The 3 Pillars Who Invested In Me So That I Can Proudly Stand Today As A Woman

People say that women are the greatest enemies of women. I vehemently disagree. It is the patriarchal mindset that makes women believe in the wrong ideology.

The entire world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8, 2024. It should be a joyful day, but unfortunately, not all women are entitled to this privilege, as violence against women is at its peak. The experience of oppression pushes many women to choose freedom. As far as patriotism is concerned, feminism is not a cup of tea in this society.

What happens when a woman decides to stand up for herself? Does this world easily accept the decisions of women in this society? What inspires them to be free of the clutches of the oppression that women have faced for ages? Most of the time, women do not get the chance to decide for themselves. Their lives are always at the mercy of someone, which can be their parents, siblings, husband, or children.

In some cases, women do not feel the need to make any decisions. They are taught to obey the patriarchal system, which makes them believe that they are right. In my family, I was never taught to make decisions on my own. It was always my parents who bought dresses and all that I needed.

I never tend to question their choices. That dependence on someone does not allow women to be free. It makes them remain in their comfort zone. Women allow themselves to be defined as good girls. For every woman in this country, this kind of recognition is needed at different points in time. And nobody has ever escaped from this. But today I can recall three women, especially those who shaped me and enkindled the power in me to defend the rights of women in this country.

My 1st pillar is my strong-willed grandmother

I am a woman who was born and brought up in the company of women. My maternal grandmother, mother, and aunts were the people who reared me, as my mother did not have brothers. I saw my grandmother, a hard-working woman whom I never saw, sitting idle. She had to raise three daughters on her own as her husband was an alcoholic.

I do not know who encouraged her to educate her daughters. My mother and one of my aunts completed 12th grade. My mother became a professional typist but was never allowed to work after her marriage. My aunt, a studious girl, managed to reach the teacher training school but was never able to complete it as the training school was closed by the government.

Fortunately, my aunt became a nursery schoolteacher, and as my first teacher continues to do her job.

My grandmother, being the first pillar of my life, continues to inspire me even after her death. Though she was illiterate, she knew very well the importance of education. She worked from morning till night selling idlis (south Indian breakfast), collecting and selling firewood, being a construction worker, and being a smale scale businesswoman selling clothes.

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She had to face the pain of being a single mother and raising three daughters; among them, the last one was an asthma patient, and the village assassinated her character. She faced verbal abuse; as far as I know, she neither received help from her family nor her husband. But all that she could give to her girls was a decent wedding. She never had good clothes, jewellery, or anything. Even she could not afford to have a good rest at night, as her whole body used to hurt at night.

As for me, she is the first woman who inspired me to stand firm and fight for the rights that I was denied as a woman. Till today, I have continued to do so.

Never give up. Whether the time is right or not, your integrity is built upon your never-give-up attitude. I saw my grandmother crying over her miseries, but I never saw her give up, even when she was suffering from stomach cancer. Her death bed did not allow for resting; even though she was sick, she was taking care of my young cousin.

My 2nd pillar is my mother, a woman of integrity

My mom is the eldest child in her family. Though she was born poor, both her paternal and maternal families pampered her a lot. She was the first one to receive education until the second grade. Her policy in life is that education will shape you into a better version of yourself and that you should never be dishonest. She was sharp in understanding our behavior. She never gave us anything more than we wanted.

She has a strong will to achieve what she wants for her children. She had to sacrifice her desires to give her children a good education. I still remember my mother stopping me at the door of my house to ask how I wrote the exams. She never fed us more than was necessary.

She was always economical; she planned things, spent within the income of my father, and never purchased anything for herself.

She has been married for 37 years but did not buy a silk saree until my brother was 13 years old. She never asked for anything for herself, but her happiness was always seeing her children excel in discipline and acquire the best education. It was my mom who always gave me the freedom to do what I wanted.

She is a strict mother but a good educator. More than being a mother, she remains a good guide, a hope giver, and an ardent supporter. Though she does not acknowledge her capacity often, it is from her that I inherited the art of perseverance in life.

My 3rd pillar is my guide who taught me not to judge without knowing facts

I met her at the age of seventeen and looked at her with prejudice, thinking that she judged others easily. I felt I was under surveillance in her presence. Life is unpredictable, and at times we are with people who are never destined to be. She is a foreigner, my mother’s age.

Her maturity and ability to guide others are excellent. She asked me one day if I was interested in watching the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ movie, a novel written by Jane Austin and starring Keira Knightly and Mathew Macfadyen. She said that the movie is based on a 19th-century novel. I immediately answered her ‘No’. She told me you would surely like the movie. Do not judge before experiencing it.

I watched it out of compulsion, and that movie became one of my all-time favorites. I stayed with her for 10 years. I saw in her my mother—a guide and a well-wisher. Being a foreigner, her opinion and mine collided often, but she was able to understand my character, my strengths, and my weaknesses.

It was in 2010 that I was affected by chicken pox. I was given a separate room for a month. The only consolation was a laptop in the room. I started writing everyday quotes and poetry and started translating books from English to Tamil. She always encouraged me. Whenever I felt lonely in a metropolitan city like Delhi, she handled me well and made me find out my talents.

She reviewed my writing and gave me suggestions to improve it. Whenever I came home failing the interviews, she encouraged me to do better. She made me give counseling at the age of 22 to a 45-year-old man, as she felt I could help him be better. She has been my guardian angel all these years.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, went to her country for treatment, and came back to India just to make sure that we could not be without her. Whenever I felt helpless, she used to talk to me for hours until I became okay.

She is stubborn, but at the same time, she was my fairy godmother who guided me when I needed her the most. The courage she instilled in me keeps me going through my ups and downs. I would not have survived in Delhi without her help and guidance. Though we part ways, she remains the strongest pillar of support.

There are always people who say that women are the greatest enemies of women. I vehemently disagree. It is the patriarchal mindset that makes women believe in the wrong ideology.

May this Women’s Day liberate women from this notion and find other women the pillars of support.

Image source: by Deepak Sethi from Getty Images Signature Free for Canva Pro

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