A girl was married in a house in Patna in the late ’90s. When she entered her in-laws’ house, her ornaments and belongings that she had got from her paternal home were snatched. As the family was joint and her husband was the eldest among four brothers and three sisters, he didn’t speak a word. The woman was beautiful and had just completed her graduation.
It didn’t go well with other family members as they couldn’t digest an educated women in the family. She was toiling hard in household work. Her first child was a girl. However, she didn’t survive. The woman was selected for a job in Patna Secretariat, but she was advised not to join as her second child was about to be born. After the birth of her third child, the joint family started showing their ugliest form. She was deprived of her possessions. The family of four didn’t have anything to eat and they were reduced in a single room to live, cook, eat, study and sleep.
They were denied water supply. She even faced domestic violence at the hands of her in-laws, in her husband’s absence. The woman decided to step out and earn for a living, which was a taboo in society during those times. However, she couldn’t bear the starved faces of her sons. She took a job as a teacher in a private school for Rs 500/month. She was mocked and had to face flak for stepping out of the house. She ignored such remarks and sent her children to a local school. However, she had bigger aspirations for them. She wanted them to study in a CBSE-affiliated school.
She applied in most of the reputed schools of Patna for their admission. After doing a cost benefit analysis, her children were admitted to the only affiliated school of Patna city at that time. She used to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning to cook food. After sending her children to school, she used to go her school. Due to scarcity of money, she had to travel a lot to attend her school which was almost 10 km from her home. After school, she used to take tuitions for an hour. She used to return home by 4 o’clock in the evening.
Then, she used to teach her sons and do other household activities, including cooking, washing utensils, stitching, washing clothes; ironing clothes, cleaning the house and many more. Be it scorching summers or harsh winters, she would traverse kilometres to save every penny that she could. She travelled even in muddy rainy waters from pillar to post to ensure a promising career path for her children. She cooked in the extension of her verandah on the little stove in the volley of rains and the chill of winter.
From lifting water to carrying kerosene for cooking, she faced every season of struggle. This continued for 22 long years. Time passed ruthlessly for her. She was living through utter poverty. The money that she earned was all spent on food and education. She had marred her every other desire. From colourless Holi to cracker-less Diwali, she visited every temple, mazaar and gurudwara for the bright future of her children.
As time passed, her elder child completed high school. There was a greater challenge in front of her about his secondary high school studies. He was selected for a coaching-cum-school programme in DAV BSEB, Patna. However, he was not satisfied with studies in that school. He informed her mother about it. She had already submitted Rs 20,000 for his studies there. That was more than half her savings that she had saved over the past 16 years.
She sensed her son’s disappointment and readily agreed for his resignation from the coveted school of Patna. Her elder son studied hard. However, in his first attempt of the engineering entrance exam, he could only manage an extended merit list in an IIT and an undesirable branch in NIT. He decided to prepare again.
The financial burden on her increased as her younger son had also completed his high school and now money had to be invested in him, too, for his engineering preparation. She didn’t deter at all. She allowed her elder son to repeat and arranged money for her younger son to join coaching for preparation. In his second attempt, her elder son got admission in NIT Allahabad. However, her younger son couldn’t secure a good rank to enter any government college.
She enrolled her younger son in Brilliant tutorials by paying a hefty sum. To her hard luck, Brilliant tutorials closed jeopardising the future of enrolled students. Her younger son couldn’t perform well. She was advised by many to enrol him in some simple BSc course. However, her grit and determination led her to enrol him in a private engineering college in Dehradun despite its exorbitant fee. Her labour, determination and grit paid off. Both her sons got a job after their graduation. My mother is my inspiration. There is only one love in this world that is unconditional, and that is a mother’s love.
I haven’t shared this story to gain sympathy, as I know that people only make mockery of one’s situation. I have shared it to show our patriarchal society all that a women is capable of, because I have heard from many quarters of society while growing up that women can’t excel. The patriarchal society often casted her as an inferior being with lesser mental and physical capabilities. A woman’s abilities have always been undermined by a male-dominated conservative mindset who can only respect a woman as a mother with preconceived ultra-notions of modesty within which she has to live and act.
Once she crosses that Lakshman Rekha, she is reduced to a sex object whose attempts to succeed are bounded by the evil atmosphere of doubt and character assassination, whose every effort is seen as a token of desire for sex, whose every communication is taken as a hint of invitation. This misogynist society can never see a women succeed because it challenges their idea of superiority that is meant to keep women in safe, within household work and only as a means to provide pleasure to her husband and look after her children.
Our alpha conservative society is becoming fearful as women are getting opportunities and excelling in every field. They’re being given a chance to prove themselves. The success story from every household that, till now, used to create a factory of CEOs, engineers and doctors by being a mother is now being shitted to become a success story of a mother-cum-professional.
This new normal is not digestible to those who don’t want women to study, who don’t want her to enter any professional field, who want to dictate women for their clothes, character and behaviour, who have made her virginity a sacred thing, and who have treated women as an good that is to be bought by dowry and sold during Kanyadaan. We coroneted her as Lakshmi when she entered a house with happy moments, and as a bitch with a sudden turn of ugly events.
This women’s day is a tribute to every women who has broken this shackle of patriarchy by stepping out and telling the world that a renaissance has begun.