A PUZZLED LETTER FROM A GIRL TO HER PARENTS
It’s not often that I write to you.
But today I am. It’s not to complain or to ask for a gift. I’ve never needed to ask for one. I’ve been really happy living in my own world with blessings from both of you. And so, I never thought that a life, other than the one I’ve been living my whole life, exists.
There are a few things that really bother me. I hope you would explain some of them to me today.
You’ve given me an elder sister. And with a sibling like that, I could’ve never asked for a better friend to share things with. Then, why is it that whenever people meet us for the first time, they ALWAYS ask us: “Oh! You don’t have a brother?” That “Oh!” bothers me ma. I still remember the words that washer-woman uttered to you: “Don’t worry, you have to keep patience.”
Ma, what is that patience for? Oh, I think she meant patience with raising us. But then again, why did that neighbour ask Grandma in shock: “Oh, Nasbandi kara li?” (Oh! They got sterilized?”) Yes ma; that ‘oh!’ still bothers me.
Don’t get me wrong! It was never the two of you. It’s just that whenever an uncle asked me the number of siblings I have and I replied with “one elder sister”, that ‘Oh!’ look came back to puzzle me.
So I was wondering if you’d tell me what ‘Oh!’ means. It’s okay if you can’t though. I’d understand because there’s never been an ‘Oh!’ look on your face ever!
Dad, with you we never felt that one male in the house was not enough. I still remember that day when you tried to teach us how to ride your bike. What fun we had!
But dad, why were the people in the society and the kids laughing at us. Why did our neighbour pull her daughter by the elbow and took her inside the house?
Dad, isn’t bike just a vehicle that takes us from one place to another? Then why is that people are amazed when they see me riding one? Is riding a bike so difficult? Then you taught me well, because I never felt so.
Also, cooking must be the hardest job in the world! You know why? It’s because people always tell me with an amazed look: “Your dad cooks?! Wow!” Who taught you and ma to cook so well, papa? I’ve never seen anyone come and teach you. Ever since I was born, I always saw you cooking lunch because ma was at office and saw ma cooking dinner because you were at office then. I guess it must be in the genes.
It’s getting long now. But I’m sure the two of you are used to reading such long pages (what with reading our essays and answers and correcting them when we were in school and that too with my bad hand-writing.) Ma, why is it that I ALWAYS see the woman next door in the kitchen? Her daughter is my friend and she tells me her mother can’t r read. Is it possible ma? How is it possible for anyone to not read? I mean, I can read as well as write. You taught me to. Why couldn’t her mother teach her ma?
I recently heard a man say on T.V.: “I demand a ban on skirts as uniform in schools”. Why would anyone do that ma? That uncle’s son wears shorts to school. It’s not banned there. I wore skirts not just at school but at home. You never banned it. So why would anyone else?
I still remember the day when I was 12 years old and you were really angry with me. I thought I brought to you good news. When I told you happily that my friend is getting married, you told me sternly that ‘that’ was not good news. You didn’t let me go to her marriage and I still don’t understand why police came to her place. Her parents were so angry that they didn’t let anyone talk to me.
Two years later, I saw you having a heated discussion with our domestic help. What was that discussion for ma? I could only hear a few words. Dad said something like: “your daughter.. School.. No work..” I don’t know why she quit the job next month. I think she didn’t like the way you argued.
There are a lot of things that bother me. But I don’t know why looking at you gives me solace. I don’t understand what happened then and what is happening now. Maybe someday I will. But till then, I’m glad I shared this with you.
I won’t find any immediate answers I know. But at-least I’m trying to look for them. That’s what you’ve always taught me. I promise I’ll never cease to search for them.