December 2017

Mohan Dada
I was five years old, and Kusum was two years old, and they got us married. 
‘The work is done’, they said. 


What do you mean ‘the work is done’, nobody told me even! 
I was eight years old and kusum was five years old. I sat to eat and they arrived. Kusum said   ‘who is my husband?’ 


As I finished and got up, she ran and hugged me. I began to run away.
She chased me all around the courtyard. Everyone was watching. And then I locked myself  in the toilet

She locked me from outside and then went to her mother and said ‘I locked him inside’. 
Her mother couldn’t believe it.
Kusumba was very romantic ...
May 2018
Kusum Ba
Dada said to me, come to the office 
Dada told the (elders) that, ‘let Kusum come to the office, so I will get some help  too. She, she is educated, she is the kind of person who is capable’
They said that - ‘Women.. till today none of the women have worked in our office.
Women should only work at home’.. they didn’t let me go
April 2018
Mohan Dada

You cant get anything without sacrificing something
You have to sacrifice. You have to make a choice. 
Every step, you have to make a choice.
If you go to buy clothes, you think, should I take this or should I take that?...choice
December 2017
Mohan Dada
It’s over. My life is finished. Now there’s only one thing left. 
I feel that when you’re 80 one should die.
I worry about you. Don’t get married. If you wish, and the person is right, only then you should. 
It shouldn’t be that you stay together two days and then separate.
A dori (meaning thread in Gujarati) is a symbol of purity, longevity and happiness in Hindu marriages.  
The long-standing tradition of the patrilineal Hindu joint family is dependent on adherence to a hierarchy of power and well-defined social norms and gender roles, the patriarch being the economic head, supported by his wife who manages relationships and religious rituals.
De-industrialisation in Colonial India followed by an unstable economy in post-independence India reinforced the importance of this
 socio-economic support system. 
It was during the 1940’s that my grandfather, Mohan Dada’s family moved to Bombay in search of better prospects, when colleges shut down in Gujarat as a repercussion of the Independence movement. It was in Bombay that my grandmother, Kusum Ba, fought against the patriarchy and oppression of her inherited family to let Dada study business in the United States of America while she stayed with his joint family in Bombay. Her hope was that his education would improve their lifestyle, both at work and at home, upon his return. 
So much of maintaining the joint familial system rides on toeing the line and fulfilling one’s responsibilities within the unit of the family. How does love manifest itself in this environment and how is it recognised? When paired as life partners during pre-adolescence within a staunch Hindu ideological system, commitment takes precedence, nurtured by compassion developed in innocence and peppered with romance over time, the ultimate goal being family. Intimacy is fostered by this shared ambition, and passion, at least to the public eye, is never pursued.
The generation coming of age after economic liberalisation in India in 1991, my generation, moved into the future at an unpredictably accelerated pace. Private education, international television and radio were catalysts in the globalisation of India, and a growing middle class joint family income allowed for the creation of opportunities for their children. The apple was falling far from the tree.
The link between my grandparents and me was my father, a boomer who died in 1993 when I was 5 years old, leaving a generation gap that can best be defined within this context. My grandparents will be the last generation to have witnessed the transition of India, a difference that is embodied in our relationship, and one that will be amplified with generations to come, tied together only through our documents and histories. 
Ba & Dada were engaged to each other in Gujarat when they were 3 years old & 5 years old respectively. Ba often says that they have been subject to a lot of injustice by her inherited family, and that her life only truly began when she was in her 60s after her parents in-law died. Having threaded their way through the patriarchy, politics, pains and pleasures of their long lives, now aged 94 and 96, their relationship is still evolving, albeit in the limbo that a long and healthy life often leaves you in.