Mothers no matter where they are from must have fought so many battles. Because let’s face it – being a woman is not easy let alone being a mother. I am in no way glorifying motherhood or patriarchal society’s idea of motherhood. Becoming a mother or choosing not to become or not having the ability to become- none of this make someone a lesser woman.
Coming from India where patriarchy is experienced in every waking moment, I have taken so long to come to terms with my life as a woman. If it is so hard now, I couldn’t process the hardships of being a woman in the past. That’s when I realized it would be great to make blogs about that. The stories of women of the past, especially mothers who have faced so many hardships to be where they are today would not only be enlightening but inspiring.
This series will include experiences of women of Indian society, through various periods of their lives. Yes! A woman first, not a mother. Because not all women want to be a mother. Limiting a woman as a daughter, a wife, a sister, a mother is not just limiting their existence to the role they play to the men in their lives. It is much more damaging.
India an independent, democratic country has so many brave women who were once just a little girl with dreams, who became young women with aspirations. Now that they have come a long way from there, let’s hear what they have to say.
This Indian mother didn’t get everything the way she wanted. Did she sacrifice? Yes. But did she stand her ground when push came to shove? Yes.
This month let’s know the story of a woman from a humble background who had high ambitions.
This mother grew up in a small village and didn’t have a lot of problems adapting to her role in her huge family. But being the last child in the household did have its perks. Having a pretty entertaining childhood with all games and fun, she didn’t have a lot of ambitions. She was just a trouble maker who was often threatened with hostel life for all the mischiefs. It was a common parental tactic to control mischievous children in those days.
But playing around and skipping household chores was an option only for a while. Because as your elder siblings outgrow your household there is no one else at home. She had no choice but to perform household chores from vessel washing to cleaning up cows and stables.
Was she only forced to do all the work because of being a girl child? No.
Besides she had company. Some of her siblings were still around helping out.
Coming from a farming family of so many members, each person had their duty. She was of course given only gender-oriented works. But it was not all gloomy growing up in the village. Because she had a living inspiration. Her aunt was a government school teacher. Being a teacher in the 70s of India, that too a woman from a small village was not a small feat.
Remember! We are talking about underdeveloped India, with so many social issues in place. But her aunt was not just a teacher at school, she was teaching so many things to other young women of the village.
The mother was not let down by her family members when it came to encouragement. Her father was always the one to support her to dream big. He was in fact someone who wanted her to be brave and reach for higher positions. To have a father who would encourage you to have an education and aspire to become a well-respected woman was quite uncommon in those days. The old man didn’t stop with academic aspirations for his daughter. He also said she should aspire to be very fearless and should be exposed enough to do things on her own like driving cars, and become an inspiration to others.
So with so much positivity, around this young woman, she started to concentrate more on her studies as the years passed. Even some of her teachers were very mindful of her studies that they always made sure she had a positive environment around her. She did end up becoming a teacher herself and she did fulfill her father’s dream of becoming a brave self-confident woman.
When you have people encouraging you, believing in you, you can reach heights. If an old man from a small village can support his daughter to dream high, then what is stopping you. Not supporting little girls and their dreams especially because they are female doesn’t help anyone but society’s patriarchal notion about women.
Even though the professional life of this young woman was pretty appreciable, let’s talk about her personal experience.
This mother once had begun cooking when she was quite young owing to her mother’s travel at times. She might have not been great at it. But she tried. And she tries even today.
When asked if she likes to cook? She says a firm no. She only cooks because that is what is expected of her. But has she stopped cooking now? Not Yet. Because in India as a woman you are expected to cook no matter what you feel. Even if you are wealthy, most people prefer to make their wives cook, or at least they make sure their wives are the ones to serve the food.
As a little girl, this mother was not only warned about men to keep her safe but was warned to make sure the family respect is held high. Believe it or not. Indian society for some reason thinks a family’s respect is in how disciplined its women are.
She was taught how to be a good woman. Grannys are always there to tell you all these things- How to sit like a woman? How to dress like a woman? How to talk like a woman? How to act like one? The list is endless. This mother also went through all that. She was a little careful when it comes to talking to guys because it causes speculation. Which might in turn lead to her parents terminating her education. This is the biggest concern for many girl children- they are scared of losing something as basic as education.
The fact that in India, a woman making decisions about her personal life is directly linked to her education and hence therefore stopped or threatened to be stopped is an important issue. Education from 6 to 14 years is a fundamental right according to the Indian constitution. Though in most cases woman’s education is given less importance after those years. People should understand education is a valuable part of every human’s life regardless of gender.
In Indian society, women are expected to behave in a certain way. And if the woman wants to behave differently or even thinks about it they’re are frowned upon. One question arises- How did she start thinking on her own? Education. So it is decided to stop her education to curb her freedom.
Because an uneducated person can easily be manipulated and can be made the slave to society’s expectations.
Enduring all this wasn’t the end of the road for the problems of this mother. Working and traveling every day is not easy. Every day was hard to keep up. Cooking, taking care of her children, going to her work, maintaining her house with no help from her husband other than picking her up and dropping her off.
Women are expected to do all the work and then they are glorified for being able to do everything. In a household where both man and woman work and earn, the woman is expected to do all the household work. Why does the husband never participate? Patriarchy.
Our educated working mother was no quitter. Even though once she wanted to become an engineer, she choose to become a teacher to help out her family. But becoming a teacher was not all bad. She did experience a lot- from exploring places, learning new things, being free, being brave, communicative, expressive, and creative. She had the opportunity to help so many young children from rural India as a teacher. She as a working woman had a financial freedom. Something most Indian women don’t have regardless of their employment status.
In a typical Indian society, when both men and women are working, both their salaries and all finance is handled by the husband. Even when the woman earns more than her husband! Sometimes the woman is expected to earn less or to go to a lower role compared to her husband. Just so it could satisfy the male ego. A decent human regardless of gender knows one should never limit themselves to something lower than their level of reach- especially not for serving another person’s ego.
As a woman, whether as a small child or a mother, she didn’t let anyone limit her to being just a woman. She was encouraged by her parents from a young age which made her brave.
More women will be inspired by her promising journey. As far as I can say, more promising stories are to come. We have been inspired by this mother’s story. But it is only a beginning. Because India is filled with so many inspiring women like her. But to know their stories stay tuned.