Year after year, we have been celebrating our Independence Day with so much vigour and excitement. We are told brave heart stories of our ancestors, their struggles, the tough phases they went through, their liberal mindedness, and their ability to think ahead of the times. It is all ingrained in us now.

We must remember them and pay them our respects. No doubt!

However, what about today? Nobody talks about today. Is being free once in 1947 enough for a lifetime for the country? The people of that time got us freedom from the British. That was the primary focus and need then. What about today though, are we really free from all the bonds holding us back?

No… Not at all! 

I am an engineer by profession. I work in a male-dominant field. I am a new mother as well. So many women like me experience how inconsiderate our surroundings are when we, and scores of women like us, think of competing in a man’s world! Just the fact that even today in the 21st century there exists a term like “a man’s world” says it all. Why do we continue to be stuck in such norms?

I won’t be expecting for all to be considerate towards me for being a woman. Most of us never have asked for it! 

However, the least I expect people to do is to show some respect for the amount of work I and many like me, including women staying at home, put in every single day of our life – all to achieve the professional life of our dreams while being equally responsible for nurturing the next generations at home.

When, after an extent, we cannot put in extra working hours, we are subjected to an array of comments on the lines of “Oh! How lucky she is to be a woman; she can leave early!”. In a 9-to-5 job, leaving at 8:30 pm is considered early! At such times, I wish I hit back then and there – do you even release how difficult it is to be a woman? We are expected to be superwomen throughout our lives! 

None of us have the liberty to sit idle at home when not working at our workplaces.

If I am not married or with children, if I am single, I am perceived (expected) to be always happy and cheerful, but constantly subjected to judgmental stares; when and where I go, who I meet, when I return – everything is recorded. In the case I have any or many guy friends, I will be assumed to have a “loose” character, and that would also be assumed to be the reason for my ‘unmarried’ status. 

There would be hardly any consideration of the fact that there could be other reasons for me to be single – like focusing on my career, which is more important to me at this moment, or family responsibilities requiring all the time and resources I would otherwise invest in searching for a partner. Maybe I am healing from a broken relationship, and those friends which make me look ‘loose’ to you are in fact my strongest supporters, helping me pull through the day. Or, maybe, I am simply happy being single at the moment and I feel no need of a partner in my life. Whatever it might be, why does society not let me just be? Why cannot society move beyond all this and look at me just as I am, without the labels?

It saddens me to say this, but such is the typical situation ordinary women experience these days. 

A working woman is considered incapable of handling her home well. She is deemed an irresponsible wife/ daughter-in-law if married. If not, and if she has passed the socially accepted age of marriage and is still single, she is deemed loose, or a burden, or simply, there’s some problem in her. A working mother is selfish, she doesn’t give any time to her children. A stay-at-home mother does nothing but watch TV and has no aim in life but spend her husband’s money. 

The most surprising part in all of this is that it is often the women who say all this, without thinking twice. How ironical can things get! 

Being a woman, I can highlight a woman’s point of view more precisely. Probably there are men around us as well who face such issues daily, are misunderstood by the society and are suffering equally.

If I am indeed right, we really need to ask ourselves some serious questions. Why have we, as a society, become incapable of understanding each other’s struggles, challenges? Why cannot we understand and empathise with each other? Is empathy a feeling so difficult to incorporate in our daily life? Is belittling others the only way to prove our greatness?

It is high time we free ourselves from such insecurities and attitudes; they are both wrong and harmful, not only for us, but for upcoming generations as well. Our behaviour today is what will reflect tomorrow in the next generation. I so not wish to be part of a tomorrow which is so shallow! 

We need to work towards freeing our minds of all these shackles which have made us so self-centred that empathy is nowhere to be seen. May be then, instead of celebrating only a glorious past, we will be together in celebrating a bright future as a happy society as well.

Sayalie Joshi-Pathak

Sayalie Joshi-Pathak is a young mother and an experienced Automation Engineer based in Nasik.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Tilak Chronicle and TTC Media Pvt Ltd.

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