A few years back, when we were living in Bangalore, I had a maid with whom I used to converse with a mixture of Tamil, few words of Kannada and sign language.
She was a single mother, with two children, one daughter and one son. The daughter being the eldest. She had an abusive marriage and had opted to throw her husband out and he was made to stay away by her helpful neighbors. She made their ends meet by working as a maid in lots of households like ours. Once she was talking about how she wanted so much more for her daughter. She explained that she wanted her daughter to be independent, financially free, so that she never needed to depend on anybody else. She went on to explain that she understood that not everybody can be a doctor or an engineer, but everybody should be capable of living by themself and looking after themselves and their dependents, if need be. I was surprised to hear that clarity of thought from her. Having gone through all sorts of trouble herself, she had realized what was most important for her daughter to be happy in her life. She had plans of educating her daughter, who was then in high school and get her some sort of vocational training, that would hold her in good stead. I remember being very impressed by her far sightedness and her determination to learn from her situation and to ensure that her daughter is better prepared for life.
Some time back a close friend had been going through some difficulties in her marriage. She was trying everything to make it work, and the one thing that she says, kept her going was her sense of self-worth. She knew that she was not in a desperate condition. She knew that she could start from scratch – if need be. She had that confidence and one of the biggest reasons was that she knew that she was self-sufficient. She did not need to depend on anybody to live a decent life. She was not worried about her parents not taking her back or the society – mainly because she was independent.
I remember having a conversation with someone about the need to make sure that girls are made self sufficient before getting them married off. This person was almost offended. She asked me, why on earth does a woman need to bother about all these things, when she has her father and brother(s) before marriage and her husband after marriage to look after her. It was explained to me that it was attitudes such as mine that caused trouble in the first place. If women knew their place, apparently the need to be self sufficient would never arise! I had mentioned earlier as well, how a family, who should have learnt from their experience, but chose to send their daughter down the same path.
It really made me wonder that the logic which my maid was so clear about, was still so difficult for some people to understand. If every parent, instead of worrying about a daughter’s dowry, brought her up instilling a sense of confidence in her, giving her the tools to stand on her own feet, telling her that she need not be dependent on anybody, half the issues that women face today, would not exist.
My dad always says, ‘Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst’. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Today, I am not a working woman, but I know that I can take care of my family if I need to. I know that I can handle finances, I know that I will not need to depend on anybody else. Preparing our daughters to be in a position to accept whatever life throws at her and not end up a victim? We cannot prepare for everything, but surely we can give our children the confidence that they can handle everything?
This is my entry for the Indusladies International Women’s Day Blog Contest.