Friday, June 23, 2017

Can Indian girls ever be treated 'independent and responsible' ? (without getting married)

I once heard from a friend who visited Berlin in Germany. He was telling me how instead of staying in a hotel which is the norm he decided to do a homestay where people rent out their homes for guests to live in, cook, live as though they were living at home for as many days and make the payment accordingly for the water, electricity and space used at the end of their stay. He said he saw that there was a local German girl who was independent and running one such homestay. She was single, 35 years old, lived with her old parents in the middle of town of Berlin and had her own home to herself which she owned and had rented. She ran her own painting classes and sold these for a living. This girl instantly became my role model- someone who is independent and responsible and took care of her old parents.

In India girls are treated very different- at least from the social background in which I live. We are not talking about the 'big shot Indira Nooyis, Anu Aghas and Barkha Dutts'. The average Indian girl is considered to be accountable to her parents, should have 'decent' friends, get married at a reasonable age, have kids and be a 'good' mother. That is the 'normal' life for an average Indian woman. But hey, can we think a little different? How about a woman contributing to the GDP of the country and being a working girl- a working daughter, sister, mother and wife. Low and behold! The task is doubled. She has to work doubly hard to 'prove' herself. In feminism, there is a view that a woman's biology determines her role and status in life. But is that true? There are certain women like Mary Kom and others who have challenged such notions but such women are out of the ordinary and not an 'average' Indian woman. What about the others?

Someone once told me that Indian women are not supposed to do anything for themselves- as children for their 'parents', as older women for their 'husbands' and as mothers for their 'sons' ('daughters' again a big question mark because they don't belong to the house but have to 'take care of their OWN homes'..which again is God knows where). This got me thinking that somewhere, something is wrong. Something is wrong either with the mindset, or with the education or with just the way things are. Since I can be stubborn, rigid and obstinate I chose to think that if something is 'right' with this view, then maybe I am 'happy to be wrong' and yet think that 'no, women should live for themselves'.

This just got me thinking whether I am in the 'right' or the 'wrong' place. I still have lots of questions which get me thinking about this mindset. Yet my suggestion to some girls growing up can be only that 'plan to work, be independent, financially and emotionally'. The most important aspect after spiritual and emotional and physical health is of course financial health. Its only what you do, rather than speak or think, that can make a difference to your life. Let your life be a message and doorway to the way you believe and want to live- independent and responsible.