A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

The one sided ways of this world

Posted by Pepper on November 16, 2011

I heard of something that has been making my stomach churn. Somebody I know vaguely, just got an abortion done after finding out she was carrying a girl. I know, female infanticide is common and it happens everyday. Most of us just look at it as a “disturbing fact” and move on with our life. We believe it is not within out power to change a thing like that. But this time, the sex selective abortion was done by somebody I know. It is depressing me. The nauseating feeling refuses to leave.

Till date, a girl is considered to be a “burden” to her family. She is unwanted, while a boy is sought after and prayed for. There are reasons, of course.  I know I sound really dumb, but truth be told, I was hardly aware of the issues that affect women in everyday life. I come from a family that has girls in abundance. My maternal grandmom had six daughters and no son. Each time she gave birth to a girl, she hoped her next child would be a boy. After six attempts, my grandparents decided to stop having more children and live without a son. This was in the 1940s and 50s. But as they grew, they realised what a boon their daughters were. They did for them, what most sons wouldn’t. It made my grandmom change her outlook. She would go about telling other parents they are blessed to have a daughter, and they are in fact, luckier than the ones who have only have sons. I really admire the way they brought up their daughters, at a time when they were looked down upon.

My dad, when he got married to my mom, told her he always dreamt of having two daughters. He comes from a family where girls are few and far in between. My paternal grandmom too, never having had a daughter, always wanted to have a grand daughter. So when I was born, I was truly celebrated. The celebrations continued when my sister was born. During my growing up years, me and my sister were cherished and spoilt. It never occurred to us that we were actually the lesser members of society. I think I was oblivious to the unfairness and gender biases that existed. Maybe I never paused to think, since I was so unaffected.

And then I got married. Mint’s family, like most Indian families bring up their sons and daughters in very different ways. Consequently, the men and women lead very different lives. The first thing that struck me was that they don’t eat together. The men eat first. The women stand beside them, serving them whenever their plates needs a refill. This was totally new to me. In my home, meal time is family time. We all eat together. I have sweet memories of family dinners, bonding over food and conversation. So it took me a while to accept this difference. Now, I know and understand that some women have this desire to serve their husbands  hot chapatis and dosas, straight off the pan. This does not allow them to eat at the same time. Why the men have no such desire is something I am not getting into now. But I noticed, even if the meal consists of only rice, my mom in law will still stand beside my father in law while he eats, serve him and then eat her meal all alone in the end. When I say serve, I talk about taking a helping from the utensil that is lying on the dining table and putting it onto his plate. Surely, he can do that on his own. He doesn’t even have to get up! So why can’t they eat together?

Let me clarify my stand. There are days when I just feel like serving Mint. There are days when I give him a meal in hand. So I have nothing against this concept. But whenever I do it for him, he looks at me, gives me a grateful smile and says the warmest “Thank you”.It tells me that my actions are appreciated, and not taken for granted. This behaviour is not expected from me. Moreover, there are a lot of days when he gives me meals in hands too, and I say a thank you. It’s never one way.

Women took over the kitchen and ran the house at a time when going out and earning money was solely the man’s job. Slowly, women started entering the workforce, but the men never made it to the kitchen. My mother in law always gives me examples of other working women who manage to run the house efficiently, despite doing it single handedly. She wants me to be like them. She tells me it is possible if I orgainise myself, wake up earlier and work harder than I do.  She is surrounded my women like them. Yes, it is possible for me to be like that. But heck, I don’t want to! Why should I? I refuse to take on all the load, because it is unfair. And even if it is a case of the woman running the house and the man earning, even then I would say this system is very unequal.

The  other day, my inlaws, Mint and I reached somebody’s place after a long and tiring day. Let me emphasize on the fact that all of us were equally exhausted. But the moment we reached there, my mom in law sprang from her seat, walked to the kitchen and asked the woman there if she needed any help with the cooking. I realised, I was supposed to follow her and check with the women if they needed my help too. If I continued sitting there, I would be seen in poor light. The men of course, had the right to just sit and not move a finger.But I had to get up and go because I am a girl. Does this have anything to do with the fact that  my father in law is the bread winner and my mom in law is the home maker? No! On that particular day, all of us were equally tired. Then why can’t the man offer some help too? If this is what is expected of women, why would anybody want to have a daughter?

My in laws were very hesitant to stay at Mint’s cousin’s place while we were in NY. They would have to stay there for 4 days. They kept asking us if they could shorten their stay there and come back, al though we weren’t around. Their hesitance puzzled me. I asked my MIL what was wrong in staying there for 4 days. They had just come back from NY themselves, and had stayed at somebody else’s place for 10 days. So why was the 4 day stay this time bothering them so much? My MIL told me they stayed there cos he was the son of the family, but now they had to stay with the daughter of the family. It riled me up so much. I just stared at her, unable to speak. So it is their birth right to go and live with a married son for as long as they want, but they feel awkward and bad living with a married daughter? If they believe they own their sons, but daughters belong to somebody else, why the bloody hell will anybody want to have a daughter?

That is one reason, I have been very against moving to Chennai. If at all we live in Mumbai, we will rent a place of our own. But if we live in Chennai, Mint’s parents will expect us to live with them. Why does the girl have to go embrace the guy’s family and walk away from her own? This whole concept of the girl living with the guy’s parents is just wrong. It tilts the system in the favour of the guy’s parents. The guy’s parents have somebody around them in their old age. They have somebody to be there and care for them. But the girl’s parents should grow old all alone and have no support in their old age? Why? I repeat, with a system like this, why the bloody hell will anybody want a daughter and not a son?

I worry about my parents a lot. I want to be there for them, if and when they need me. I will not let them be at a disadvantage just because they produced two girls and no boy. I say the same thing for Mint’s parents. We’ll be there for them if and when they need it. Until then, we will live by ourselves, not choose one set of parents to be with over the other.

My mom in law asked me when I was planning to change my last name before she was leaving. I meekly told her I can’t do it right now, because my passport and visas are all under the name I have always had so far. A part of me was silently screaming, “Tell her. Tell her you never plan to do it. Tell her to not question you or have such expectations from you. Tell her you won’t do it because you are not separating yourself from your own family and attaching yourself to hers.” I couldn’t get myself to say any of that. I did what I do best -kept quiet, evaded the topic and moved on. Really, why is the girl expected to take on a new identity that connects her with her husband, while the guy retains his? Has anybody ever expected a guy to add on his wife’s name to his?

