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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Delivering a baby is a lot of effort;after all those initial months of terrible morning sickness, acidity and gas till the last few months of leg cramps , sleeplessness and other difficulties, it felt like a I had crossed many long tunnels and reached a logical conclusion. In the software industry, when one developer puts in all that effort and dedication , the manager provides him/her with some recognition that generally feels great.It makes you feel good and satisfied-you have delivered a product after so much hardship and people around appreciate it .Unfortunately, in real life, that doesn't happen. Right when I was feeling all elated about the good job I had done, I was pulled back to ground reality by all dear and near ones who apathetically reminded me that -"It's no big deal.It was just your duty". I am not sure if they meant the same thing what Darwin did when they said "duty" in bringing forth evolution by delivering a hybrid gene combination which is, by virtue of evolution, better than its previous one...well don't think so..

I don't think I'd have run into rough waters if I had just gone with the flow (all I have to blame is my neurons and some conditioning that says "THINK" :-p) .. Even before the bun popped out of the oven, I could hear folks talking about whether the sun/moon sign for that day was favorable (As mine was an induced labor, Vinod n I were stressed that our families might ask the induction to happen on an astrologically favorable day. There is a story according to which, I was born under such calculated induction so that I was not born at a bad hour with a bad sun/moon sign.). Soon there were discussions on either side about the 28th day celebration and other ceremonies that should follow. (One of my good friends told me that in her case , after all the arrangements were made inclusive of the kind of dress she and baby should wear , she was given the option to call few ppl of her choice to attend the ceremony !). All kins seemed to be more excited about the function, the people who would arrive and all the fanfare rather than the newborn baby and the poor mother who needed some peace , food and help.

I fail to understand why the Indian society still fails to give any recognition to the fact that a woman spends months contributing physically and emotionally ,to bring a new life into this world and she is not even asked for an opinion before decisions are made for her baby.. Sadly,relatives around take the liberty to make decisions for everything from name, surname, naming ceremony, one month ceremony and what not.The mother is most often treated as if her "duty" is over (if the baby is healthy she has done a neat job,otherwise she can bask in some verbal abuse) and pushed to the back burner to let the old n wise pitch in to take control. Any attempt by the mother to try to participate in the decision making (for instance by saying- I don't want to celebrate any ceremony for my baby) is immediately stamped as disobedience.But my point is if I know how to buy the flour and bake a bun, I know how to eat it too !!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's in a name?

I  am probably among the very few % of people in the world who has a surname inherited from my mother as part of a well accepted social law - the matriarchal naming rule. My mother got it from her mother and she from her mother and so on (well I am absolutely clueless of what my surname- Kavungal Konoor means;Name of a place ?house name?person's name?).So technically my son should be named "Aditya K K " but his offsprings wouldn't get that surname as males don't get to propagate it..

But even though certain communities in Kerala once followed matriarchal system, they have now slowly replaced it by the well-accepted patriarchal one.Thus, you can hardly ever find any surname propagation like mine.I must say I often get offended while filling those forms which asks for a section that says -"Father's /Husband's Name". Sadly noone asks for "Mother's/Wife's Name".It's would seem like the ownership or guardianship has shifted from father to husband and irrespective of whether one's mother or wife takes care of one, they are of no value. I was pleasantly surprised and touched when my baby's name was written as B/O Divya (Baby Of Divya) in his record at the hospital I delivered at. The discharge summary also says that. It made me feel that finally some system recognized the fact that I exist and I am someone worthy of being written in some form or record.

When we went for our baby's first check up, the doctor while entering his data into the computer asked for the baby's name and I said-"Aditya Divya Vinod". She paused , looked at me and asked "Aditya Vinod"? I said-"Aditya Divya Vinod".
While we were discussing the name we would put for our baby , the most predictable would have been Aditya Nair (but considering Adiyta is only a 3/4th Nair by virtue of his mother being only a half Nair, the name Aditya Three Fourth Nair would have been more apt)..The other balanced name would have been Aditya Nair K K..(but considering we don't know who is Nair or KK, that would have sounded equally stupid)..Finally we decided to go for XXX Divya Vinod if it was a boy and XXX Vinod Divya if it was a girl. So here we are -parents of a boy who literally carries his family name !!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

To my Little Sweetheart

I  recently read a mother's day article which talked about how a woman goes through extreme pain (which is equivalent of 20 bones getting fractured ) to give birth to her baby. 20 of my bones haven't got fractured at the same time. So I wouldn't know the associated pain..but yes giving birth pains..for me it was like someone cutting my lower back with an axe every minute for 8 straight hours before the doctor decided to tear me up and pull the baby.But that's not the point.The article said that a mother's love is equivalent to all that pain and sacrifices she puts up...Now wait a sec..whom are we fooling here? I want to tell my 5 week old little boy that

My dear,

I decided to have you for my own pleasure (and that of my husband's)..some ppl have children because they are bored with their lives and want some activity..Some others have because they have a ailing family life and they hope to revive it .Most have it because of social/parental pressure.others have it because they are supposed..very few others have it because they think too much about the propagation of the human race..and a fairly large number have it accidentally.

