Let me set the scene for you..
Perfect little asian family, perfect little home, perfect little neighbourhood, perfect everything. But what defines perfect to you? In asian society, perfect is having the whole family spending every minute at home. My mum would probably like to add cooking to that too might I add. But is that really reasonable to ask in this day and age..
This blog is written by someone who clearly likes to challenge the norms. Not because she enjoys it believe it or not, but because what better way to express ones feelings than writing.
Back to writing. Hope you enjoy my thoughts.
So I have been thinking.. I am one of the lucky ones believe it or not. Extremely lucky. Went to a top Grammar school, allowed to live at university and even buy not one car but two in the first year of driving. I was allowed to skip the boring chores and relax at home. All day, every day. Maybe so relaxed I forgot that I am basically horizontal as my mum would say. I am living on cloud 9. This isn’t unusual for the bengali culture before you start judging me. I have seen countless people in my life where the kids live in a bubble. Not because we are all spoilt brats, which I agree we are. But because it is safe for all of our parents to believe that by staying at home and having very little social life with the outside world, we will be protected. Protected from the bad western influences, the gossip from the community-led local whatsapp group and protected from making a mistake.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of pros in this deal. Free food, free from responsibility routine, free everything. But is it really free? It did cost one thing. This one thing could mean absolutely nothing to some and absolutely everything to another person and that is independence. Could the easy life be the most fulfilling life? In my opinion, I have personally never liked rules. I have always liked to challenge them. In school teachers would say stop talking and I would say okay I will write notes instead. In university, I would frequently voice my opposition opinions in Politics. I mean do we really need a free NHS? I studied for 4 years on challenging opinions, expressing arguments and voicing my own opinion. Therefore, it is not surprising at all that this cost to me would be a tough pill to swallow. I didn’t just study to be different, I was raised to be different. That can be expressed in a blog so big it might as well be a novel so I will write that another time. So I want to share my feelings and see if any of you agree.
Anyway, back to my question, some children, and I use that term lightly because lets face it, they are probably 24/25/26 years old, are just perfect in the eyes of the culture. They go to a great job and go straight home and start making samosas. They know their independence comes with marriage and nothing sooner. So I ask, can one lifestyle be applicable to all? I sadly disagree.
So I could have passed my 11+, gained 12 GSCS, 4 A-levels, 2 Degrees and I sadly am not still not classed as perfect in this lifestyle. Independence is not something girls, in my opinion, are entitled to. We are entitled to be educated (Now!) but not quite the independence and freedom others can have. This is all down to the idea of perfection. We don’t ever talk about girls in the idea of educated, hard working, independent and thick skinned. We think of girls as someone’s daughter or wife. We do not celebrate girls degrees in society but instead their marriages. If you go on social media, speak to your mum, turn on the TV, marriage is what parents aspire for their daughters and being an independent man for their sons.
This is the key difference. Completely different perceptions of perfect. Boys can travel across the world and settle there if they wish and say it is to keep sending money home but really they are experiencing independence. Yes, I can send money home too. I would love to but it is still not a valid reason for girls. Would they even accept the money? I think not. Even though I was encouraged to study, I never need to put it into practice.
So I ask another question, if you never experience being happy by yourself with real life experiences, can you ever run a home?
I have started to notice differences in my mum and dad. My dad is wise. Too wise some would say. This is a trait from my home town- yes you guessed it Beanibazaar. If you aren’t familiar with this, are you really even bengali?
Anyway, back to the story, he never has implied religion is the end all which is quite strange for an Asian dad. He never really put those social norms onto me at all. I would cut my hair a cm and he would say why not cut it short. I would write with a paper and pen and he would say why not use a laptop. He gave me the true start to being different and advanced.
As my analytical mind got to work, I started thinking. How can my Essex born mum from Southend have a less understanding of independence and freedom than my Bangladeshi born dad with 8 other siblings. How is that possible? That defeats everything. Being in Essex has got to make you loosen up right? WRONG. My dad travelled independently, he made friendships all over the world, he connected to people different to himself. He learnt from others, he listened to others and he knew what kind of person he wanted to be. He was quite the rebel in my eyes. But still yet, I looked up to that my whole life. Why would you not want to be like that? That was a dream I am not quite allowed unfortunately. My mum was slightly different. She went from the perfect daughter at home straight to being married. She stayed with people with the similar thoughts as her parents and her own. She learnt from people in her social norm. My dad had a little gap in between. He gained at least 8 years of independence. Yes yes you can say he had to earn money to run a house but that does not go against the idea he lived in Dubai, America, UK and probably so many more places he hides. He found himself before getting married and my mum found herself in marriage. It begs the question, are boys only allowed independence? My answer is.. yes. You cannot say independence is in marriage because as my mum rightly says ‘Your guardian becomes your husband’ you have to ask for someone else’s permission. If my mum married someone different to my dad, she wouldn’t necessarily even gain the little independence she did receive. That is all luck. Boys have the luxury of becoming better people through experience however girls do not have that, they have to just become better whilst being secluded. Is that really possible? Is it really that surprising that women leave marriages quickly now? Do they know how to act to something out of the home? These are all questions I think we should think about.
Independence, self awareness and feeling comfortable in your own skin is crucial for building relationships in my eyes. If you cannot make yourself happy, how can you bring that happiness to someone else’s life?
I will stop for today. Don’t worry. I will be back.