“Badhaai ho, aapko judwaa bache hue hai- ek ladka aur ek ladki. The nurses handed over the newly born to the father and said – “ek hai aankhon ka taara, aur ek ghar ki lakshmi.” In a small town in Maharashtra, the Sharma family was beaming with joy until they heard a girl had been born too. A bittersweet moment for the family but they continued to put an act in front of the others, only to realise the lesson of “assets” and “liabilities” had begun from day one. The thought of the “lakshmi” going away in the years to come had entered the subconscious mind.
Raja and Rani- the new-borns, clueless about the existent norms and patriarchal society, were pampered and family values were being instilled in them. Raja and Rani went to the best school and were exposed to the big world. They had myriad interests, while Raja was interested in the family business and outdoor activities, Rani grew a liking for humanitarian services, her leisure time involving reading books. As they grew up, the “asset” was encouraged to go out there and explore the world, while the “liability” was being groomed on how to run a family in the future- a farfetched moment. One fine evening, the family was sitting together at dinner, when the grandfather happened to ask Raja, “What do you want to become when you grow up?” It immediately prompted a response from Raja, “Doctor”. The family rejoiced at the ambitious nature of Raja and ended the dinner on that proud note. (kaafi modern). Poor Rani, not once was she asked about her dreams, I mean isn’t it obvious that she should only do her masters in how to run a family and cook well, right? This incident had a long-lasting impact. She was furious but continued to work on herself and did not allow this small talk to disrupt her dream. After all, her dream was to be a successful and independent businesswoman, breaking every stereotype, turning the liability into an asset. She did not want to prove anything to society but to herself.
These incidents started recurring. One night Rani happened to come home a little later than usual. Society being society created a ruckus out of it. It came to Rani’s notice later that the auntyjis of the society were slyly peeping through their windows as if she had committed a crime and gotten back. Questions like, How can you allow her to come home so late? Who are these people she goes with? Was she drunk? What if something wrong happened with her? were asked to her parents. They felt a little embarrassed and kept mum. Rani remained ignorant of these baseless questions. Not tough to guess that, Raja, was never questioned about his whereabouts.
Another day, another story. One afternoon, the auntyjis of the society had gathered in the lawn and Rani happened to be around. They were talking about their household woes when Rani gave them a suggestion to get rid of the woes. She was summoned back home only to hear that she had become the fodder for the gossip of the society auntyjis. How did she have the audacity to speak in front of such elders? On the other hand, Raja was encouraged to give his opinion on important matters of the house. Of course, women do not have a say.
The final blow came when Rani got accepted to her dream college. Her joy knew no bounds. With excitement in her eyes, she went to her family to give them the news only to hear “kya kar legi itna padhke?” In a moment, Rani’s dreams were crushed.
Rani was expected to be the traditional, polite, docile girl. Anything other than that would cause her to lose the tag of being a “sanskaari Indian girl”. Raja, on the other hand, would get away with his mistakes and was pushed to pursue his dream. The rage in Rani was growing like a volcano waiting to erupt. She questioned herself, why is being a girl such a burden for the family? Am I allowed to breathe? Does knowing how to run a family cover-up for the lack of education and exposure? Why do marital talks do the rounds of the house when the girl is in just learning how to stand on her feet? Rani was being treated like a “Rani” no more. A balloon can only fly until it bursts. Rani had reached that point. She had decided, enough was enough. “I am no damsel in distress, I AM A (SHE)RO. I will stand up for myself!” That day, everything changed for the better in the Sharma household.
No, this is not a sob story of the life of Rani. It’s a hidden reality prevalent in most households even now. Those hiding behind the façade of being modern. It’s a constant battle between doing what’s right vs. log kya kahenge? I have a few questions for you all- my fellow readers;
1. Why is a girl obliged to cook? Does she come with a built-in stove?
2. Do you ever encourage your girls to dream of being someone like Indra Nooyi, Kalpana Chawla, Mary Kom? (Haha, only the boys can get a gold?)
3. Why are there more opportunities for men as compared to women?
4. Why does it always stated as “teach your daughters”, when we know who needs real teaching?
5. Why are girls treated as untouchables when menstruating? (Oops, did your eyes just pop out?)
The statement- “A woman, without her man, is nothing” has been replaced by “A woman: without her, a man is nothing’. Those times where a woman’s safety would be assessed by the male around her are gone. Women around women are invincible. After all, Harry Potter would’ve died if Hermione did not save him. Society believes that saying “you’re not like other women” is a compliment. Sadly, a woman does not need your validation. They have broken free from the ifs and buts of society. What good is a society who reveres goddesses when in their household she’s treated like a maid?
Times are changing. Woman have realised their self-worth and are not petrified of voicing what they believe in. Why should they be scared? She’s seen the world and is aware of the wrong norms prevalent in society. Standing up for herself and demanding respect is her right, nobody can defy that. Societal praise doesn’t boost her self-esteem. Freedom to lead her life by her own choices does. Every female has her own identity and it may not match or be your version of perfect. Who defines the world perfect? An outspoken female does not imply that she has not been brought up with the right values. She holds her family values close to her heart, breaks through the conditioning of society and respects her individuality. A woman does not need your support, she needs a chance to be understood. A caterpillar can only fly when allowed to evolve into a butterfly. Do not hinder the evolution and cut the wings of the beautiful butterflies.
As for Rani, she is now working on being a successful independent businesswoman, soon to get the upper hand on Raja. Even though she did not go to her dream college she found a way to make her dreams work here. Why will only “Sharamaji ka ladka” do everything? “Sharmaji ki ladki” is taking over. She did not allow societal pressure to overtake her dreams and change her. Her family was taken aback at first. She’s a rebel, they said. She’s with the wrong company, they said. She’s been given too much freedom, they said. Countless arguments led to an awakening. Maybe our girl is our own just a little different? Maybe with our set mindset, we cannot seem to understand her? Finally, it all fell into place. Acceptance and understanding made the family realise that she is an individual and has her persona. She’s born to be different. She’s moulded herself into being her own (SHE)RO.
Vocal Every Pal.
(A little gift to all the beautiful women out there before women’s day. Shine bright, stay beautiful coz who run the world? GIRLS! Do share your valuable comments and suggestions and help me grow as a writer. Thank you.)
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Image credits: Behance.net (Kesari Studio)