My mother was given birth by a woman but was raised by five men-four brothers and a government-serving, mansion-owning, controlling father. Her mother stayed in a village to look after the acres of fields and the servants working in them. But see, whenever my mother tells me stories of her past her father’s anecdotes are served to me as the main course while incidents revolving around her mother are the side dishes which one can necessarily overlook if the main course has satisfied the appetite.
When my mother speaks of her father, the words of description are strong, as if, my mother is painting a hero by dipping into the ink of memories of the past. However, my grandmother is portrayed as a kind, large-hearted woman who lived happily under the shadows of her man. The exact manner in which she was taught to survive –“To not resist in order to exist.”
But this was not the case with my parents. Decisions were made after mutual consultations, smiles and eye-contacts were more often exchanged, money was utilised with mutual consent and savings were deposited in a mutual savings account. My mother visited her parents whenever she wanted to, wore whatever she wanted to and spoke whenever she felt like. It was all a fairytale until I grew up and realised some serious issues, which either my mother wasn’t aware of or was deliberately whipping them into inexistence in the kitchen.
She wasn’t even aware of how her mother had served her the doses of patriarchy along with the pickles, that she couldn’t differentiate between love and ego. So whenever my parents fought, my father had the last word, whenever my father raised his voice my mother watered his seeds of ego with her silence.
Don’t misunderstand me. My father is a very loving son, husband and father – but he is also a victim of patriarchy himself, which was stirred in his milk daily, served to him by his very own mother.
So when my mother realised I had attained a suitable age, she tried adulterating my sandwich dressing with patriarchy. I vomited it all out. It tasted sour and awful. It tasted of something I would never forget, nor I would savour again.
From then on I realised that I have to look after myself, protect myself against the pollutants trying to pierce my wings of freedom with needles of inequality and single-gender supremacy.
When my mother heard me swearing for the first time, she was disgusted and dictated how such words were a disgrace to female’s character. I made her repeat the statement again and asked her to replace the word ‘female’ with the word ‘human’. When my mother asked me to stop shouting at and fighting with my brother because I was a girl, I demanded her to ask the same out of my brother because he was a boy. When my mother gladly advocated my aunts how I was a tomboy and hated lipsticks and makeups and traditional attires and how I was different from other girls, the next day I dressed myself up in flashy Anarkali with red lipstick smothering my lips.
See, I became a feminist when I wasn’t even aware of its existence or its meaning. I became the right hand of my mother, voicing her in her arguments even when she wanted me to be silent. I became my father’s source of kindness and understanding and my brother’s lesson towards equality.
I was not going to accept the menu which society had predecided for me. I was not going to run races whose winners had to be men. In my story, I am being raised by two fighters, two people filled with immense kindness and yet strong enough to protect me. In my story, my lover will shed off his ego and pseudo-pride in the pyre while we exchange seven vows, in the process of beginning our new lives. I never liked any of the previous fairytale stories consisting of “Cinderella” or “Snow White” or “Sleeping Beauty” – waiting for princes to arrive to rescue them out of their misery, not until Moana swept me off my feet as she soared against anything and everything that wanted her to stop trying and fighting for what she believed.
Mother, I am ready to wade through the labyrinth of obstacles and impedances, and the perspectives of society on my life and lifestyle are meaningless to me because I have outgrown your patriarchy.