What Maayeka Really Means To An Indian Girl

Maayeka: The place where you live as a girl, and leave as a woman.

‘Maayeka’ in Hindi/Urdu translates to ‘mother’s house’ or ‘maternal home’.  In the Indian subcontinent, once a woman gets married, her husband’s home is considered to be her new home. Her own home, where she was born, raised, and belonged suddenly becomes her ‘maayeka’.

A woman’s maayeka (maternal home) can be anywhere from five minutes away to being on a separate street, or in an entirely different city, country or continent. Most women, who belong to the latter category, take longer to settle down in their ‘new’ homes. You can’t blame them, can you?

Your bed, your room, your closet, your space…everything changes overnight. What remains with you forever are the memories of your maternal home. And these memories go on to become the most cherished ones of our life, more so after marriage.

Going away from home to acquire an education or for a better job prospect does not even count as moving out. Marriage is where it all changes for most women!

As teenagers and young adults, we struggle to be on the same page as our parents. We blame their old-school-of-thought, the generation gap, their protective nature, and find unjustifiable excuses to distant us from them. Unfortunately, we do not realize the value of their love and care just yet. Most of us realize the importance of our parents when we have to live by ourselves. This is when we long for their affection and company, for mom’s handmade food, and for dad’s advice. Simply reminiscing about having a meal together with our parents can leave us smiling and teary-eyed at the same time.

After marriage, I have been settled in the same city as where my parents lived. Fortunately, my maternal home is just a five minute drive away from my home. After so many years of marriage, now it doesn’t feel weird to call their house ‘my parents’ home’ and call my own house as ‘my home’.

In the first year post-marriage, the question I dreaded the most was “where do you live or what is your address?”

Having to answer that question always left me feeling a sense of disloyalty (has anyone else experienced this?) Oh and no guesses to what my reply must have been to anyone asking me for my phone number. I always gave out my parents’ home number, unintentionally, and they landed up receiving phone calls meant for me. I even mistakenly put their residence number on my resume. Yes I did!

For all these years, I was blessed to have my parents live down the road from my house. Just as nothing remains forever, it all changed a year ago. Last year, my father took up retirement and decided to move back to India. I didn’t know how to react to this news, so I just went with the flow. As the days of them going back came closer, the feeling began to sink in. Fast forward to the airport, I remember my mother hugging me and telling me, “Be strong and don’t be upset. It will all be fine.”

Driving past their house three times a day (on the way to the kids’ school), going to places we once shopped together, dining at restaurants where we spent innumerable times eating together… it seemed like memories of them were etched on to all those places. For the first few months, each time I passed by their house, I would look towards it and cry. The only thing running in my mind was that I don’t have my ‘maayeka’ (maternal home) here anymore.

Today, I may not have a ‘maayeka’ here but my parents have a new home here. Their daughter’s home is now their home! Just as most of us can’t wait for the weekend or for a vacation to go stay at our maternal homes, I am looking forward to my parents coming to stay with me. This is something that hasn’t happened in more than a decade since I got married.

At the time of marriage, the giving away of a daughter is always the hardest part. But when the roles are reversed and it feels like the ‘bidaai’ (giving away/letting go) of your parents, the letting go becomes even tougher.   I knew it would be fine eventually but didn’t imagine it to be so hard initially.

While my parents have moved back to India and settled in their retirement life, I am reminded of them at every corner that I turn around. Imagine what our parents go through when we move out or move away. The emptiness of a loved one moving away from you can never be filled. Have you ever sat back and thought of what your parents were thinking and feeling, the day you got married and your home changed?

Moving away or moving out is a natural process and every individual has to deal with it at some point in their life. One thing that no one can take away from a woman is the sweet feeling she has her in heart for her maternal home.

Maayeka is the place, where she can once again feel like a girl! Where she can sleep in till late, be served breakfast on bed and spend late nights talking to her mother. A woman’s home may change after marriage but the belongingness to her maternal home stays with her forever. For it is the place she grew up as a girl and grew out of as a woman.

What is the meaning of Maayeka? What does it mean in Indian culture?

 Minali Bajaj Syed - Raising World Children Minali Bajaj-Syed is an Indian, born and settled in Kuwait. Having lived in Kuwait, India and the United States, She has had the opportunity to experience a diverse set of cultures. She thus, considers herself a global citizen. She is always learning, evolving and trying to spread some positivism. On most days, she is a mother to two kids and a food blogger on Instagram @cinnamon_cardamom

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