Reader's Blog

Crying — An Indian taboo

My mother often tells me to stop crying, “Girls are not supposed to cry,” she would chide, “And never at this time of day.”

I soon realized, I was never meant to cry. A girl crying was equated with 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 disburdenment.

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

A theory suggests that tears contain stress hormones and that crying 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 an amalgam of all these. It is one of the reasons why it is considered a unique emotional expression that is associated with better therapy outcomes in psychotherapy.

Crying has the ability to build confidence. Proper support and consolation can make the person crying feel much better. There is a 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.

A tear dripping from the eye only shows that one is human. Be it a man or a woman.

A tear dripping from the eye only shows that one is human. Be it a man or a woman. When one hears, “Don’t cry like a girl” or “Harden up and be a man”, it is difficult for one to see otherwise. Emotions 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 sharing these facts with my mom, “Crying helps calm me down; it’s a way for me to gather my thoughts and understand them.” But my mother would pay no heed, “Crying at this time of a day! What will people say? Get hold of yourself and wipe those tears.” she would continue to tell me.

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