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A chance encounter with an old acquaintance makes a woman realise what truly supporting your daughters means – it’s time more parents did this.
While walking through the busy streets of Karol Bagh market, I saw her. Oh! She looks like Sharma aunty of my parent’s neighborhood, the mother of my childhood friend Shivangi.
Walking towards her, I thought of the Shivangi I knew. A 5ft 3 inches tall, yet chubby girl. An intelligent but introverted human being. Beautiful on the inside, but she wore those big, rimmed spectacles – she looked like ‘Jassi’, a famous character of a popular serial of that era. She loved to eat, but still worked hard.
She was a very good friend of mine and having known her so closely I loved her for whatever she was from the inside and the outside.
I last met her at a function organized by my family on the occasion of the birth of my baby. After that, my father got transferred and shifted to another city. It’s been 17 long years since the last time we saw each other. I got busy with my family’s responsibilities and she with her career. Despite so many means of communication, we were unable to connect with each other. Seeing aunty, I felt so excited and with many thoughts in my mind I followed her, and after a few minutes, I caught up with her.
“Namastey, Madhavi Aunty.”
“Oh! Namastey Shruti beta. How are you?”
“I am good, aunty. How are you and uncle and how’s Shivangi? Been a long time. Hasn’t it?”
“Yes beta, your parents shifted out and you never visited after your marriage.”
“I know, Aunty. I was busy with family responsibilities after marriage. I wanted to meet you and my friend. But you know! I missed my dear friend so much, memories of our togetherness kept you all attached to me. How is Shivangi? How’s she doing?”
“Yes, yes, I know, marriage and all. And Shivangi is doing very well.”
“Where is she nowadays? Has she got married?”
“No beta, not yet. She is in Delhi itself.”
“Oh… hush! Poor Shivangi!”
And suddenly I saw an aggressive and offended expression on her face. She starts talking to herself. I asked her what happened and what she said next was enough to put me to shame.
“What is so poor about being unmarried?”
I opened my mouth to say something, but before that, she started talking.
“Tell me! Did you, me or any other woman get any award for being married?
Did you, me or any other woman get any award for being a mother?
Moreover, did any woman get any award for getting married at an early age in life?
No! No, dear! No woman ever. No one gets praised for being married at a perfect age or becoming a mother at the perfect time.The perfect age is all that was set by our so-called society.
See, it’s not that we don’t want her to get married or that she doesn’t want to get married. It’s just that she is our daughter, not our liability. She is our pride, not our shame. We educated her to stand alone on her own feet. And to our pride, she is standing tall. Tall enough to take care of herself and her kin.
She is independent, successful and determined towards her life. Moreover, she wants to marry someone who will change her life, not just her relationship status. She wants someone who doesn’t fall in love with her face or body but instead will fall in love with her soul, heart, and character. We don’t want marriage as an obligatory plan but for her lifelong emotional, social and ‘being independent’ support.
For how long have you not met her? You probably have been thinking of her as the Shivangi you had seen long ago. My Shivangi is our pride. She doesn’t need to be dependent on anybody. She is a self-made woman. The kind of woman which every woman can only dream of becoming. A kind-hearted person who loves and takes care of her parents and family along with her siblings.
I know dear, what marriage brings to a woman’s life. But getting married is not the last thing in a woman’s life. It’s a life changing process but not all women’s marriages ripen out sweetly. There are some bitter experiences too. Being married, being a mother, being a daughter or a daughter-in-law, and at the same time being the woman that you are is not an easy thing.
We have to change this thought, that if a daughter is not getting married, then she and her parents’ life is a total waste. I have seen and listened to so many families being dragged into depression or shamed when their daughter(s) don’t get married at the right age prescribed by our so-called society. The parents should know that she is their daughter, not the society’s.
She is your love, and so should be your pride as well. Don’t let your daughter(s) be dragged towards pain and isolation just because of some morons who don’t understand her worth. Don’t feel ashamed to keep your diamond at your place and show it off.”
Suddenly, I felt like everything had stopped on that busy street. I felt like someone had slapped me hard for insulting a woman.
I came back home. As soon as I reached home, I brought out my laptop and searched for ‘Shivangi Sharma’, the one I knew. I was shocked to see her. She was not the chubby, unattractive ‘Shivangi Sharma’ that I once knew. Instead, she looked like a perfect corporate woman. Her profile said, ‘Vice President at ABC MNC, India’.Her looks and unattractiveness were not the reason for her being unmarried, as I had assumed.
Shivangi proved that success doesn’t just depend on a woman’s looks or her married life. Her mother showed me what real pride in your offspring feels like. How lucky Shivangi is to have parents and family like this! In fact, most girls in our society get married not due to their wish, but by the thoughts and limitations imposed by our so-called society.
I myself didn’t want to get married in my twenties. I wanted to study more but my parents’ pressure and their assurance that I could study after marriage dragged me towards marriage. And here I am standing like a stupid person, analyzing my life due to the after-effects of my marriage.
Shivangi and her parents are truly an inspiration for our ever changing society. Parents need to support their daughters’ decisions. I wish more and more parents come forward in support and encouragement of their daughters perspectives on Study, Career, Love, Marriage, and moreover, Life as a whole.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women” – anonymous
Top image via Pixabay
First published here.