These are the words that were very proudly stated by my father’s uncle in a gathering. They were aimed at me because I dared catch him in a moment of sexism.
Even though people nodded their heads and I listened to the chiding quietly, with respect, questions were arising in my mind. If I, as a 24 year old woman, sitting in suburban India, was bound to agree to what he was saying, what was the point?
If anyone says that they ‘allowed’ a woman in the family to do something and that makes them a good person and that means that he respects women, I’m so sorry… that’s not true. I should not be in a position where the right to education is in the hands of the patriarchal heads of the family. I know that in the generation before mine there are 12 women in my family and all of them are ‘housewives’ right now. I, being the first child and girl in my generation, was allowed to go abroad alone to study. Allowed. While my cousin, a brother, who I love more dearly than any person, has been in boarding school and then went to the US to study for the past decade or so.
I am grateful that my parents gave me the chance to explore my options and live my dreams instead of marrying me off to a stranger before I even understood what my own opinion about anything in this world was. Unfortunately for the elders though, with all due respect, I have an opinion now, and that is something that no one can allow or deny me.
Until the day, this notion that we are ahead in times because we allow the girls in our family to do stuff other families don’t is replaced by indifference to the fact that the child who is studying is a girl or a boy, I’m sorry- your pride is hollow. These words are hollow and this society is hollow. No one should have the power to allow me to do anything, just because I am a girl. Only I should hold that power and I trust my upbringing enough to know that I will never allow myself to do anything wrong.
That night, I was called a Politician for siding with my cousin, who was slogging in the kitchen making the chicken, that my grandfather was assuming her husband made because he is a good cook. Even though the husband was said that he has played no part in preparing the chicken dish, my grandfather, instead of complementing his own grandchild, my cousin, continued praising the husband saying “You have taught her everything she knows about cooking.”
I’m sure my cousin does not know that I was scolded that night, because of course, she was in the kitchen, with all the other women in the gathering-even though “The times have changed for women.”