Savita’s* third daughter made the slight mistake of marrying a ‘Punjabi’. While considering matches for her beautiful sixth chick, Punjabis were definitely out of the running. There was this constant lena-dena (a usually incredibly long list of gifts for the boy’s family, extended family and even more extended aunts and uncles you never saw again) that went on in case of births, deaths and marriages. Discreet instructions were conveyed through the daughter and they hopped to it because the boy’s family was THE BOY’S family. Apart from that, Savita had no time for a son-in-law who had an endless stream of requests – “Swarna*, ek cup coffee bana de.” or “Swarna, meri pant press kar de.”
“Didi”, Savita would say with flashing eyes and no small amount of indignation, “doesn’t he have the hands and feet to make his own coffee and iron his own trousers? All my other Pahari sons-in-law cook, help out in the house and take care of such things themselves. Why can’t he do the same?”
“Not all Punjabis are like that. They are generally a hard-working people in other ways.” I would offer a tentative defence of the much-maligned community into which I was born. But Savita refused to be mollified or change her opinion about the supreme ineligibility of Punjabi men. Another daughter of hers was not going to marry a Punjabi. Period. However, that never prevented her from sending dear daughter and Punjabi son-in-law a huge carton of apples every year. Punjabis, she informed me with surprising neutrality, didn’t have apples, whatever else they might grow on their lands.
Savita is not about to upset the apple cart of old customs and conventions passed down from generation to generation, even if she’s had enough of the never-ending lena-dena. Most of us don’t buck the system either because it’s a useless endeavour, we have too many more important things to do and wasn’t life stressful enough?
Generally, we don’t buck our internal stressful system either, even if we’ve had enough of it. We usually continue with the same toxic patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviour that cause the discord between us and our spouses, children or friends, we miss opportunities due to self-sabotaging thoughts we’re hardly aware of, we continue to be our harshest critics. And things never change even though months or years pass.
The good news is that there’s always a life-affirming movement within us that will at some time or the other cause us to actively seek solutions and act on them. If we refuse to go with that flow, there’s restlessness, dissatisfaction, boredom or depression. It tells us we’re missing something, that there is more to us than we are allowing ourselves to see or be. It’s when we tap into the tremendous potential within that we start living life from the higher octave of love, rather than fear.