(To My Mother)
Mother, don’t, please don’t
Don’t cut off the sunlight
With your saree spread across the sky
Blanching life’s green leaves.
Most women speak about being empowered, to be empowered. A woman needs to understand her rights and above all her ‘freedom’.
One day last month Sania came to me with a problem. Her marriage was not working out and so she wanted to divorce her husband. She was agitated and her parents who accompanied her were vociferous about their daughter’s freedom. They refused any counseling or mediation. I asked Sania what she intended to do. Her reply completely floored me. She was going back to her parental home and they were going to look after her. Her unmarried brother was working abroad and supporting his parents and would continue to support her too. I asked her for how long? No answer…
This set me thinking about what ‘freedom’ means to a woman. Was she not getting into a new dependency? The unmarried brother would one day marry then what? Would victimised mentality resurface to haunt Sania?
Freedom comes with responsibility. In the words of Salvador de Madariag, “He is free who knows how to keep in his hands the power to decide”. We women are grounded to customs and traditions. Whenever a woman wants to be free from a relationship must she shirk her sense of responsibility? We are responsible for our own acts thoughts or movements.
Yet it’s true that ours is a conditioned response. Our responses to situations are trained by our mothers. Now fear of social disapproval haunts our decisions and we play at being safe. This conditioning and fear of taking risks has confused us and caged us emotionally and psychologically. We feel guilty. We want to be free but where do we begin? Parents need to change their attitude towards the girl child.
Allow your girl child to experiment and experience everything and grow naturally. She will mess up sometimes, will fall, will get up, will laugh and get stronger. Teach her to decide to learn from her mistakes and manage her life. Train her to be self dependant and also self sufficient. She will grow up encouraged in her freedom being responsible. She will not become a slave to the psychological fetters that trap her blindly to follow the traditions and customs which prescribe behavioral prescriptions for women.
What is the worst that can happen if she begins to defy dead and outmoded expectations of woman? At the most the chains that give her acceptance in society will snap. A relationship that makes her a nameless, freedom less slave will break. She has blindly followed her mother’s conditioning and is lost. She cannot question anymore. She is married to a man or daughter of a man who decides for her. Should she hold a job or not? Should she be voiceless? Has she no identity?
Freedom is such a priceless value she cannot postpone living. Tomorrow will never come.
Just living, heart beating, blood circulating; breathing in and out is not life. She is a vegetable. Women unite!! Your crippled mind will not allow you to live and will create fears of risks – of all kinds.
Those of us who want to really live, have to drop all fears, all bad thinking, all security and safety. We have to risk everything because life is so precious and so fleeting, so momentary that one cannot ignore or postpone living. Life is a risk, so take it hands on with full freedom and full responsibility.
Breaking out of the dam
You’ve built, swelling
In a thunderstorm
Roaring through the land,
Let me live very differently
From you, mother.
Let go, make way.