By Shreya Sharma:
Last night I came back home to a medley of frowns and questions:
“Why are you late? It’s going to be 10 pm.”
“Do you realize it’s dark outside? You know Delhi’s not safe.”
This morning, I woke up to your Daughter’s Day wishes and the following justification:
“It is not that we do not trust you; it’s just that we cannot trust the society.”
I understand your concern. I have been understanding since I was a young girl, you see. Selecting my friends carefully, not going out for late night parties and all the other ideologies which a girl is fed with since childhood — I tried sticking to all of these. But you know what, father, all this hasn’t really helped. The stares don’t care about daylight. The stares don’t care about what I’m wearing. The stares follow, inevitably. Perks of being a girl, maybe? It doesn’t end here.
Apparent intellectuals from the media slammed Deepika Padukone for her “cleavage show.” They shamed Shweta Basu Prasad for her alleged involvement in a prostitution racket. But no one ever questions the male actors when they bare their chest and abs. Neither does anyone care about the wealthy men who took advantage of the vulnerability of a National Award winning actress. And then, we have politicians with amazing statements like “Handing death sentence for rape is not fair… boys make mistakes.”
I know the reality of this patriarchal society. I know your heart skipped a beat when you heard of the Nirbhaya Case. But, I also know that I don’t have to wear coveredÂ clothes; the society needs to stop staring at my body. I don’t have to stay at home because it’s dark outside; the society needs to open up the public spaces for me.
On Independence Day, you applauded Mr. Modi when he urged the nation to question their sons as much as their daughters. You were impressed when you heard Emma Watson’s “HeforShe” speech as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. So this Daughter’s Day, I want to be gifted with the permission to celebrate womanhood instead of living with it as a burden.
I give up on those guidelines which restrict me instead of helping me. I will no longer surrender silently. I will raise my voice. I will question the voices which try to push me down. Whether you call me bold or you call me ill-mannered, is your choice. My choice is made. For me, ‘S’ will not stand for ‘Surrender’ but for ‘Strength’.
You gave me the strength to stand tall.
I now ask for the freedom to fly.
You question, “What if you fall?”
I say, “At least let me try!”
I hope I don’t ask for too much.
Your strong daughter.