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For a nation that craves for a family name-bearing son, puts its male progeny on a pedestal, its medal hopes in the greatest sporting spectacle are pinned on its gritty daughters!
Mirabai Chanu was the silver medalist in weightlifting at Tokyo Olympics. PV Sindhu got us a bronze, and Boxer Lovlina Borgohain is guaranteed a bronze medal at least.
These women have been the only medal winners (so far that is) from a country of more than a billion people.
Salute to the ‘Naari Shakti’! So exults a breathless newscaster.
Is it really? Give this accomplishment any jazzy label but do think for a second.
Those very daughters who have been second class citizens across homes for decades.
The same girls who had (still don’t) no agency on their bodies, their dreams or their monies.
They are told what to wear, what to eat and how much, when to procreate and who to produce, when and what to talk, what to show, what to hide, who to marry.
They are raised to adjust, to settle. Often for less!
After all, PutraKameshti Yagna or the sacred oblations to produce that cherished son is as old as the Ramayana isn’t it?
According to the Hindu rituals, a son who does the funeral rites or the Karma Kanda of his parents saves them from Punnama Narakam. Having a son is a parent’s guarantee card, a sure-shot deliverance from hell.
A son carries forward the lineage.
But when daughters are lighting the funeral pyres and sporting their maiden name after marriage too, they are stepping up and stepping in, aren’t they? The reason for pining for a boy is getting hazier with each day.
Most in their old age like to be with their children. Some will have the wherewithal to afford assisted living, many wouldn’t.
A daughter, as a caregiver is no less than a son. (That is assuming, she is given permission by her new family)
It isn’t just a Hindu fetish or an Indian phenomenon to crave a son. Across nations and across cultures, a male is still alpha. For all its Global-Big-Daddy hangups, the U.S. hasn’t still elected its first female president.
I for one have tried to have a gender agnostic family.
To that endeavour, constant conversations between generations is a must.
’“What is your game plan once your daughter finishes college? Allow her to work or perform her marriage?” My father often asks me.
“It all depends entirely on her, what she wants. Though I would like her to be self-sufficient, earn her monies, explore the world and enjoy life without any baggage.”
“Yes, not marriage, please. That is your mother’s wish too. She keeps telling me they didn’t let her work and got her married immediately after her graduation.” My father adds wistfully.
I smile because I’m filled with joy at this mindset, where everyone hopes my girl will lead her life the way she deems it fit and don’t lump their dreams or burden of their expectations on her.
BTW she has just finished schooling. We are big on planning that way.
My grandfather, typical of those times, kept trying for a male child and produced four girls along the way. The girls were ‘given away’ the moment they reached the age of 21. Their dreams were redundant. They were his burden to unload on his sons-in-law.
An entire generation of immense potential was lost due to societal conditioning.
Can we still let the girl slump on the grave of her dreams?
Time to set her free, leave her be, and let her soar.
Maya Angelou’s caged bird sings in great consternation because her wings are clipped and her feet are chained. She craves her freedom.
Open the gilded cage and let the songbird claim the sky as her own.
Imagine, even with so much of boxing them in, the girls are still weaving such magic.
Just imagine the records that would be rewritten if the fairer sex is unfettered and raised as a go-getter, a believer in chasing dreams.
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Anupama Jain is the author of:
* ’Kings Saviours & Scoundrels -Timeless Tales from Katha Sarita Sagara’, listed as one of the best books of 2022 by @Wordsopedia. Rooted in the traditional storytelling of Indian legends, warriors, read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
Most women do not get to live their lives the way they want, on their own terms. So why should they be tied down in their old age?
Every morning, while dropping the kids at the bus stop, I find a grandfather waiting with his granddaughter. I see him again when I fetch the kids. This has been the pattern for the last few years.
He is seen actively participating in his granddaughter’s activities, from morning and evening walks to attending her parent-teachers meeting, sending her for extracurricular activities to even planning her birthday party. He is admired by all. He is appreciated for making himself useful in his old age. People rave that the doting grandfather is doing his duty towards his children and grandchildren. The much-admired grandfather is also a widower, having lost his wife years ago to chronic disease. It’s also to be noted that both his son and daughter-in-law are working parents.
Every day, the onlookers appreciate his sense of duty and dedication. They say that this is how the elderly should keep themselves occupied. They should bring up their grandchildren while their children go off to work.
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