Saturday, October 30, 2010

Age no bar

My mother -in-law called was recently invited to a 'satsang', literally translated meaning 'company of the virtuous'. Since it was a neighbour, she was surprised to know that I had no invitation to the same . She went and on her return told me that the hosts did not invite me as 'uski umar nahin hui hai na', meaning 'she is not at that age yet'. I am not into satsangs, but then, neither is my mother-in-law. So is this age discrimination? Just like we are always ready to take the word of an adult over a child, or think that adults know more than the children who question them.

We get upset when we do not see age appropriate behaviour. A sixty year old is not sitting and reading a religious text, when a child openly rebels against some tradition he sees no sense in.. a sixty eight year old travelling around the world for pleasure...

What is age appropriate behaviour? Going to kindergarten at age three plus, starting college at eighteen, getting a job within five to six years of that, getting married, having children, retiring from work at sixty and so on.... while these are very broad expectations, we have more minute details that we expect to follow. Mothers have to give up the last morsel of their food if their child likes it. Youngsters are expected to touch the feet of elders, daughters -in-law should adopt the traditions and customs of the husbands family overnight. Sons in law should be treated with kid gloves .. the list is endless.

A lady I know lives on her own while her son and his family live just half a kilometre away with his mother in law.. and the world and it's uncle is really concerned about why his mother is living on her own! After all it is her right to live with the son. Never mind the fact that this independent lady wants to be on her own. She is able and works as a volunteer for a good cause. She has friends who accompany her to movies, lunches and dinners, picnics and even excursions and trips overseas. "Yet one of the most common questions put to me is why I do not live with my son and daughter-in-law. They look disappointed or sceptical when I assure them that there is no problem .. it's just choice.. till I can manage. I guess I am not following the standard expectations.I would have been unhappy had I given in to standard expectations. I am expected to live with my son, go to temples and read holy books. I could do all these, but why should I limit myself to these?"

'Satsang' or dance party, why should age be the deciding factor? As they say, age is just a number and as for expectations of others.. the less we worry about them, the happier we will be!


  1. Hear hear!! I agree with you totally. In fact it irritates me when people talk of age-appropriateness. What is it and who decides is my question. I wrote a little about it in my post 'Golden Jubilee Cometh' :)

    I find it absurd that people cannot understand the concept of a lady wanting to stay independently without running off to her son to be taken care of!

  2. And it has to be her son, not her daughter, mind you...


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