In 1972 my husband and I had a telephone in our home in England but my parents did not have one in India. Letter writing was the only communication my mother and me had. As I would finish writing a letter and fold the aerogram, I would cry for good two minutes as I wrote the address, Anand Nagar, Hyderabad, AP India. As beautiful and serene our neighbourhood was in dry times, it was just as messy whenever it rained. Our neighbourhood not only got it's share of rain, but also the rain that fell on Banjara Hills, would come right down. My parents would get so much rain on their front veranda, that it would become unusable. My parents would save up money to get an awning for the veranda but when they almost had enough there would be some unavoidable expense that would make them postpone getting the awning. So when I was able to earn money in England, I wanted to get them an awning for their veranda. Do you think they would accept that gift? Not in a million years. The reason? I am their female child and people in India do not take money or material gifts from their daughters. I remember all this because tomorrow will be ten years since we lost our mother. A lot of things start coming back in my mind, including the helplessness of being a female child. My parents were considered lucky, because they had four sons and two daughters. I am considered lucky because my husband and I have two sons and one daughter. Anyone who has no sons is still considered to have a hard life. Still people do not accept gifts from their daughter while they expect their male children to help them get out of debt that they incurred arranging for their daughter's wedding. Time passes, we learn to live with the fact that our loved ones are not around but it would be so much comforting to be able to remember that I was able to share their pain as my brothers were able to.
When my sister in law sends a gift to her mom, she gets a gift back from her mom, which would be twice as expensive. She tells me she feels helpless and wonders as to when our people will break this tradition.