“But why not mom?!? It’s my life!” Amy cries in exasperation.
“Amy, we’ve been through this a hundred times. I told you, it’s not safe. You yourself pointed out this morning that the newspapers are replete with reports of harassment against girls and women of all ages. How can I let you go all the way to Delhi just to do a Post Graduation and be at peace at home? Besides, you can very well get the same degree from any college here in Kerala. I know it’s not the same experience but all you need is a degree right? Why don’t you try to understand my fears?
Amy and her mother were alone at home. It was afternoon and they had just finished with lunch when the subject of Amys' future cropped up. Amy was once again the first to bring it up.
A final year degree student, Amy is a young girl born and brought up in a typical middle class family. Her parents are conventional and have their concepts of how a good Indian girl should be. Concepts which don’t always coincide with what Amy wants out of her life.
Though not purely career oriented, among her dreams about her future, what reigns supreme for Amy at the moment is a job in the field of writing. But her parents’ ideas differ. They want her to get married as soon as possible and then settle down as the perfect wife, daughter-in-law and later, mother. It is this point that infuriates Amy the most.
Amy gets up and goes to the washbasin to wash her hands as her mother starts clearing away the dirty plates and dishes on the table. She knows that this battle of words with her mother is not going to take her anywhere. But for the time being, that’s all she can do. She looks up at the dark haired girl staring back at her from the mirror. Frustration gleams in her eyes. She lets out dejected sigh, dries her hands on a white towel hung beside the maroon washbasin takes a deep breath, turns to her mom and gets straight to the point.
“O.K mom, I understand your concern for my safety. But......What problem do you have with me taking up a job? Don’t you see how happy I would be if I could land a job in the field of my choice? Besides, safety is a concern not just for girls. It is an issue for everyone. Life has to go on, right? Why don’t you like the idea of me working?”
Her mother carries the pile of dirty dishes into the squeaky clean kitchen, dumps them in the sink and starts to wash them. The sunlight falls in slanting columns through the bars of the open windows onto the white marble floor. The clanging of the steel plates and the hiss of the running tap are the only sounds heard.
Amy follows her into the kitchen and stands behind her with arms folded waiting for an answer.
Her mother looks up from the dirty dishes in the sink at her 20 year old daughter. “Amy”, she said, “Do you know why divorce rates are so high these days? Why more and more young children suicide? Why the number of drug abuse cases etc. among young children is rising? Divorce rates go up because today’s girls don’t have tolerance and tend to be selfish. Financial independence makes them arrogant. So they don’t bother to try and patch up when relationships get strained. The lives of young children go haywire because with both parents working, the child is not properly taken care of. The parents are so preoccupied with their own lives that they don’t have time for their children. The role of a mother and a wife in a family are so demanding that, to have a job would be a hindrance to giving complete dedication to your family. Besides, you should understand that financial independence and money are not everything. There is lots of other things in life that matter more and the foremost amongst them is your family.”
Amy gapes at her mother.
“Whoa! Mom!! What are you even talking about??? I’m just 20, I’m single and I’m NOT a mother!!!!! I am talking about now. Not 10 years later. I want to take up a job next year alongside my studies. It’s not about money mom. It’s about doing what I love doing. Don’t my dreams mean anything to you?”
“I don’t care what you say. You’ll get married someday right? As long as you are with us in this family, I’m not going to let you travel for work or anything else. After you are married, you may do as you please. If you are lucky you’ll get a man who is not as boring and conventional as your parents. Happy?” Having said as much, her mother rinses the soap suds off the last plate in the sink, washes her hands, dries them on the kitchen towel and walks off leaving behind an irritated daughter.
Amys' is not an isolated case. In 90% of such cases, the child ends up doing what her parents want her to because, well, they are the ones in charge. Argue as they might about feminism, equal rights etc, at the end of the day, there are plenty of Amys out there who lead lives akin to that of a baton in a relay race - passed from hand to hand. First taken care of by their parents, then handed over to the hands of the man of her life and in due course of time onto the hands of her children.
But what happens when a girl decides that she wants more? What happens when a girl dreams of a life beyond the fences of a domestic existence?
How can dreams and aspirations, (considered to be must-haves in guys) be considered selfishness in women?
Girls too are human beings with dreams in their hearts and NOT ‘wives waiting to happen’.