I have to remind myself that there are busybodies in any culture, but being pregnant and dealing with the superstitious Aunties in my big fat Indian (and Hindu) community is sometimes more than even I can bear.
I don’t mind the gender predictions – they’re harmless. According to my grandmother, if I suffer from acne or if I crave savory foods (yes and yes), then I’m going to have a girl. I wish my face didn’t have to be examined at every family gathering but it’s easy to shake off superstitions that have no basis in reality.
My mom is queen of the superstitions that impede on my lifestyle. Like the fact that I’m not allowed to cut my hair in case it shortens the lifespan of the baby. I’m pretty sure some obnoxious guy with a long hair fetish came up with that one.
Then there’s my mom’s aversion to The Walking Dead. Indians believe that watching something gross will result in a deformed baby. If I watch zombies, apparently I’ll birth a zombie. The converse of this is that I’m supposed to look at photos of beautiful babies so that I’ll have a beautiful baby. But the thought of inflicting cutesy Anne Geddes babies on myself is enough to bring my morning sickness back.
Then there’s my mother’s sister, who had a dream last week that she was performing a seemantham for me to celebrate and welcome my baby into the world. After she woke up she called my mom and kept grilling her about me possibly being pregnant but fortunately mom kept mum. I’m actually looking forward to the ceremony, which basically involves all the Aunties showering me with sweet and savory food, clothing, and blessings. But my nosy aunt can keep her dreams to herself!
My aunt also cautioned my mom not to buy anything for the baby before it’s born as it’s bad luck. Since I’ve suffered from a miscarriage before, I guess I don’t mind this superstition, because it feels a little bit like jinxing myself, especially in my first trimester.
Finally, there’s a family friend who tries to hand over her granddaughter whenever she sees me, reciting a Telugu saying which translated, means “If you hold a baby you’ll have a baby.” I last saw this aunty a couple months ago at a friend’s wedding. Apparently she left the wedding and decided that she wanted my husband and I to have a baby so badly that she was going to pray for us. She sat in front of her altar at home and recited some baby making Vedic chant 108 times so that we’d have a baby on her timeline.
When I initially heard this I was so pissed, and I still am, to some extent. This is my fucking womb and how dare she decide what is right for me? We had a miscarriage two years ago, and it took a long time to get to where we are today, including the grieving process, deciding we were finally ready, and dealing with anovulation related to PCOS. In fact it’s kind of a miracle that we are pregnant at all, because according to all the pee strips and blood tests, I wasn’t ovulating in the first place.
I wasn’t supposed to be able to have a baby, but according to my charts, two days after my aunt chanted 108 times, I conceived. I have no desire to attribute our little miracle to her busybody home puja! I’m going to see her this weekend and I’ve thought of a billion ways to put her in her place, but in the end, what can I say? I’m pregnant. And I’m happy about it. And I wanted this baby.
I’ve decided that rejecting my aunt’s prayers is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I can’t deny that having people care about me is a positive force in my life, no matter how intrusive and presumptive they can be. I have a bunch of Aunties who love me and want what’s best for me. It’d be nice if we could agree on what’s best for me, but in the meantime, I’ll just DVR my zombie shows and watch them in solitude.