I’ve been feeling angry, frustrated and dejected because of the one sided ways of this world. I have only spoken about issues that have affected me. I haven’t even taken the bigger issues into account. Issues like dowry. Until a guy continues to have the upper hand, until the world continues to favour a man, a girl will never be equal. A girl will never be wanted. And until then, a lot of parents will choose to terminate the life of their unborn girl child, and pray to Gods they are blessed with a boy. I don’t know when this will end.

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87 Responses to “The one sided ways of this world”

  1. adt said

    This topic totally gets me all worked up. I again, come from a family of two girls and we have been pampered and treated no less different from the way the guys have been treated. His family treats daughters and sons differently . In fact before the wedding one of his grandparents also said Boys side is more important . They behaved that way too during the wedding, not helping around one bit. Lots of similarities in what you say : Mealtimes are family times for us, there I have never seen them all eat together even once. I refused to change my name .When some “well meaning ” relatives asked me I told them , if it was an issue of the two of us having a common surname, we both could change our names to something else. My in laws sometimes act like they want to own me , that I belong to their family only and I should give them more priority. It riles me up no end. I really do want to settle down in India, and near my place, but with both set of parents in the same city , the inlaws expect us to stay with them: which I refuse to. I want to take up a place midway and visit often. My parents are proud of having their daughters , but society just wants you to feel ashamed and punished for it . It definitely is very frustrating. :(

  2. first first!! no? comment moderation? :D

    Ok, It is absolutely pathetic about the abortion. I dont even know if such people are fit for being parents!
    Recently, one of my uncles passed away, and he left his entire property (a LOT of it) to his only son. And nothing for his two daughters. And the daughters are financially in a much worse condition than the son. I mean, I really dont understand..where do people lose their logic? How hard it is to understand that all children are equal. And deserve equal rights? It really upsets me to see gender inequality almost everywhere around me. And I really feel “fortunate” to have S, who is just such a fair and logical person. I know, I should not be feeling fortunate for this particular reason, because gender equality should come by default to everyone (in my own perfect world) , but then such people are so rare, that it really makes me feel blessed!

    • Pepper said

      I feel “fortunate” to have Mint too. It’s sad that we feel that way though. Fairness and logic should be there by default. It should be normal and not considered “nice”. Unfortunately, the illogical discrimination is considered normal while what we have is nice.

  3. Prashanti said

    I have never commented here but this post resonated with me and I want to tell you something my mom said to me this morning. I am an only child and have been pampered like crazy by my mom. My mom works and had some issues at work with a youngster who was being rude to her. She said to me ” I always used to worry that I had no son but now, I see the behavior of boys all around me and it makes me so glad that I do not have a son. I was stupid to wish for a Son and now I don’t see what a son can do for me that you would not. Now, I would choose you over and over again even if I were offered all the sons in the world. ”

    Made me super proud of my mom. She is a total rockstar. All through my growing years, she has never made me do any of the “conventional” stuff girls are expected to do and has never treated me any differently because I was a girl. The best part was when I came to the US for grad school. My then fiance was already in the US and my mom told him over the phone to take care of me and cook for me everyday since I did not know how to cook. I was never given any instructions on how to be a “good wife” ever.

    Makes me realize that our experiences and thought processes as girls are largely influenced by our mothers. Btw, love your blog :)

  4. Bhavani said

    This really upsets me Pepper. We are all girls in my family and our parents are proud of this. When we had our first baby we including our parents/inlaws were thrilled that it was a girl. My husband’s and my dream also was to have 2 girls. When I had my second one..I was a tad disappointed on the scan day that it was a boy:) But life is fun with a girl and a boy. I used to feel weird when almost everyone I know used to comment saying I was so lucky to have a girl and boy. The thing is in this day and age it amazes me that there are people who want to have a Boy. And this is the height of extreme aborting a girl. If they knew the gender which means she must have been atleast 16 weeks or more when you can actually see the body parts of the baby. I dont want to say it but it is like killing a baby…and this among educated folks…I am really upset..sorry to vent…

    Take care

    Bhavani

    • Pepper said

      I’ve heard that “lucky because you have a boy and a girl” bit all my life too. I don’t have too much of a problem with that :) Maybe people think it will give you a more rounded experience. For that matter, I don’t have anything against people who say they want a boy either. If I openly say I want a girl, I think people have as much right to say they want a boy. Preferences are okay to have, if you have the right attitude and reasons to go with it.

      Aborting after the 16th week makes it so much worse, I know.

  5. That is a post I never managed to write because the anger I feel spills over and won’t allow me to be coherent. So here’s praise for being able to say all that in such a collected manner.

    A change is coming though. Slowly, but certainly. The suffragist movement seemed impossible at some point in the past. And look at us now! Things have improved a great deal already and they will keep improving. The pace at which they improve may seem unsatisfactory and very slow to us right now, but that’s ok. What matters even more is that there are vast numbers of people doing their bit. And doing so willingly, with a lot of hope for what will come. What I’m trying to say is, I doubt it could get worse. Pit bottom it is now, and the only way from here is up.

    • Kaavya said

      I strongly agree with this comment. My views –

      When such a topic emerges,lot of emotions get mixed up..The act of abortion & the instances stated by you are done by people of two different generations..The educated, independent folks have a different outlook towards life. We dont do anything because we are told to do it. We always do stuff if we want to do it..I feel the actions of your MIL comes naturally to her.. my guess is that she must have been a homemaker & some women have always been grateful that their husband earned money & gave them the life that they are leading… You should just leave it at that.

      Regarding abortion, it is very disturbing. But it is worthwhile to understand whether there was any pressure from within the family for such an act.. What was the husband doing? Very very sad indeed…

    • Pepper said

      Dewdrop: I agree and hope you’re right.

      Kaavya: Quoting you – “The act of abortion and the instances stated by you are done by people of two different generations”
      No! The girl who did this belongs to the same generation as most of us present here. She is educated and independent. So there.

      “.I feel the actions of your MIL comes naturally to her.. my guess is that she must have been a homemaker & some women have always been grateful that their husband earned money & gave them the life that they are leading… You should just leave it at that.”
      Of course, those actions come naturally to her. I would leave it at that. If only she would not expect me to adopt her ways.

