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?

The Day Dad was Almost Shot

I am dedicating this post to a person who has always supported, chastised, encouraged and loved me throughout my life – My DAD!

This is an incident that happened in my family during the infamous Gulf War in 1990. It was the year I started at my new school in the Third standard. The year we bought a new car – the Mitsubishi Colt.

On Aug 2nd 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and annexed it as their 19th province. Little did we know that a new chapter was about to begin in the lives of many, including our own.

Expatriates and citizens alike started storing up food in freezers and selling stuff on the black market. Iraqi soldiers had taken up plundering and looting apartments by holding their occupants at gunpoint. There were also quite a few ‘in’-opportunists who tried to make a quick buck posing as Iraqi soldiers and trying to loot apartments. There were bangs and gun-fires to be heard in the night. We had all taped up our windows (to prevent them from shattering due to huge noises) and there were talks of the possible use of nerve gas in Kuwait. Many were beginning to contemplate leaving the land that gave wings to their dreams.

One day, while Dad was returning home from a trip to Kuwait City, his car was suddenly flagged down by a couple of Iraqi officers. Conversing in Arabic, they communicated that they wanted Dad to take them someplace. There were several stories circulating about people being taken away by the Iraqi military to the desert and robbed and shot. Mindful of these stories, and seeing the guns in their hands, Dad agreed without a word.

They quickly got into the car, with one occupying the passenger seat next to Dad and the other one, right behind him. Dad started up the car, and they were on their way to God knew where. As the two soldiers struck up a conversation, Dad prayed silently to be kept safe. He had a wife and two kids waiting anxiously for him to return home.

As they rode on, the car suddenly began acting up. It started sputtering and stuttering and came to a complete halt. As the soldiers looked on at Dad, he was at a complete loss about what to do next. This could end in two ways – either they would leave Dad alone and be off someplace else; else, they may even shoot Dad for leaving them in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car.

With some trepidation, Dad offered to get out and check out what went wrong. Grudgingly, they agreed, but always had their eyes trained on Dad. They probably suspected that Dad purposely got the car to break down to inconvenience them. Dad opened up the bonnet and found that something was wrong and that the car wouldn’t budge an inch without someone else’s help. Trembling, Dad apprised the soldiers of the situation, and suggested that they hitch a ride in another car, since this one wasn’t very reliable.

They meditated on this solution for a few minutes and soon warmed to it. Luckily (for our family), a Mercedes-Benz came next on the road, and the soldiers flagged it down and took off. Dad gave thanks to the Lord for the rescue and prayed for the occupants of the Mercedes-Benz that rescued him from a dire fate.

Now, 21 years after the war, I heard this story from my husband. Apparently, Dad talked about it to him while narrating his experiences in Kuwait during the war. And here is Dad today with his grandson –

Dad and Grandson
Tangy Tuesday Pick

This post has been selected as a Tangy Tuesday Pick on BlogAdda for Sep 6 2011

Second Move in 8 Months

So, the title says it all. We have moved house yet another time, the second shifting in 8 months. Yesterday was the grand day.

After getting all kinds of reassurances from the owner that the house was in spick-and-span condition, we had a minor shock when we moved in. The house reeked of fresh paint, the floor was covered in a layer of dust, the calling bell wouldn’t work, the newly installed wash basin had a leak and neither our bedroom, nor the kitchen balcony had a lock.

Of course, we immediately got into touch with the owner and he agreed to reimburse the one-time cleaning charges for the house. ANd then we got to work, cleaning and scrubbing. Of course, Little One was completely bewildered. He was in an unknown place, and neither his Dad nor Mom seemed particularly interested in him, with a scolding every time he tried to explore a new shelf, cupboard or even the floor. Finally, irritated with everyone and everything around him, he decided to do what he knew best. He sat on the floor and started to bawl.

Of course, that got everyone’s attention and soon he was in my arms. And when he got bored with me, he would jump into his Dad’s arms.

To tell more about the house, it is on the fifth floor, just 5 minutes away from my office and is very bright and airy. It has four (!!!) balconies, where we have a very nice view of the road construction and get a great opportunity to inhale all that dust into our lungs. Here are some pics –

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the 5 years of my marriage, I have lived in 4 different houses, with this being the fifth one. I hope the next move will be to a home of my own, and I finally can live a settled life after leading a nomadic existence for ages.