Oh, hell. If you’re a girl who’s grown up in India, Kitty’s line probably just threw open a can of memories that you have buried deep within you – full of thoughts that you rarely let loose, that you’ve kept locked up for special outbursts, that are frankly maddening, saddening and deeply, deeply, confusing.
It’s a strange system that we belong to – full of random contradictions. One where ‘ghar ki ladki laadli hai (our daughter is the apple of our eye)’, but ‘agar sasural me zabaan chalaayegi toh naak katayegi (but if she speaks her mind in front of her in-laws, then she’ll shame us).’ Where ‘padhi likhi honi chahiye (she should be well-educated)’ but GOD FORBID ‘shaadi ke baad kaam karne ki baat kare (she speaks of working after getting married)!’ But what’s wrong with working? And ‘har cheez me first aati hai (she excels in everything)’ but (the horror!) ‘shorts pehenke basketball khelne jaati hai (she wears shorts to play basketball).’ I can just see myself playing basketball in a lehenga – ridiculous!
What it boils down to is the fact that no matter how loved you are or how educated or even, financially independent, you can either choose to live your life on the basis of value judgments by random people or based on what you want to or decide to do, in which case you get tagged “bigda hua”. Personally, I can easily relate to Kitty’s emotions here, because seriously. We’re in the 21st century – women are excelling in high-paying corporate jobs, taking up government positions, living happily unmarried lives; but we’re still subject to these labels? Because ‘society kya kahegi (what will the society say)?’ I mean, who even decides all of this stuff?
I say ‘no’ to such mechanisms of control and policing. These are not values to which I subscribe. I say ‘no’ because I don’t think I’m ‘bigdi hui’ for choosing what I want to do by myself, or in making my opinions known. What do you think?
Like Kitty, have you ever been labelled a ‘bigdi hui ladki’? Are these labels given to young girls and boys justified? Tell us what you think! Share your story on Youth Ki Awaaz and follow #BHL, a campaign by YKA and BBCMA, in partnership with UNICEF!