  6. Sig said

    It’s never ending is it Pepper? The more we change, the more we realise we haven’t changed at all.

    I was like you – growing up outside India I never felt that I was less than a boy in any way. My parents saw to that. However, while in the obvious ways they discarded the gender bias it was the little things that they did, unknowingly perhaps, that made me realise that they still regarded me differently.

    Case in point – the serving and eating thing. It was normal for my mother to cook and serve my Dad and us until we were done and then she ate alone after. She never complained, and only once I grew up a little more and noticed, I made sure whenever I could that it didn’t happen. But it still does, especially when we have people over. My sister and all the women will go into the kitchen to help my mum, while the men just sit around. I sit around too and then feel bad hahah. Actually Evs and my little brother try and help too but are usually shooed away.

  7. Shamim said

    Wow, the abortion story at the beginning is heartbreaking and infuriating! Why sould the sex of your baby matter? Shouldn’t having a healthy baby be enough? Yea, I don’t know when this blatant inequality will end. There are just too many unreasonable expectations placed on women in our culture, why aren’t men held up to these same standards? Uff, I know exactly how you feel.

  8. Gayatri said

    Excuse my language but re the first few lines, “What the fuck?” Stories like his sadden & enrage me to the point of wanting to quit my life here and doing something, anything about this plague.

    I can relate to every single aspect of the rest of your post Pepper. I won’t type up details but it is shocking that we have to even think and talk about these things in this day and age.

  9. bini said

    Its so hard to digest that in this day and age someone could do this. There are so many couples in the world who go threw so much of pain to just conceive and then on the other hand you have these set of people who take for granted their gift from God (Im not anti-abortion but as you mentioned sex selective abortions).

  10. i absolutely second you , the society is still very biased , we might have moved on in a lot of aspects but when it comes to men and women being the same we are still backward . high time we do something about it .

  11. R's Mom said

    Wow Pepper, I am at awe with this post…whatever I wanted to write has been written by you and in such an articulate manner…

    Firstly, I think your family is super great *Stands up and salutes your parents*

    Secondly, I think even I grew up in such an atmosphere where I was never treated as a secondary being…whatever my parents taught me, my brother was taught..whether it was rolling chapatis, cleaning the kitchen platform or keeping vessels at their place…whatever…and my bro does everything better than me *Jealous*

    When I married RD, I realised he wasnt like that…I have always seen Appa do as much work in the kitchen as Amma, so I always thought that was the way..but when I married RD..it was a shocker…

    one great thing about RD was that he was willing to learn, to do, to help….he has changed now…unfortunately my MIL doesnt like it..but he is insistent to help and MIL cant do a thing about it..of course when she is around, she wont let him lift a glass..which I just over look…but other times if I tell her that RD cooked dal rice today..she tells me how ‘lucky’ I am! and how my SIL’s husband doesnt help her at all..eetc etc…

    Its the way the world is Pepper…we cant change it..what we can do is..try and change ourselves…if everyone does it..may be the mind set may change…

    and oh if I ever have R2, I hope she is a girl :)

    • Pepper said

      One thing I’ve realised is that your lack of knowledge or past experience does not matter. All that matters is your desire to learn and to do things. Yay for people like RD!

  12. Bubblegum said

    Yeah the sad truth is people are hypocrates! A girl has to learn cooking since she is into teens to she has to plan for her career according to family members..She has to changer her identity after marriage.. She has to manage the home-show as well after doing job for 8 hours!!! It is indeed frustrating! The only lucky thing can happen is you have to be from the family where they are out of this girl-boy mindset.

  13. RS said

    It is really shocking when you find someone you know, does something that doesnt agree with your principles :-( Sad! DOesnt that friend of yours feel sorry? She must’ve had compelreasons for doing something like that – did you check that it was not a rumor you heard instead some health concern for the abortion?

    And God!Dont even think about all these small women put-down things that I see around me – eating last/foregoing the food if its not enough blah blah… I always argue about it with all my granny’s generation. Sadly they DONT want to change or understand./..

    • Pepper said

      The girl who did it is not a friend. She is someone who I know. Barely. It wasn’t a rumour. I don’t know if they tried to camouflage the real cause (like a health concern) by giving a reason like this. Even if they did that, it’s equally bad.

  14. I find myself able to relate to a lot of things in this post. I come from a family of girls and we celebrate girls in the family. But still make my blood boil. At my house, luckily, we all eat together and the dinner table conversation is a very special time for a family of four.

    At my uncle’s house though, he would return home from work and sit down at the dining table – his plate would be placed in front of him, complete with food and all necessary cutlery. And after his meal, he would get up and it would be duly cleared away. And till date I have yet to see him serve himself a glass of water, despite the fact that he always sits near the water filter/dispenser. I remember once, I was playing outside and he kept calling me repeatedly. I came rushing inside, thinking it was something important only to have him say, ‘Khanna, please bring me a glass of water’. He would be so polite and so affectionate about asking and for a 10 year old me, it was difficult to say no, but I used to become so angry. I would place the glass on the table and run away with angry tears in my eyes. This situation hasn’t changed and he is the same way when he eats at my house. I dearly hope it ends one day, although I honestly don’t see it happening.

  15. VidBala said

    Pepper, pepper, pepper, you just spoke my mind.

    I was thinking about many things in this post just last night. This morning I open to see your post and it is just my mind in this blog post. ah!!

    These kinds of one-sided-ness affect me so much Pepper.

    I know many families where both the husband and wife work from 9 am to 6:00 pm. Both of them come home by 8:00 pm. Now, the husband will just chill and relax before the TV (due to the hard days’ work) and the wife (who also had a equal hard day at office) is expected to make tea for him followed by dinner. And this wife will be so exhausted that she will make tea and parallelly getting herself into a nightwear, refreshing herself with a face wash. Tea will be served to the husband. Now, next .. she has to get the dinner ready. She will prepare dinner while sipping her tea & cutting veggies for the next day. dinner ready .

    Plse note the husband is still relaxing in front of the TV with thoughts about his wife!!! (sad!).

    Husband’s Dinner time: Wife makes dosas/chapathis/watever – servers husband just from the pan.
    Wife’s Dinner time: Just standing in the kitchen and having dinner – as she will be half-dead by this time.

    Now, after dinner, the husband will still continue to watch the idiot box, while the wife will again have some unfinished chores before she hits the bed!

