My maternal cousin (she lives in India) and I talk more often than our mothers, who are actually sisters.
“How is dating going?” she asks. “Not bad, about one a week.” “That’s it? You need to date five guys at one time,” she instructs. “I better get flashcards to keep them straight,” I mumble. “Who are you talking to now?” she asks. “A teetotaler,” I reply. “So? My husband drinks whiskey and eats meat. I don’t do either. Stop being so picky.”
“Indian Cowboy is weirdly competitive. Last night we discussed the waaaay sexy topic of credit scores,” I say. “And how is his score?” she asks. “INSANELY excellent,” I state. “Then what’s the problem? Do you want to marry a man with bad credit?” she asks. “NOOO! But I’m certain my culinary prowess, tandoori chicken to saag paneer, supersedes his, yet I refrained from boasting.” “He’s a man. He needs to feel superior to you, let him,” she replies. Is she purposely trying to make me crazy? “Indian women must make compromises. I adjusted. Do you think your Mum WANTED to live in Minnesota? You will, too” she states.
These are the times I feel like an ABCD --- American Born CONFLICTED (not confused) Desi. When I was a little girl my mother taught me about Hinduism. But it was the stories specifically about the goddesses Sita (the ideal woman) and Durga (the warrior), that resonated with me, and still do. While Sita’s greatness came from her self-sacrifice and suffering; in my eight year old mind she sounded like the slow kid who didn’t duck and got hit in the face by a rock. A thought that would surely offend (which is not my intent) selfless Indian women worldwide like my cousin and my mother.
Perhaps this is why Durga fascinated me. She was created by the fraternity of male gods to restore their power when they fell from the heavens. And she did. From atop a lion Durga was formidable and victorious in every battle she entered. In my young mind, Durga was smart and powerful -- the type of girl who could handle bus bullies. Back then I never cared that she was the only goddess not affiliated with a god.
Nowadays I think I missed the moral of the Durga story. Even though Durga is revered and celebrated, it doesn’t appear that Indian men desire strong Indian woman, they prefer Sita. So all this time I spent admiring Durga, I should have feared becoming her. Sometimes I wish Durga had stumbled upon Thor and romanced him. Imagine then, how different “herstory” might have been.