Girls and Their Right to a Career

Spicy Saturday Pick

Cover of "Daughter"

Spicy Saturday Pick

 

Post selected as a Spicy Saturday Pick in BlogAdda for 10-Dec-2011

Featured at Symptoms of Disempowerment on 22-Dec-2011.

Featured at Global Voices Online on 17-Dec-2011

Here is my 100th post on Merry Musings – and I wanted to take this time to write of a girl I know, who has been banned from having a career or joining a college course of her wish.

Ananya is a 17-year-old – a bright and wonderful girl. She is now in the 12th form at a Girls’ School. She lives with her Dad, Mom and a little brother.

Just like any girl about to embark into College has some ideas about the course she wants to pursue, Ananya too has some desires. She is extremely talented with her hands – stitching, fabric painting, glass painting, doll making – these are all crafts she excels at – as well as having great grades at school. Her ambition is to become an Interior Designer or Fashion Designer and would like to get into such a College course which will prep her for such a career.

However, her dad has different ideas. In spite of living in the 21st century, his mindset is still stuck in the 1900s. He thinks that girls are only good for being married off. His intentions about his daughter’s studies – to get her into the college next-door and enrol her in a useless course which will definitely not aid her in any way to get a job or become financially independent. And as soon as the course is complete, to get her married off! Convenient, isn’t it?

She is desperate – her Mom is sympathetic, but has no voice where her husband says that his Will is the Law in that house. Her dad is acting like a tyrant – even tries to get rid of her skin products like cleanser and moisturiser – just to make sure that his daughter does not fall into any traps and shame the family name by eloping or getting married outside the community. In fact that seems to be his only concern over his daughter.

Several have tried to change his mind, including his eldest sister who said, “A girl should be equipped to take a job if necessary. If not, she will be a slave in her husband’s home.” But all to no avail. So far, no one has managed to change his mind. Ananya dreads the day she completes her final exams in 12th grade. Then the countdown begins to the day of her marriage – along with the death of a talented girls desires and ambitions.

What do you think of a father who is only concerned about getting his daughter married off? Has he thought of how she will react if her husband turns out be as oppressive as her dad is?Or what if she is married and her husband dies – what will her Dad do then? Or if she is married to a guy who seemed to be perfect but turned out to be a nightmare? I know girls who have been in both situations and the only thing that saved them was that they had a job.

She is a rather modern girl, with a mind of her own. However, her wings are being clipped right now, to make sure that she has no chances of maligning the family name. I imagine it is a case of ‘Prevention is better than Cure.” I wonder why he bothered to teach her or even goad her on to get good grades in school. If he only wanted her to be stuck in a strange family’s kitchen, then he should just have let her stay at her mother’s side and learned the “domestic arts”.

Today she is crying and her pleas for help are falling on sympathetic ears who are helpless to change her dad’s mind. I can imagine what will slowly happen to this girl – either she will just succumb to her Dad’s pressure and agree to get married at the earliest possible opportunity, burying all her fond hopes of a career. Or when she starts college (at least that is definite – dad certainly wants his daughter to have a degree in hand, else her value in the marriage market will fall), she will have friends who will be sympathetic to her problems and offer advice, which in all probability may be the wrong ones, and may take some wrong turns in life. Or she may break free from the golden cage and follow her heart’s desire.

Fathers such as these are extremely myopic. They are only concerned about their duty to their daughters, namely to get them married off, and then it is all out of focus for them. They don’t even take view of the fact that their darling daughter will be the one to suffer because of their archaic thinking.

Dear readers, what do you think Ananya can do other than to submit to the will of the father?

Genesis of a Blog


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In the beginning, she created the blog.  The blog was formless and empty, and darkness covered the settings of the blog. And the spirit of the creator was hovering over the surface of the blog.

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.

Then she said, “Let there be a theme”. And she found that the theme was bright and colorful and highlighted the blog nicely.

And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

Then she said,”‘Let there be Pages, to separate the blog posts from the other sections in the blog”. And that is what happened.  She made this space to separate the posts of the blog from the other areas of the blog. She called this space ‘Home Page’.

And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.

