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.