Archive for Parenting

Effecting Change: Rebelling Against ‘Indian Woman Syndrome’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2017 by tivaniam

“Smile quietly” was in the contract I signed when I agreed to be born an Indian and specifically a woman. We are raised to smile quietly because of “what the people would say”, and we are raised to smile quietly “for the sake of the children”. Two principles that I ferociously rebel against, and which I refuse to subscribe to, something that has become such a pandemic that I refer to it as the “Indian Woman Syndrome” although it extends deeply to Indian men alike.  Even in progressive times, this seems to be the mind-set that Indian people STILL adopt.  And sadly, as a result, we stay as sick as our secrets – that which we refuse to acknowledge, face or speak about.

As an Indian, specifically a woman, I was supposed to stay in my marriage for the sake of the kids. Because, what would people say if I chose the alternative? So I stayed. For a while, until death became an option. And I realised that my choice to live my life in sacrifice, wasn’t serving anyone, least of all my children – MOST of all myself.

So I left. Twice. Two marriages, several relationships and jobs and people – everything that didn’t serve me or make me happy. I went against the grain of what I was SUPPOSED to be, and chose to be real. And yes, people judged. Harshly. I lost friends and family. The words I was called and the judgment thrown at me stung me terribly. Enough to make me want to shrink back.

But I didn’t. Because there was something inside me that screamed louder than any of the names I was called.

Saying “fuck-it” to the ideals society prescribed for me meant choosing to turn my insides out, and with that meant not only making different choices, but also doing it vocally. I began writing my truth, living my truth and BEING my truth. And as I shared my life through my words, my truth started setting others free to share THEIR truths. Because there are people, Indians specifically, who knew EXACTLY what I was feeling, who shared the same hopelessness and helplessness and despair but stay in bad marriages or relationships for the children and because of what people would say if they chose to be selfish and do what makes them happy.

This limiting belief system perpetuates the cycle that I see continuously with Indian people. The antiquated, indoctrinated beliefs predominantly stemming from religion that promotes patriarchy and teaches us to live in sacrifice. The need to put on facades in an effort to save face has caused so many Indian people to lose themselves and live existentially, miserable and hateful of the world. This in turn gets repeated with their children who emulate what they learn – the boys become misogynists, the girls, doormats – and without any concept of what authenticity, aliveness, freedom and love truly means. Ingrained prejudices are carried forward and we do not progress as a culture or the collective human species.

So why choose to live in that limiting way?

To try and be liked by everyone? What a waste of a life. Because no matter how hard you work or how self-righteous you think you are, you will never EVER make everyone like you. But, if you make yourself heard, if you live a life that’s true, you will find the RIGHT people to love and be loved by. You would encourage your children to be real and teach them, through example, about self-love and true freedom of expression. Can you imagine the possibility of what the world could hold for them or you if you expanded your belief system instead of following old ideologies that had no place back then, certainly not now, that only serve to make people conform?

Be a rebel. Live your truth out loud. And see the ripple effects of what that authenticity, peace and aliveness does for you, your children and then the world at large. When you choose YOU, you give others permission to do the same for themselves. I am a living testament of that, and so are my children who are happy, well-adjusted, emotionally stable, kind and loving kids NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that I left their dads. Or perhaps…because of it.


A Letter to my Daughter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 27, 2015 by tivaniam

It’s a week before you turn 14. Where has the time gone? I still remember the day you were born and how I felt looking into the face of an angel. I learnt the meaning of love on that day. I have grown up with you and have learnt so much from being your mother. The one thing I can safely say is, raising a girl is hard work!

I am sad that, for the first time in your life, I would not be spending your birthday with you. I will still phone you in the morning and tell you the story of the day you were born, which is our tradition every year 🙂 But for now, I want to tell you a few things I have learnt about life which I hope will be useful advice as you become a young woman.


Ah. This subject. I can’t believe we are here already. I thought I had a few more years before this subject came about. But I guess not. So.

