I have always been a feminist even before feminism was in vogue if you know what I mean. And by a feminist I do not mean men hater or only a woman supporting kind of person. No. I believe in equality of both sexes.
This is me:
Someone who stands true to her beliefs. Who doesn’t live by the rules made by the society.
But even I have faced the consequences of the stereotypes we have for women today.
Even I have faced people’s doubts on my abilities just because I was the so-called fairer sex. There have been times where I had to choose one thing OR the other. Career OR family, good daughter-in-law OR a writer.
This is my story of some compromises that I made (which eventually made me a stronger woman) and choices that changed my and someone else’s life for good.
Like every other students, I too joined my engineering college with a dream of being a successful engineer one day. I was good at studies and passed with fairly good marks. I also bagged a job through our campus placement to a multinational company.
Everything was going according to the plan and I couldn’t be more happy with the way my life had turned out. But they say every light of the day has to see the darkness of night.
It was the year 2008. The year that changed my life. A global recession hit the economy hard and soon IT companies were downsizing their staff. Many people went jobless. But my future company was considerate enough to not only keep their present staff but also make place for their newly recruited trainees. However they reduced the salary package considerably.
Money they say is the root of all evil. It changed my fairytale life to a unplseant reality.
My big rich conservative joint family didn’t find it good enough for her daughter to work for someone else for an amount much less than they give to their employees.
The decision would have been different of corse if I was a boy.
According to my family I need not work because I had everything one could ever want in life. Money, Power, Looks.
They refused me to accept the job and instead proffered to join the family business which I had no interest in. I didn’t know a thing about construction and I was an electronics engineer. Not a civil one. I wanted to do something in my field.
I protested, argued, cried but in vain. They would blackmail me.
“You either become a good daughter by doing as we say OR take up the job and prove we are nothing to you.”
“What will you do after marriage? Do you want to be a good wife and a homemaker OR a working women who has to struggle for a work life balance all her life.”
I wanted to scream that I can handle both. That its high time these scathing labels for women be changed. I wanted to tell them:
‘I can be a good homemaker AND a good working women. That I can be a good daughter AND a professional.’
I was the so-called “bade baap ki bigdi beti“. It was the first time I had gotten a no for something I wanted. I just couldn’t cope up with the refusal. Instead of talking to them and making them understand, I just got angry and started keeping to myself. I was hurt but couldn’t hurt my family.
That was the only point in my life where my decision was not what I wanted for me. I had failed my own values. I am a person of strong opinions and stand up to my beliefs no matter what.
So it affected me to such an extent that I went into depression.
It was then when I took up writing. It kind of liberated me when my feelings took form of words and smiled back at me from the pages of my diary.
Short articles and poetry were my new-found passion and I forgot everything and immersed myself in it.
Slowly I realised I was actually loving it!
It helped me face the reality. I picked up the broken pieces of my dreams and moulded them into a completely new one. To be a successful Writer.
Becoming financially independent was still my agenda and writing came to me like a ray of hope in a dark dungeon. If I couldn’t go to office, I brought office to home. I started earning through freelance writing and was happy about it.
I got married in the year 2011. When I came to my new family, I saw my history repeating itself. This time with my husband’s sister. She had completed her engineering and wanted to go to Pune for a job. My in-laws wouldn’t allow her, as again her package was less.
Apparently girls of Gujarati families had to earn very high. Doesnt matter if you are just starting your career. That’s not important. It’s degrading for gujju parents if their daughter’s income is less than their expected standards. Which is usually more than 30,000 per month at the minimum. Either that or get married to a highly successful businessman.
So there was my sister-in-law facing the same problems that I had only a couple of years ago.
I was new to the family and was confused if I should involve myself in this matter or not.
I was advised by many not to because I was newly wed and should invest my time in making a good impression in front of my in-laws. Not counteract them. Friends and family said, I had to be a good daughter in law first.
But my conscience didn’t allow me to do that. I may have acted a bit immature when my career was at stake but I had learnt my lesson. I could not allow another girl, my husband’s sister for that matter compromise in her life just because she was a woman.
I stood firm against it. I sat her parents up and made them understand that their daughter wanted to carve her own path. May be she had everything in life but nothing of her own. She is a talented girl and should be allowed to make her own decisions.
They were not very sure about it but they couldn’t say no to their very new daughter in law.
That day I felt I had succeeded in life. There was this feeling of content and happiness that I wouldn’t have felt even if I had convinced my own parents for my job back then. You will know this feeling only when you do something for someone else or give a person exactly what he/she needs desperately at that very moment.
Today she is working in an IT company as a java developer in Pune. I have finally become independent financially through my freelance writing. Initially I had to struggle to find time to write amidst my responsibilities. (Working from home has its own pros and cons).
Of course the money is not huge but it brings me happiness and satisfaction.
My own personal cabin awaits me in my husband’s company but I am content with my iPad and bedroom cum office.
This is how I turned my OR to my and someone else’s AND.
Its high time people realised we women can no longer be labeled in one dimension.
We can be good daughters, daughters in law and good professionals.
We can be fashionable writers, artistic programmers AND be awesome in different and limitless roles that we play in life.
The day every woman steps out of the box, crumble these fallacies and do things and everything that they ever wanted to do in life, in their own way, the world will know the power of a woman.
That will be the beginning of a new era. The era where people will say, “Once upon a time women were considered the weaker sex”
“This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus“.
By- Sweety Pateliya