Being born in an Indian family has its pros and cons.
Lets start with some of the pros.
- Learn how to cook just by watching your mother
- Eating homemade Indian meals unlimited times
- Dress up in beautiful outfits
- Best wedding parties
- Massive family which means there isn’t a dull moment
- During festivals and events the most common gift is money
- Brought up to be respectful and generous towards others
However, being an Indian girl isn’t easy. Compared to the guys, we really do not have much freedom. Our mothers believe us, as daughters will drop everything to do what they say. The amount of pressure they put on us sometimes breaks us.
Growing up, I was taught to stay away from boys. I didn’t understand why. My mum used to walk past my school on her way to work and she once saw me playing with boys. That evening I got told off for talking to them. I was just a kid in primary school. Anyways, I listened to her because I was the definition of a "perfect daughter." Due to this, I had difficulty making friends. On the other hand, my dad put in my head that you should never trust anyone. As a result, I always kept my distance from people and never really had a social life.
Moving on, my parents had difficulty speaking English so I had to mature quicker than usual. At the age of 12, I was reading court papers, communicating with lawyers, dealing with the gas/electricity bills, arranging a mortgage, and so on. I had to speak on the behalf of my parents. In regards to school, my mum did her best by paying tutors to give us extra support but before the help of tutors I had to do everything myself. I am the oldest child and it was hard not having anyone to turn to.
Another massive issue within my family was religious values. My dad is a very religious man. This meant meat, eggs, alcohol, and food possibly containing eggs were not allowed in the house. If found, my dad threw them away. Not only this, my dad was strict on cutting hair and makeup. Every time I did my nails or wore makeup, I would have to hear a long lecture about God and how we don’t value his natural gift to us i.e. natural colour of nails. As you can imagine it really got annoying and made me a very negative person.
My life felt controlled. I couldn’t figure out who I was because I was all over the place. I had no confidence in myself and I never spoke to anyone.
I spent my year 11 (final year of GCSE’s) alone. I hid in the ladies washroom during my breaks and I skipped lunch to go to the IT room and work on anything I could find. This was one of the hardest years for me because emotionally I was broken. I also had the pressure on me to study medicine. This meant I had to do science at A-level. I never really enjoyed science unless it was practical. I needed As to carry on studying Chemistry and Biology at my school. I got Bs. This meant I had to either change schools, which I didn’t want to, or drop science. I decided to drop science. I went into sixth form, fighting for my place to study Maths and having no choice but to study IT. I wasn’t serious about my education because I felt bad for letting my mum down. As the first term went on, I made amazing new friends and I met my best friend. She is the one person who saved me and made me realise to fight for what I want. So I went to my parents to make it clear to them, I am now in sixth form and I can’t avoid guys forever. In school, I started opening up more and talking to people. This helped me build my confidence and a bit too much at times. For example at the end of first term, I had a mock Maths exam. My parent's evening was based on this exam. I wasn’t feeling up to it so I didn’t try my best. My result was a U. So, parent’s day came around and my appointment was booked with the nicest Maths teacher out of the two I had. Just my luck that the other teacher was free so they both sat together to talk to my mum and I. The first thing they asked me was, “Why did you choose to study Maths?” followed by saying, you got a U in your paper. Being an Indian daughter I could imagine what was going through my mum’s head. In Punjabi she said to me, “Wait till we get home.” That’s when I knew my life was over. I then promised my teachers I will study hard over the Christmas break and I did. I did the real exam in January and got an A. The teachers respected me so much after I got my results back. After this incident, I also realised I am a bit of a rebel. This tends to happen to children who have been controlled too much. The difference with me is that I still respected my parents so I didn’t want to hurt them. Whenever my friends made plans, I had to beg my parents to let me out of the house. I would be out of the house for an hour and I would start getting calls. It was annoying. This is when I started ignoring calls.
Following the completion of A levels, my friends decided to go on holiday. I had to beg my parents for a whole month to let me go. My mum asked her friends for advice and because they were letting their daughters go she agreed. I had to use my brother’s trick and give my dad the silent treatment for him to agree. My brother never had to beg. He did as he pleased and never got into trouble. It was unfair. Being a teen, I did start drinking but I was still responsible.
I then moved out for university. I am so grateful for this experience because I found myself. I realised I am true to myself when I am away from my parents. After I graduated, I could see how proud my parents were. To them it was a weight lifted off their shoulders. In addition, they were looking forward to me coming home. I didn’t want to. I am happier being by myself. I still live with family but I have my own space. My parents saw the worst in this situation. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I fought for a job so I couldn’t go back. I am now working on making a living for myself because I can’t live the life my parents want. I will always love them and respect them but I don’t like the rules places on Indian girls. Another example is after I graduated, they mentioned marriage to me. I am nowhere near ready. They seem to follow a common system → study, graduate, get married, have kids and work (or don’t work if the husband doesn’t agree). Men are more powerful in the Indian culture. They can do whatever they want whereas women can’t. Indian parents will never see their little girl as an independent woman. They will always control them… well try to. I want to prove them wrong in the right way.
Overall, being an Indian girl means you have to live by the rules and traditions. So many girls out there are rebellious and do all of the things they shouldn’t. I want to be an inspiration to Indian girls that it is ok to live your life as long as you don’t disrespect your parents. It is not easy being an Indian girl despite the picture looking beautiful to other cultures.