Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
I am a mum of two daughters, ages nine and six respectively. It is my greatest wish that they turn out to be totally ‘Bindaas’. They play with their barbies, kitchen sets and string beads into necklaces for themselves; lots of girly stuff. But at the same time they also climb trees, play tennis, ride their bicycles, go for skating & swimming, punch and slap boys who try to bully them; lots of not-so-girly stuff. Do they have to be tom-boyish to be’ bindaas’ ? No, no and another no. I’d like them to retain the essence of their gender- femininity and grace, and still be bindaas- there goes the word again! So, does it all sound all twisted? Well not to me. They are free to behave the way they want to. True freedom is when we have the freedom of choice. Choice to pursue their chosen line of work, choice to be a stay-at-home mom, choice to marry or not to marry, choice to marry only when one feels ready and the choice to walk out of a marriage too. The list goes on and on.
I have known women friends who are successful in their career and economically independent , but still not ‘ free’. They succumb to the numerous pressures- of having another child in the hope that it will be a boy this time around; they tolerate their husbands’ abusive behaviour ; and yet they maintain a strong facade for the world to see.
So why do they put up with all this nonsense? Because this is what they saw their mothers doing. And their mothers showed them that being a woman, it’s a given- to tolerate and to adjust; specially after marriage. To maintain all relations even when the so called ‘relatives’ are far from nice. To try and be liked/praised by all and be a mute, self-sacrificing paragon of virtue. Damn all this ‘respectability’. And I’ll be damned if I utter something even remotely similar in front of my girls.
I am blessed that I am married to a person who has an evolved mind, someone who makes me feel glad that I got married. I hope my kids choose well too, like their mom. So then, why do I feel so strongly about all this? It is because too much upkeep of ‘respect’ and ‘dignity’ do more harm then good. My firebrand husband told me – ‘fight, shout, give it back’. But ‘respect’ for elders and family was so deeply ingrained in me that I didn’t have it in me to be loud , or answer back. So, I will make sure that my daughters don’t hold onto ‘decency’ like I did.
Some words for my children:
Age doesn’t always bestow maturity and grace. So, all ‘elders’ are not worthy of the unconditional respect that they demand.
Silence, for the sake of maintaining the dignity, is often mis-construed as weakness. So, speak up at all times. Don’t stay quite out of ‘ respect ‘.
Marry only when you feel ready, like your Mom did.
Don’t ever feel that you are obligated to ‘maintain’ relations with all who are family. If anyone’s not nice to you, let them go take a hike.
Of course, be a nice person; just don’t feel any pressure to be ‘nice’ according to someone else’s sensibilities.
Don’t doubt your decisions and make your own choices.
Pursue what makes you happy and fills you with joy.
And above all-
Live, love, Laugh.