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Last week my father was hospitalized. I have no brothers and I’m his primary caregiver. His condition was serious, and things could have taken an ugly turn had I not acted promptly and efficiently. But there was no question of that. To act promptly and efficiently is in the nature of things for me.
I’ve always lived in a woman’s world. What do I mean by a woman’s world? I mean that there was never a time when I depended on anyone except myself to do my work. I’ve always done not only my work, but also the work of everyone around me. Education, health, social security, everything that the government of India is supposed to do, I do, for myself, and for many others. And yet, my father, after he became well, thought he was complimenting me when he told my mother, ‘She’s not our daughter, but our son.’
I have learnt all my enlightenment values from my father. He’s a liberal of a kind rarely found these days, and he was certainly a pathbreaker in his time. And yet, even he believes that calling me a man is high praise. My reaction was one of revulsion. I don’t think of myself as a man or woman, but merely a parcel of skin, bones, muscles and blood, a being that eats, breathes, procreates and thinks. And when I think, I choose to do so to the best of my ability, in a manner that helps me achieve my goals. By doing so, I serve myself and the people around me. And yet, in the eyes of society, there is still something remiss. I’m an incomplete being, and can never be complete, in life or death, because I do not have the Y chromosome.
All around us, the message we get is that we are women first, foremost and always. One of the questions that is doing the round these days, after the unfortunate Delhi rape incident, is whether Indian cities are safe for women. My answer to this is, Indian cities, if they’re unsafe for women, are also unsafe in general. The kind of man who touches a woman inappropriately and against her will is the kind of man who’s undesirable to have around, who’s a criminal on all measures, not just on the measure of abusing women. He chooses to direct his criminality towards an easier target, the woman. She is physically weaker, but with so much changing in society, even this is going to change, how we treat our bodies, how we strengthen them to withstand force.
Criminality isn’t just about illegal acts, it is also about the desire to retain retrograde and convenient attitudes. In a district in Haryana, girls were forbidden from going to school since the boys harassed them along the way. A more enlightened attitude would have been to restrain the boys, keep them under lock and key, until they learnt how to respect the unwritten laws of society. Unfortunately, our society is a long way from such enlightenment.
I am what I am today because of the kind of upbringing I had, where education and self-reliance topped every other consideration. I’m an asset to society because I can think on my feet, fight my own battles and have the competence to help others. There are millions of girls like the one I used to be, with stars in their eyes, the desire to be Modesty Blaise and make a mark in the world. Society owes them the resource to follow their dream.
Today’s changemaker that we’d like to highlight is Prajnya, a Chennai based non-profit trust that works on research and education on peace, justice and security. They have a strong focus especially on issues of violence against and safety of women in India. Their research has included areas such as the documentation of the contributions of women to Indian politics, media and the social sphere, and safety audits that measure how safe the city is for women (and specific groups of women).
Prajnya is also involved with Hollaback Chennai, a movement to raise consciousness about street sexual harassment, which is too often brushed away as ‘eve-teasing.’
A volunteer run initiative, Prajnya is one worthy organisation that can do with your support, especially since research driven organisations in India get very little support – and without data, interventions for empowering women cannot be successful in the long run. Consider donating in cash or kind, or volunteering with them.
Pic credit: sajbrfem (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Beyond Pink writes on women's stories in urban India. They could be real or fictional, but they are all about what women in modern India think about their partners, their families, their workplace and read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, indivisual posts do not necessarily represent the platofrom's views and opinions at all times.
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'Dr Saloni will take care of everything,' my MIL said. My cowardly husband refused to go against his mother’s wishes. I was left to fend for myself!
Some time ago, I went to a marriage ceremony with my parents. It was a very high-profile marriage – not the ones we usually were invited to – but in this case it was Ramesh uncle’s son’s marriage. Ramesh uncle was my father’s first cousin. He began his career as a humble elevator operator at the TIC business group. With his sheer hard work, grit, and the knack of sensing the right opportunities, within eighteen years he became the president of the company. My father and he were the best of friends during their school time.
Half an hour before the stipulated time, we left our house, hired an auto and reached the venue. All four of us were in our best outfits. Getting out of the auto and looking at each other, we were highly convinced that we were going to fit in just right. As we crossed the dazzling and beautiful portico, we felt very insignificant compared to the big lawn and building lying ahead.
Mother was wearing all the jewellery she had got, including the big old-fashioned necklace, earrings and shiny bangles. Father was wearing a velvet coat, brother had put on a light orange shirt with a black check coat, I myself was wearing a red salwar kurta with a net dupatta. I had put on a necklace with red beads which at the time of wearing looked very pretty to me. Now looking at the other guests, I felt all four of us must be looking like clowns who had come for a fancy-dress competition. I felt my brother and parents were also feeling self-conscious and uneasy now.
Live-in relationships are legal in the eyes of the law. Read on to know more on the rights of women in live-in relationships.
Live-in relationships may sound exciting. But sometimes they become complicated, especially for women and the children born from a live-in relationship. It’s important to be aware of rights of women in live-in relationships.
Live-in relationships are where a woman and man live under one roof with mutual consent, like husband and wife, but without getting married. This has become very common in metropolitan cities these days, where two independent people simply do not want to get married. This relationship can be terminated without the consent of the other party.
Live-in relation may not be recognized completely at the social level, but Indian law does consider this relationship to be legal.
My father was an ordinary man with simple dreams and prepared us for the life ahead. No matter how tough the going was, “it’s not the end of the world”, he would softly say.
My father was an ordinary man with simple dreams, and prepared us for the life ahead. No matter how tough the going was, he would say, “it’s not the end of the world!”
My father was an ordinary man. He had ordinary hopes, dreams and fears.
Baba grew up in a typical North Calcutta business household and did not attend school till he was nine. He did his engineering from IIT Kharagpur and went on for higher studies to Glasgow University. That too was not so common those days.
Dear future MIL, please let my future husband into the kitchen to cook too. For when we get married, I like to believe we will share these responsibilities!
Dear future MIL, please let my future husband into the kitchen to help you cook. For when we get married, I like to believe we will share these responsibilities!
I am a 21-year-old young girl! And I am extremely passionate about my work. I work hard, I study, I read and write and I also watch Netflix. And yes, I hang out with my friends, I go to restaurants, I shop and right now, I am following the lockdown too. I do things that most people my age do. Maybe, even everything that my guy friends and brothers do.
And as it happens to a lot of girls around me, something happened with me too. Well, I am not a kitchen person. And hence, people around me suggest that I learn to cook, how to make those round rotis and sabjee and puran poli too! None of this because I should learn to cook for myself but because in three to four year, I’d have to get married. And that’s when, ‘tab mai pati ko kya khilaungi?’ (what, then, will I feed my husband?)