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A heartfelt letter to her family from this young Indian woman, representative of young women everywhere, ready to test her own wings as an independent adult.
Dear over protective fathers, forever concerned mothers and fatherly brothers,
I’m really happy to have been blessed with all of you in my life. The love, affection and care you shower every second makes me the richest kid in this world. I cherish each and every memory I have shared with you till date, and look forward to many more. It has always left me wondering how someone can be 24/7 concerned about me and my happiness.
I remember, though vaguely, my first entry into school with hands tightly clutched with both of you, mom and dad, and how mom was so teary-eyed. How time has flown since then! The squabbles my brother and I have had since childhood (which continue even today), assure me nothing has changed over the years. His help with my assignments and projects (though at the last moment), saved me from some terrible classroom memories.
I relish the day my biological clock signalled my entry into womanhood, and the solace I found in my mom’s lap that night is beyond words. Our family dinner time which paves way for an intellectual war of words over social issues and hot headlines definitely enlightens me about each of your perceptions, and helps me mould my perspectives right. Yes I love you all! You were and will be there for me in the years to come too, which I am confident about.
It’s been 24 years now, and there certainly were some highs and lows in our relationship (it’s quite natural, and let’s accept that). The point now is not to discuss that, but I want your attention on a more vital issue. I have grown up to be a young lady, ready to fly with wings spread!
Wings!? Oh yes, sometimes even I have doubted if I really have them. And whether they work or not. What’s wrong with me? Am I to be protected & preserved? Or did I just lose my family to society’s brutal words and actions? Or maybe it is that I am being whimsical about my life? Why then, does the whole world talk so much about women’s empowerment? Confusion… when I think about it, some things baffle me, and leave me in deep introspection of myself. It took me some time to come up with a few answers…
You taught me to help others and when I did, you judged me to be going out of my way.
You taught me to carefully pick and choose good souls as friends, and when I spend time with them you are quite uncomfortable.
You taught me that both men and women are equal, but then you draw boundaries when it comes to my life.
You taught me to love everyone with an open heart irrespective of their caste, religion or economic status, but when I do wish to get married to someone whom I love, that very thought burns you down.
You taught me all gods are one and that all religions preach the same, but try to make me in follow what you claim to be ours.
You taught me looks don’t matter and character does, but now attempt to alter my size.
You taught me there are no limits for one’s freedom, but mine comes with a ‘conditions apply’.
The fact is that your little daughter/sister, your cutie-pie has grown up, and understands the realities of life. She is mature enough to handle her life as it comes, and is fully empowered with doses of advice and stories of experience.
She is no more her brother’s ‘touch-me-not’ doll.
She understands that princesses don’t exist in real life, but enjoys being her dad’s princess.
Being spiritual or seeking answers in the earnest way makes sense to her, rather than following custom in filling in the column of ‘religion’.
Friends who are valued as family play a prominent role in her life as they are part of her ups and downs, and it is her duty to be there for them.
More than just a tag of being ‘married’ (at the society’s decided right age), a lifelong commitment of companionship, love and togetherness is what she desires.
You have to come to terms with the fact that your little one is not too little to be caged now.
Of course I understand that society is not fair to women, and that its actions hurt womanhood. I am not aiming to bring about a revolutionary change in the society with my actions. But I would at least like to experience it in my own life in the first place, and then be a ray of hope for the others. If within our small world (home) we welcome change, then I am sure it will spread to all homes (world) for the greater good.
Society has created this fear in all of you with unpleasant incidents and trouble, but we must, I believe, garner the courage and strength to strongly oppose and fight it. Creating pointless boundaries for women will not just inhibit our growth, but also deter the menfolk from having egalitarian thoughts.
I admit it is scary to step out into society but for this fear to end, our collective effort is needed. I do not wish for an unpleasant situation to exist for my child. And the same way, would like to see you walk beside me in all my endeavours. With your everlasting warmth, love and care as a shield, with no family or society imposed boundaries, I would like to accomplish my goals with my wings undoubtedly spread wide.
Your trust in me and your upbringing will always light my way forward, for I love all of you, and I know you love me. But I would love to explore the heights and depths of this world at my own pace, and I want to fly now, with my own wings, not with yours.
A high spirited 24 year old, ready for flight!
Image source: shutterstock
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Indian students dream of studying abroad, but these deaths and the racism we feel ask the question - are we travelling there to only lose our lives?
Trigger warning: This speaks of racism and death of Indian students, and may be triggering to survivors.
Today morning while I was on my way to the office, I was scrolling Instagram and immediately my eyes got stuck on a post having the headline, “US Policeman ran over an Indian Student in Seattle”. Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old Northeast University Graduate student from Andhra Pradesh was struck and killed in January this year by a Seattle cop, Kevin Dave, while driving 74 mph on the way to a report of an overdose call.”
Further, I read that the investigating agency while watching the body-worn camera that captured the whole incident, were laughing and joking about the death and commented that her life had “limited value”. If the deceased had been a US citizen, would they have behaved in the similar way, I feel not?
I struggled to reconcile the two aspects- the formidable talent who literally moulded kathak into its modern form and the man who took advantage of women in his charge.
Trigger Warning: This speaks of sexual abuse and grooming by someone in a position of power and may be triggering for survivors.
The noted Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj passed away two years back. His death affected me greatly because I had just become a student of kathak and the composition we were learning then was one of his. For the next couple of days, I let his baritone voice comfort me while I mourned the fact that I would never see him teach or perform live.
Then the allegations of sexual harassment started coming out, which left me stunned. There was no question of not believing the victims/ survivors. Anyone who understands how power dynamics work knows that the classical music and dance space offers immense scope for sexual abuse. As a woman and as a feminist, I offered nothing less than unconditional support to the women speaking up.
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