    This is one small story of one of my friend.

    How mean people are !! Pepper !! I dont know if something can change all these scenes in a house! (yes!! I prefer to call it “house” and not “home”)

    I do not say, women should stay in kitchen or men should just relax after a day’s work.

    My point is : why do men forget that even women will need their five-minutes just after their had day at work before getting in to the kitchen – women will also like to watch TV programs – women will also have their friends whom they have to catch up with (atleast on fone by the end of day) – women will have a hobby for herself – women will also like to have their own time and above all will need L.I.F.E!!!!

    As I keep penning down my thoughts on your posts, only the following lingers in my mind!!!

    ” Daughters will enjoy life – but not wifes!!!”

    (sorry for a long comment, peppy!)

  16. Harini said

    You hit the nail on the head with this post… This is a topic that is very close to my heart..Some guys and parents of guys have no clue how it feels to be a girl treated so unfairly!! and I’ll stress the some part..coz the society is changing, atleast from the ones I have seen and I luckly know many wonderful guys and families who embrace and feel blessed to have a girl in their family..We are two daughters to my parents and my family is just like yours, one that embraces girls and believe in providing equal opputunities and happiness to us. But sadly I have seen families where the girl is less educated than the guy because otherwise she cant get married off easily, or one where they feel its the girl’s sole duty to take care of the kitchen and the cooking and cleaning and to also provide to their husbands. To make it worse, I sometimes even see guys, girls and couples of our generation degrade a girl and think highly of the male sex and it saddens me no end. I mean if educated people of this generation still haven’t changed their thought process, I really wonder if our parent’s generation even stand a chance at this..

    I nowdays seem to have lost all tolerance for such people and dont hesitate in telling them they are wrong and that they should try to change their mentality. I truly hope we live to see this sad state of affairs change soon!!

  17. Its like you put down all my thoughts in words(and your writing is so much more clearer that my muddled thoughts)
    I am the youngest of 2 daughters and I had never realized the gender difference till i got married.
    My hubby is the eldest son( of 2 sons and 1 daughter with the daughter being the middle one) and we stay with the in-laws.
    my MIL has the same issues with the sons helping in the kitchen, doing domestic chores etc(MIL and I have had some pretty nasty arguments about this).We have to always stand around and serve the men.And all the men in the family(including the hubby)are such fusspots and they complain quite regularly about the food.
    Last month, both the parents-in laws were sick and we spent a lot of time ferrying them around to hospitals, check-ups etc.
    Thats when i realized how difficult it must be for my parents(who live in the same city) coz they go for all their check-ups,treatments on their own.
    And my parents are about 10 years each older than my in-laws making it so much more difficult to take public transport etc..really unfair,I think.
    Luckily I stay in the same city, so I make it a point to spend one day of my weekend with my parents.
    Sorry, looks like my comment turned into a rant :(

  18. i have so many thoughts on this…just a little overwhelmed at the moment. Will come back and comment

  19. Dhanya said

    Dear Pepper
    I so loved this post…and totally totally agree!!!! I’m an only child to my parents and have had no restrictions (so far) on anything that I’ve wanted to do just because of my gender!
    But, I married into a family of two boys (I’m married to the elder one)…and each time I see the preferential treatment, something just snaps inside me!!! It got on my nerves so much so that I told my MIL one day that I’m sooooo glad I have a daughter and not a son…!!!! I mean, I’d have ensured that my son is an active participant every single thing that happens in my house, including kitchen work! There, the men normally eat first , leave their plates on the table (yuck!) and the women are expected to pick up after them!!! This is just one example! I can list a hundred other things…but everything is just so natural for them…and you are looked down upon if you dare to make a comment!!!
    But thankfully for me, my husband thinks otherwise…! So, yes I do have support, but not enough to change the way the family functions!

    Phew…did I make any sense???

    Cheers
    Dhanya

  20. Seema said

    I absolutely agree on eating together as a family part. It is so much fun. My Amma is like your MIL. She likes to serve food to everyone. But she would not always wait till my father is done. My MIL is a perfect contradiction. She neither serves anyone nor waits for anyone. If she is hungry, she’ll serve herself. Initial days of marriage, I used to accompany her as we both can’t fight against hunger and we couldn’t give two hoots about rest in the family who lazed around and delayed their meals.

    About female infanticide, it’s sad to know that it exists even now when revealing baby’s gender before birth is banned in India.

    About gender bias examples that you quoted, we hardly have anything to do to change the conditioned mindset of our elders. But when I see the prejudice expressed by people from our generation, it gets on my nerves.

  21. mary1780 said

    I am so glad you posted this pepper. Sex selection is such a big problem in India. Our sex ratio is 940. and it has nothing to do with literacy or economic class. Infact if we go by data available sex selection is high in urban centers among the upper middle class. Even though we have the PCPNDT act it is hardly implemented…and even if it is, the act of selection and abortion is not easily traceable. Then there’s this whole issue of anti abortion which will open another can of worms.
    But what it all boils down to is how devalued women are. Their absence or presence in a family or a community- how do we look at that? Their contribution is accepted but not recognized. Women’s work falls largely within a sphere which is termed as invisible work.
    And all these arguments that people give for sex selection like dowry, poverty is just gibberish.
    Let me not take up too much space….its just that this issue, sometimes working on this gets frustrating coz there are no given solutions and there’s just so much misery around

    • Pepper said

      Please take up as much space here as you please. We need to talk about it. We need to work towards it and bring about a change. Spreading awareness is the first step. So many women do not even realise they are being ill treated. They take their sorry lives for granted.

  22. Meira said

    It will never end, me thinks. I used to earlier think that once our generation became adults, we would put such orthodox ideas back into the pages of history. But I see so many people, educated and well settled, yet expecting the woman to cook and clean and manage the house. No options allowed. :(

  23. Anusha said

    I saw this post as the FB status of one of my friends a few days back. I find it relevant to the topic of your post and hence sharing it here. This one’s very long. Please feel free not to publish :)

    ” Tomorrow you may get a working woman, but you should marry her with these facts as well…

    Here is a girl, who is as much educated as you are ;
    Who is earning almost as much as you do ;

    … … One, who has dreams and aspirations just as
    you have because she is as human as you are ;

    One, who has never entered the kitchen in her life just like you or your
    Sister haven’t, as she was busy in studies and competing in a system
    that gives no special concession to girls for their culinary achievements.

