“I’ve always believed there are moments in our lives which can be defined as a transition between the before and after, between the cause and the effect.”
~ Benjamin X. Wretlind
I have spent most of my life sharing a room, my father wanted to keep us all close and so that meant there were more people than rooms. Then, after years of threatening to leave the ‘nest’ my father decided to do something about it….well in reality he had decided to make a room for a pool table and a place for him to hang but I wasn’t having any of it.
Having spent so much time not having my own space had meant I didn’t really know what it was like having ‘time to myself’. Indian people in general don’t have much of a sense of privacy and so when I say our room was like a living room, that’s what it was. Someone was constantly popping their head around the door. As soon as the bones of this ‘man cave’ my father had dreamt of, were up, I grabbed my stuff and started to move myself into my first own room.
It was such a liberating feeling, it’s crazy to think something which is taken for granted by most is something I still sometimes wake up and am so grateful for.
Most of you would wonder, why I didn’t just move out?
Why didn’t I? At that time in my life I was too vulnerable, the thought of being completely alone wasn’t just being out of my comfort zone, it was painful. Coincidentally, me having my own room came at the same time as the end of the relationship so in more senses than one it was a life changing moment.
I had also realised how much retail therapy was a thing for me (and still remains to be). I didn’t really buy things for myself before this as I was always doing things for two. And so, to finally have money to spend was something I didn’t really want to give up so soon. $$$
Another (major) factor, was that my father wouldn’t have let me move out. I was more afraid of him than I am now but it just wasn’t something ‘good’ Indian girls did until they were married. And at that point, I was still institutionalised into this thinking, so even though we had ‘threatened’ my father with this notion, It wasn’t something we would have carried out. Plus at this point I was so determined to find someone to marry that I didn’t think I would be at home for much longer….(that didn’t quite happen). It seemed for me that getting married would be the only way in which I would move out, maybe the only reason I would move out.
Marriage, is still in the old age?
It’s still ridiculous to think that when most women get married (mainly within the South Asian culture) they have to move their whole life into someone else’s room because it’s still seen as the ‘right thing’ to move in with the family. Although, this is somewhat different then generations before, the reason for most now is to save their money because as we all know property costs all your body parts on the black market.
However, there are many women that move into the man’s family home because that’s ‘the way it should be’. I can’t imagine, being in one of the most comfortable places I know (lounging in my onesie on the sofa) to have to be within someone else’s house where you have to live within another set of expectations. Personally, I am still trying to get over having to share one room with someone else ever again :S and trying to fit all my belongings in…slightly anxiety inducing!
Holding it together requires a medal.
I have no idea how this feels or the how the transition would be. Your whole world as you know it changes and I suppose most are left to their own devices, once the wedding is done and life moves on. There are so many pinnacle times in life where people are just left to it when in most cases they probably need more support than ever. Yet, I see so many of you walking into events with your shit together, so graceful, so put together. Its’s a so empowering to see.
We still live in a world where you are ‘given away’ to another family, my mother bawled her eyes out when my sister left because there is still that sense that you are now just part of another family and you will have to live to different ideals. But in this century, we do not marry because a man is the only one who can provide for us, we manage to provide for ourselves, create a new home and still retain the person you are. Dowries may be frowned upon but the essence of marriage still remains the same. Even within my own household, where my mother has been married for over 30 years and had a job from the start of the marriage. She was expected to hold down a job, feed the whole extended family, manage the household and give her wages to her father in law. Then when I came along, do all of that (obviously without a job for a while) and also look after me and then the rest of my siblings. There’s more strength in that then people give women credit for, even without having children those who have to; not only manage their career and their household (alone) do more than many would in their lifetimes.
We don’t do dowries anymore, but…
I didn’t partake in crying like a banshee when my sister left, for me marriage does mean something different and it’s another chapter, I know my sister will do her own way. But, I do have to sit here and reflect on how, though the wedding day is the most happiest day for many, many women…the days, weeks, months and even years after are such an unknown shrouded in generations of women seen as a commodity and the remnants of this still impact those getting married today.
So many traditional ceremonies had to be done for my sister otherwise it wouldn’t have been seen ‘done properly’. Such as, being sent off with many gifts from our parents as these are the ‘final’ gifts you are given by them because you now have new parents. Not only, do they have to get a certain number of things/items, my mother then had to sit in front of a camera (the most awkward thing ever) and explain what we were giving to my sister. Who on earth cares? Well…you would be surprised….we forget how many things are still done for the ‘show’, however ridiculous they seem.
I began writing this post with the intention of letting you know how I moved out of my room and the ‘Marie Kondo-ed’ my life…but I went off on a tangent, as I felt this topic needed to be discussed. So maybe next time….