Different strokes for different folks
People are different, unique and come in so many shades and sizes depending on cultures, identities, and personalities. They are washed by their religions, social status, education and their own definitions of values and of traditions. What you may believe is a total no-no may seem like a trivial concern to others. However, when you discover these dissonances in people close to you, it can cause rifts or even a complete breakdown in relationships. It is important to discover such massive differences before forming bonds with people. In fact, it is not easy to totally figure out people even if they are your spouse or children. They have all been painted by brushes different from yours, and this is perhaps the reason our elders insist on marrying from the same caste, religion, even sub-caste so that you don’t suffer the shock of massive differences in standards whether physical or moral.
1. Gender Biases
Many women find that the greatest champions of gender inequality are women themselves. My own daughter Shalini discovered that my mother hoarded the best pieces of chicken and fruit for her brother, as they were growing up. I never realised it, as I was a single mother and I did not experience this when I was growing up. When confronted she said that that was their upbringing to always treat men with deference because they had to grow up stronger and be “the man” in the family. I discovered this only a few months ago and my mother was already on her deathbed, so I just let it be.
2. On infidelity
Many cultures believe that a man is allowed to be unfaithful, or take another woman, as long as it is discreet and not “serious”. They claim that a wife cannot keep him sexually satisfied on “those days” and also during pregnancy. Nita was so disturbed by this argument that she actually took on her husband and offered herself 365 days. Not that it deterred the errant husband. When the critical mass of society believes it is OK, there’s not much an individual can do to change hardened mindsets.
3. On the illegal gain of wealth
Raju was from a lower class slum-dwelling family, who didn’t go beyond the 8th standard in school. He was hard-working and got good breaks in life: government tenders in electrical contracts and road-building. Soon his wealth grew in quantum leaps. His wife and only son and parents were very happy with this change in their standard of life. But even they did not need any more than the luxury they were enjoying. So Raju took to finding pretty girls, he would shower his black money on. To the best of my knowledge, he did not indulge in any sexual transactions. They were eye-candy, good for a drink and dinner. I wished he had adopted some orphans for life, instead.
4. When self-importance can break
Sameer was a good catch in every way, and Sulu was very happy until she caught up with the way he would treat people less fortunate than him. Waiters, servants, even beggars on the road were people to be treated with disdain. He would claim that they must have been bad people in their past lives and that karma was paying it back. This, of course, extended to strays on the roads. Sulu never trusted people who did not love animals, and this attitude caused the marriage to break.
5. Domestic violence
Sara was amazed to hear from her maid that she was beaten up for some minor infraction. When she advised her to report him to the police, she said, “Madam, what is the use of a man who doesn’t beat his wife once in a while?” Sara came from a mild, and very compassionate family where even a raised voice was rare and a click of the tongue from her father would mortify her to tears. Incapable of understanding this strange reaction to violence, she now works at an NGO that changes the mindset in women on what is acceptable behaviour.
It is of utmost importance that one agrees upon standards of values and norms in living together with a group of people. This is particularly important in intimate relationships. It can be said with no doubt that the only indubitable standards are those of love, trust, honesty, integrity and communication.