“This is Our Culture”

 

***

My ears catch the sound of my dad and mom arguing a floor below my bedroom. I am still in bed, lying down with my eyes closed and the blanket over my head.

I finally chose to open my eyes and reached out to turn the alarm clock towards me.

It was 8:27 a.m.

It is a Saturday morning, one of the two days I get to sleep in. My alarm did not go off, but I still woke up. My ears chose to listen to the conversation my parents were having, without my permission. “Was it a conversation or an argument”? I think to myself.

“I am the one that has to do everything in this house, go to work, do the groceries and everything, while you stay at home and watch T.V” my father said to my mom.

“If I come to the grocery story with you, I have to come back home and cut up all the meat, put away the groceries and clean up!” said my mom with the same tone of voice.

“I went to work just like you, but I still had more work to do when I came home,” my mom adds with a slightly stronger tone.

Two months ago Harper Collins chose to close down all the Canadian branches, letting go of a handful of full-time employees with their respective severance pay and benefits.

I roll on my back and uncover myself from my blanket and stare at the ceiling. “I could have slept a little longer!” I think to myself with a sigh.

I drag myself out of bed and get myself into the washroom. I brush my teeth and splash my face with some cold water to finally open my eyes as if I had just woken up.

I grab my towel and head into the shower. I open the tap and two and a half seconds later “Heavy knocks on the door.”

“YOOO What are you doing in there? I am late for work!!!” my brother shouts through the door.

Just a few minutes ago I peeked into his room and he was sleeping away.

I rush out of the shower, and put on some fresh smelling clothes that just came out of the laundry. It was probably the best part of the day, being able to smell my clean washed hair and perfume scented body lotion and fresh, soft pair of clothing.

I go downstairs to the kitchen to have some breakfast. I find my dad looking through flyers and my mom listening to devotional chanting music on her iPad and cutting vegetables to cook for lunch.

Surprised by how quiet it was I asked “Why do you guys always have to be so loud in the mornings?”

“What are you talking about?” My dad replies.

My mom says, “He still hasn’t gone to the grocery store, and we don’t have any meat to cook today. I am only going to make lunch with whatever we have in the fridge, so don’t complain that I’m not making you something you like!”

A few moments later, I hear someone running down the stairs. Of course it was my brother because his feet never like walking down stairs.

He comes into the kitchen and asks, “what’s for lunch?”

My mom replies “I baked the seasoned chicken for you along with some vegetables and put it in your lunch box.”

“Where did that meat come from?” I asked furiously.

“He has to go to work today, and I saved his portion of chicken breast for him to take” my mom replied with her motherly tone.

I grab the box of cereal and poured it into my bowl. I took the milk out of the fridge and poured some into my cereal just to fill halfway up to where the cereal was in the bowl. I took a spoon from the dishwasher and inspected it. It was clean enough, so I didn’t have to rinse it.

Ever since I was a little girl, things were always different for me compared to my brother. Even though I was 4 years younger, I was still expected to do the dishes regardless of whether it was my own. My brother would leave his dirty dishes in the sink and it would not be a problem. However, if I had done the same thing, I would get a lecture about how a girl is supposed to behave.

I was 17, and I was really fed up with the idea that I had to be treated differently just because I was a girl.

I asked my parents “why are you both so strict with me? He gets go out with his friends and wear the kind of clothes he likes, why can’t I do the same thing.”

My dad said, “You’re a girl and in our culture, girls are expected to be respectful!” He continued to say, “back home my sisters….”

I interrupted. “We are NOT back home, we live in Canada and our culture here is not the same! I keep having to give silly excuses to my friends about why I cannot go out with them.”

“We are just worried to send you out, we want to make sure you are safe!” my mom jumps in.

“I am not the only girl in this world, and I think I can take care of myself!”

“We know you can, but we need to give your hand to someone in marriage one day, and we do not want any reason for them to not accept you for who you are” says my mom looking into my eyes.

My dad adds, “This is how we learned to raise our child and we may live in Canada, but that doesn’t mean we are going to stop following our culture.”

***

 

Author’s Note:

This story is based on a typical Indian family and the kind of expectations they have with regards to raising their children, and how they would interact with their spouses. It is based on some of my own experiences as well as experiences I have heard from others. I intentionally did not include any names of characters just because I wanted it to be a story that people can identify with. This could be a longer story, however, I chose to end it where I did because I feel like a lot of parents are still very protective over their children, specifically girls and it is something that is really difficult to fight against. This does not apply to all families!