Then she said, “Let an ‘About’ page appear so that she can say what this blog is all about”. She made an ‘About’ page and she saw that it was good.

And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.

Then she said, “Let the blog be filled with posts of every kind as and when the creative mind is at work.” So she created a blog post. And she saw that it was fine. Then she hoped, “ Let the other bloggers make  comments, and let the posts multiply on this blog.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.

Then she said, “Let me tweak the settings on this blog, so that it reflects my personality and is pleasing to the eye.” Then she looked over all she had made, and she saw that it was very good.

And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

Thus, the creation of the blog and  everything in it was completed. On the seventh day she had finished her work of creation, so she rested from all her work.

This is the account of the creation of  ‘Merry Musings’.

I have become a Spicy Saturday Pick on BlogAdda


Spicy Saturday Pick for 13 Nov 2010

Spicy Saturday Pick for 13 Nov 2010

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Thanks to all who have read my post 🙂

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Marriage and Babies



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Selected Spicy Saturday Pick in BlogAdda for 13-11-2010

In India, everyone (well, a lot anyway) seems to think that having a girl baby is a huge burden. There is the trouble of making sure that no one ogled her during her growing years, worries about whether she’ll get a ‘proper’ husband, then finding a proper husband for her and negotiating with the ‘proper’ husband’s family for her dowry.

You’d think that the family’s troubles are over once she is married and settled at her husband’s home. But that’s a far cry from the actual situation.

Almost from the very next day after a girl is married, all the older relatives think……no, let me correct that…they believe that it is their prerogative to enquire whether the girl is pregnant. And if she is not pregnant within the first year of marriage, then may God help her. She’d be bombarded with questions from every ‘well-meaning’ relative about the inappropriateness of being childless after one solid year of marriage. Add a few more months to that, and relatives will now be changing their tune, and giving subtle and some not-so-subtle hints about the various treatments available nowadays 🙂 All this hullabaloo even after the couple vehemently say that they do not want any kids for a few years. And if the couple turn a deaf ear to these relatives, then they head straight to the girl’s parents with their ‘anxiety’ over a 1-year old couple living childless.

Time passes by, and the girl becomes pregnant. Once again the tribe descends over her and pass remarks about the shape of her belly, how it is supposed to be shaped in case it is a baby girl, and how not for a baby boy. Every single female relative has a sure-fire way of predicting the gender of the unborn baby. And the grandmothers usually bless the couple with – ‘May you have a baby boy (always and forever, Amen!)’.

When I was pregnant, my mother took a look at my pregnant belly along with her sisters, and passed a comment like this – “I think it is a girl. In my days, it was customary that a pregnancy carried high and shaped like a ball was supposed to be a boy, while a low one without much protrusion was a girl. However, nowadays, it is the other way around.” And my mother was seconded and thirded by her sisters. Mine was low and rather shapeless and my mom voiced the thought of her generation (that is was a girl), but had all bases covered by saying that the new generation had it differently. So, in the same statement, she managed to convey that she was clueless about the gender of the child :-D.

Choosing names for a baby-in-the-belly is a non-fun activity. First off, there’s the uncertainty whether the kid is a boy or a girl.  Unlike in the West,  India has banned foetal gender determination due to the high incidence of female infanticide. Add a dash of well-meant predictions from every Tom, Dick and Harry about the baby’s gender, and you are ready to tear your hair out.

For some reason, every couple I have met seems to have loads of names lined up for a daughter. However, when asked about a baby boy, they are stumped for names. Names for babies are usually determined by the currently popular movies in theatres – when ‘Taare Zameen par‘ was released, ‘Ishaan’ was a hot favourite. ‘Auro’ became a runaway hit with its debut in the movie ‘Paa‘. The Twilight saga saw names like Edward, Victoria, Bella and Isabella soar in popularity.

Now the mom-to-be is at the hospital as per schedule for her delivery. But the predictions don’t stop even at this juncture. Some say that girls prefer to come out early, and others think boys would love to stay behind for some more time and needs to be kicked out of their cozy nest. Finally, after all the predictions and waiting, the little one pops out, and smiles that wonderful smile. Who cares if it is a boy or a girl now? She is HERE! 🙂