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wedding jewels illusration

Mixed media project- 1:Watercolor, beads, sharpies and gold foil on paper.

“I am keeping these aside for your wedding”, Ma said, as she looked down at all her gold jewelry. Some of these were from her own wedding and had never been worn since. I was in high school at the time, but I remember thinking of the day when I would be rewarded with these jewels for finding a queer, composite creature who is successful yet humble, rich yet down-to-earth, modern yet traditionally Bengali. A man who our entire extended family and social circle would approve and who in turn, would recognize my true value – augmented by my mother’s gold, of course.

Despite all the gold, I worried about the off chance that I might fail to be fetching enough to achieve this. And why wouldn’t I worry? Some of my older girl cousins who were doing “too well” academically, caused our families to panic about how this might pose a challenge in “getting them married”. One of my cousins grew too tall and big, and every family dinner was open call to discuss how difficult it might be to find a suitably large man for her.

Marriage was inevitable and aspirational at the same time.  My cousins and I, we all knew and were even vaguely excited by what would start a few years later — a test of our true worth. A hunt for the perfect groom. An army of uncles and aunts would go forth, armed with a horoscope, a postcard-sized glamor shot and the one other thing more precious than all the family jewels – our virginity.

P.S. I want to hear your stories, experiences or thoughts about growing up female in Asia – a crowd sourcing of ideas, if you will. You can leave it in the comments section or email me if you want to keep it private. Without your stories, I don’t think I will be able to finish what I have started!