As we celebrate the strength and resilience of workers this month, I can’t help thinking of those days when you took us to rallies dressed in red. For children of my age, it was just another outing, but I was getting introduced to the power and essence of slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad‘ and “Red Salute” to the workers. Dad, you sent me to St. Mary’s Girls Convent and I immediately belonged to a fraternity of maybe the strongest women in the city. We grew up in a space where no men would be around. From fixing tube lights to getting balls out of muddy bushes to arranging events and doing all the shopping on our own, we were taught to feel complete in ourselves. That’s how I became a feminist. Good values, speaking up against injustice, and upholding morality in the most difficult situations became a part of our lives and learning. I can’t thank you enough for gifting me such a childhood.
I hope you remember I had taken to reading at quite an early age. At school, Enid Blyton with her numerous thriller and adventure series and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series took my imagination for a joy ride. And back at home “Communist Manifesto”, “Das Kapital”, poems and stories by the great Assamese revolutionary Bishnu Rabha and Jyotiprasad Agarwala, the first Assamese Janpith award-winning book “Mrityunjay” adorned our bookshelves. Reading them, reciting those poems with you by my side moulded my revolutionary thoughts, made me understand what it is like to stand up against oppression and emboldened my heart for big and important struggles. They helped me know more about Communism, Socialism, how Capitalism is ruining the dreams of humble and strong democracies.
Dad, you have very carefully kept us three siblings away from all political influences and activities knowing it had not much to offer, but you never taught me to be silent when hatred, religious fanaticism and bigotry was seen somewhere around. Remember how we used to have healthy debates and you would tell me about the grim situations during the Assam movement and how you had actively been a part of it? Then why is it that today, you ask me to shut my ears and eyes and live a life ignoring the crisis the nation and society faces?
I have grown up, started working and handle almost everything on my own now, staying far from home. Any male colleague asking to help with carrying my shopping bags, interfering in my decisions or paying after a meal, somehow disturbs me because I have never been used to such chauvinist practices, however well intended they may be. This might look like arrogance but I know how to politely decline and happily move ahead with my own responsibilities. Dad, it’s you who taught me how to keep my head held high even in the most difficult situations and never give up on anything only because I was born a girl.
I was encouraged to speak up, to fight back with a fiery yet compassionate heart, to intelligently and wisely have arguments and make my voice heard, then why is it that now you are so upset with me? Why do you ask me to come back home and get married under societal pressure? Why do you feel scared that I’m far away and can be harmed? I want you to know that your little girl has survived it all and will continue to do so. I have amassed wisdom and courage from all that has happened and happens to me, I have been betrayed, cheated on, used by friends and loved ones. But dad, all of these have made me so fearless that I can face any adversity with all the strength I can possibly muster.
Your doubts about my abilities, being so possessive about my ideas and asking me to refrain from raising my voice makes me lose all the battles I daily fight. How can I give up on my values and principles? I already regret choosing a career which doesn’t have much scope to help the downtrodden and distressed. You are my strength, you know how much I believe in what you have taught me and all those values you instilled in me.
Dad, do not stop me now. The world needs young people like me to stand up for causes that matter, to raise our voices against injustice, to help everyone live a life of dignity, to spread the message of love and strength. Otherwise, we all lose. We have failed our society, our nation, our kids as a generation lost in ourselves with no clue where we are even heading with so much political hegemony and communal hatred.
I cannot accept what comes my way without even fighting for what is right, I don’t want to be silent when my children ask me difficult questions. I don’t want to face them with guilt. It’s high time we dust off our comforts and gear up for all that is crucial, to offer strength to all that is failing. Judiciary, law and order, education, economic growth, nothing seems to have survived cheap fascist politics and time does not allow us to be silent anymore.
I want to see you happy and take pride in all that I do and be in good health, for when I fail a battle and get disheartened, I’ll come back to you to gain strength, to boost my spirits again. You have been fighting for these issues for years now, you still attend labour day rallies and marches, speak up for the workers and oppressed and you need to guide me too. I love you, dad, you have made your girl the strongest she can be. And all I ask for is your trust and faith.