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AtoZ Challenge 2018ParentingWoman Empowerment

Unwarranted Extravagance on Wedding Ceremonies – #AtoZChallenge

posted by Anupriya April 24, 2018 0 comments

“Everything about last night’s wedding ceremony emanated opulence. Isn’t it?” Smita remarked as she propped her back on Sharman’s shoulder.  Last night they had attended the wedding of the sister of Sharman’s colleague and thereafter had a Saturday night out at the night flea market, shopping for decoration pieces for their home.  They were now enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon post a late brunch. Sharman was watching his favorite sports series on the television while Smita picked up a latest release by a popular mythological fiction author. But Smita’s mind kept running to the wedding function she had attended last night.

The venue was like straight out of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie. Decorations were abundant with colors and the choicest of accessories complemented by artistic lightwork. The garland exchange ceremony of the bride and the groom was set-up on an elevated revolving stage fitted with torch lights and flower pumps. It had felt like the Gods themselves had descended to bless the couple. It was not just the decoration, the food was galore. Continue Reading

AtoZ Challenge 2018LifeStyleParentingWoman Empowerment

The Oppressed Wife – AtoZChallenge

posted by Anupriya April 17, 2018 0 comments

Smita came and took her seat with a thud. Three of her team members who occupied the cubicle with her turned around to look at a hassled Smita who was visibly upset. Gaurav, her junior tried to strike a conversation with her but gave up the idea looking at her furious eyes when she turned to look at him. The air had become so heavy that Yatin, their team lead from the other side of the partition peeped from above to see what the matter was and looked around and raised his eye brows asking if anyone knew any better. Some of the team mates caught him in action and shook their head. Yatin nodded lightly closing his eyes slowly and then opening them again, with an assuring grin. He got back to work with a thought that he’d have to invite Smita for lunch today with him and his wife Anagha. As he watched Smita go about her work in her vulnerable state, he pinged Anagha requesting her to make time to have lunch with Smita and him. He gave her a heads up when his wife agreed to meet them at the food court.

Smita agreed to having lunch with Yatin, quite reluctantly though. Yatin smiled mildly, realizing that one of the perks of being the boss was that your team members could not refuse you when you asked them to have lunch with them. Especially, when the boss had invited his wife too. As Yatin and Smita headed towards the food court, he turned to look at Smita who was still distracted. He had held his patience since morning and refrained from asking the young lady about her troubles. But now it was getting a little too much to contain the issue.

‘So? Had a tiff with Sharman?’ Yatin asked in an undertone. He did not want to be over heard. And also, he did not want to sound like a nose poker.

Smita knew that a probe was impending right from the moment Yatin had asked her out for lunch. She smiled wryly at her Boss’s question. She didn’t know if she could share the real issue with him. She ran a finger across her hair and shook her head while looking up at him.  They saw Anagha waiting for them at the corner table in the food court and as they joined her Anagha stood up to give Smita a light hug.

‘A little birdie came flying to tell me that someone’s ready to blast today.’ She smiled as she led Smita to join her at the table.

Anagha and Smita ran a mutual admiration club never having a mole of complain from each other. Infact they loved each other. Anagha loved Smita for the vibrant young lady that she was. She had seen Smita bloom from a determined fresher into a fierce professional in the last half a decade. And Smita was in awe of Anagha for the balanced Human Resources professional that she was. She delightful to talk to and found reasons to be nice to people. Smita had never met anyone as empathetic as Anagha. She turned to Yatin and silently mouthed a thanks to him realizing that Anagha was exactly what she needed.

‘So am I allowed to stay, or shall I buzz off from this ladies lunch table.’ Yatin asked cheerfully.  Anagha let out a hearty laugh while Smita blushed as she shook her head. A lot of tension from the morning seemed to have already evaporated.

As the trio opened up their lunch boxes and ordered fresh juice, Smita contemplated whether she should let go and talk about what was bothering her. One look at the couple in their late 30s and all her inhibitions went away. She decided to talk.

‘It’s my mother.’ She confessed.

‘What is she upto now? Trying to making you and Sharman go to the doc to get checked-up?’ Anagha knew how Smita’s mom had set them up for an appointment to see a gynecologist when she had come a fortnight back.  She had had a hearty laugh when Yatin had narrated what Smita had told him the next day.

‘No! That matter got settled when dad arrived last week. But ever since she has been sabotaging Dad for everything and anything he says or does.’ Smita exasperated.

