Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Inter-caste marriages and such other issues

My marriage to a handsome young boy from Bihar in the summer of '92 cannot be called an Inter-caste marriage in the true sense. It can however be called an Inter-cultural, inter-caste marriage. I being born in the Brahmaputra valley speaking Assamese, raised in a hybrid cultural assimilation and he to traditional rural North Indian culture at the banks of the Gandak (tributary of the Ganga).
My mother’s marriage to my father can’t be called an Inter-caste, inter-cultural marriage either. She being a Malayali Syrian-Christian from the southernmost state of India and my ‘Hindu’ father from the land of black magic and the famous Kamakhya Temple. Theirs was an Inter-caste, Inter-cultural, Inter-faith marriage in the real sense.
Explaining the intricacies of my lineage takes up many a social chit chats. Most people respond in startled surprise at my frankness. In a nation where almost 80% marriages are arranged by the parents and elders, my confessions seem too brash.
My relations with my in-law’s culture went through stages: childlike obsession bordering at infatuation for all things Bihari, to learning their cultural ethos, then frustration at the clash of social etiquettes and customs and finally adaptation to a convenient lifestyle and acceptance.
Now I understand, after celebrating 22 years of wedlock, it had been a long struggle from both our sides but love and patience triumphs in the end.

 I am no authority to comment on the advantages or disadvantages of such marriages vis-a-vis the parental arranged ones but being a parent of a daughter, I know that   when she chooses a boy to wed, I will ask for information on his family background, his education and his occupation but finally, give my blessings as she, being an adult by then, would have seen all of these herself and I trust her innate wisdom.

We live in the 21st century; our children freely interact with each other, why can’t they be trusted to find their own life partner?
I salute my parents and my In-laws for accepting this change a long time ago. God Bless them.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The House Behind My House

There is a bungalow behind my house. It may have been built around 100 years ago.

No one lives there anymore. I always imagine what its residents would have been like. The man of the house may have been an Imperial Civil Service officer (Popularly called the British Indian Civil Services).


He would have come all the way from his cold and wet island, schooled at Eton and Cambridge, poor chap. At first he may have lived alone but subsequently his wife and children may have joined him. She wouldn’t have liked this place too much. Always complained of the heat, the dust, and the mosquitoes!


Sometimes at night I hear the Memsahib call for the Ayah to take the “Baba” for a stroll. Sometimes jazz music floats out from the empty hall.
 There is a cemetery down the hill that I often pass on my way back home. I sometimes stop and read the names on the tombstones; maybe my neighbours live there now!








 
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