth Over

          “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.”

A tough ask, but certainly a pleasant one if one can love to enjoy the roller coaster.
I sometimes muse of the moment of entering parenthood, to be precise, “fatherhood”. A rare treat to one’s eyes that  when you see for the first time a pair of glistening tiny eyes stare at you and wink. A visual and emotional instant that will seldom if not never again visit to be beheld in awe and enthrallment!

We (I&C) were advised that she undergo an ultrasound scan to ascertain the foetal development. In fact we were also keen to ensure in the very early stage itself that the child that will be born is normal in every sense of the word. We were quite disturbed by a couple of cases of child births to people we knew, to whom babies were born with malformed organs and or some irregularity. That would be very disturbing for life, for us and the child. We would rather terminate the pregnancy than let the foetus develop and be born, say a mongoloid or severely handicapped. Stories were many that haunted us and aided consternation. And the uneasiness was also supplemented by C’s doubt if she had taken a few paracetamols when she was not quite well. A distant acquaintance had a son who was born with no external ear and the matter was traced back to the time when she medicated herself with an anti-allergic pill. The stories brought me the nightmare of the “thalidomide” tragic births in the USA.

We, and in particular me was in favour of a girl. But we did not ask the Obstetrician to reveal the sex of the foetus nor would she have wanted to. That the twinkling, shining  pair of tiny eyes staring through me from the delicate nestled hold of the nurse as she briefly came out of the obstetric room, turned out to be a boy really did not matter nor create an iota of difference. The child was healthy and well!

When R was born it was a foregone matter after the scan as we were eager to know if it was a girl. And honestly I was elated.

I write this in the context of an impending wedding of the daughter of a friend and a couple of other impending weddings of girls, be it my family or of friends. I could sense and see the apprehensions and near anguish that those parents are loaded with. Well that began even among these educated gentry, much before and when the girls were born. Do we (I & C) have such dismay, we have a girl too and is eighteen now? And not long after now in less than a decade we may have to fend to see her married away. The answer is mercifully, not. I (we) do not subscribe to that pattern of social conventions per se. That does not mean I’m a votary of kind of sententious or anarchistic existence and also not endorsing libertine way of living. Family and heterogeneous relationships are in my opinion the corner stones of the society.
Well, perhaps are we comfortable with material resources to organize a gal wedding? Goodness me, I’m now broke!
A typical wedding in Kerala, more amongst the vanity vitiated, caste “Nairs”, is cruelly loaded against parents of brides. Firstly the anguish and uncertainty of fetching a suitable bloke, that is increasingly difficult than creeping through the gateway into heaven. I know parents, who are acutely paranoid that they refused to entertain their girl’s wedding, that if happened may result in the bloke loitering in scandalous behaviours in his late fifties. Poor fathers and mothers are desperate, (and often unquestionably too).

The carefully cultivated thrift begins when the girl is born. And by the time she is in her twenties and is socially at the threshold of wedlock, the parents would expect to have eked out a sizable weight of wealth in gold and other resources to spend on the bash.( In many cases, may even siphon off and extinguish the retirement funds of the desperate parents). The preservation in the form of the yellow metal are obscenely displayed upon the girl when she is decked up as bride. Every nit wit and sundry, ever acquainted will be asked to be present as guests to witness the less than ten minute ritual and thereafter partake in a sumptuous feast, all which will be dramatised in a venue that may pale the coliseum. By late evening the poor old man- the father will be financially and emotionally exhausted. The irony is that until the wedding the parents will be rightfully suited to be catagoerised as borderline psychological cases. The state may not be altered much even thereafter, because either they will be broke or will have to fetch the same quantum of resources to sign off the second child, a girl too. Much that happens thereafter is left to destiny!

The hunt for the groom is often a handicap for the girl’s parents. The dice is loaded against the girl, if she is educationally qualified in the wrong stream. 

It is immense fortune that children are born healthy and normal, they are groomed well and turns out to be independent and conscientious. As for the choice of spouse, I do not think one must waste on anxiety and nothing at all on the frenzied build up or tumult of conforming wedding, lest one may cave in of anxiety. But the pity is almost all are conforming to the ridiculous standards and vanity society has decreed. They fear disparaging remarks from the rest. They all want to be like the Jones who lives next door. 

So the best course is to be less confirming? I guess so.-less confirming to the oft beaten and followed social norms. In fact can wedlock be absolutely imperative and “the thing”? Financial independence can lead to a better life than wedlock foisted, aided or propped by money.

I often wonder what would be the choice of the children (A&R), that I have. Will I think of exercising the veto when their choice of their personal life come into reckon? Will I play the characteristic, domineering, boorish parent when if their choices in matters of matrimony come about? I think nay and that will certainly be the case with C too. In a world that is fast and increasingly becoming a village, I cannot see the logic of insisting on certain oft trodden path.
How wonderful would a quite wedding can be, be it guided by tradition or not and conforming to modest standards; a quite partying in private with close ones- friends and relations ,and a subtle  sure step into another phase of living?

I guess a father would not want for more to happen to resemble the moment the pair of twinkling eyes shown in askance at him many years ago.


