Anupama writes a letter to her 18-year old daughter. Read what she has to say.
The things we tell a girl about herself, her body, her life, her ‘destiny’ can restrict her potential. This mother promises to never do this to her daughter, and hence break the cycle of patriarchal conditioning.
I was a little child when I came to you saying that a boy in my class was poking me with a sharp pencil from behind and it hurts every time I sit on my chair. You advised me to go complain to the teacher so that she can change my seat.
Yes, it worked. I was moved to another desk far away from the boy. I learned not to confront them directly but avoid them completely.
I grew up into a beautiful young girl who can feel that her body has been changing all along. The boys around have been noticing the same, and as I walk down streets of my own town I can hear the lewd comments and some unwanted touching. You advised me to look down, cover myself nicely so that I don’t attract unnecessary attraction.
Yes, it worked perfectly fine and now I dress up just fine to divert the prying eyes. I no longer dress the way I want but in a way so that I can be safe.
I come to you as a teen who has this real big crush on a boy, and was all excited to share this amazing feeling. I just couldn’t stop blushing and feeling this different sensation in my stomach every time I saw him. You advised me not to have these ‘bad feelings’ as this is not for ‘good girls’, but to put my mind and heart in books so that I can achieve something in life.
Yes, it worked just fine, and I had the feelings all bottled up for ever, and placed a tight lid on top for the rest of my life.
I went to college, pursuing the career choice that was thought to be perfect for me. I meet this boy in college and we fell in love. I thought of him as my soul mate, someone I thought I could spend my whole life with… I was madly deeply in love. I come to you and shared my dreams with you. I got advised to stay away from the boy as he was not the best match for me. That parents are the only ones who can find the best match, and you should follow their advice.
Yes, it worked yet again with zero resistance from my side, and I got married to a person who was the ‘best match’ for me. I learned to always follow what was advised to me, and not to take decisions in life on my own.
I am a married woman now in my 20’s, having a husband, his family to take care of, and struggling with my aspirations and desires in life. Juggling every day with all these roles and trying to be a perfect wife and daughter-in-law. But above all I am still someone’s daughter at heart. I came to you and open up about my feelings of being a newly married woman, how things sometimes don’t seem to work with my in-laws, and how I end up having arguments with my husband about petty things. I get advised not to disrespect my in-laws, as now that is my only family, how married life is all about a woman compromising to make marriage work, and basically to suck it all up!! Quickly plan for a child so that I don’t focus on these silly issues anymore.
Yes, I took your advice again, I try not to bring up any issues that I face in my married life anymore, I have learnt how to keep all the pain and anxiety to myself.
I have a new born in my arms, yes, she is a girl too. Everyone around seems to be in a pensive mood after the news… maybe the expectation was something else. I am holding her little hands in mine and thinking, you are never going to write the kind of letter that I have written to my mother. We will write a new beginning together, introduce new thoughts in our little world, and definitely hope the world around us will also embrace you differently.
Image source: shutterstock
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