15 August, 2008

In search of the free self

I know a cool lady working in an air-conditioned office taking home a fat pay: Harini. She is 28 years old with a 4-year-old child. Her husband is very supportive. He brings in groceries, takes care of their child when this cool-lady-working-in-an-air-conditioned-office-taking-home-a-fat-pay comes home late. He even feeds the child and puts him to sleep. Talk about modern-day-women’s-liberation.

There is another cooler lady, Swati. She is 40-years-old and is a Managing Director of a big company. She has two grown up daughters who fend for themselves. When she had daughters she took time off work and devoted 5 years for them. After all a mother has a very important role to play. And she found a mid-way to satiate her want of a career and also to give time to her children in the important years of their life. Again, talk about modern-day-women’s-liberation.

We women feel good when we hear of such motivating stories of modern day women. Don’t we? We feel good that we are born in this age when women can achieve what they set out to. That we can dream big and chase our dreams without having to fight the family or the society. We feel we needn’t ‘sacrifice’ for the ‘ways of the society’ that our parents or family tell us about. There is hope, we tell ourselves.
And we feel proud to be a part of this era advocating the ‘free self’.

In my teenage years, I watched the previous generation women sacrificing their wants and wishes for – family, husband, parents or for children. And I would wonder if it was worth the sacrifice, if it was worth killing the ‘self’ for others around her who have no value of that ‘self’. The ‘self’, which needs to be tested, which needs to grow with time and uncover hidden facets with time. I was hounded by these questions that do not have answers. I would think of equality between the sexes. I would wonder if they can ever be equal. If they can be measured against the same parameters? Whether this free world really exists or if these are just words of dreamers who always dream of a perfect world.

Today, I do not know the mid-way like our friend Swati or Harini know. I believe that essentially the ‘self’ is free and can live the life the ‘self’ wants. And that one's gender no longer decides one’s fate. I believe I can live a life that I want to live. A life without those unnecessary sacrifices that I saw my mother make, those gulps of pride and the killing of the ‘self’ that her sisters, cousins had to live with. I tell myself everyday that I will not give in to these ways of the society which I do not believe in, that I would live a free life. I tell myself.
Perhaps I am in denial. And perhaps I refuse to see what I do not want to see. Filtering all that I do not like to see, all that I do not want to do. However, if I can stand unshaken in this male-dominated society and societal ways remains to be seen...

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