    One, who has lived and loved her parents & brothers & sisters, almost as much as you do for 20-25 years of her life ;

    One, who has bravely agreed to leave behind all that, her home, people who love her, to adopt your home, your family, your ways and even your family ,name

    One, who is somehow expected to be a master-chef from day #1, while you sleep oblivious to her predicament in her new circumstances, environment and that kitchen

    One, who is expected to make the tea, first thing in the morning and cook food at the end of the day, even if she is as tired as you are, maybe more,
    and yet never ever expected to complain ;
    to be a servant, a cook, a mother,a wife, even if she doesn’t want to ; and is learning just like you are as to what you want from her ; and is clumsy and sloppy at times and knows that you won’t like it if she is too demanding, or if she learns faster than you.

    One, who has her own set of friends, and that includes boys and even men at her workplace too, those, who she knows from school days and yet is willing to put all that on the back-burners to avoid your irrational jealousy, unnecessary competition and your inherent insecurities.

    Yes, she can drink and dance just as well as you can, but won’t, simply
    Because you won’t like it, even though you say otherwise.

    One, who can be late from work once in a while when deadlines, just like yours, are to be met ;

    One, who is doing her level best and wants to make this most important relationship in her entire life a grand success, if you just help her some
    and trust her.

    One, who just wants one thing from you, as you are the only one she knows in your entire house – your unstinted support, your sensitivities and most importantly – your understanding, or love, if you may call it.

    But not many guys understand this……

    Please appreciate “HER””

    I think this should not just be for the guys but the parents in general too. A girl of this day and age, is just as equal or even more in all aspects as a guy. So why the discrimination. There are still minute discrimination going around even with the so called educated society and what is more irritating is the fact that some women are part of discriminating one’s own gender. Though some men have started understanding how equally pampered we folks are and are willing to share the responsibilities, there are still a large group of people who think otherwise.

    I am one of the 2 daughters to my parents and both of us were brought up like queen’s at our home. Even today when my sis is home after delivery she is being pampered to bits because my parents are not like those who think that women are meant to do just household work and we were brought up with the self sustenance and independence instilled in us. My dad at the age of 72 gets up before my mom and cooks and does every household work with her. I worry just like you, to leave my parents and go after marriage and some of my relatives and parents of friends I know have commented that since my parents have 2 daughters, they cannot be depending upon us for their living and has to fend for themselves somehow after their daughters marriage. According to them my parents are unlucky for having just daughters. This enrages me to the core. Who are these people to decide and tell what is right and what is wrong? Of course my parents think otherwise given the no of parents left abandoned by sons these days. I really hope this mentality of people changes soon enough.

    • Pepper said

      I’ve read that bit about girls and how you should appreciate them. Honestly, it pisses me off. It speaks a whole load of crap. It just says, this is the amount girls do, so appreciate her. What the heck, I don’t want appreciation. I want people to stop expecting me to do all that.

      And what the hell is this?
      ” One, who has her own set of friends, and that includes boys and even men at her workplace too, those, who she knows from school days and yet is willing to put all that on the back-burners to avoid your irrational jealousy, unnecessary competition and your inherent insecurities.

      Yes, she can drink and dance just as well as you can, but won’t, simply
      Because you won’t like it,”

      That is as sexist as it can get! What message is it sending really? It will only make men believe that every girl does this and will make them expect the same from their wives.

      I am glad your parents are bringing up their daughters in this way.

  24. Ashwathy said

    I felt I was reading a page of IHM’s blog. And that is a compliment definitely!

    I made a recent comment in another blog. Reminded me of that. Repeating it here.

    I had visited my landlords with my brother. The landlords are an upper middle class family, with their own house. Thelr husband was into garment exports and is now retired. The wife is a practising doctor. They have 2 daughters, both doctors. And they have a son who is a businessman (or something to that effect).

    After the initial round of a introductions, I told them that this is my brother etc. And the man asked, oh ok, are there more of you or just you and your brother? I said no more siblings, just me and my brother. He called out to his wife saying, ok so ur brother’s special, he’s the only son right?
    My jaw dropped. Er…what?! But I am the only daughter!! Wouldn’t that make me also special?

    I fell silent. If this is what is the mentality of an upper middle class, otherwise easygoing nice people, with no financial constraints, then why blame just the attitude of below in the economic chain? :-|

    And I think it has to do with a general attitude in society springing back from time immemorial. It’s so barbaric and orthodox that it’s not even funny :mad:

    I have seen this food serving bit in my house too. My mother and step-dad eat together. But my step-mom insists on serving hot chappatis and dosas for my dad, and keeps running back n forth from the kitchen to serve him at the dining table. She has spoilt him rotten (voluntarily), to the extent that he now takes it for granted :-| Time and again I’ve told her not to do this nonsense, and in the initial days my dad did not have any of this habits of demanding hot dosas and chappatis. So now I don’t reserve any sympathy for my step-mom when she cribs she does so much for my dad….I tell her she invited it on herself.
    And I’ve already told her I will never spoil my hubby unnecessary.
    Fortunately I was lucky to get a hubby who cares :) I do serve him hot stuff from the stove, but he just sits on the kitchen slab on those days, feeding me one bite and one bite himself alternatively, even if I try shooing him away. :mrgreen:
    [He got that habit after seeing his own dad who loiters around the kitchen with his (hubby's) mom on the pretext of helping her in the kitchen (cutting veggies, cleaning up) but in truth is just happy to be next to her wherever she is :) It's too cute watching them! :D ]
    I am a slow eater and hubby is super-fast, so even if we start eating together (at the dining table) he will finish his meal in 2 bites and I will sit for another half for an hour with my meal :P In those cases he waits patiently until I finish (even if we are sitting in a group of people). :)
    Errr….. let me stop gloating over hubby praises going off tangent and get back to the point :P :P

    meekly told her I can’t do it right now, because my passport and visas are all under the name I have always had so far. A part of me was silently screaming, “Tell her. Tell her you never plan to do it. Tell her to not question you or have such expectations from you.
    When will you learn to open you mouth and use your tongue? I’ve told you this countless times before. Avoiding conflict is one thing but making your stand clear politely and firmly is quite another. :-|

    • Pepper said

      Lol. Your step mom doign that to your dad sounded very familiar to me. I’ve seen so many wives spoiling their husbands rotten and then complaining them. :D
      And hey! We do the same! Just reverse the roles. When Mint makes the dosas asking me to eat them first. I always eat in the kitchen and feed him bit by bit.

