siyan Father

In document The ghotul in muria society (Page 180-200)

B.

Thus, t h e s o n ’s r i s e t o s i y a r i - h o o d s i g n a l s t h e d e mi se o f t h e f a t h e r i n t h e v i l l a g e a r e n a , b u t s i m u l t a n e o u s l y b r i n g s t h e mo the r i n t o h e r own as a member o f t h e c l i q u e o f i m p o r t a n t v i l l a g e women, t h e m a t r i a r c h - a t e . However, t h i s p a t t e r n o f l i f e - c y c l e e v e n t s do es n o t o c c u r s m o ot hl y , and t h e p a t t e r n o f i n t r a - f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p s among t h e Muria a r e o f t e n marked by s e r i o u s c o n f l i c t s bet wee n t h e g e n e r a t i o n s . Th es e s t r e s s e s and s t r a i n s can be l o o ke d a t i n g r e a t e r d e t a i l .

The m o t h e r - s o n r e l a t i o n o v e r t h e l i f e c y c l e

The m o t h e r - s o n r e l a t i o n s h i p i s a complex one, and d i f f i c u l t t o a n a l y z e f o r i t a p p e a r s t o o s c i l l a t e bet wee n two o ppos ed and c o n t r a d i c t o r y e m o t i o n a l s t a t e s . On t h e one hand, i t i s t o t h e Muria, t h e p r i m a r y e m o t i o n a l bond, u n s u r p a s s e d i n warmth and i n t e n s i t y by any o t h e r . On t h e o t h e r hand, i t a l s o c o n t a i n s h o s t i l i t y and a g g r e s s i o n t h a t o f t e n e r u p t s i n t o o u t r i g h t v i o l e n c e and l e a d s t o a t e m p o r a r y s e v e r a n c e o f r e l a t i o n s b et ween mother and son. I t i s a m u l t i - f a c e t e d , e m o t i o n a l l y complex r e l a t i o n r i d d e n by a m b i v a l e n c e and c o n f l i c t , a t t h e same t i m e as b e i n g t h e most i n d u l g e n t and e n d u r i n g bond o f a l l .

Of all relatives within the family, it is the mother who stands out as the bastion of material and emotional security for the infant son. Muria fathers are extremely indulgent and devoted to their children, but access to them is restricted to those times of the day when they happen to be at home and not engaged in entertaining neighbours or attending to cattle etc. Fathers cannot exclusively confine their attention to the upbringing of the child and most participate in the wider and (to the child) unknown and fearful world. While women have little children the social life of the young wife is suppressed almost to the point of becoming non-existent: their lives contract to routine activities around the house and the caring for their children becomes the primary concern, over-riding all else. Women are loth to leave infants behind and would much rather suffer the weight of carrying both child and bundles of firewood or water pitchers on their head on their daily trips to the river and forest. Mothers therefore become an inexhaustable source of love and succour as they are always responsive to the child’s needs.

In later childhood, once the child has some degree of independence and is performing the economic tasks delegated to children (mainly looking after domestic animals and guarding the crops against predatory birds and goats) the mother continues to indulge the child in every way possible. Such conflicts as arise are generally over the need to induce recalcitrant children to go out to the fields when they are disinclined to do so, and rather more frequently involve the adjudication of disputes between siblings - or cousins, in the case of extended families - in the course of which one child or the other is almost bound to feel victimised, and hence may store up resentment against his or her mother. But in general relations between mother and child remain warm, intimate and physically indulgent throughout the childhood period, despite the inevitable sibling rivalries. Children are weaned at two or three years, and births are spaced to accommodate this. Children long past the sucking stage are permitted free access to the mother and the physical side of the developing relation between mother and child does not seem to present problems. Physical chastisement, either by mother or father, is very rare, and of a very minor kind if it occurs - a light cuff around the ears.

