I had a very interesting conversation with two of our Indian consultants last month when I was in Singapore.
One of my colleagues and I were outside of the hotel when the two consultants came out for some fresh air, too. We got into a casual conversation at first about work then life in general. Until it came to the point that they both learned I’m a single mom. There comes the long conversation. 😀
You see, single parenthood in India, from what I gather from the conversation, is still taboo. So they asked me a lot of questions:
- How come I have a son but not married?
- Why am I not married?
- Who takes care of my son when I am at work?
- Where is the father of my son?
- Who will be the father of my son when he grows up?
- What if I find a partner, will he have to accept my son?
- What do I do when I have “personal needs”?
LOL! They asked a few more questions but I had to laugh at the last question. I actually apologized for laughing. Haha! You see, they are all married with kids. And the two consultants were surprised to know that I am a single mom. I think they were more shocked than surprised even. So they shared about relationships and marriages and families in their culture. One of them gave an advice as well (unsolicited it may seem but I do appreciate the gesture) and said that a woman with a child should not be alone. She should have a partner who will eventually take care of her when the kids grow up. She should have someone to depend on and share the joys and the burden of parenthood.
Well, he didn’t say it in those words but that was the drift of the conversation. I was glad that they were not very critical with my situation, rather, they were quite curious since it is not very often that they get to meet a single parent (well, unless the spouse died or something). They were open to knowing and learning how the situation is rather than having a snobbish attitude about it.
I appreciated the fact that we all got to share parts of our cultures. Apparently, Indians are very family oriented. Married women are advised to stay at home for at least two years after giving birth to nurse and take care of the baby. It’s almost similar to what we, Filipinos, do before we adapted the so-called western culture of being “liberated” and started to accept things that are actually not what we were used to.
We were supposed be back in our respective rooms after a few minutes but that discussion took us about an hour. When I went back to my room, it made me realize that this is the dilemma that all single moms face. People will ask all the possible “why” questions. Some would react negatively about it and some would just accept it as it is.
I guess at the end of the day, single moms still look for acceptance in our judgmental, double-standard society.
On the day that I was to leave Singapore, the consultant came to me and apologized for asking all those questions. He said that his curiosity got the better of him and he was in no place to be asking those questions in the first place. He was feeling so guilty for asking, in fact. I was surprised that he felt that way that I had to tell him several times that it was OK. In fact, it was okay to ask but it would still be my decision to answer. And I told him that I appreciated the gesture, really, but there was nothing to apologize about. At the end of the day, we all learned about a small part of each other’s culture. 🙂