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A mother writes a letter to her son, recounting her struggles of growing up as a woman. She rightly says that it begins right at birth.
#ShareYourStory is an initiative by Breakthrough to bring the conversation around sexual harassment into families; to get women talking about the harassment they have experienced with their family members, especially sons (or other boys and young men.)
If you would like to be a part of the #ShareYourStory initiative and create more changemakers, share your letter to your son (or young friends, nephews etc.). You can write a post or send us a short video at [email protected]. More details here.
Tonight when I write this letter, I have kissed goodnight to the most innocent 3-year old who brings so much happiness to our lives. A pure soul who knows nothing of the gruesomeness which the world has to offer along with all the good things too of course!
One day, you too, will be old enough to face tons of options and choices. And being a central part of your life; which is as much a privilege as it is a responsibility; I hope to ensure that you are equipped with all the skills and attitude to lead a good life ahead; but more importantly equipped with a flawless will and skill to be respectful and sensitive to all around you.
Let me tell you a story: Not a pleasant one, I should warn you: but one every man needs to know. If it should not happen to his mother, it should not to anyone else too.
A free spirited and bubbly girl of age 10 or 11 or 12; I would look forward to my vacations to India from Dubai.
Meeting up uncles, aunts, cousins; tons of picnics and hoards of fun! Everything about these trips was fun apart from one dark corner. The corner where a ‘happy go lucky’ uncle would sometimes take me to, bribing either with chocolates or something interesting to see…and then attempt to feel me.
There was nothing loud or physically hurtful about the experience. It just left behind but an innocent little girl whose respect had been turned to shreds and a confused victim who did not even know that it was something she could share with her parents. In a room full of people cracking jokes and having fun, I would sometime catch a corner when that person would enter the house. His normal behavior would wash away past memories of any encounter from the mind of a small girl; and then it would happen again.
The bitterness, insecurity and anger of these episodes lingered on…on and on…and on and aggravated as I got older and could put language to the behavior. These encounters may not have lasted long, but the dark corner always followed. Once out of the 10 times I might have walked the road alone, I have run to my destination because I am wary of a stranger following me. Every time I sit in an auto rickshaw, I adjust my dupatta if the driver has looked in the rear view mirror one too many times.
I have lived an independent life as a student and as a working professional. However I would be lying if I said I felt completely safe on campus, on the roads or at my workplace. I always felt like a woman. I was always cautious. There have always been prying eyes. A nudge, a stare or a push might not leave physical wounds, but it definitely makes us yearn for a different world
As I have grown older and wiser, I have reasoned it out. It is a man’s world; from the very beginning of time.
The social conditioning is so strong, that no amount of feminist movements or women going higher and higher the corporate ladder can change it.
Right until today, even a financially, emotionally and mentally independent woman, has to fight it out.
And of course sometimes given in to the final word, which in most cases is obviously is that of a man, as a father or husband.
My only hope while writing this letter, is that, one son at a time, feels his mother’s struggle.
And would think it right to trash the male chauvinism forever.
Lots of love,
Cover image via Shutterstock
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