Saturday, October 08, 2011

His Mother's Son.....reloaded

One has had occasion, over the last half a century, to observe sons, at various levels.  One has also had occasion to observe the level of "education " in the mothers, and wonder about the various attitudes they displayed.

Only to come to the conclusion, that education, as we know it today,  has nothing to do with anything.

Three true stories.

T was born in the very early part of the 20th century, and married off at 13 to a widower, whose children were almost her age. She later had 2 children.  This was the time, many educated folks retired and came to settle down in Pune around the time India got her independence.  Her family and another family who they were friends with, thought it was a good idea to link to the two with a matrimonial alliance, and her son was married off to the friend's daughter, who was, unusual for those days, a graduate, and even more unusual, quite independent minded. Grandchildren happened and T lived for many years after her husband passed away, in a huge house with both her sons and their families, in separate households, respecting each others religious and other sentiments.  When her eldest grandson went abroad to do his post graduation, naturally he became a prized catch in the eyes of folks with eligible daughters, a few years later.   

Mind you, T was someone who still followed some very old customs. She was totally untouchable when she was wearing a "sowla" or her puja/worship clothes. You could do what you wanted in your own house, but in her house, you didn't participate in anything on what were considered monthly impure days.  However, she, with hardly any education, a restrictive controlled married life, and an early life where she was neither seen nor heard,  was quick to see how girls were getting a great benefit from school, sports, and participation in many activities , and never stopped her grandchildren from anything. Many years later, when someone ribbed her about whether her grandson in the US would possibly return with a "white"  (read golden hair and wearing a frock)  bride,  she told them she had complete confidence in her grandson and the values he had imbibed from his mother and father, and she would welcome , such a wife, if needed, with an aarti, and present her with a typical wedding silk sari. I blogged about it here in a post that questioned culture and moral policing.  Hardly any education, very very conservative behaviour patterns in her husband's house,  and she still learned, how to move judiciously with the times.

B,  someone closer to my age, who came from an upwardly mobile, hardworking, educated  family,  was himself encouraged to attend high school in the US for a year on an exchange program and made many lifelong friends.  He returned to help his father expand their business,  acquired a doctorate, had an arranged marriage with a very nice , well educated girl from the same community, and they had a son.  Naturally, he paid great attention to is son's education (like his father before him), and his son too went overseas , and excelled at his given field of study, with a doctorate and returned home.  He started working outside to acquire some actual expertise  and met a very nice girl, and decided to marry her.  The problem was that she was of another caste, although a Hindu.  The parents were fairly upset. This wasn't about just the bride and groom, but two families being linked. The father poured his heart out to his great friend in the US ( an American who had lived in India) , because he had to talk to someone he considered close.  Email after email.

But they never lost communication with their son. One fine day, they sat him down , told him their misgivings and feelings about his intended   bride, and asked him to think it over seriously for a few days, and  get back to them.  The son respected their wishes. All conversations and discussions happened , with no acrimony, accusations, whatever.  A few days later, he got back to them. He understood where they were coming from, he respected their thinking, but he was very very firm about who he would marry, and it was the girl he worked with.

What happened next was amazing. The parents had come to a conclusion after weeks of agonizing. They implicitly trusted their son and he respected them.  On hearing his decision, his parents looked at each other, and his mother got up to say, that , "OK. We welcome a new daughter into our house !"   .....The wedding took place with great celebration and fanfare a few years ago.

R, someone I know,  has a daughter of marriageable age.  As is the custom in a society, where systems for social interactions like dating etc are yet to become customary,  most folks become a data entry point in a portal where  eligible girls and boys with all the relevant family career et al details are mentioned.    There isn't anything that you could point fingers at, in R's daughter's case;  except that she is an adopted child, and most folks who intellectually applaud that, simply runaway when personally faced with it.

One fine day, she (R's daughter) , gets a message on a social networking site from someone who has searched her on a portal, and taken the trouble to contact her because he found her interesting.  They communicate, they exchange numbers, Skype each other. There appeared to be a lot of laughter, which R thought was an encouraging sign.

Then one day he mentioned about a horoscope. R's daughter doesn't have one , because her birth time isn't known for obvious reasons, and she tells him so. For some reason he asks her blood group. Turns out they both have the same.  He continues to call and talk about his future plans, his family and so on and   so forth. Then one day he asks to speak to R.  He says he will be showing R's daughter's profile to his folks, and they would get back to him.  R has a decent conversation with him, is impressed . 

