Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I understand about 'Paraya Dhan' - A response

This is a response to a blog - 'Paraya Dhan and her limited rights'

Did you read the blog? You may read it first. I read it along with the comments. All of it. But by the end, I become confused. Messed up in the head.

I cant relate to so much brouhaha about so many things relating to Paraya Dhan. I feel that there lies underneath - superficiality, immaturity, complicated thinking, hidden sour feelings, modern life confusion and a zingoist attitude. Its about questioning culture for narrow ends and means. I even didnt like the comments. I think the perspectives are too narrow and urban-ish.

Or perhaps my perspective is utterly narrow and Assamese.

I am born and brought up in a neighbourhood in Assam, where there was no caste system, no class consciousness, no religious sentiments (changing drastically with ISI being active and Bangladeshi immigrants). I had not seen domestic violence, dowry and dowry death, divorces and ‘nuclear families’ (the few ones I saw were unhappy).

I loved my joint family upbringing. I was fed (with hands) by the aunts more than my mom ever got a chance. Games like hide & seek, family swimming in the pond, getting honey from beehives, sitting and chatting in the winter sun and all the fun wouldnt have been possible without a joint family.

So, I really dont want to understand so much fuss.

There are woman who do not think that household work is mundane. They love to be nurturers. They love to be provided for, to be submissive and feel sexy. And there are women who would always crib about a supposedly generated status quo of women’s deplorable plight & jump up and down for women’s independence in terms of financial security.

I have seen both worlds when it comes to Paraya Dhan. I have seen paraya male and paraya female. I have seen my joint family. And I have seen khashi and Garo families where the youngest daughter gets the property of the mother and the boys go to the girls’ house. I see how they beautifully manage.

I have seen how daughter in laws are treated with pride and responsibility. I agree things are a bit funny this side of the country. In Mumbai (perhaps in all metros) - my city for the last 10 years, I have seen woman going to their parent’s home when she is about 6-7 months pregnant. Now that completely leaves me NUMB.

Last week, another such incident left me with utter remorse. One of my team members came to me and requested me for a leave of 1/2 days. She said her sister has got chicken pox and so her mother has to go and take care of her. And since she had a baby, obviously she has to take care of the baby. Now the question that puzzled the hell out of me was ‘where is her sister’s husband, parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts…’

My parents and the parents that I have grown up with would have taken that to insult. If the daughter in law feels more comfortable in her parent’s house after marriage, and not in the husband’s house, it is a curse for the in-laws. Believe you me, I have always met wives who are happier delivering in their husband’s home.

Today in Mumbai with increasing number of blogs (aka awareness) about women independence, I see more confused woman, more confused about their role in the society. More divorces. More under-eye circles.

The reason is we are not letting each one be. Our aspirations are crazy. Our expectations are many directional. We are influenced by the frenzy of multi-media. On top of that, our support systems are breaking. We dont know our uncles, aunts and first cousins. We dont know our neighbours. We dont play hide and seek anymore!!

I (we) used to take ‘paraya dhan’ very seriously. If somebody can trust their dhan to us and call their own blood as our dhan, we better take care of her and make her the cynosure of our eyes.

So I find these discussion so muddled with post modern thoughts that solution and clarity is long far invisible. Wish I could time travel to my past and bring that past to all of you...

However the fact is that today 'I am in the same boat, brother' (sisters and friends).


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Most of the views expressed in the blog' Paraya dhan' are preposterous. We've had this conversation in office and I am glad you could pen it down so well in a blog.
    Confusion arises when people/women confuse traditional views for being 'sexist'. Women being the nurturers of the family should not be considered/termed as 'Dependants'. No one would like to be associated with this word.
    Traditionally women have been percieved as biological production plants in certain socities and have been inhumanly treated..Probably that is the reason for such angst in the modern woman... They have been taught how their breed has been tortured for years and the only way to change this is to become financially dependant. I would plead all the women to treat this as a phenomenon practiced in few socities and not generalise this as a traditional norm.
    Domestic violence should not be acceptable to anyone, including women..But at the same time every woman should have an insight into who she is and what she wants from the society and from herself..ONly then will she realise whether she wants to be a nurturer or a provider...or both(if she can balance the act)
    Once she accepts who she is , she will not feel the need to prove herself by going out of the way to fit into the modern society.

  3. Right on, Shubhra. Hope you had a great Kashmir.

  4. Shubhra, I think you have a great point, when I read your comment again. Very well said.


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