Once again read somewhere this line and again I cringed, “My daughters are like my sons.” Let the daughters be like daughters. It depends on how you raise them! If you give them the independence, education, and freedom of career choice like sons, they will do what the sons have been doing so far traditionally; taking care of the parents and being strong to take on the world. This statement somehow makes me feel that such parents are trying to say that the daughters are as good as or equal to sons. But aren’t they born equal naturally?
When I see, read and hear parents worrying to the extent of getting paranoid about their kids’ safety, I am reminded of how so many times I have, as a mother, kept my composure and stayed strong leaving everything to the hands of destiny and the Almighty. I know many might find this unbelievable given the circumstances.
My son started with his education in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. He was 2 years old when he started with a playschool there. The playschool was a nice one and my son spent good 3 hours there with very loving teachers and friends. He got to play and learn a few things too. My son used to go by a van and it took 15-20 minutes from our home to the playschool in the van. Being a hilly place, the way to his school had many steep and curvy roads. One particular road had a very steep U curve, which if not maneuvered properly by the driver could lead to fatal accident.
One morning after we woke up, we got to know that a fatal accident had occurred on that U curve road. A bus full of tourists from Gujarat had fallen in the cliff from that road and all tourists succumbed to that deathly fall. My little son went to his playschool from the very same route that day and all the other days to come. I couldn’t stop his playschool because of this accident, could I?
As parents both me and my husband always used to worry, we still worry, but we also know that we cannot stop living or let our kids to stop living normally. I have sent my kids for picnics and outings since the time they were in playgroup. I would remain worried till the time they reached home safely. I am still restless till the time my kids are back from school or my older child is back from his friend’s home or tuition or outing.
I know the world is not a safe place for kids. So, what do we do? Don’t we all wish that our kids would never be out of our sight, but is it really possible, is it really normal? I may be a little less paranoid than many, may be a tad too practical, but I cannot let my fear make my kids paranoid or stop them from enjoying a normal life. I cannot confine them to home.
Already the kids now know about murder, rape, molestation from a very young age. They are taught to trust no one right from the time they can barely speak. They already lose their innocence thanks to the way they are raised.
We have to stay strong, we have no other option.
The other day I went to attend a bloggers’ event. It was almost an entire afternoon event and in Mumbai commuting takes up a lot of time, so I knew it would be late evening by the time I reach home. My husband was traveling and hence I asked my kids to take care of themselves that day. Being grown up slightly now and in a nuclear set-up, they are pretty responsible.
When I reached home, I saw that the washed utensils were kept in place and the clothes were washed in the washing machine. My son had already left for his 10th tuition classes and my daughter was listening to music and studying. These are the very kids who in my presence become so naughty!
Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed. These two little kids of mine, who are my favorite muse for writing, have always been my source of encouragement. The other big support has been my husband who had so many times worked from home to take care of the kids while I was away attending events. Many would say that this is nothing great; a family is meant to do that! But when you have such a strong support you do feel blessed.
I had my kids pretty early on in life, but I never for even one day, felt that I was sacrificing my life and happiness because of them. I had raised them, still do, with a lot of happiness and love. I expected nothing in return but I didn’t have to because my kids are supporting and encouraging my endeavors without being asked for support.
My husband even in the most stressful situations has asked me to continue to pursue what I love, writing. A family which I have nurtured with love is giving me back the love when I require it the most.
Every moment of love, every gesture of encouragement and support counts. I do have my three strong silent supporters always to give me that impetus!
Interpretation of a 20th Century 1980s song by a 21st Century girl.
Yesterday while surfing channels I stopped at a music channel which was playing 80s songs. It was playing the song “Ye tera ghar ye mera ghar” from the film Saath-saath where a couple happily sings about their new abode. My daughter was watching that song with me and after a while she remarked, “Why is it that the woman is doing all the household chores like washing utensils or cooking while the man is smiling and standing? Then why is he singing Ye tera ghar ye mera ghar when he isn’t sharing the chores?” While growing up I could never imagine that someday this song will be interpreted like this!
Do you remember the time our class teacher had humiliated you in front of the whole class for not submitting your homework on time? You had told me, your friend, that you will never give her another chance to insult you again and you never did! Then what happened 20 years later my friend?
I remember when you were dating your boyfriend, now your husband, once you didn’t reach your meeting place on time and he abused you publicly by calling you a “filthy late bitch.” You were shocked and cried on my lap. I had told you to immediately break up with him. But you were so madly in love with him that you forgave him the very next day when he said sorry.
You were so excited and participated in all your marriage festivities with fervor. On your mehendi night, he called you up and cursed your family and you as he and his family felt you people didn’t match up to their standards of wedding preparations. Even the marriage was a big drama with him and his parents insulting you and your parents at every step. Every time you forgave him because you loved him.
On your first night, his mother had asked you to hand over all your ornaments to her and you refused. I still can’t forget the black mark beneath your eye and your swollen bruised lips the next day when you came for “pag phera” at your parents’ place. This became a daily routine for you. His violent outbursts, abusive language, thrashings, rape, etc. He wouldn’t allow you to speak with your parents, would never let your parents visit you. The demands kept on increasing.
My pretty friend, you became pale and lifeless. You wanted to come back but your parents feared “log kya kahenge” and asked you to adjust. Amidst all these, you discovered that you were pregnant. You felt your husband and in-laws would change now. But you were so wrong. They kept insisting that you bear a son; chromosomes be damned!
I still remember the day your beautiful little daughter was born. Your husband slapped you in that delicate stage. He didn’t take his own daughter in his arms; he didn’t even look at the angel. Your in-laws didn’t come to visit you.
Now your daughter is 2 months old and you are contemplating going back. Your parents are willing to “seek forgiveness” for a fault that you haven’t committed; the fault that is your daughter.
My friend, don’t go back! Be the girl you were 20 years back when you had promised that our teacher wouldn’t insult you again. A father who hasn’t seen his darling daughter’s face, a husband who has slapped his just postpartum wife doesn’t deserve your forgiveness any more. Even if you go back, can you fathom what will be your and your daughter’s condition there? You have tolerated all the abuse and violence for all these years thinking your husband would some day mend his ways. But now do you want your daughter to go through the same ordeal as you? Would you want her to give a life of humiliation and unacceptability? You are the one whom she recognizes now, trusts blindly, and will always depend on, look up to you to protect her, give her strength. Don’t repeat the mistake that your parents are committing now, of not supporting you. You know how much it hurts. The very people who are supposed to protect you, love you; your parents and husband, are nowhere in your support.
But my friend, you are a strong girl. Don’t go back. Your education and inner strength will help you. Of course, the road isn’t going to be easy. But at least you will lead a life of dignity and freedom. You have to gear up for another battle; divorce, societal pressure, parental pressure, hurtful remarks. But remember, nobody is in your shoes. You have had enough, now protect yourself and your daughter. Make yourself strong and resilient, make your daughter strong and bold.
A marriage is a happy one only when there is a bond, not bondage.
Much love and strength to you.
Note: I went through Meena Kandasamy’s blog in this Sunday’s Times of India and was very impressed by her honesty and her fearlessness. Her decision to walk out of an abusive marriage is not a step that still many educated women take till date. That’s why I want to read her inspiring story, When I Hit You,