Next up in the monthly series of ‘That Indian Woman’, we will be discussing the journey of a bold Indian woman who fought so many battles.
Before telling her story, here is an introduction to this series.
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.
As seen in the previous article, here also our mother starts from a humble background.
Even though in her early life she didn’t face a lot of hardships, it was never the same after her marriage.
Why women are always seen as nothing more than mere commodities of pleasure? What makes Indian men so entitled when it comes to controlling women? What kind of guts does it take to control one human because of their gender?
More importantly, what kind of guts does it take to retaliate and fight such people?
Witness the story of a brave woman from a small village in India. Reading her story is not only going to inspire you to have courage but also to have the strength to fight all your hardships.
She was a 12th graduate who had higher dreams. After completing 10th grade in a government school, for her next years of schooling, she went to a hostel owing to the daily long-distance travel for school. Even with the absence of her father who was working abroad, she managed to get educated till 12th grade.
Most of her time during her higher studies was busy with strikes and other disturbances due to the issues of the time period. She did aspire to become a respectable officer for the government. But her dreams were crushed when she was married off at the age of 18.
But we will get to that later. Unlike other mothers, her mother never tried to make her feel restricted because she was a girl. At times her grandma would tell her how to be a good girl and how to behave modestly as expected by society.
There were dress code restrictions of course. They wouldn’t let her ride cycle or bike. There were also restrictions on hairstyles and hair cuts.
The teachers who were teaching this mother weren’t paid enough to even care outside their job of just teaching the syllabus. They were underpaid and they didn’t take extra effort to enlighten little girls about the importance of education. She does regret not having proper guidance about education.
But at least she had a caring mother. Her mother treated her as a small child. Even after her puberty and never forced to do basic chores expected from an Indian woman such as cooking, household chores.
But that was not the case for other girl children of her village. She still feels blessed to have a mother like hers. Because other girl children she knew started their day with so many household works like vessel washing, cleaning the barns, cooking and serving the food, feeding the livestock, and fetching drinking water from wells. Girl children may have started to do these works from the young age of 11. Though it is true that regardless of gender all kids must have been actively supporting their families by doing the work. The issue here is the classification of works based on gender.
The importance that was given to performing household chores was not given to their studies.
But there were a lot of awareness street dramas and puppet shows sponsored by the government to spread the importance of education, especially for women. A lot of welfare associations and college students also actively participated in such activities.
After her school studies, she wanted to get a job. So she had written an exam to acquire a job in the agriculture department. But since she was married, she was not allowed to go to the job by her husband. She again tried to get a job as a teacher. But this time her mother-in-law disliked the idea saying she will not take care of the household if she goes to a job. Even now she regrets not pursuing higher studies and not joining the job.
Coming to her personal life, she has three girl children. And her husband was disappointed about not having a boy child and got remarried to another woman. He was an abusive person who always found ways to hurt her for not being able to produce a male child. Our woman here was loved her children irrespective of gender.
She was proud to have girl children.
So she filed a case against her husband who remarried because of not having a male child. She also added other issues such as abuse and other harm he did. She has demanded life support for all her children and a divorce from her husband.
She did try to convince her husband before approaching the court. She gave him a chance to change his mind about girl children. But her husband was not ready to change his mindset or decision.
Our mother prepared herself for a lonely struggle. She had made sure all her children got educated as per their wishes. She wanted her children to be independent in every sense. But it was not easy to take care of her children and educate them especially since she didn’t have a job. She tried to meet her ends using her family savings. But there was no compromise on her children’s education owing to her difficult situation. She knew the value of education and financial independence. She once had the job opportunities to live independently. But her husband made sure that she couldn’t be so.
She was adamant because of her belief. She did nothing wrong and didn’t deserve the ill-treatment she received.
She says in her married life she was just a slave to her husband’s wish. She had no freedom and no voice. She says if she hadn’t decided to come out of that, she would still be living a life with no freedom. Her husband was someone who always looked down on women. She says he would have never let her educate her children as per their wishes because they were girl children.
Even now she hasn’t got a verdict from the court. But she is strong and hoping.
To mention something impressive that she has done now- she has told her daughter to get the job of her dreams before thinking about marriage.
Because she wants her children to be their own person before marriage. This mother’s journey was filled with so many hardships. But she made sure her children had it better.
She says her husband doesn’t have an educated rational mindset. He would go on to say that girl children are to be married off one day and so investing in them is pointless. He had no regard for his children’s dreams.
She claims that girl children are taught to be subordinate, that they never ask questions, which makes the men the way they are. Society might claim both women and men are equal but it is seldom practiced in real life.
The women of the past try to save the age-old patriarchal setup of the family where the woman is treated like a mere slave. Indian Women are expected of a lot of duties. Which our mother hopes will change for better in the future.
After all these experiences she is humble and open to her children. She says she shares everything with her children. Everything like the hardships she faces as a woman from groping, to unwanted comments and catcalling. She says it helps her children to be bold and more open with her as well. She gives them tips on how to be a woman in this world. Her children seemed to share all their problems with her as well. This she tells out loud proudly.
This does come from her mother she claims.
Her mother asked our brave woman once – If you got remarried, your husband would have never forgiven you. Then why does this society expect you to be okay with your husband’s remarriage?
This one question by her mother made her braver. This woman had her mother back her decisions like her separation from her abusive husband. She says with a sad voice even if her mother is not alive anymore she will always be her source of courage.
Though you might not be facing the same hardships, this woman’s journey is nothing short of inspiration. I am happy to have interviewed such a woman for our blog. Women like her walked so we could run. See you again with another inspiring story. Stay tuned!