My Big Fat Fake Society

If you look up “caste” in Wikipedia, the first thing you’d see is a detailed explanation of India’s caste system. We pioneered the art of classifying people according to their birth. We mark and judge others by something they have no control over themselves. We are the vile people who shun our fellows because they’re different. Oh, and we’re also the first ones to name America a racist country.

We, Indians, are a fake society. Here’s how our system works: We live inside a cocoon of a society pretending we’re all-inclusive forward-thinkers. However, every day, every meaningless conversation at home or at familial gatherings would revolve around caste.

Shocking? Wait till you hear the rest.

If I announce to my family, at dinner, that a friend is getting married the following month, their first question would be if the couple is from the same caste. The second question, whether they belong to our caste.

And if I even dare to tell my family that I’m considering working abroad, their biggest worry would be to find a groom (in our caste) who wouldn’t be threatened by such a wife. My, it’s an abomination to want to live in a foreign country alone.

Even though plenty of men (in our caste) nowadays live in first-world countries, they’re nevertheless reluctant to marry a girl who’d talk about something more than what’s for dinner. It hurt a lot to hear it from my mother herself because I only see absurdity sprawled all over such a situation.

I had thought no one would be so silly now, but when I look around, all my married cousins went through the same excruciating filter. Pity some of them didn’t even recognize it. Some, of course, just didn’t care because they could immigrate to a country that sees snow. I know a friend whose parents had her blood group matched with her husband’s; she didn’t care a bit. It’s a little unrelated, but you get the idea.

It’s one thing to live amidst a limiting society, but another thing altogether to live in a closed caste system. There are plenty of tribes and societies across the world imposing unthinkable restrictions on women and children. But the difference is that they don’t hide it. They declare it as their tradition and take pride in it. (Whether it’s right or not is a debate for another time.)

The beloved caste system I’m in, however, hides in plain sight. It isn’t uncommon for a bunch of men at a family wedding, to brag about how shaving twice a day, every day would uphold their caste pride — because some castes ban men from growing facial hair. Amidst a larger crowd, though, they’d pretend as if caste is the last thing in their mind. Sad story: Until a few weeks ago, their pretense had me fooled too. It’s little things like these that make the biggest mark and hurt the most. And it’s shenanigans like these that degrade and warp the minds of every youngster in our society.

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2 thoughts on “My Big Fat Fake Society

  1. wow. it didn’t cross my mind that it’s that limiting, and at the same time frustrating, living in a country with a lot of traditions. i mean, i live in the Philippines with a lot of unspeakable and confusing traditions but not like the one you have written about.

    sometime in 2005, i chatted with a man from India (he said he was doctor) and mentioned that he’s about to get married the following year. the marriage was being arranged by his parents who had been looking for the ‘right’ bride. i was like asking how he can handle marriage with someone he hasn’t met yet and he does not have feelings for. he replied that love will come later and that his parents will make sure he’ll get a woman he can learn to love. i was so amazed at the determination of the man to follow an age-old tradition. i just laugh it away and said I am not sure how to react.

    during that time, because it was a first time to heart that, i didn’t think of how the girl would feel and how limiting it could be. i guess maybe i was focused on that chatter’s well-being at the time. traditions are confusing, and it has always made me ask where they came, how they came to be about, especially the ones in our country. i have to respect but i do not need to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some traditions are too limiting, yes, and it’s frustrating when you just want to explore beyond boundaries.

      Having said that, though, I’ve also seen plenty of families that are broad enough to accept untrodden ways. Not every family is as limited as I’ve described. But there are also a lot of people who still follow out-dated traditions in fear of what others would think of them. Perhaps that doctor you spoke to grew up in such a family.

      I agree that traditions are confusing, and like you said, we should respect them even if we don’t follow. However, our people should adapt, becasue if we cling on to our old ways when the world’s advancing, we’ll only make life harder for ourselves.

      Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate your time. 🙂

      Like

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