One night, R is watching some music program on TV, when her daughter comes in, wildly gesticulating saying she is wanted on the phone.   Intrigued, R goes in to answer the phone. It's the guy.  He is very polite, very civil, calls her aunty and everything, and says he has just heard from his folks, and his mother objects because, believe it or not, these two, R's daughter and this fellow have the same blood group !  He apologizes, and asks he if and the  daughter can still be friends. R says its up to her daughter.

A travesty of education, this.  The mother rules the roost in his house. Either all of them are completely confused about blood groups , or they think R is stupid.  A family which prides itself on well educated sons, an educated father, possibly a not so educated mother.  The mother decrees what is clearly a fake reason, and the son, a science student, in an analytical well paying job,  blindly, gutlessly passes it on, without thinking.

Similar blood groups are never a problem. Rh factors being different sometimes cause problems at the time of childbearing, for which medical solutions exist.  But who cares.  The matriarch has decreed in the year 2011, that "matching blood groups is a no-no and the devoted son , stands to attention, and passes on the message.

R  counts till 10.  Idiomatically.  Takes a deep breath, and tells the guy, "Thank you for informing us. Appreciate that you took the time to call.  But you know what, we people are guided by our blood groups too. My daughter and I are both B +ve.   And we follow that tenet. We always tell each other, "Be positive"......Interesting na ?"

There is no reply.

So many sons of so many  mothers. Through the ages.  The older ones  never went to school, but imbibed and absorbed "education", as their sons went out into the world.  And then this mother is 2011. And a son, who, despite his degrees, and stuff,  makes a mockery of the word, "education", preferring to propagate untruths.

To people, who he thinks are as "uneducated" as he is.

And incidentally, to hell, with a young girl's mind.... 

And then I sit down and wonder, whether we as a society are actually improving .....


  1. I have seen similar cases around me. A friend got engaged with much fanfare and the wedding date was decided and preparations were in full swing, when the boy's mother declared that as their kundlis don't match, they could not go ahead with the wedding!!! All this two months before the wedding date! In another instance, the parents of the guy wanted a grand wedding and a big car in lieu of their son, who backed out as he wanted his parents' 'happiness'.

    It's actually not about education, but the upbringing. If that is faulty, no amount of education can do any good.

  2. I remember the conversation we had when we met.

  3. You make me smile this early
    So true....
    Special good day wishes I send
    to you from far across the water.

  4. so true... attitudes and ideas have nothing to do with education but mindset.... and few people are truly open minded... i have been wondering about where our education is leading to, esp seeing some of my son's friends and their families... and trying desperately to teach the right values to my son :)while not being didactic!

  5. Sad to read about this sort of regressive attitude in an educated young man of today.

    It's doubtful if he (or his mother) really thought that same bloodgroups would cause any problem. He was evidently too embarassed to state what the real objection was.

  6. Counting idiomatically to find an idiot. Glad R's daughter found this out before committing to a guy not ready to stand on his own feet.

    I think this is beyond gender - am pretty sure we will face the same thing from bride's sides with our son.

    This is sheer prejudice disguised as 'concern'.

  7. The third case is such nonsense..RD and I are of the same blood group and R has the same blood group as well..R is three and totally fine as of now!

  8. sad..

    and I am not sure about this blood group thing


  9. Interesting cases - it says so much about the parents as well as the kinds of kids they raise.

    And thank you so much for your amazing gift of a poem. It's brilliant!

  10. It takes many generations to eliminate superstitions and it takes the courage of the youngest generation to defy parents when the mother and/or father's attitude is patently wrong.

  11. I simply love your style of writing. I am starting to follow your blog :-)

  12. I simply love your style of writing. I am starting to follow your blog :-)

  13. This is a common situation, in one case the partners had even met many times with ofcourse the horoscope matching done first. But then the guy discovers thats the gilr has some scars on her hand and he does not like it. So they stop the engagement saying there is problem with the horoscope when they referrred it with another astro. When it comes to arranged marriages, people are confused about what to trust - tradition, their parents, interaction, spouses family - there are rigid expectations from each of these. Since they dont know the person they are getting married to and cannot trust their own decisions, people hide behind superstitions and horoscopes if something goes wrong.