As a first generation Bengali American, it was hard growing up. Like many people in America, most of us are first generation American born. We grow in a house of one culture while still trying to learn to customs of the outside world.
One of the biggest struggles I had in my house was honestly… just doing things. Doing anything. If I wanted to go to a friends house, or to the movies or the mall, the answer was almost always no. I didn’t have friends growing up because most of the people I liked were people I met at school. My mom wouldn’t want me hanging out with them. She wanted me to befriend people I went to Sunday school with at our local mosque. I didn’t want to be friends with them because honestly, I didn’t like them. Most of them were fake and judgmental. If you didn’t follow the religion 100% then you weren’t a good person. In my opinion, well you don’t follow 100% either!!! Oh well…
If there was something I wanted to do but couldn’t I would ask my mom, “When can I go with my friends to the mall?” My mother’s response, “When you are married, you can do whatever you want.”
I have to get married to be able to start living life the way I want to? It wasn’t even a “When you move out of my house” or “When you become an adult” or “When you start paying your own bills.”
No the response was, “When you get married.”
Here’s why all those other responses never occurred to be said. Because when and where my mom grew up, women stayed with their families until they got married. Moving out after high school or college unmarried was unheard of. You became an adult when you got married.
There are 2 lives in my mom’s mind. When you are a child living at home. When you become an adult and get married.
My brother recently had an arranged marriage. His wife is also like me. A first generation American born Bengali. If anyone sees me they know I am a rebel with cause. But my sister-in-law, she’s pretty proper. Here’s where I see life from a different perspective. A life as a daughter-in-law.
Man is that freakin’ hard. There is honestly no other way to put it. She is now married to a family that she barely knows. She seems to be doing ok… until she wants to do something. Everything now is, “Always ask your mother-in-law for permission to do anything.”
Reality hits… It’s not that once you are married you can do whatever you want… Noooo. Once you are married, you go from listening to one mother to another mother. It’s never really your own life. You are really not independent.
This is where the whole “take the last name of your husband” comes into play. It is said that when a woman is born, she is half a person. She first takes her father’s name and is now a whole person. Then when she is married, she become’s part of her husband and his family. Hence the name change.
If I didn’t want to get married before, I am definitely not rushing to get married now. I understand that not all families are like mine. Not all marriages are like the ones I have seen. I think some of the thought processes are just a little crazy.