Crying, An Indian Taboo

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From time to time, my mother used to tell me to stop crying, ‘Girls are never supposed to cry,’ she would chide, ‘And never at this time of day.’ This, I soon realized, meant I was never to cry. 

A girl weeping was equated to lessened wealth and prosperity, an Indian taboo many find hard to disconnect with. Growing up, however, I didn’t see how one could never cry. With physical and emotional changes that cage teenagers, crying was a mode of withdrawal and a source of release. 

There were nights I would cry into the pillow, careful not to let anyone hear my sobbings. Often you cannot disentangle the reasons for your unsettling discomposure, and it is nearly impossible to describe it to someone. But sadness, as you know, is a silent listener. It follows the golden rule — treat others the way you want them to treat you — unlike many. 

An old theory even suggests that tears contain stress hormones and that shedding a tear or two is a way to flush those hormones out of the body, reducing negativity in the process. Those precious tears of yours may hold grief, anger, anxiety, exasperation, and sadness, or perhaps an amalgamation of all. It is one of the reasons why it is considered a unique emotional expression associated with better therapy outcomes in psychotherapy. 

While crying may occasionally demoralize an individual, it also can build confidence. It all depends on the people surrounding them and the level of moral boost they are able to muster up. Proper support and consolation can make the person crying feel much better.

There stands a huge misconception that those who cry are the weaker half of the society — which in many stereotypical minds refers to the feminine half. Many tend to overlook the fact that those who cry fight silent battles. The battle wound is constant with pain but hidden from view, not out of fright or shame but out of bravery. 

A tear dripping from the eye only shows that one is human. Be it be man or woman. Where one is heard saying, ‘Don’t cry like a girl ‘ or ‘Harden up and be a man,’ it is difficult for one to see otherwise. Emotions, may I tell you, are not gender-based. A man, having just the same right to expression, must not be prejudiced on his emotional capabilities and mental well-being. 

I tried announcing these facts to my mom, ‘Crying helps calm me down. It’s a way for me to gather my thoughts and understand them.’ 

But my mother paid no heed, ‘Crying at this time of a day! What will people say? Get hold of yourself and wipe those tears. Tell me, what is so wrong with your life?’ she walked into the kitchen and continued to make parathas. 

I didn’t know when my mom would understand that I didn’t cry because my life was so messed up. I cried because I couldn’t quite comprehend it.