“Did your dad agree?”
This dialogue was on replica mode during our conversation. A woman was telling me how she had plodded to her present status and life, from the paddock of a patriarchal society. She was 10 when she asked her dad if she could go to a friend’s house, that was a lane away. Her father denied. Because, she was a girl and making friends implied she would elope one day.
She completed her intermediate (12th standard) and wanted to pursue graduation. Her relatives had already started dissuading her dad, for an educated girl doesn’t fetch eligible bachelors for her wedding. One of her cousins who was staying at her house, for his job, assured her father that a little education won’t hamper her qualification for wedding. Her father went along with his suggestion only because he was a lad. Had it been a lass she would be brainwashed too.
Before she could be grateful of what her cousin did, he unraveled his intentions. He was romantically interested in her. For what he had done to her, he wanted her to marry him after graduating. She somehow deferred every such conversation with him. Everyday she had to escape his ugly stares and shameless flirting while not being able to say a word. One, because he wangled a respectable opinion from her parents and two, a woman is presumed guilty of every offence a man does.
After post graduation, her father didn’t bother to ask her if she was ready to get married. She wasn’t asked about what she’d look for, in a man she would share her life with. She wasn’t asked if she was settled in her job or wanted anything more. She was married off to a government employee who was apparently from a very good family.
After marriage, she was chided for almost everything she did, the first being her lack of cooking skills. All her life, she had studied meticulously and was on the summit of success. But a woman is supposed to cook, is what she heard everyday.
For her post graduation could not quench her thirst for knowledge, she applied for higher studies. Just then, a tiny living thing existed in her womb.
Juggling between profession, two babies and also the jeering of her in-laws, she added four post graduations and two graduations to her resume. Also she excelled professionally and bagged numerous awards and accolades for being an educationalist. And she made sure her daughter didn’t learn cooking unless she wanted to.
On me reprimanding her for not choosing those corporate jobs that pay heftily, she smiled. She admitted that she did get alluring offers from business world for her mastery; she chose to teach in women’s colleges. She teaches young girls to study further and not let patriarchy roadblock their aspirations. She teaches her daughter to stand firm in the face of oppression. She teaches young girls to take care of themselves, even after marriage and motherhood. She teaches young girls to fight for what they deserve and never trade-off their accomplishments because of their gender. She is a part of two families and none warranted a woman’s financial independence. She doesn’t want her daughter or any other girl to be bogged down by the same problems she confronted. She wants them to face new problems that steer them into fierce women and strong mothers of the future.
That explains why my mom is my inspiration.
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