The subject matter of this podcast is patriarchy in Indian culture. Mytrae (pronounced My-thray-yee) recounts her ex-pat journey of coming to America as a teenager, eventually falling in love with a local man, being “kidnapped” by her own family, and sent back to India for daring to go against the cultural norm. This experience was traumatic for her to say the least. Despite the fact that there were a lot of laughs in the interview, it is a serious matter, and I for one, am pleased that Mytrae was able to survive her ordeal and become a stronger person for it.
Brown Skin Girl Author Mytrae Meliana:
Talking to Mytrae, I could identify with some of her struggles because India and Africa, at least my part of the continent (Nigeria) shares a lot of the same cultural expectations including schooling (no dawdling and everyone should become a doctor or something equally prestigious), and the expectation of women getting married soon after college and going on to have lots of babies, and even arranged marriages to a lesser degree.
It takes a very strong will to go against the “normal” that is expected of you. If you push back in any way, you are definitely asking for trouble, as Mytrae discovered. Some in my family, even today, still think l am “cursed” and refuse to believe that l chose not to have children :-). Hearing, and seeing that this kind of madness still goes on in this day and age doesn’t surprise me of course, however, it’s still maddening.
To some extent, there is definitely still a universal norm that is expected of all women, everywhere, be it vocalized or not. I’ll tell you what, with the way the world is now, I am supremely glad l chose not to procreate. That’s just how l feel. I don’t push it on others, so l come down like a sledgehammer on those that push their beliefs on me, family or not.
Highlights of the podcast include:
Growing up in India and the family dynamic.
Feeling that white people were superior, thanks to the mentality.
Moving to America in her teens.
Being a brown skin girl in the south.
Having trouble adjusting to her new life and interacting with her peers.
Music providing a much-loved respite and finally making friends.
Falling in love and being found out after making a fatal error.
Being sent back to India to live with her grandparents as punishment, with all her papers seized.
Eventually finding her way back to America.
The courage to finally lash out and live her life to an extent.
Marriage, even though it wasn’t what she wanted.
Taking her life back and becoming strong, and her spiritual awakening.
Finally finding her place in society and happiness that had eluded her for so long.
Working to help others heal from their traumas.
Advice for others in the same situation.
The Mytrae Meliana memoir is called:
“Brown Skin Girl: An Indian American Woman’s Magical Journey From Broken To Beautiful”