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Will conventions define the choices of a woman throughout her life? When will she put herself above the rest? Will she ever learn to prioritize herself?
Sia was faced with yet another problem today! This time it was complex…unlike any other problem that had come her way. Or maybe she had changed!
Just when she thought her life has found a purpose, here she was, sitting in the favourite corner of the house, the window sill of the huge window beside her bed, deep in thought.This place never failed to calm her nerves and ease her tensions. The view of the far stretched sky above and the winding roads below made her feel they were showing the way and taking her towards the solutions to her problems.
But today as she sat there, her thoughts were questioning her beliefs! She could not decide if the decisions taken by her all through her life were really led by her beliefs or the world’s perception of right and wrong. Her life flashed in front of her eyes like movie clips. She could see the eighteen-year-old Sia filling the college admission forms with a sombre face. She was filling forms for admission to a course in Finance in spite of being passionate about designing.
She was a seamstress par excellence, everyone said! She could create magic with the needle and thread. She was also extremely artistic and won many accolades in school for her art. But her parents could never see it as anything beyond a hobby.
Guided by conventional beliefs, they always told her that a career should mean financial security. She was good with numbers and they said a career in Finance would be perfect for her. Though she knew this was not her calling, she could never muster the courage to refuse her parents’ choice. When she landed a plush job in the financial sector, she convinced herself that her parents’ advice has indeed been a right move.
Cut to 24-year old Sia sitting in her room looking at the photograph of a pleasing looking man that her mother had placed in her hand. He comes from a respectable and happy family is what her parents said. But it had hardly been a year at her first job and she was enjoying this new-found freedom. She had an array of dreams and plans to fulfil and marriage definitely wasn’t one of them. She wanted to see more of life before tying the knot. But her parents were happy with the match, they told her exploring life with a companion by your side makes it beautiful. Reluctantly, she gave in this time again, putting an end to her dreams and aspirations, for the sake of their happiness.
Sia saw before her, her 26-year-old self. This time she was packing up her house and neatly arranging all the stuff in the cartons. She felt she was packing and locking her ambitions as well. Barely a year into the marriage Anish, her husband was transferred to a small town, where job opportunities for her would be few and definitely not as lucrative as her current job. She knew her growth prospects would be hampered.
Anish understood that and asked her if she was fine with the move or would want to stay back. She wanted to tell him that her work was important, she wanted to accomplish her goals and rise higher in her career. But she kept all these thoughts to herself and agreed to go with him, for when she spoke about her original plans with her mother and mother in law, they told her she was making a mistake. A married woman must always prioritize her home above everything. She disagreed but couldn’t voice her opinion lest they thought she was selfish. If only she would have listened to her heart back then…if only…
There was Sia holding on to her little bundle of joy Aakriti. She was a new mother yet she wasn’t happy. She had her own ideas of motherhood but whenever she spoke, she was always intruded in between to be told that ‘she was inexperienced and should observe to learn.’ It was painful not to be heard…painful to be considered a lesser being all the time. Then came the time a few months later, when she wanted to resume work at least on a part-time basis. Everyone around told her that she is being selfish! She felt like shouting aloud proclaiming that she was a responsible adult and knew what she was doing. But she stayed quiet instead…one more time…for she feared the animosity she would have to face if she revolted.
Sia sat there by the window remembering all those incidents of the past. She had always prided herself on being a strong and independent woman, but today she was not sure if she was worthy of that pride. Looking back, she realized that through most of her life she had simply done what was expected of her, or rather what the world around her wanted her to do. She had never listened to her heart. She never had the courage to speak her mind. She always allowed others to control her. Why?
Self-worth! She had refused to believe she had any self-worth. She never valued herself.
Two years later, Sia decided to follow her passion. She finally began to feel happy. She quit her job and invested her funds towards making a career out of her passion. Along the path of arriving at this decision, she faced discouragement by one and all. People tried to dissuade her by dwelling on the unpredictable nature of her journey. She was shown the fear of failure. But, Sia stood tall this time.. just this one time.
Today, she could see her resolve translating into success. Looking back at the last two years, she could feel a sense of accomplishment. She was happy that she had finally learnt to speak her mind. But today here she was again at crossroads, faced with a dilemma, the outcome of which could be life-changing. As much as she avoided the situation, she could hear the footsteps of the ‘problem’ approaching the door.
Back from her reverie, she saw Anish entering through the door. She went to sit beside Anish, as she handed him the cup of tea. She had made up her mind.
He sipped on the warm tea as he asked Sia “So, you met the buyer? The deal for your boutique has come through?”
Sia looked into the teacup as if trying to get energy from the hot touch of the cup and said, “I have decided not to sell the boutique.” For a second Anish looked shocked, then getting a grasp of himself he asked her “But, how will you manage it from so far?”
Then looking at her he asked her calmly, “Is there something you want to tell me?” It seemed like this was the prodding Sia had been waiting for, she spoke in a hurry, as if to get the load off her chest, “I can’t do this Anish! You know how much effort I have put in to build this recognition for my boutique. Now that I am finally getting to taste success, I can’t give it all up and move to a country miles away with you. There I will be on a dependent visa, I will lose all means of resurrecting my dreams. I am happy here and for once I want to consider my happiness.”
Anish did not speak for a while, he put his arms around her shoulder looked into her eyes, then said, “You know this move is important to me. I have been slogging for years for this opportunity. I don’t want to force you to follow me, but you understand this time I will be continents away. How will you manage it all alone? How will we make Aakriti understand? What about our parents? What about our family?”
Sia was silent for a while, then taking a deep breath she spoke, “Anish…it has taken me years to stand up for myself and my dreams. With great difficulty, I have finally managed to teach myself the importance of saying ‘NO’ to the world’s expectations and follow my heart. I don’t want to step back now, plagued by all these doubts. I know you will be continents away, but I have the strength to manage. As for Aakriti, initially, she will find it difficult and may miss you badly. But she has been my biggest strength and I know she will stand by me. As for our parents, we will find the right words and time to communicate the decision to them. But my resolve is firm, it is time I put myself above the conventions. I have finally learnt to walk the path my heart has traced and I will not step back this time.”
Looking back at her husband she said, “I know, you will understand,” as she turned to walk towards her boutique.
Image is a still from the movie Dear Zindagi
First published here.
A dreamer by passion and an Advocate by profession. Mother to an ever energetic and curious little princess. I long to see the day when Gender equality is a reality in the world. read more...
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
of a chronicler.
– Funereal Stories
When someone accuses you of "too much feminism", what they are really saying is, "I am uncomfortable with you challenging the status quo and disrupting my privilege".
Time and again, there is one phrase that keeps coming up in the social media discourse on feminism. Any guesses?
Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
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