Tapati raises several issues that concern women, in her open letter to Sukanya, her daughter, as part of the Special Feature. A Different Truths exclusive.
Sukanya, I am fine. Today your voice from thousands miles away was not clear; should I blame the technological snag, I don’t know. But I have a lot of things to share with you in order to confirm that I am fine though you remain worried for aged parents like a responsible daughter of ours, today I could not attend your call.
When you had called I was a bit disturbed taking care of my domestic help and her teenager daughter; both were crying because the mother was beaten black and blue by the drunken husband and got burns instead of she being the only bread earner and running the family. In the chawls around the place, these are accepted by all the women as adjustments in married life hence no help came. No women’s police team reached her place to help because no one dared to call them. Her daughter was in tears because now she will come as domestic help for earning and will not be able to clear her 12th board exam. Looking at their plight, anger overtook me as I tried to console both mother and daughter to have the courage and stand against these abuses.
As various health issues keep on bothering, I recently got a new girl to do the cooking. While guiding her cutting vegetables on her first day in my kitchen, I recalled the day when all vegetables cut and diced by me were thrown into the garbage by my mother-in-law, even the curry also went to bins with her pinching comments. Now, I feel fine to guide the younger generation in kitchen jobs, seen as women’s basic responsibility.
It was heartening that you have started writing content on web pages; don’t feel bad about the small earnings. In spite of having an MBA degree, you were not allowed to go for service by your in-laws and you succumbed to their pressure to keep the marriage safe with all humiliations. Earning brings confidence, the amount would not matter. While doing graduation, even I went for giving private coaching to students to earn a small 800 rupees a month because of the financial challenges in the family; I was happy to see the hidden glee in my father’s eye’s when I put the envelops in his hand; even my young brothers were happy to ask for the goodies of their liking. So keep your head and moral high.
When I look back on those beautiful days, my heart aches as I thought of the unnatural hurry I was married off with a week’s time which spoiled all my dreams of future, my aspirations. Didi, my brothers, and I, all were merited, students. But still, just because of an age-old system that daughters had to be married off, I sacrificed my education and career and today stand at the receiving end at this old age. Just because of being born as a girl, education, earning, aspirations, made no sense in my father’s house and more so at in law’s place. But now I am fine, Sukanya, don’t worry.
This reminds me your both daughters are grown up; their schooling and private coaching classes are a matter of concern; it is confusing to study so many subjects and choose the perfect profession at this age. But don’t worry, the world has a lot to offer to them; technology and education have given today’s young generation the power to express their voice; they are able to see and judge and decide for themselves. The exposure will help them learn everything with maturity.
Today, when girls move with modern clothes and accessories, I enjoy their zeal. Though sometimes going out with fashionable cloth and looks calls for trolling and stalking, girls can shake it off with confidence. I remember that being simple and not fashionable and urban enough had rubbed salt on my bruised young heart when less educated but high fashioned girls hobnobbed with husband and I was left taunted and harassed, in spite of me being a merited scholar and talented in performing arts. The world looked crazy. Being critical on every issue and action of mine had become a habit of my in-laws, not only the males but the women also. Undue demands keep my nerves rattled all the time. I have realised the bitter truth that only the males should not be blamed as the enemy of women but women also. It is the non-sensitive attitude of people, the complexed mind of both men and women has grown, encouraged and enhanced the miseries of women. I have learned to maintain my sanctity and create a world of my own. Today, I feel fine, Sukanya, being with books, my writing, and painting.
Today’s women are more liberated to have live-in partners with probably better understanding; but after some years, they also fall apart. Being in marriage or not is not the only goal of women’s lives, but to have a respectable life makes more sense. With all the abuses thrown within the four walls, women need to raise their voice. Thankfully, there are attempts from government and various other circles to help the women fight for their cause. I have learned the hard way to raise my voice and oppose things I do not deserve, and now I feel fine.
Today Ritika, daughter of the laundry woman, brought sweets because she has cleared the UPSC exam. With a smile on her face, she took the big bundle of clothes to help her mother Laxmi. Laxmi is another much-tortured woman at home, but she took up the ironing job and runs the family with her sweat and blood with a smile on her face.
Recently there has been an uproar in the society with dirty gossips making rounds. Do you recall the Singh uncle in the corner house? Her elder daughter returned from Singapore and has taken a job here. She has taken her younger sister Simi to her place for medical treatment of her depression. Simi was a nice girl, a graduate working in in some government office, but since last few years she left the job and was sitting at home. The doctors revealed that Simi has been a subject of rape and physical torture by her paedophilic father for years. What a shame. I was shaken to even think of the situation; who is going to help her being abused in the corner of her own home, by her father, who should stand as her protector? Thousands of girls suffer in silence which goes unreported because the society does not react. But today when I learned that the neighbouring families are going to boycott the man and take a legal course, I felt pacified.
I forgot to share some good news. Two ladies, in our complex, have joined hands to venture into apparel business. I cannot but stop admiring these two young mothers who have gathered the courage to work hard in spite of the innumerable hurdles offered by their family and society. Another Tamil girl has gone into event management. They have been able to come out of walls and aspire to achieve something in life. When I look at them, I feel proud as a woman.
I stand on the same platform where thousands of women are torn between issues. Their one step ahead is marked by dragging steps left behind. But we have women to show that every battle can be fought and won over. The feminine energy, Shakti, has been worshipped across the world in different forms, admired in folktales and literature; we have women who are the epitome of this woman power standing confidently to inspire others to have a respectable life.
As I shared the thoughts with you Sukanya, my dear daughter, I feel fine. I close this long dialogue with a warm hug and love for you and your lovely daughters. Wish you girls enjoy life like those free-flying chirping birds in the open sky outside my window.
With Love and Blessings,
Photos from the Internet
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Tapati Sinha is educated from schooling to Post-Graduation from Visva-Bharati University with a Doctoral degree from Nagpur University in A.I.H.C.A. She loves Indian literature, Indian and world history and continues her personal research. She picks her subjects from various spheres including historical data, daily experiences of life and varied work places. Tapati is passionate to pursue her writings, novel, poetry, short stories on multifarious topics, past and present under the pen name Anjali.