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A young woman tells her brother that she will no longer remain a caged bird in a society that marginalizes its women.
Dear brother, I keep my gaze on the floor not out of respect but mere habit because it is how I was brought up. While you my brothers, were taught to go out and get exposure I was taught how to use green concealer for red marks and red concealer for brown ones.
‘It is what women do’ my cousin proclaims. She finds joy in serving tea to her husband and overlooks her inability to solve her sons’ mathematics problems. As the years move by, my lack of interest in shopping is frowned upon: my favorite ruby red lipstick is just too dark a shade for an unmarried girl to carry and my social media display pictures are too weird and I need to change them because they fail to please others.
So dear brother, while you were abroad getting the best education that I was never offered, I sat next to mother, on the living room couch. She told me I had to put up a smile and fight back the tears and bite my lip till it was all okay because women are supposed to smile as they open the gate for their husbands and fathers.
However, I choose to give up. I am sorry my dear brother but you need to stop calling me little sister; I’ve grown. I’m sorry I don’t fit into your utensil of perfection and maybe I’m just a rebel but I get things done. I am better at writing than fixing my hair, my choice of words are a better statement than the printed silk shirts I wear to please the society. I choose to have a say, I choose the head seat on the dining table, and I choose to be heard.
There are depths of oceans that I wish to see, places I need to visit. Tell me you’d be happy to know that your sister was the first to educate a million children, let me know I’m not alone. When I say I need you by my side, I don’t need you to pick me up in your strong arms, I need you to stand beside me so I have one less person to fight against.
So don’t stop me because I already have enough opposition. Like dandelion seeds released to the wind, let me be free so I can travel along the wind and develop something new where ever I end up. Let me shed dead, rotting leaves at my base and turn them into soil: let me feed myself out of my own disaster and grow from my own pain because I am a survivor.
I don’t want to open the door for my father and husband, maybe I want to arrive with them after a day of hard work because I want to contribute to the world, and I want to have a voice. So stop cocooning me because it’s time for me to fly. “You’re a bird my little princess,” says my mother while washing dishes but when she says I’m a bird what she means is that the world is my cage. I don’t wish to live in a cage!
I see women like Jasvinder Sanghera and I can relate Mother, yes I can when she writes, “they deprived me of my freedom. I suffered the emotional and physical abuse, and I ran away.” So don’t make me go through the same pain because I will need your support, I need you to guide me not give up on me.
I want to take the opportunities that come my way, I want to work for other women like me who are oppressed and suppressed and controlled. I know sitting in your comfortable sofa seat my words are just another sob story from a whiny little girl and I know you’re tired of hearing the same thing over and over and over and I am also tired of saying the same thing over and over and over so why not stop and change?
Give me wings don’t weigh me down brother dearest, tell me to do what is right in a world so wrong pretty mother, help me grow into my full potential and I promise you I’ll make you proud of the son you didn’t have, of the burden of a daughter you never wanted.
So dear brother, stop restricting me because it makes me feel you are afraid of the competition that I will bring to the table. Don’t be afraid, after all, I am just a little girl.
Image source: young woman in hijab on phone by Shutterstock.
Currently a student and a writer with vehemence for the unheard, Abeera Abid
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