Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
Something to say?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Misplaced Respect for Marriage

My friend and mother's sister, Baby, got me thinking. She claimed that, in India, women have to be married to be respected. Now, Baby is a couple of years younger than me, so this is not a generational gap.

   I wondered whether it is my history of divorce and fecklessness that makes me disagree. Baby is one of the most gentle and 'spiritual' women I know. She is bright, articulate, well-loved, by me included. But not for being married.

   I think the arranged marriages in India are a huge gamble. I lost on mine. So, how do I find my self-respect? I have thought about this for many years.

   I like me when I am less self-centred, more caring and willing to engage with others afflicted in diverse ways. I don't always succeed. I like me when I make the effort to learn new things, find new friends, heal breaches within or without my family, consider myself and admit my mistakes.

   When I suffer loss in various ways, I remind myself of something my father said to me when I was in a very deep hole, in 1966. 'Look below you, at the people who are worse off than you! Not the ones happily above you.' At the moment the hole I am in is even deeper, but I summon that wisdom of his, back. The Iraquis, the Syrians, the severely disabled, the incurably ill. I cannot do much for anyone at near eighty years. But I make tentative steps forward. I try to help in small and hesitant ways. It makes me less self-centred, more part of the human community. And I am grateful for the support I receive from friends and my family. I depend on them. This is as it should be. What is there not to respect?

   This makes me feel worthwhile - respect myself. This is the only kind of respect that matters to me. But affection? I'll take it whichever way it comes.

   I like to think it is important that my life is about what I do as a person, the work I do teaching, the writing I do, the people I consider my friends.

   So, to the young people in my family, I must say - find your own way, work out your value systems independent of others and try to be as little self-centred as you can be. Husbands? They'll soon be dime a dozen even in India. Especially if the girl babies get killed off before they are quite born.


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