      I know man, I will learn to speak some day. I hope. :|

  25. Anu said

    Hi Pepper
    This is a post after my heart in so many ways.

    1. The other day my mother and I were having a similar conversation. She was talking about her growing up years where the men would be “served” by the women in the family. The worse was they would waste a lot of food and in the end of the day, there would be less food left for the women-folk.

    2. I personally do not consume alcohol. One of the reasons for it was the sight of men comfortably sprawled in the living room with legs wide apart, while the poor women-folk nursed a soft-drink all huddled in the bedroom or the dining room…(shivers!!!)

    3. Once…my hubby kept back his plate in the kitchen, and the hostess turned around and gave me reprimanding looks.!! WOMAN!! it is my husband keeping back his own plate!!!

    Anyways, pepper… I could go on and on about the disgusting double standards with which men behave and women perpetuate this behavior.

  26. Jack Point said

    How horrible. Is the person someone with some education ? If so its worse. Female foeticide amongst the illiterate or uneducated is nasty but perhaps understandable. In someone educated it is unacceptable.

    I have no problem with medically sanctioned abortion, it is better to abort that to bring in an unwanted child. If the abortion is only because the child happens to be female then that is wrong.(Someone who wants a child, can support a child yet does not want a girl).

    An elderly lady once told me that

    “A son is a son until he finds a wife. A daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life”.

    By boss once told me, don’t ever try to keep two women under one roof. You will have a situation that is impossible to manage. (He was referring to a MIL, DIL situ)

    Great post.

  27. Jack Point said

    The women of Sri Lanka seem to enjoy a better position in society than that of their sisters in South Asia.

    The link below has a fair summary:

    http://www.everyculture.com/Sa-Th/Sri-Lanka.html

    Some have ascribed the difference in status to the Buddhist influenced culture here. I just did a quick search and I find that the women of Kerala also seem to enjoy a better position than in many other parts of India.

    A lot of people say most of the people in Sri Lanka originated in Kerala. I am told there is a lot of similarity in the food, which is based on coconut. The scenery in Kerala looks a lot like here.

    Could the status of women in Sri Lanka be traced back to the culture of Kerala? Just wondering out aloud.

  28. makes one want to tear her hair in despair. That it is fairly common doesn’t make it any less disturbing.

    the serving culture is so common here. im seen as something of a red toothed monster for saying things like “vijesh has a better cooking sense than i do” or “no, he does the dishes”.My mom is forever despairing that i make such statements or that i dont wear the thaalior whatever. I shut her up with “good practice for you, you truly will be okay with the daughter in law doing it”.

    When relatives come over, it’s always the women who end up having nothing to eat despite having slaved in the kitchen. The other day, after a marathon cooking session was over, i saved a bit of each dish for mom without her knowing. i didnt think that the relatives would die if they ate a little less.

    a cousin(unemployed, alcoholic) came home and remarked on the fact that my mom cooked dosas together and didnt serve them fresh off the pan and proudly declared that his mom served him dosas crisp and hot. i smiled and said that it may be because of the “normal” treatment that my brother and I are respectable individuals and not alcoholics. My mom is pissed off with ME for saying that.

    When I was working, I wanted to buy my mom a pair of diamond earrings. they were expensive and you should have seen the fuss from her side to receive the gift. Made me wonder if she would have fussed as much with my bro. It was heartening to see her flaunt it later on with “my daughter got these for me!”, but i cant forget the episode.

    i know my comment is not even coherent, but your post brought so many memories. and it hits harder when you see that a person in your own social circle believes that a female child is not worthy enough of life.

    • Pepper said

      Sigh. These things happen everywhere, however “liberal minded” the person seems. My parents are very forward in thought (compared to others belonging to their generation), but despite that, my parents were quite surprised and taken aback when I said I didn’t want to change my last name. My dad actually encouraged me to change it. He said it will be easier to go about doing things, like opening joint bank accounts, buying property, applying for visas, etc, if we have a common name. Even though what he said made some sense, it got me so mad.

      I am sure my post brought back memories. We all have our own stories :(

  29. You have woken up a beast inside me. I am so mad I could go write a post on double standards.

    What I also absolutely hate is that just like you, other young couples wanting to live in their own place also have to mention that of course they will take care of their parents as a fine print. Why do we need to justify our will to be independent as being benign? It is not like we will neglect our parents, and yet we need to reiterate it everytime. It is somehow drilled into the society that you are being bad offsprings or neglectful of your ageing parents if you don’t live under the same roof.

    Having to justify your actions thus is like saying ‘I have the keys to my sister’s flat but if course I won’t steal the loose change on the table’.

  30. Tanishka said

    Such has been the Indian set-up for ages n unfortunately it would take a very long time for things to change…. Hope things get better soon….
    I’m so proud of you that you have chosen not to change your name… Honestly I just don’t have the courage to even think of doing it or raising this this thing before whoever my parents would choose…. There are thing which I have prepared myself to accept just coz that’s how things have been… Hope I too gather the courage to raise my voice against somethings someday….

  31. What a totally messed up world we are in :roll:

    Haa let someone try to keep me away from the dinner table while everyone is eating…..I might actually go and bite their head off!!

  32. Meenu said

    Yes, it is very sad to see such discrimination. But one thing i have learnt with the older generation is that they have been brought up in a very different world and they are very reluctant to let go of that world. I would not blame them too much, it is difficult for anybody to let go the values which they were taught meticulously from their birth. Now, the times have changed and so have the people. I can see the change and i guess it augurs well. My grandmother was very very conservative and did not treat her daughters as well as her sons ; her daughter (my mom) let go of most of the rules and brought us up to be brave, independent and and i never for one second felt i was a lesser mortal in the society. But she still had her ideals and some rules which she found it to hard let go; for example she always wore the thali (though she doesn’t force me to do the same) and always wore sarees for fear what others might say although she loved wearing salwar’s and jeans. Now, in this age and time, i am able do to whatever i want, wear the clothes i like, take my own decisions and in general lead my life the way i want to.

