The ‘Aan-Penn’ Paradox!

Every Malayali household has its own set of rules and remarks when it comes to boys and girls in the family. There are things that only a boy should do and there are others that only a girl should do. Yes, we are progressing, but slowly. In today’s world, women are soaring heights and breaking barriers. We also have men breaking stereotypes and readjusting their sails. But the ‘Aan-Penn’ Paradox still exists. Every Malayali kutty would’ve had to hear at least some of these in their lifetime.

Adakkom othukkom mukhyam bigile!

If you were born a girl, live like a girl. No, not always like how you want to. Maintaining a basic sense of ‘adakkom othukkom’ is a must. “Kaalu thaazhe vech irikk”, when you plop down on the sofa like a panda, is something almost every girl has had to hear. Oh, and how many of you have been rushed up to your rooms to change your shorts because guests were coming home?! Yes, we get it! Almost all of us. There is some predefined measurement system that governs how many inches of clothing is allowed on your legs when you sit and what angle between them is deemed ‘decent enough’. Ithonnum illenkil theernn mole!

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Penkuttykale pole karayaatheda!

This is something boys are fed since the age of three. Whenever they cry or start pouting, the first thing said to pacify them is “ayyayyee dheyy ellaarm nokkua…chekkanmaarindo ingnokke karayalu!” And this, I guess, is programmed into many of us from that age. That boys ‘are not’ supposed to cry. That crying is weak and is a girl’s virtue. That boys are supposed to look confident and have everything figured out before 27 even when they are not sure about anything themselves. It’s dangerous and toxic.

Naale mattannaal kettich vidaan ullatha. Cooking oke kurach padikk!

Because you are not good enough till you have the ‘paachakam’ certification. It’s funny that such questions even pop up during the ‘pennukaanal’ ritual. It is usually sugar-coated a little, and so the question ends up being, “Neyyappam kollaalo, mol indaakkyathaano?” Divya’s pennkaanal scene (from Bangalore days) flashing across the mind screen!

Enthina kammal maatram aakkunne! Poy mookkum kutheett vaada!

When you make little changes to your appearance every now and then, you get chastised for it. “Ee dress oke aano ni Bangalore idnne?” to “Entha mone mudi okke chembich irikknne, kulikkaarille ni?” are some of the ‘sthiram pallavis’ we hear when we come back home after a ‘major’ fashion outburst. If you were someone who used to drape a dupatta every time you went out and for once you wore a Kurti to a wedding, get ready to bow down to our ambassador of unasked opinions- The Ammayi who goes, “Porth padikkaan vittappekk aalu modern aaypoyello!”. It’s probably one good moment where you feel that your slipper could have made a dramatic entry on her face!

Not only “Ithonnum penkuttykalkk pattiya pani alla” but also “B.Ed okke ipo aanpilleru cherunna course aano mone?”

There are always certain images that are associated with certain professions. A man could be a professor but not an Anganwadi teacher. A woman could be a cookery show host but not necessarily a chef at a 5-star hotel and so on. Even today, we know of many people who decided to stray away from the career they dreamt of or the course they craved for just because it was not ‘society approved’. Do we deserve to be living like this under some preset norm that is not just baseless but is also purely sexist?

“Avan padikkaan porakott aanel entha..Avnte achante business nokki nadthiya pore!”

If you couldn’t stack up against your scores in math and science ‘potte nne!’ team naatukkaar has free advice for you too! Who else will look after your dad’s business? No, you are not expected to have any interest in movie making or such ‘azhinjaadiya’ jobs. Just focus on what you have and be thankful for that. And if you are a girl who hasn’t figured out her life yet, heed to naatukkaar advice version 2.0- “Penkutty alle, kettichvidaalo!” Of course, there is no use talking to people who go, “Ambition o, athenth saadanam?!”

It is difficult to lead the life we want to because the ‘Aan-Penn’ Paradox exists, as many of us might already know from experience. Along with the pressure of wanting to excel in our domains, we also have to unwillingly let down a few of our cravings owing to the society we live in. “Vittkalayanam!” is often easier said than done. We know that too. But what is equally important is to never regret what you made out of your life. The noise and resistance from the populace will gradually be silenced with the applause you gain for who you are. So, “chin down, chin podikk up, eyes open” and move on!

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