How Virginia Woolf’s ‘To The Lighthouse’ Inspired Me To Stand Up For Myself

Posted by mahima_roselin varghese in Books
December 13, 2016

The lighthouse looked huge and its top was barely visible as it glazed in the sun’s golden flames. I felt little as I stood next to papa whose palms had a firm grip on my wrists. My brothers were running around playing with their soaring kites on the seashore.

When I was a kid, I had a baby walker, yet papa kept a close watch on me. But I started detesting it. I began stumbling down with the baby walker. It gave little space to my furiously excited legs.

As a kid, I loved playing with the kitchen set and my father built me a playhouse in our courtyard while my brothers played cricket and football across the yard with the neighbours’ children. I felt safe in my playhouse while my mother could keep a watch on me as she toiled away in the kitchen.

I wanted to go to for that trip with my classmates. They were going to a park but my papa said that it is not all that exciting and I will easily get weary of it because he knows me better. I trusted him and stayed back at home playing with my mute dolls.

I was fascinated by everything. At times it could be the advertisement of musical instrument class or dance class or at times I was excited about watching movies or at times I simply wanted to go to new places but papa thought I had fickle mind jumping from one thought to the other while they had big adult responsibilities to fulfil. He was my old man and of course I trusted him.

I was in school and at one time I was enthused by the prospects of getting into the basketball team until I had to move to another school where all they had was big lush yard for a playground. After much coaxing, however I found another interest in a children’s organisation. But we soon moved out of town.

I now am a mature woman of twenty five years old. I ain’t a young child anymore. I remember tugging onto my mama’s saree when I barely reached her knees but now am grown up and I can walk but they still think I need that baby walker. The whitewashed walls of our home has grown taller and coarse stuffing me within. I no longer marvel the old clock hanging on the wall and it seems the needles are pointing at me and the pendulum swings in my heart. My home is an office where I have to report at five and give reasons for any delay. I have to make formal requests for their authorisation before I can hang out with my acquaintances or even go for a movie, and most often it is met with rejection.

At this beautiful age of my life, I would love to see the world but I am weighed down by my gender. I need to move out, explore, fight and survive. They love me and are concerned about my safety, I realise. But how long can you be that chick inside the egg. How do they expect me to do it when they don’t even let me try? I am not being ungrateful or disobedient just because I wish to fly high in the blue sky. Nature has given this wonderful life not to waste away but to live the carpe deim philosophy. I can’t be like my mother who is docile, servile and whose locus of life is the kitchen. I am not saying it is all that bad but it is definitely not me. You may feel that I am living in a fantasy world dreaming of a wayward and impractical life but then what is life without letting the imaginations soar high. Besides, I don’t think marriage is the biggest vocation in my life. I will marry when I feel like and maybe I won’t. Shouldn’t it be my choice? I don’t want to marry because the man is a professional or because his family is most reputed or because he hails from a wealthy background or because I won’t get any other better matches.

Reading “To The Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf rekindled my craving to make it to the top of that lighthouse but this time I want to do it on my own. So, papa, I love you. But just after being under your shadow for all these years, just let me be for I am fed up. It is time to let go. Haven’t you seen the birds?

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