R.Ramakrishnan said...

Yes I agree. Weddings should be simple, quiet & comfortable affairs where the focus is on the couple getting married. But ostentatious weddings with opulent wealth display are the order of the day even if this drives parents to penury !

KParthasarathi said...

I liked the post.Most weddings are expensive shows more out of compulsions of traditions and the fear of 'what will they say' the unknown they.Ina marriage feast 50% of the people who eat at your expense,you may never see them again or just familiar faces with whom you never interact.
In Tamil nadu the demand for dowry and jewels have reduced but the bridegrooms side want a 'decent' marriage.I thought Kerala was better,
Are these the bane of 'arranged' marriages?
As you have said a simple function even in a temple accompanied by a feast elsewhere for close friends and relatives would be the best.

Happy Kitten said...

At least I am sure you will never be the conventional father saving every penny for the future SIL. They are fine kids and will get their partners without much ado from your side.

But I wish every parent would exhibit your confidence. Life would be less complicated and parents can enjoy their life better too. A girl if born normal can fend for herself without all the gold that is packed off with her!
As for me and my hubby, we took the decision much earlier. My Hubby and his parents never insisted upon a dowry and my Father was fortunate to give just what he had.. and we have decided never to give or take dowry. I only hope our daughter wont suffer for this decision :)

Balachandran V said...

Isn't ironic that it is the female of the species themselves who crave for the yellow metal? Daughters become mothers-in-law,and the vicious cycle continues. Vanity and greed are played upon by the society which mines and markets it. If, on a one hypothetical day, all women in the world ( esp India!), refuses to buy any more gold, a lion's share of economic problems could be solved in a jiffy.

I had written a post on 'Gold' and some readers justified the hoarding of the metal as a form of sensible investment!

rama said...

Finding a girl or a boy for the children to marry is a very dicey thing. One is totally clueless in this exercise.
Children also, now a days are very particular as to the choice of their life partners. They are not comfortable falling in love too, for when before they fall in love, they look for the very same things that we as parents would look for in a prospective boy / girl, and the end up telling us to do the job of looking for them.
One thing i have noticed, that these days both boys and girls do not want to get married, where they may have to compromise, for they feel they are independent and so there is no need for a marriage at all, if it is not suitable for them. I think it really makes sense. Gone are the days when marriage was inevitable whether one wanted it or not.
We also don't like all this hungama of 3 days of marriage, now a days even south Indians have started keeping such functions like mehandhi, geet and what not.
We would prefer a court marriage with a reception with close family and friends.
However, such a thing is rarely done as everyone wants to impress everyone.

Insignia said...

I am late!

So this entire marriage thingy is a show-off affair if you ask me. What will they think? A court marriage is looked as the girl/guy chose the partner themselves and were about to elope; the parents are trying to save their face now.

The mentality should change; pomp and gaiety should be banned. Its a once in a life time affair agree; but....I cant relate to the transactions

NRIGirl said...

I thought things are changing in India...

Last summer my friend got married in the States. The number of guests attended:155 including the priest and the band! It seemed a perfect size!

anilkurup said...

@ R.Ramakrishnan & ,@ KParthasarathi,
That is fine . But will we follow that policy when it comes to our matters?

@ Happy Kitten
I think your parents and in-laws are of different breed. Though it is good to get a heirloom, to insist that the wedding and the relationship is dependent on that is cruel and immoral.

@ Balachandran,
perfect agreement with you. I can imagine the anxiety Kund's and his wife will have now. It is not just the wealth that is saved and passed to the child, but wealth accompanied with mountain high vanity too.

If gold is seen as investment why buy ornaments, one can invest in bullion.

@ Rama,
Really nice to know your take. Look at the weddings in the West. It is a solemn affair attended by a small group of circle and no display of opulence and borrowed money.

@ Insignia,

I wondered about your absence so far and today when I read your new post got it_ laziness ha!

If only there is respect for the girl child can this vulgarity be stopped.
There need not be a court marriage . The wedlock must be compulsorily registered under the Special marriage act of they common code. Whether they do ritualistic ceremony is their private business as long as that do not exceed the cost cap law should provide.

@ NRIGirl,

No things are worse in India and getting worse.

May 22, 2012 11:05 AM

Ellen said...

I find this interesting reading. I have always wondered about that. Thanks for sharing. Blessings to you and your family.

rama said...

Well, Anil I see in the west too there are lot expenses as far as marriage goes, if they are even slightly well off, they must have a wedding coordinater, the settings, the one special church, the presents, the food, the band, the dresses for the bridesmaids, etc., everything costs money.
Plus they have to have a special wedding gown, which can be only worn once, unlike our sarees/ gagarahas,salwar suits, etc. which can be worn many times in different functions and different weddings.
And after all the effort and expenses, people in the west are not sure how long their marriages will last, for all they know, it might be over in a month/ year.
Marriages in the west rarely last like our Indian marriages.
I think this problem is not isolated in India only, it is a universal problem. everywhere there are people who would waste money.
I am sure you must have seen the picture " Father of the bride"