    Although it is sad that some people are still steeped in their conservative thoughts, i think it is not long before these practices become obsolete. Unfortunately, these are not issues in which we can see an instant change because it involves beliefs and morals which have been built in for generations, but then i think it is an evolving process and i would like to believe that brighter days are ahead!

    • Pepper said

      I totally agree with you when you say its hard for people to let go of their beliefs and change their ways. My response is the same everytime. I don’t expect you to change your ways, however absurd they may seem to me. If this is what you want to do, then this is what you should do. However, please stop expecting me to change my ways and adopt yours. Example, I am not asking my MIL to take her thali off. She believes she should wear it. Okay. But don’t force me to wear it! You do see the difference right?

  33. Roxy said

    Long and disconnected comment ahead, you are warned :)
    I was the first girl on my dad’s side. I am told my grandfather tore the telegram that announced my birth. But three months later, I had the man dancing to my tunes. When he was diagnosed with cancer and we thought we were losing him, I was the one person he wanted to see. Now, he goes around advocating people to have girl children. His 4 granddaughters have changed him around much more than his 1 grandson could.
    Similar upbringing story here – dad and mum were equals and brought us up to be equals. I see my cousin do the whole ‘feed her husband and eat later routine’ and it bothers me. She is lauded much by her mother-in- law. Reason? She (my cousin) bore my bro- in- law two sons!
    I currently live with my parents and sister. All 4 of us work. All of us pitch in with the cooking on various days. On weekdays though, while lunch is mum’s domain, I come home to a hot, home-cooked dinner by dad. Every single day. He comes 30 mins ahead of all of us and fixes us dinner. I mentioned this casually to a friend the other and her shocked expression, shocked me! She was upset that the man of the house was cooking, when the 3 other women are not – I don’t get it, all of us work and like you said, everyone is tired, so what is wrong with the man doing his bit?
    As for your last point, I am not married, so I am probably not the right person to be offering this unasked for opinion, but does your MIL really need to know about the surname change thing? Since you meet her once/ twice a year, nodding your head and not really answering the question, would that help? If its a question of choosing your battles, I am sure there are bigger things you really want to discuss with your MIL and share your differing POV with – this needn’t be one, need it? It doesn’t affect her directly, so you could just let it be?

    • Pepper said

      Hearing happy stories from 2 daughter homes makes me feel very proud. Your parents are awesome people.
      Regarding my MIL not needing to know about my surname change. It’s hard. I meet her only once a year, but she asks me the question on phone a lot of times. So far, I have a ready answer. I tell her I can’t do it right now cos my passport carries my current name and changing it will create complications. But she does know my passport is expiring next yr. I will have to renew it, and I have renew it under the same name, I will have to answer more questions. Which is why, I think, sometime if I just have the courage to tell her I don’t want to or plan to change my last name, it will save me a lot of trouble. I won’t have to play games.

      Very happy to see you commenting here Rox. We should talk sometime :)

  34. Well written post, Pepper. I faced similar situation when my in laws visited, over a period of time they changed. I was stern in many of my views and never changed myself, I hurt my in-laws feelings but I am happy that I expressed my feelings, next time they are better prepared. I am coming from a family of three girls and we never faced any discrimination in our family. I can’t believe that your friend aborted knowing its a girl. Does it happen in our generation and friend circle too?? unbelievable.

  35. Smitha said

    Oh Pepper, I could go on and on about this! And the maddening thing is that so many people find nothing wrong with this whole thing! Some one I know is extremely proud that her son ‘is the most beloved of his paternal grandparents’ because he is the ‘only son of an only son’. The father has 2 sisters – but their children are ‘ not so loved’, apparently because they are not the son’s children. How, how can people think like this? And these people are people of my generation- actually a little younger than me. Apparently educated – but I can’t help wonder what sort of education if they think like this.

    As for that srving bit – I can’t tell you how mad it makes me. It is the same at my in-laws. Thankfully we just go there for a couple of weeks – so I ‘adjust’ – but the unfairness – I do make it vocal. I(and husband) tell them that I think it is extremely discriminatory and that we believe in eating together as a family. Last holiday, we had all gone on a day trip. It was a very hot and tiring day and all of us were exhausted. We got back to my in-laws place, and then started the discussion on what to make for dinner. All the men, went to take a rest( so tired the poor things were), while the women slogged it out and came out with a full fledged meal – including dessert. My husband was going a bit crazy trying to convince his aunts and mom that we should just get a takeaway – but no. Apparently the ‘men’ would not like cold chapattis. I can’t tell you how this whole attitude makes see red!

    • Pepper said

      This “only son” bullshit gets on my nerves.
      Oh God, your description made me see red too. Women should come back exhausted and slog while the men rest. There should no no take aways because men won’t like cold chapatis. Wow.

  36. The women eating after the men gets my goat too.
    At a recent Diwali party at the husbadoo’s aunt’s place, it was just us and another family.The kids and men ate first while the women served (or in my case hovered around doing nothing). And this advocated by people who have lived in the US for the last 20 years or more. We were both pretty outraged then and all the way home but really did nothing about at the time it happened.To be fair the Husbadoo wanted to say he would eat with me but I just gave him a sharp poke in the ribs to shut h im up and not create a scene.I am still in the new-good- bahu-trying- to- impress- everyone stage. Now I wish we had protested.
    Same boat as you on the name change crap…give everyone the same passport visa issues spiel.Too much of a coword to be honest and frank that I never plan to do it.
    Guess change needs to start with us.Just so hard given the environment we live in:(

    • Pepper said

      I’ve stopped being surprised by whenever I see people in the US holding on to sexist, age old views. I guess the place they are in doesn’t matter when they refuse to adopt the good.

  37. SK said

    Beaten to death topic.
    The last time I visited India, I was pretty sure I didnt want to return to India ever again, the sole reason being women are treated like second citizens.
    I dont have a problem with my in laws. They are truly amazing, inspite of being from their generation. Its the rest of the relatives (even in my own family) and the rest of India that frustrates me to no end.
    When I was in India, I also encountered the men/children eat first, women last. Sometimes because I was new and visiting I would eat with DH. Anyhoo, here, I eat first, before FIL or DH or anyone because I have a baby and I am hungry always. Thank god my in laws dont expect such stuff. Let whoever is hungry eat first , simple as that!
    I Have to read the rest of comments. Its highly irritating culture and I hope atleast our generation will get out of the rut and treat women equally.

