I am born.

I am born. I hear cries of “it’s a girl, it’s a girl! Everyone is happy (I think…). I meet my mother. She looks at me with doleful eyes. Why the mixed emotions? Other people come to me and perform traditional and religious ceremonies. I am loaded with flowers, new clothes, gifts and shagun (money).

I am 3 years old. I wear frocks and play with Barbie. I dress her up, she is pretty. I want to be like her when I grow up. Papa says: I am like a doll.

I am 5 now. I go to school. Convent school. We learn, pray and learn. I want to play outside. But, it’s dark now, says Mamma. I play with Dhruv. He is my best friend. Papa tells me to call him “Bhaiyya”. But he is not my brother. I wonder …

I enter Teens. School uniform changes. We wear shalwar kameez now. But we did wear skirts before. Why the sudden change. It’s so hot. I wonder…

Today we learned something new at school. Periods. Momma says: be careful, and don’t talk about it in front of Papa. I also have to wear a bra now. I don’t like it, it hurts me, it’s too tight.

Mamma says I am a big girl now. But they don’t let me go out on my own. I should sit with closed legs and behave properly. I also help in the kitchen now. I can make tea, Maggie and chappatis. Mamma took me to a beauty parlour. I didn’t like it, it was so painful. Why do I need this? Don’t I look okay already? …

School trip going to Shimla. I want to go. Papa says no.

I score 85% in 10th boards. Papa is so proud and Mamma is crying with happiness. They tell everyone neighbours, relatives and friends. I get new clothes.

I want to study Political Science. Papa says, take Home Science, it’s best for you.

I go to College. Girl’s College. Again. Boys are bad. Obviously.

I study English Literature. I learn a lot of different things. Mamma doesn’t like some of them. She says it spoils the mind of an innocent sweet girl like me.

College trip going out again. I plead. This time Mamma supports me. But Papa says, it’s dangerous for young girls to go out alone. I keep quiet.

I graduate with flying colours. Gold medal from the university. Mamma and Papa are very happy. I want to look for a job. I want to write. I want to study further. Abroad. No.

Papa asks what are your future plans? Marriage: Love  or arranged. No option.

Advertisement in matrimonial:

A fair, homely, convent-educated, bright girl looks for a teetotaler boy from decent family with a handsome package.

But I don’t want to, do I? I wonder … Mamma said I will start a new life, I should be obedient and dutiful.

Study further: Yes  or No.

Job: Yes  or No.

Marriage: Yes or No.

I try to rebel. TRY. REBEL.

I will rise.
I will rise.

Disclaimer: This article has also been published on Women’s Web.

 

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37 thoughts on “I am born.

    1. Thank you Tarun! I have a question, are you talking about the character here when you mention “you sound like living life of a tree, doing what others tell you… why not take charge of your life?” or me?

  1. Liked it so much. I am not from India, but live here. So many times I wondered why it has to be here like that, why there is no freedom in this country of democracy…

    1. Thank you Ania! I appreciate you taking out time to read this even though you don’t associate yourself with this. And yes, it’s very sad. But I hope to see a different world one day.

  2. More! I’m looking forward to reading more from you. Your text clears things up! I think it’s very important to write and speak about the real and often unfree life of many indian women. Keep it up!

  3. It actually is a sad but true reality.. thanks for the much needed reality check! Looking forward to the next post named: “I rise”

  4. Hey Japleen! This is a great start! I especially like the inquisitiveness and confusion that you have captured in the character; such confusion is a typical product of oppression. I also like that it ends with “REBEL”, as a way of breaking away from the shackles. I guess when I first read the title, my expectation was that it would be a more personal entry than this, sharing your personal experience of being a woman. Since it is not so, maybe it’s more appropriate to title it “She is born”. The “she” evokes some distance from the author (indicating that this is not the path your life took), but also enforces the message of depersonalization that you are trying to convey a bit more strongly. Good luck and keep writing!

  5. The sad part is that this character is not different from 99% females of the country. Having male friends is wrong. Laughing loudly in front of the guests is wrong, better to stay shut in your room. Tuition teacher will come home and if you are going to his home then another girl shall accompany you.
    Anything above ankle-length dresses is wrong.
    If a guy teases you, then don’t tell anyone. Do not retaliate. Don’t go to college for few days. NEVER think of going to police or worse, your father. He will get you married within a week.
    It’s a great start in story-telling and blogging.
    Please do keep it up and try to more frequent.
    I loved the part where it says “I try to rebel. Try. Rebel.”
    We are country where dreaming about (or worse, wanting) the most basic human desires of women trying to be happy is called “rebellious” and even then they can only try. They are not given enough space to even to dip their toes in the murky quicksand known as freedom & happiness.
    But I hope that this changes. Soon.

    1. Really nice … I don’t read any blog normally but just came to this link through some site …and I loved it …honestly I have bookmarked your blog ….looking forward for some nice stuff .. 🙂

  6. Unfortunately, I can see how many – if not most – women in our country will identify with this.

    Very well written. Hope to see many more rebels. You’re the best kind of people!

  7. Wow, this is very powerful stuff. I love the rawness of it. I look forward to reading more (if you post more) I want to know about the rebellion! I feel that sometimes rebellion is a girls best friends. While it may be frowned upon by others, it gives us the freedom to live how we want without the constraints of caring what society wants and thinks.

  8. In future you might consider offering such writing to publications (such as Outlook) and earn a small amount of cash and great deal of exposure.
    Best Wishes.

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