As t h e c h i l d r e n grow up and l e a v e t h e p a r e n t a l h e a r t h , f i r s t f o r t h e G h o t u l , and l a t e r t o g e t m a r r i e d , t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e mot her s l a c k e n s i n i n t e n s i t y , and i n t h e c a s e o f s o n s as sumes more and more a p r a c t i c a l , i n s t r u m e n t a l t o n e , s i n c e mother and son o r s o n s become m u t u a l p a r t n e r s i n t h e management o f t h e f a m i l y l a n d and o t h e r for ms o f economic e n t e r p r i s e . I t i s a t t h i s p o i n t t h a t t h e e l e m e n t s o f a m b i v a l e n c e , n o t t o m e n ti o n d o w n r i g h t d i s l i k e , wh ich c h a r a c t e r i s e t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p bet wee n Muria a d u l t males and t h e i r m ot h e r s , b e g i n s t o e n t e r t h e p i c t u r e . The m o t h e r ’s p o l i t i c a l a m b i t i o n s v i s - a - v i s t h e v i l l a g e m a t r i a r c h a t e h i n g e on h e r s o n ’s s u c c e s s i n l i f e , and h en c e t h i s means t h a t s h e i s l i a b l e t o become more and more c r i t i c a l o f h i s s h o r t c o m i n g s (e.g. e x c e s s i v e d r i n k i n g and i n a t t e n t i o n t o t h e main g o a l o f r a i s i n g t h e f a m i l y i n v i l l a g e e s t e e m ) . At t h i s p e r i o d t o o ( c f . below on h u s b a n d - w i f e r e l a t i o n ) t h e w i f e i s b e g i n n i n g t o d o m i n a t e h e r hus ban d, and g e n e r a l l y t o assume a d i c t a t o r i a l r o l e i n h o u s e h o l d m a t t e r s , a l l o f w hi ch can become a p o t e n t s o u r c e o f d o m e s t i c c o n f l i c t , i n t o which t h e s on i s i n e v i t a b l y drawn. The f o l l o w i n g c a s e h i s t o r y , w h ic h i s n o t by any means u n i q u e ( p a r a l l e l c a s e s were s e e n even d u r i n g t h e f i e l d w o r k p e r i o d , and d e t a i l s o f o t h e r s were me n t i o n ed by i n f o r m a n t s ) shows t h e e x t e n t t o wh ich m o t h e r - s o n c o n f l i c t s can d e v e l o p once t h e son i s a r e s p o n s i b l e a d u l t ( i n t h i s c a s e , an i m p o r t a n t s i y a n ). The p r o t a g o n i s t s a r e T i r i , and h i s mot her Yaya a woman o f enormous i n t e l l i g e n c e and d r i v e , and w i t h o u t a d o u b t an i m p o r t a n t f a c t o r b e h i n d h e r s o n ’s s u c c e s s . Yaya i s q u i n t e s s e n t i a l l y a m a t r i a r c h o f t h e Muria k i n d , t h o u g h , l i k e h e r son, s h e s u f f e r s from t h e f a c t t h a t s h e h a s no c l o s e k i n i n t h e v i l l a g e .

We were h a v i n g t h e f i n i s h i n g t o u c h e s done t o o u r newly c o n s t r u c t e d h o u s e . Yaya, h e r g r a n d - d a u g h t e r and d a u g h t e r s had been w o r k i n g s i n c e t h e e a r l y h o u r s o f t h e morning on p u t t i n g a f i n a l p l a s t e r o f c l a y t o t h e w a l l s . The work was messy and a r d o u s : a l l f o u r wer e s p l a t t e r e d w i t h mud and t h e i r han d s were raw from r u b b i n g t h e wet c l a y on t h e h a r d mud s u r f a c e o f t h e w a l l s . They c o u l d n o t abandon t h e work even t h o u g h t h e y were c l e a r l y e x h a u s t e d as t h e b u i l d i n g o f t h e h o u s e had gone on i n t o t h e monsoon s e a s o n , and t h e r e was t h e d a n g e r o f i t s c o m p l e t i o n b e i n g i n d e f i n i t e l y d e l a y e d i f t h e s p e l l o f f i n e w e a t h e r wer e n o t t a k e n a d v a n t a g e o f . Whi le Yaya was h a r d a t work, h e r son T i r i had been engaged i n a d r i n k i n g p a r t y w i t h h i s f r i e n d P e l e , on t h e v e r a n d a h o f t h e i r h o u s e . I t was s e p a r a t e d from o u r h o u s e by o n l y a na rr ow c o u r t y a r d , so T i r i and h i s f r i e n d were w i t h i n s i g h t o f h i s m o t h e r . From t i m e t o t i m e , Yaya would s t o p h e r work

and urge Tiri to plough the fields. When she got no response from him she would mutter a string of condemnatory remarks about

his being a lazy, good-for-nothing son. Tiri went on drinking and

mumbling incoherently to his friend and appeared on the surface, to be oblivious of his mother’s periodic public admonishings.

After some time, when he was fairly besotted with drink, Tiri yelled out to his young daughter, helping his mother, to fetch him some

water. Yaya spoke back to him in an angry, agitated voice: ’’You

fetch the water yourself. Do you think we have no other work

to do?” At this point her son suddenly got up and rushed across

In document The ghotul in muria society (Page 180-200)