    I realized when parents/inlaws came to visit us, that the bread winning men get to take rest when its a holiday, but the sitting at home women have no respite!! They have to cook/clean/ put food on the dinner table, every single day of the year for their life!!! No vacation for them! One would think they would eat out once in a while but NOOOOO, all the men want their ‘home cooked meal’ made by their wives. Atrocious!

  38. Shalini said

    OHH MY GOD ! Pepper are we twins ? U live in the US and me in SIngapore ? How is this possible..how can some one pen my thoughts so exactly ! This is Perfect Co-incidence….
    1. I’m a daughter of parents with two daughters – I’m from a family who have our meals together(underline this sentence) ; I’ve got into a family where Men eat first and women Serve – I’ve wondered why this difference…
    2. We get back from shopping or an outing equally exhausted – I’m expected to spring up from my seat !
    3. My parents were insulted by my inlaws when they booked tickets to Sg for a 10 day trip to my home. The insult was so bad that it created a scar in thier hearts – so bad that they still made it with a very heavy heart, spent for the groceries – they ate at my home and shortened thier trip…
    4. I’m so glad, that I’m living in Sg – becauseI’ve already expereinced what it is living in my husbands place…the difference in cultures …The looking down at me bcoz or my parents coz we are’nt from their caste and my parents did’nt give expensive or branded home appliances after the wedding…
    5. MY FIL asked me to change my Second name frm my Dad’s to my husbnds in the 3 rd mnth aftr my wedding – I relentlesly DID !
    6. I single handedly manage th home – the kitchen – The child – thehusband seva , a job …just bcoz in thier family the MEN don’t enter the kitchen ! not even to wash thier own plates…If the house is messy..It’s my in-efficency..if the bathroom is not scrubbed ..It’s my fault…
    7. On my every trp to India …I fight and cry with my husband for a few more days at my parents home – which hurts me the most…bcoz as per thier custom I’m supposed to spend more time at my In-laws place…

    You know wht pepper – when I was expecting – I hoped and prayed I wanted a BOY Baby…and GOD heard my prayers – My baby boy is 3 yrs now ! I don’t ever want to get pregnant again…You know why..I’m scared I will concieve a GIRL baby who might undergo the same things as I did ! I don’t ever want a Daughter..never evr…to undergo what they consider ” JUST NORMAL things that happen at every house hold – Every girl undergoes this – the why not you – concept ” …

    It hurts me – I don’t want a Girl to be born in this unfair world – through ME ! Hugs..tight hugs…

    • Pepper said

      I am very sorry to hear all that Shalini. It is a very unfair world. But how about we standing up against it? Maybe if we do so, someday we will succeed in creating an equal society.

      You see the unfairness of it all and decide you don’t want a girl. I see the unfairness of it all and that is what makes me yearn for a girl all the more. I want to have a daughter. I want to raise her in a prejudice free environment. I want her to grow up to be a bold, confident and independent young woman – one who will not bow down to the unfairness. If there are a lot of such women who command as much respect as men do, the system is bound to change.

      You prayed for a boy because you didn’t want him to suffer, the way a girl would have. By that logic, you are accepting the existing flaws, aren’t you? How are you going to bring up your son? With what values? Are you going to raise him to expect women to be his slaves? Or are you going to bring him up in a gender neutral and fair way? If it is the former, then it’s sad. If it is the latter, then why can’t you bring up your daughter in a similar way? If she is bold, brave and independent, then she will not have to suffer.

      Don’t give up so easily. Go make that baby girl and lead her on to the right path. Big hugs!

      • Shalini said

        My boy is being brought up totally different…he put’s away the utensils that i wash and sits on the kitchen top while i cook…getting know the difference b/w turmeric and salt…untill the dad walks in from work and asks ” What is an “Amble Payan ” doing in the kitchen ? I replied ” don’t spoil him”….

        My Child would be brought up to respect and treat his wife equally…not just his wife but also her side of the family…I’ve had enough and don’t want his tomorrow’s wife to undergo a bit of any of this rubbish…

  39. Pixie said

    the abortion is pathetic!! ugh!
    and about what you say – it riles me up to no end too!! In fact, I have written about this so many times!! The unfairness is absurd and it gets to me!
    The worst part is, I see the women doing the same thing here too!! Whenever there is a party, the women feed the kids, the men get to take the food first and then the women! it irritates me and disgusts me!
    Of course, I don’t wait! i go with the husband and take my plate of food and start eatin – the number of stares and comments I have received are numerous and all disgusting!

    • Pixie said

      oh and yea – we are 2 daughters! Meal times is family times and even now, as I sit at home – home chores are divided amongst us…

      • Pepper said

        Like I said, there is not much of a difference between Indians in India and Indians abroad. They refuse to let go of their ways, wherever they are.

        Cheers to your family.

  40. anna's mom said

    My MIL told me that when she was married she was expected to eat from her husband’s dirty plate. The man would eat and then his wife was supposed to serve herself in that same plate. Disgusting is too small a word. Reason being that ‘isse pyaar badhta hai’ – love between the couple will flourish because of this. Thankfully she refused.
    My family is like yours. My brother is the only boy among six cousins on my mom’s side of the family. Everyone was thrilled when I had a daughter. We’re all hoping for a daughter for my cousin who is pregnant. Hubby’s family is sadly the opposite. On of his cousins has 3 kids – 2 daughters and a son. My MIL told me that she had a couple of abortions after the 2 daughters. What can one say? Every time I talk to someone from his family (other than his parents or sister), I am told to provide a brother for my daughter soon. What can one say? I am only thankful that his immediate family is not like that (though not as progressive as mine) and we have to rarely interact with the rest. And then I feel guilty for feeling thankful because it is still less than what I deserve (or any other woman deserves).

    • Pepper said

      Whoa! Women were supposed to eat from the same dirty plate a man left behind? Agar isse pyar badhta hai, then why didn’t the men do the same? What twisted logic :|
      One of my friends had a baby girl and they were thrilled. Instead of congratulating the couple, they had relatives come and tell them, “It’s okay. Don’t feel bad. You can always try for a boy again”. WTF?! I can imagine the pressure on you to provide a brother for your daughter. We live amongst idiots. That’s all.

  41. [...] tch*, but in my case, it was my own that gave me inspiration to talk so that we don’t shudder till date! And I am not ashamed to talk about it – it’s a reality that still exists so why blame [...]

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