You more than anyone will completely understand what it means to be stereotyped, labelled and sealed in a box, Mi. As women, we had to fit into the little square earmarked for us, no matter how cramped it was. Responding to even the most trivial decree was frowned upon.
Even though love bound the family together, it had its boundaries when it came to major things like education, career choice and taking decisions for ourselves. Heck, it even knit its brows when we wanted to do something as simple as go to an evening movie show because it would be “late” when we returned home – and no good woman is out after 6, right?
There are so many times I wish I could turn the clock back for you!
Undo your getting married at 13
Undo your being abused by your in-laws and the man you married
Undo your struggles as a single parent abandoned by the man who had vowed to take care of you
Undo those tough times when you had to return to school yet keep a job because you and I had to survive
Undo the crap you had to take from people who undermined your dreams and believed you didn’t deserve good things
Undo the discouraging talk when you rose, like a Phoenix from the ashes, to stitch your life together
Undo the smirks and disbelief when you succeeded in your chosen career as a teacher
Undo the unfriendly vibes when you decided to start a little school at home after your accident from the second floor at your school, which had you on bed rest for 6 months
Undo the sadness you went through when you always did your best to make people happy, people who took you for granted
I am proud to be your daughter because I drew strength from your support when I went through difficult life experiences.
You wondered, how could history repeat itself – how could I face the same difficulties you faced even though we were technically a generation apart?
I remember how I wanted to study architecture after I passed out of school – and the nasty reactions it got. “They” believed that I was only good enough to do an undergraduate course, get married, bear children and move on with life, focusing on others.
I believed I deserved to live my life on my terms.
That time in my last year of college when the family was all decided about getting me married to a 40 year old guy who was “well-settled” and “came from a good family?” I am sorry I ran away from home – but I couldn’t think of any other way to get out of that situation and the pressure I would be forced to succumb to. I am grateful you welcomed me back with open heart and arms, because you believed that our love was far stronger than to be affected by a stray stupid incident on my part.
In retrospect I am glad I had the strength to leave.
Was that the moment when all those people who should have encouraged me gave up on me? Maybe. And the cherry on the cake? They decided I was no good.
But I am glad I continued the rebellious streak and took my life in my hands to steer.
You taught me to be unlimited by choice.
You taught me to do my best regardless of what people said.
I enrolled in a personal secretaryship course, thinking it was a glamorous career. Little did I know it was a glorified typist kind of scene in the companies that hired them. Still, I made some great friends in the course – and I smile to think that our family came to terms with it, because according to them, it would keep me out of trouble for six months.
Do you remember the utter shock and pin drop silence when I announced I got my first job with a coveted group of companies? They refused to believe it! Even after I began going to work, they stealthily asked you-know-who to confirm that I was indeed telling the truth.
When I wanted to enroll for an MBA, they muscled in and insisted that the only worthwhile course “suitable for women” was a B.Ed or if I was really keen on a professional course, CA or ACS. I feel idiotic now to think that I actually enrolled for ACS just to show them I could. After the Inter eExams, I ditched it because those subjects were just not my thing.
I still feel amused to recall how they never acknowledged my growth in my career. Those awards and accolades I brought home were brushed off as if they were the weekly vegetable shopping – to be cooked and digested and excreted.
The biggest victory in my view, to date, is how I engineered a transfer out of that city back to the one we loved. That was a turning point – and after that, no looking back.
We struggled with our budgets, but our minds were free.
We saved every penny and lived thriftily, but our hearts were hopeful.
Life became better.
I did enroll for that MBA – and earned my degree.
I rose in my career and reveled in your moments of pride.
All because you made me believe I was capable of anything I set my mind to.
And I was.
Today, as I put my feet up and enjoy the career of my dreams, I tell myself “you’ve come a long way, babe”
Today, I am a happy Mom, Wife, Friend, Coach, Writer, Editor and Blogger. In fact, there are moments I am actually tempted to believe it when I am told I am amazing.
If I had not listened to my heart, I dread to think that I would be just one among the talented, wonderful women who forget they exist because they’re too busy making someone else’s dreams come true.
And because I listened to my heart, I recognized myself. I acknowledged myself.
I embraced Using My And.
I practiced being unlimited by choice.
Today, I am committed to encouraging other women to get up, stand up and claim what is rightfully theirs. The smile on their face is my reward, because I grow a little taller in spirit with each smile.
I have learned that those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter!
None of this would be possible without you nurturing my soul, Mi!
I toast you with a tumbler of strong filter kaapi!
A very special toast to Sury, who’s a true life-partner! Without his support, I wouldn’t continue to be strong!