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Mother can cook

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I am not going to write ‘in my opinion’ repeatedly or even once (apart from this once) in the course of what is to follow. It is my opinion that I write about. To improvise on Abraham Lincoln: I do shine my own shoes.

One of the shortest routes to emancipation for women is to retain their maiden name – or surname actually. One wonders what is achieved by such practice. Obviously the so-called identity that is linked to a name is preserved. Or it becomes a combinatin of one name and two surnames. Imagine what would happen if the latter two were to be, say, Roy Chowdhury and Bhattacharya. One long full signature, that! Jokes apart, there are perhaps more worthwhile things to do in this imperfect world of ours. I do not wish to be both misunderstood and despised, therefore I will clarify: a woman who has otherwise proved herself (to herself) by doing something useful – anything she decides is useful, has the right to assert her independent identity by keeping her surname intact after marriage. Those in regular jobs and regular lives and with no contribution out of the ordinary are taking a shortcut to emancipation. Further clarification: the typical housewife does a wonderful job of managing the homefront, and is in no way lesser than a career woman – not even one that manages both her career and her home. Still, what have these two classes of woman really done to claim a different identity for themselves than the usual? They have simply shown that they are good for something. That by itself does not constitute exceptional contribution, or usefulness. Loosely speaking, we are all useful, all good for something. However, if that usefulness is limited to one’s own survival only, then it is hardly anything out of the ordinary.

What I am talking about here is leadership – or passive following – for a cause larger than one’s own periphery of existence. It could be anything, don’t ask me. Begin with World Peace if you are ambitious. Failing that, devise a plan to take out the garbage from the immediate vicinity- not just your own comminity. Or perhaps get together some elderly folks to arrange for workshops to revive the lost art of hand woven sweaters. Anything larger than your circle of essential existence counts. However, once you are at it, you will probably have little time to worry about whether you want to revive your maiden name or not. Romeo (yes, the character was speaking, not Shakespeare) may not have been entirely wrong, but one must admit there is magic in a name. As the Americans are so fond of saying: You look like a Fred!

What I would like to know after all this pseudo intellectual staff is whether the children are going to inherit their mother’s maiden surname as well. A survey in some newspaper some years back showed all the emancipated ladies saying that they would like their children to bear their father’s name. Very curiouser, wouldn’t you say?

I have a solution, one that I did not try to implement in case of my own family because of certain very good but personal reasons: let the boy carry the father’s name, and the girl the mother’s. That way it will be possible for the mother’s father’s surname to live on if the girl takes after the mother and retains her maiden name after marriage too. The boy can try and see what he can do with his legacy – and his wife. The inevitable solution seems to be to beget two children per emancipated family, one girl and one boy. Perhaps astrologers will be of help here since the only other way of determining the sex of the foetus leads to someplace usually dirty and full of mosquitoes and humans with questionable manners and intentions sitting right outside.

Suitably confusing, I hope, but eminently sensible if I may say so. I should think identities are preserved naturally with one’s achievements: Jaya Bachchan was known always as Jaya Bhaduri to our generation and Tina Ambani is what we have recently adapted to. I can think of none of my lady Professors going the emancipated way although I can not in my wildest dreams believe to come anywhere near them in knowledge, or ability to impart education. I personally know very few males who can. Funny thing is that this is probably the first time in my life that I have consciously classified my Teachers into genders. They had always been individuals, and apart from what constitutes the argument of this article, they still are.

Collecting the previous line of thought here: I wonder if the concept of Daddy’s Girl has something to do with this phenomenon of preservation of identity. After all, the only thing that is being preserved is the father’s surname. The woman strong enough to assert herself cannot possibly be dumb enough to have not noticed that. If it were her own identity she wanted to protect in an otherwise male dominated society, she simply would have chosen to remain a name without a surname tagged on for effect. I don’t know if that is legally possible, but emancipation is not easy. If necessary, efforts ought to be made to pass relevant laws to that effect. You need to work for it if you want Identity of all things! Anyway, the way it stands, certain women simply cannot bear the insecurity that marriage may bring to them, the sense of losing oneself and surrendering to a whole new person and his household customs. The very way one is used to being addressed changes along with living space and routes for travel. The newly married woman is wrenched out of her former existence of her own volition – because people calling her husband ‘ghar jamai’ will simply not fit in her agenda of emancipation as also because that would be a more violent way of disturbing status quo. So here they are, leaving behind every little thing they grew up with and going away to begin a new life. It is not so unfair that they may want to retain a little something while that happens. The more self conscious and therefore insecure ones would. I will not talk about intelligence here: that is an elitist approach and not acceptable. Intelligence, like most other concepts, is highly relative. How come there are so many male chefs is a common point of argument. Women are not intelligent enough to choose as profession what they naturally acquire from their mothers. They leave that to the male: the intelligent monkey stands out. That was just a figure of speech by the way. Shaker’s Radhuni is my favourite show. Well, it is my mother’s, and I sometimes watch.

Mother can cook fantastic is a commonplace, but when the father does the occasional mutton curry, he is the hero who can do it all!-but does not, since there are people who are there for the job, namely, the mother-class.

Still, one must have something to write on… and emancipation and the shortcuts associated are a wonderful subject. It is easy to get noticed, and better than a scandal. I am referring to the likes of myself here, who cash in on such emancipation. May all the independent ladies live long and prosper!

p.s. I am male, and I have retained my maiden name after marriage, and you can contact me for cooking lessons via my website kapush.net

Written by kapush

March 12, 2009 at 10:04 am

Posted in musings

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