I often roll my eyes when my mother drags hanuman ji between me and my chicken roll on a Tuesday, or when I meet the nth boy with three elder sisters in the 21st century, or when I see people unthinkingly apologising to books if they touch them with their feet, or…
I could go on with more taboo situations that seem funny, dumb or horrifying, but I think I have made my point.
Taboos are certain strongly held beliefs that we often hold close to without even thinking about accepting them in the first place. These are some uncomfortable ideas in which we have, unfortunately, found comfort in. Though I have often rolled my two eyes at people clenching to taboos as close as their prized possessions, I often wonder why it is so hard to let them go, and how being an aware, well-read, modern woman, I too have held a fair share of these lovely disturbing ideas.
I was among the school toppers when we were confronted with the life-changing choice (seriously there is so much drama) of picking your subject stream in the 11th grade. Though my mother tried the classic “Mera beta doctor Banega” (my child will be a doctor), I did have some brains not to spend my money on that Starbucks coffee when ‘sadak ke kinare ki chuski‘ (a popsicle at near the seaside) is what would truly fill my heart with joy. But with no direct vision for ‘chuski wale bhaiya’ (the guy who sells popsicles), I had no idea what to choose or what I wanted to choose. Then came my knight in shining armour, my society, riding on a horse made of taboos!
She threw the ‘arts toh failures lete hai‘ (only students who fail take the arts stream) card on my face and oh boy, was she impressive! She fueled my pride by encouraging ‘marks discrimination technique’ and using multiple interfaces, like family, fellow geeks and geek loving teachers, to rub her point into my belief system.
So, I checked into Commerce with mathematics, for two years of complete torture. Now that I look back, I am totally made for that ‘Arts stream’ because of the subjects it offers. Call it fate or luck or God (or pick your taboo of choice), I landed up studying English Literature in my graduation. After graduation, I failed to get into any big-league Universities for my masters, because during my graduation I bravely focused extra on the extracurriculars. So, in my first month, with my daily dose of ‘roti’ (Indian bread) and ‘sabzi’ (vegetables), I chewed on the gap year taboo and drank glasses of guilt.
I had people who comforted me, telling me it is not big a deal if there is a gap year, and though I agreed with what they said, I could not rid my head from the ‘usko drop lena padd raha hai, bechari’ (poor thing has to take a gap year) taboo that was nestling in my head without my conscious knowledge.
Such is the case with taboos. It is like paying for products that you do not remember shopping for or wondering why you shopped for them. Now you just have them and mindlessly use them. It is hard to let go of these taboos, perhaps harder than to let go of your ex. So, I can easily roll my eyes when I see others following taboos that I would find merely ignorant, but it is super hard when I have to kick those useless beliefs out of my own head. Pretty powerful, aren’t they?
If you liked the article, comment below sharing taboos that were like lice on your head. Jigyasa has a friend who is tying rakhis to his sisters this Raksha Bandhan. Pretty cool, right? Let’s get taboo breakin’!