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I was the second girl child unloved by my mother, who hated me for not being a boy. I decided to not let it define my life, and broke the chain of trauma!
I see my little girl and realize the beauty childhood holds. She seeks me first thing in the morning and showers me with hugs and kisses. It always amuses me to see how someone can love me unconditionally. She would often say, “Mumma I don’t want to grow up.” On asking her why she would reply, “So that you don’t stop picking me in your arms.”
I laugh at her innocence. She gets a bit annoyed, yet comes to me, sits on my lap, and gives me a tight hug as if trying to freeze her childhood. When she is around, my happiness has no bound.
However, in moments of solitude and introspection, I go down the memory lane. I wonder, where did my childhood days go? Why can’t I remember the good old days, as they are supposed to be? Or were there even any good days? It appears my brain has lost several memories.
I was my parents’ second girl child. According to the world, they loved their children alike. They sent us to the best school, gave us the same food, the same toys to play with, and the choice to decide our own clothes. Everything looked so perfect. Alas, it wasn’t!
Initially, I thought, the slapping, spanking, emotional and verbal abuse were my mother’s way of punishing me. Some of the labels that I had to put up with were – stubborn, clumsy, ugly and lazy child.
I was slapped for visiting a friend. I would be hit if a friend visited me. I was abused for not turning off the gas at 3 whistles. I was beaten harshly when I did not speak up during my school admissions. I was accused of bad character when I was groped or winked at, or when someone left me a love letter. And the list goes on.
The greater problem wasn’t the abuse itself, but the fact that I believed I deserved it all. I didn’t know what it is to experience a mother’s love. I thought that I was a bad kid, and mothers don’t love such kids.
Years later, I figured out the obvious. One day she admitted that she disliked me. I was in my late teens. She could no longer hit me, but she compensated with her verbal and emotional abuse.
In a moment of rage, she spurted it out, “You were never welcomed in my life. You are an unwanted child. I wanted a boy. It would have been better if you never happened.”
As those words came out of her mouth, my world spiraled down. I felt worthless, unwanted, unloved, and good for nothing. There was no one to see my tears, no one to sense what was going inside my head, or the emotional turmoil I was facing.
I was already an emotional wreck and gradually, these feelings paved the path to depression. As expected, I was blamed for my bad mood, for the bad exam scores, for the unnecessary crying.
But honestly, I am glad that the truth surfaced. I started to see things clearly. I saw how I was the one to face her wrath mostly. Sometimes my elder sister would have to face it too. But, my brother truly experienced our mother’s love.
He was, and still is the apple of my parent’s eyes, their son! He could come back home in the wee hours. We, the girls, were not supposed to go out after sunset. He could meet his friends every day. For us, meeting friends was a luxury. He would get expensive gifts anytime. My sister and I were asked to care about our father’s financials and not be so demanding.
At every single opportunity, even today, we are made to realize how much was spent on their girls’ education, and how it was a mistake to impart higher education to us.
There came a moment when I hit the rock bottom, a moment which could either break me or make me. I choose the latter. I gathered myself, and rose from the ashes. I worked on myself and my emotions.
The one thing I am obliged to my parents is that they did not stop me from studying. My education has been my greatest strength and treasure. Hence, I worked towards my financial independence.
I pledged to not take any more injustices from anyone just because I am a woman. When I became financially independent, my parent’s interference in my life lessened, and the unfairness did not bother me as it used to.
But my freedom was short-lived. I decided to marry. I was naïve. I had not grasped that our society collectively fails us, women. Every household is unjust to the women in the family, in some way or another.
My dreams of equality shattered the moment I entered my husband’s house. Patriarchy struck me badly. People here wanted to control what I wear, what I eat, how I speak, and how much I laugh.
But then, that was what they wanted. Not me! So I stayed firm on my pledge: To live my life my own way, to not let anyone punish me for being a woman, a married one at that.
Yes, it was a difficult path – challenging the norms, to be a lone fighter, not to be affected by the name-calling, and changing the mindsets of the adamant elders in the house.
But today when I look back, it all seems worth it. The arguments, the disagreements, the quarrels were a part of where I stand today. Paving my own path, creating a paradise of equality for my daughter, and leading life the way I want to, with an equal partnership with my husband.
And all this happened because #IChoseToChallenge.
Image source: KokoColey on pixabay
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