You were heavier than most Indian babies.In the last scan you weighed 3.7 kg and it was way too difficult to walk with you in my tummy..but I want to let you know that tall parents have heavier babies and I was eating too much of food anyways (Amul ice cream, Amul milk Shake etc) and the weight wasnt your fault .So you dont have to feel guilty for that too..

It was way too difficult to deliver you..The pain was so prolonged and extreme that I thought it was better to die..and I didn't tolerate all that pain because I loved you (whether I love you or not is a different thing altogether not to be put into a directly proportional equation )..The fact is the doc never let me take epidural or go for C-section till the very end..All I remember yelling in the last few hours of my labor is "Doctor..epidural..pleeeeeese doctor..give me epidural" and "Can we do a c-section?Pleeeeease??"So I am not going to pester you for the rest of your life for all the drama I went through to give birth to you..

I don't remember the last time I slept for 9 hours straight..well it was almost 9 months back..nowadays I hardly get time to sleep, eat or even use toilet..Basic things like cutting my nails seems like a luxury..all my time goes cleaning your diaper, putting you to sleep and feeding you..
As of now these are the only sacrifices I can think of but I am sure as months pass by, there are going to be graver ones..

But my dear , I want to tell you that please don't confuse my love with my sacrifices...I hope I am able to remind myself everyday that 20-30 years down the lane I don't burden you with all the stories of all the labor pain and sleepless night sacrifices I made for you..The fact is I made all that just for my happiness..and sadly you had no choice in the entire matter..

The Yellow Metal

The first time I figured out that there was huge monetary value attached to gold is when I was probably 7 years old and I lost a gold bracelet that I was wearing . Every time  I went out to visit a relative's place , I was mandatorily made to wear some 'basic' accessories like gold mala , good pair of earrings and a pair of bangles or bracelet.I still can't comprehend why a 7 year old girl would need to go around wearing such expensive accessories but well..that's how it used to be. I had been trained to periodically check if each of the ornament was securely in place and the fear associated with losing any of it was heavy , making any outside visits or playing with cousins/friends rather stressful.

As I grew older, I obviously started detesting these accessories.They got bigger and heavier and more difficult to manage but then if you don't wear it, people felt it was their responsibility to ask-"why wouldn't your mother give you anything to wear" or "why is your neck and hands empty ?" Well..any mallu woman can tell you that these are just trailors before the actual movie, the actual movie is the big fancy dress day-the wedding !- the day all the highly profit-making jewelers in Kerala wait for to squeeze out of you your entire life's earnings . This is the day for which they put up all those ads on all those channels everyday . For eg. Bhima's ad says -"If you are a girl , you need need to be a pot of gold" (pennayal ponnu vennam).

So why do mallus spend so many lakhs on wedding jewellery alone ? For two reasons - one , its customary, second they are scared; Customary , because all those guests who turn up at the wedding are there to see all that gold and if they don't get to see enough of it , they go around gossiping -"that girl wore hardly any gold". So, to avoid public humiliation, its better to go with the flow even if that means a big hole in your pocket ;Scared, because if the bride goes to her sauraal without covering her chest and hands with gold, there's a possibility that a different sort of treatment would await her and the concerned parents wouldn't want to take that risk.Our family is no different. Even though I very much wanted to have a simple n small wedding process, I , like others ended up wearing gold as expected under a lot of pressure and after a lot of debate. I remember my relatives reminding me on my wedding day about how I should be careful about not letting all the gold hide inside the saree pleats and my mother rather disappointed over how the expensive ruby necklace wasn't conspicuous on top of a same-colored purple saree.

We kind of drained our bank accounts to pay for all that gold which never saw the light of day after that.To me it makes more sense to buy some gold-linked stocks (if at all investment in gold was all that necessary).Few years after my marriage, I stopped wearing  the 'minimum' required gold and as soon as I stepped into my sasuraal, my in-laws could run towards me with a long gold mala and few gold bangles in the fear that some other relative would see me gold-less and the entire family would be humiliated. On the first occasion when I completely refused to wear gold , I was safely hidden inside the walls of my sasuraal so that the family did not have to deal with the shame associated !!