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One of the gifts that I have ever asked from God is to be a mother of a daughter and a son. I want a home that has both of you. I hope someday I am your Maa. This is a letter, I know you would read when you have grown up a few years; may be in your late teens. But this is a wealth I leave to you. There are certain things that you might agree, others you might just throw away. Even if you refuse to ever read it or value it, I shall still be a proud mother. You are not entitled to pick everything I leave to you. I shall always respect your choice. Here are a few things I picked from life and I want to talk it out with you.
1) Gender is not an ideology: In this world, there are men and there are women. But beta, by no means is being a woman superior or inferior to being a man. Men are different. That’s all, in all its reality. However, when you walk outside your home, you will find this terrible thing called, ‘gender discrimination.’ According to which men and women are supposed to choose and act differently. Never buy that. It has been invented to add to the egos and age-old ideologies. Confront it and face it. But never buy it and make it yours.
2) Your body: We live in a consumer culture. People are either buying or selling. Our society unfortunately is designed to enhance lifestyle, yet it devalues life. It shall constantly tell you what it is that you should be. They will say that a skin that is darker is not wanted or a body that has a few more pounds to it is undesirable. To sum it up, they will constantly tell you to be the perfect doll they want. But beloved, never buy that. Firstly, there is nothing called perfection (they are just selling their products) and secondly all skin colors and bodies are beautiful. Listen to anyone who talks about a healthy skin and a body. Make healthy body choices, that is enough.
3) A lie is a lie: When I was younger, I used to lie a lot. I am not sure how and why I started, but it was my best defense mechanism. Do you know what it did to me? It robbed me off my conviction as a person. Every lie that I spoke to others was a lie I spoke to myself. My life became littered with lies here and there. I started to lie to myself, about my feelings. I manipulated myself and finally I stopped trusting myself. That is what lies do to you, either small or big. It robs you off your self-conviction.
4) Relationships: When you grow up, you will learn that everything in life is a relationship, from your school to your classmates. There are nice people and there are not very nice people. You have to deal with them. It comes as a part of the territory. But you always have the power of choice. You can choose to walk away at any point in time or hold on for a little longer. Honey, if any relationship needs you to sacrifice who you are, your friends and your dignity, know for sure you are in a toxic relationship. Toxic people have that intense need to change, control and criticize who you are. They are like small pecks on your soul, each time they happily take away a piece of you, they will steal your beauty to make themselves feel better. If you ever meet someone like this, run away the fastest you can. Emotionally healthy people do not break others, crazy people come with broken pieces and they will make sure they insert those pieces in your soul. Don’t be anyone’s dumping ground of toxic emotions – that is the greatest injustice you will ever do to yourself. It is like murdering yourself each day.
5) Never be the other: Never be a secret in anyone’s life. If someone cannot accept your presence publicly, always refuse to be with them. When someone keeps you in the dark, somewhere they are ashamed of you. And that will invariably create immense guilt within you. Know that you are worth being loved and acknowledged in the light. Darkness is not your place. If someone treats you otherwise and you accept it, that darkness itself will penetrate within you bit by bit, shame by shame and guilt by guilt. It is like slow poison. It invites the death of your soul, your beauty, your emotional being ounce by ounce. Good human beings when they love you, they will walk by you and not hide you in a dark cold storage. No matter what they say, refuse to be the other. You are your best choice. Choose yourself first. Always!
6) Love yourself: This is fundamental to every living human being. We are all imperfect and that is how we have to love ourselves. The greatest gift you can ever gift yourself is that, “feel good feeling,” of being alive today. Trust me; I have lived long enough to know for sure that no one can make you feel happier, but you yourself. Do not self-reject. Self-love is the key to self worth and self respect and dignity is the by-product of it. Remember Beta no one messes with a woman who knows who she is. Period.
7) Suffering is not a virtue: No matter how many songs and poetries are written to romanticize pain, no one likes suffering. The suffering woman in our culture is given the pedestal. Do not buy that. If you ever do, every time you have good things in life, you will always carry the guilt of having more. I did it and it did me no good.
8) Maa and Daddy are not perfect: Being parents I understand that we will have a tremendous effect on you. But always remember we are not perfect. We do go wrong. We are ordinary human beings trying to give you their best.
9) Do not belong to any hate club: There are people who hate men or women, some hate a particular religion, others a culture and so on. Hatred at its best messes your system. There might be a time a man might break your heart. But do not enter the hate club. Life always offers a lot better than what we have left behind. I found treasures in the road. You will too. Such is life.
10) Life is beautiful: No matter what the naysayer says, life is beautiful. It is a roller-coaster ride, but worth taking. Love life, it will always pay rich dividend. Life is beautiful because you chose to see its beauty and acted with kindness and generosity. You are the star of your own life. Give it your best shot.
On this autumn afternoon this is what I leave for you. I know we will learn so much more together. I will also grow so much. I know parenting comes with its own nudges. But it is a choice I will make. And you know what; my children will be my most beautiful choice. Nothing can take that away from me.
You are beautiful, wherever you are now. And forever be.
Today’s changemaker of the day that we’d like to highlight is Tarshi, a Delhi based NGO that works in the area of sexual and reproductive health and autonomy. Given the dismal state of sex education in India and cultural taboos when it comes to talking about sex, it is not surprising that adolescents and even adults have very limited knowledge of safe sex, contraception, bodily autonomy, or what constitutes abuse. Women in particular have even lesser access to vital information of this nature, since there are stronger taboos on women accessing such info. In this context, Tarshi’s work in spreading information in this area is essential.
Tarshi also runs helpline that people from many backgrounds use to call in and talk about their problems or ask questions, and get information in a non-judgmental manner. Tarshi has also been closely involved with the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in India.
Pic credit: martinaphotography (Used under a Creative Commons license)