Boys are stupid. Throw stones at them 🙂

Ok, seriously. I’m glad we have the kind of relationship where you can be free to tell me whatever you feel. I want you to know that you can always be honest with me and I won’t judge you for it. Boys will come and go. You will fall in love at least ten times before you become 21 and when relationships end (as they will) you will feel like your world is collapsing, which it won’t. This is the reality of life. I will say that when the time is right, you will meet someone who will change your life and I hope that you remember the lessons I’ve taught you over the years after I made hundreds of mistakes where love is concerned. The thing is, you need to like more than a cute face. Remember looks fade. You need to be with someone who is a gentleman, who treats you with respect and adoration, both your mind and your body. You need to be with someone who is serious about his future and considers education a vital thing (remember nerds are cool!). You also need to have someone who shares your values. And I hope that I have taught you some over the years. But as you grow into your own person, you will discover this for yourself. So. Bottom line is, love will happen. It will happen a million times. And you will be ok if it does or doesn’t. Don’t chase things that are bad for you or that you know are wrong – trust me, I know from experience and I have shared all these lessons with you. So look at your mother’s life as a warning!


I’m pleased to say you have my brain 🙂 So yes, you will amount to something. Just know that education is vital for yourself and your future. It will make life easier when you need to buy expensive things that you like. Don’t wait until you’re 30 to study. Your brain degenerates (case in point – your mother!). Also, feel free to follow your dreams. Whatever they may be.


I hope that you have paid attention to everything that I’ve said over the last 14 years and hopefully you know what’s important. I have tried to raise you with a value set that I thought was important. You can change these along the way, but the few that I won’t negotiate on are respect, kindness and compassion for yourself and others. I know that you love your family and you are expected to always be there for anyone who needs you. You are expected to always be respectful to your elders even when they embarrass you or irritate you. Like me. When I scream at you in front of boys :-). Be respectful.

Your Body.

Fortunately, we are past the stage of having the birds and the bees conversation (awkward). We know that went down badly. But over the years, I have spoken to you openly about your body and respecting it and ensuring that boys respect it too. I won’t rehash that conversation because I will wait until that subject crops up again – when you’re 35 and ready to take that step :-).

Finally, I just want to say that I am so proud of who you are, and who you are becoming. I told you that you are your own person with your own identity and nothing like your parents (thank God). You and I have always been a team my baby and nothing will change that. I am so blessed to have you as my daughter and I want you to know that I am here for you, until the day I die and even after death, because a mother’s love never ends. Always strive to be happy, nothing is more important than that and know that you are here in this world to do something amazing.

I love you.


For My Son, On Your Third Birthday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 28, 2013 by tivaniam

My boy, the last three years have passed by in a blur. Time flies when you are having fun they say. I cannot believe have fast you have grown. I still remember this day three years ago when I counted down the hours until I met you. I have always been slightly agnostic when it comes to miracles. I haven’t been on the receiving end of them. However, on 29 October 2010, I discovered that miracles do exist. Your life was a testimony of God’s love for me.

You have turned my world upside down. Your spiritedness, your fiery nature (much like your mother’s) and a smile that melts my heart, makes me believe that you were brought into my life for a reason, and that no matter how hard life gets and how things change or how often I am hurt, I believe that your life will be a constant reminder that good things do happen and that I have been favoured.

I would love to believe that the values I impart on you will make you become the man I know you can be. I believe that my love will carry you through life’s challenges with the knowledge that your existence has a higher purpose on this earth. You have brought immense joy to so many people and I know that your spirit is designed to inspire.

The relationship between a mother and a son is different and even though I often get told “I don’t like you anymore”, I know that you know how much you are loved and I thank God every day for giving me the privilege of calling myself your mother. I will remember this privilege the next time you decide to break all of my lovely statues while playing with your cars on the furniture. I will not dismiss your creativity when you write all over my walls. I will embrace your self-expression when you decide to pee in my garden or colour your face with my make-up. I will allow you to develop your own identity and preferences when you choose to wear pyjama pants and a big coat with sandals on a blisteringly hot day simply because your pants and coat have pockets. I will not crush your spirit when you come to tell me that every single fork I possess has been crammed into the drain and I have to call out a plumber at the cost of a thousand Rand an hour to unblock the drain. I will remember that you are my blessing and I will not punish you for any of these things.

So on your special day son, I want to thank you for teaching me that love at first sight does exist, for giving me the gift of your life and for allowing me to be a mother to you – something that has no price tag attached to it.

Happy birthday my angel!

Have fun tomorrow with your train, bike, guns and sherbet. Everything you asked for in that order 🙂 I promise to not buy you birthday cake because you don’t like cake “anymore”.

Mummy loves you.


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