The most unnerving context in which I have found myself lately, is the : – “Oh! It doesn’t really matter for you! Being a girl you have the option” – statement . And to add to that, the “Being a girl, you should…” sermons. I am obliged to write today for the very same reason; I found myself with a bunch of long-lost-friends, and one of them said it again, “Being a girl… I just thought I should ask you that…..”. I tried my best not to react, inspiring myself to write about it instead 😉 So here goes! – In the name of all those monologues , which had us biting our teeth in exasperation! Cheers!
My grandmother visits with all the possible warmth. As I sip my cup of tea, she asks me what I am doing these days. I tell her, “Paati, I am working on my portfolio. I left my full-time job a month back.” “But why!” she asks, in dismay. I say, “Well, I hadn’t really taken a break since my grads… So I am working on self-development so that my career prospects are better”. To which I hear the dreaded words “ But child! Why!! Why are you so concerned about your career?”.
I swallow. Look down. Look up. Well, it would be difficult to explain “why”; because it is about me! I battle my words in my mouth. “Because if I don’t care about my career, who will! Da” I think in my mind, but maintain the decorum of the house, keep silent, and with due respect, nod. She says “Being a girl, you have the option. You should stay on to one (temporary) job that would suit you best. You should learn other household tasks; they are (far) more important.”
I bite my teeth. I keep quiet.
My phone beeps one evening. “Wassup?” he says.
“Hey ! Long time! 4 months I guess? How are you :). We are having a get-together at home, right now. Helping Mom. Catch you later.”, I reply and the conversation ends.
Next morning I receive another text, “ Hi. How was your get-together? What did you cook?” I stare at the text for a second, and then reply, “ umm.. cook? You want yesterday’s menu??? ”, weird I think. Why should someone be interested in what we cooked at home! “NO!” He answers, “I wanted to know what YOU prepared for the party”. And instantly I think many things :
- How did he presume I cooked?
- How did he presume I WOULD cook for a party?
- Why is he interested in my cooking?
- A conversation about my cooking, after 4 months of silence?
I quit the debate and simplify the conversation, “umm…..I don’t really cook.”.“YOU DON’T!! oh my God” he retorts, sounding almost half heartbroken. “But how can that be possible! You told me yourself that you were helping your mother! What was that then?” He accuses, as though I were caught guilty in crime. Or, perhaps, almost anxiously, as though he were questioning his boss about him being fired. As I deliberate about which of the two suits his tone of question; a worried conversation follows, from his side, persisting almost the entire day about the virtues of a woman and her responsibilities. And finally, on a bitter note he ends, “I pity your husband whoever he is”. “Why”, I think, considering the fact that I don’t even have one! But I preserve the golden silence, despising another long endless chain of messages. But he, nevertheless, obliges. “If you don’t cook, what will he eat! He’ll starve. My god. A girl should cook. My wife will have to. ”, he concludes. And I switch off the phone. A self-proclaimed hero is better far, than near; even a text-message can be injurious to health because a rising B.P and temper does do much harm, even to a simple human being. Medically proven.
I turn to my work, and continue to work on my “full time job”, ME. I have an appointment with one of the companies I freelance with. In a conversation with the director, “But Apsara, being a girl , you have the option. Marry a guy, rich preferably, and you don’t really have to fret over your career!” I choke over my coffee. “I am not sure I have any such option sir” , I reply; to which I get a reassuring answer “ Don’t worry darling! There is someone out there who will take you”, and I think, am I an object?
An ex-admirer calls me, he wants to meet. I prefer a late night call. I return his call, and the conversation is directed to “Being a girl, I just thought you would want to be my wife and give me children. ” ; and I subconsciously check the statement ; “give me children”.Hmm… do people give children to eachother? like chocolates? perhaps… ,my thoughts interrupted, he says “I don’t want anybody to even think about you. I don’t want anybody to look at you. Forget your theatre dreams. Forget your media ambitions.”; “But you are only interested in your career. That’s the only reason we aren’t together. ” He adds spitefully.
I am 22 years old. Old highlights in many ways , while “young” highlights in other ways.
OLD because people all of a sudden feel I am in a “marriageable” age, or at least that I have entered the threshold. YOUNG because my career is only at the start. My dreams are still, a little away from realisation; and my aspirations can fill a novel. And hence, I like to believe I am young. I like to believe I have time to realise my ambitions and live my passions. I like to simply, believe.
Am sorry, but my dream is not about having children or to cook for my husband. My dream is not marriage. These aren’t my “dreams”. I know in my heart, that a family will happen someday, because I have a lot of love within me to offer to the universe. But where I stand today, I have a loving supporting family and my priorities are different.
Strange, but against the popular notion, “being a girl, you have an option.”, I wonder, do I? Do I really have an option?
For girls like me, who have been raised on moral values of equality, who have been encouraged to dream, who have learnt to believe in themselves, who aspire; how much of an option do we have?
Can I marry a guy who believes I am his property, with the prime function to deliver children for “him”? Can I marry a guy who feels I just have to cook every meal, every day. Can I marry a guy who doesn’t let me work? Can I be with a person who doesn’t believe that I am an individual?
The “options” are far lesser, aren’t they? On the contrary I’d have to look for a man supportive enough , who lets me be me, and respects my free will.
The point is, an individual identity exists for every human being. Why do we, then, live in clichéd social frameworks?
I respect all the beautiful mothers and wives out there, form the bottom of my heart, who are full-time home-makers. But, provided, THAT is what they really wanted to do. Every person has desires within. Something that completes you and adds significance to your being. If that feeling of immense peace comes from raising your family, or loving your husband, alone; then, THAT is the best thing to happen to you.
But if that fire burns for more, then you have a different direction to pursue. Not the path where we pass on our dreams to our children in heritage, for our lack of fulfilment, but a path where you pursue your dreams, Yourself!
A working woman, with an intelligence, emotion and creative quotient thoroughly satisfied can be a great mother and wife.
Why even think of giving up one life?
Besides, in the end, the battle is always yours alone. You face the test alone. And you face the failures and rewards alone. With the give and take of affections and warmth, the journey certainly becomes more enjoyable, but still, it IS only your own.
No one else can live your life for you, then why live your life one terms of others?
A healthy blend of compromises on the receiving and serving end, with a rational approach, is what makes a successful life.
And so there is nothing like “being a girl, you have the option”. And nothing like “Being a girl you should….”
There are too many fences we have drawn around us – for men and women, alike. But why live in them?
Life is a journey, and a Life-partner is someone with whom we can cherish, enjoy and share. An alter-ego or perhaps someone totally unlike you! Only the visions need blend and support. So, let’s just chill and remember that we all have an identity. And our responsibility is, nothing but, to keep that fire burning; to keep that light glowing with peace and happiness . It’s not about the “options” you have; it is about YOU. And YOU my dear, are the priority 😉 !
There is a world out there that is totally liberated. But this post, is a toast to those of us who celebrate the freedom of thought and action. This post is a toast to all our dreams, all our smiles and all our happy-endings 😉 Cheers!