Wednesday, February 16, 2022

(before my parents' arranged marriage)

When my mom was trying hard to be my best friend
(so I too would share, so I wouldn't decide to die)
she once told me how in the late sixties
she'd take the 21 bus from her college
to go "flirt" at the university library

Heading home meant rules and four younger siblings 
(and college was only to make her marriage worthy)
so she'd stay back to read trashy novels 
knowing dudes were watching her 
from neighboring desks

I feel a flicker for mom in her carefully pressed saris
(pressed under her mattress if she missed the dhobi)  
knowing she'd never be allowed to work
using the few years she had
for freedom, for fun

she told me she never looked directly at any of them
(I mean, that would be to risk a bad reputation) 
but there was one bespectacled dude
who seemed a very serious type
she didn't know his name

graduation results went up, and he asked how she did 
(she was too taken by surprise to counterfeit, so)
she told him she got a third class--i.e. a "C"
he turned on his heel--and she laughs-- 
she never saw him again


Nicole MacPherson said...

I really liked reading this, Maya. Thanks so much for posting this today. I am going to be thinking about it all day. I love stories like this.

maya said...

<3 Thank you, Nicole. I think a lot about how I'm lucky to have had opportunities not afforded to my mom and generations of women before.

Elisabeth said...

Such a beautiful tribute to your Mom. Sad and inspiring and full of love - all these things at the same time.
(To me, from my privileged White/Western genetic lottery position, it feels almost impossible to imagine a life where this is a woman's reality; it's so far from my own. But it has been/is/will be for so many, and it means we all need to hold on to our freedoms with greater appreciation and fight so others, too, can access what I so often take for granted.


maya said...

Thank you, Elisabeth--I treasure your remarks.

Some of it depends on generational change for sure--in the 1960s, women of a certain class didn't usually work in the West either. But yes--being aware of our good fortune and fighting for everyone to experience is the way forward.

Gillian said...

During our sex and the city days, quite a few of us wished someone could pair us up nicely with someone suitable. We asked our Indian friend if her family would be interested in pairing us up. LOL.

maya said...

Ha, Gillian. This has definitely happened to me!

Chiconky said...

Ooh. I felt this viscerally, from the mom wanting to be your friend to being too shocked to lie. Beautifully written

maya said...

Thank you, Steph!

an unfolding

I have been dreaming of people invisible mountains I exhaled  into existing twisting, quickening and though  short-lived as grass, are seeds...