‘If he wants a tea in the morning, she quips at him saying why he can’t fix himself up a simple green tea. If he doesn’t she blames him for confusing her by changing his routine everyday.  If he offers to help her in the kitchen, she is sarcastic enough to let him know that he never offered any help when she really needed it when we were young. And if he lets her be deciding not to disturb her, she taunts him for not changing an ounce in all these years.’  Smita threw her hands wide displaying her confusion at her mom’s behavior.

‘There is not a minute of peace at home these days.’ Smita had asked her parents to come and be with her for this month, because it was too cold up in the north and thought that the moderate weather would be good for them. Moreover her dad had enough leaves to expend before he retired later during the year.

‘She is like a live wire 24×7. Earlier Sharman and I thought that she was upset because we refused to concede to her demand to see the doctor. But later dad confirmed that that’s how she has shaped up as a silver haired old lady. Always complaining, nagging and ready to rip you off.’ Smita breathed deeply to calm herself as Anagha and Yatin gave her all their attention.

‘And that’s the reason you decided to become a live wire today at work.’ Yatin stated as a matter of fact as sipped his orange juice.

‘That’s ok you know. Smita, I am sure you have your own touch me not days.’ Anagha created quotes with both her hands in the air. Yatin smiled slyly as he inferred what Anagha meant to say, even as Smita shook her head vigorously.

‘You ladies and your PMS. I think soon I should start a propaganda popularizing CMS – Cranky Man Syndrome. It will give us poor men a reason to be able to behave weirdly for a couple of days every month.’ Yatin said followed by a silent chuckle.

‘No it’s no PMS or menopause. She was over that thing years ago. I don’t know what’s come over her. To come to think of it more rationally, I think she has been drifting in the direction ever since my marriage. Could it be something to do with me?’ she looked at Yatin and Anagha alternately in confusion, as if a realization had just dawned upon her.

Yatin deliberated Smita’s thoughts, as he scratched his French beard. No one could guess from Yatin’s looks that he was approaching his 40s. He was a fitness freak and took keen interest in matters that interested his young team members. It helped him gel in better with them. His team also looked upto him as a manager who really understood their issues and perspective. After moments of deep thought he let out a gurgling sound, ‘Tell me something Smita? Was your mother an oppressed lady throughout her youth? As in, I mean to ask, who was the dominating entity in your parent’s marriage? Your mother? Or your father?’

Smita did not have to think even for a second for the answer, ‘It was definitely my dad. He was a perfectionist in those days. He wanted things, exactly the way he wanted them. He would take nothing but a perfect ten from us in our tests. So yes, he definitely dominated all of us. I must confess that it was quite painful to live in constant pressure of being evaluated all the time.’ There was a couple of seconds of silence as everyone processed Smita’s words. Smita’s shoulders stooped a little as she felt the burden of a stressful childhood.

‘In retrospect, I think it was ok for my dad to be difficult on us, because he wanted to ensure a secure future for us. He was constantly pushing us to be competitive. I am not sure if I would have performed equally well if this pressure was not there. But my mom took a real hit from his all round the clock stern attitude. She was always on her tenterhooks about what might upset her dad.’ Smita was talking softly. Yatin and Anagha had to really pay attention amidst the noisy food court to follow her words.

And then Yatin threw himself back on his chair, propping his crossed hands behind his head, ‘A very dear friend of mine once told me that all those husbands who have subject their wives to decades of oppression must really pull up their belts once they hit their sixties. I did not understand his words then. But I think I now get what he was getting at.’ Yatin was grinning, while the two ladies looked on at him in confusion.

‘Even we havn’t got much of your rambling Yatin. Please explain?’ Anagha tilted her face in annoyance at the web of words that Yatin had built up.

Yatin leaned forward and propped his hands on the table infront of him.

‘As you said, your mother has felt oppressed for years at your dad’s behest. And as a middle class dedicated lady of the house she took in all that attitude from your dad, because she wanted to maintain decorum in the house. A lot of it was due to your sake. I mean you and your sister’s sake. And now that you both are married and doing well for yourself, she feels that she has done her job well and now needs a break from life. And one result of letting herself unwind is this quipping nature. She just does not feel the need to put up with your dad cordially any more. You could say, it’s a kind of revenge she is taking on your dad and the world for making her life difficult all these years.’ Yatin looked on from Smita to Anagha to assess if they got his point. Smita was nodding slightly in contemplation, while Anagha shook her head refusing to comprehend what her husband was saying.

‘And what would you say about wives like me who are always hell bent upon making their husband hen-pecked all the time’ Anagha smirked at her all knowing husband as Smita and Yatin laughed out loud.

Yatin had an answer to this too, ‘Oh! All this gyan I just gave was for the previous generation of our parents. As far as husbands like me are concerned, we need to always remain on an alert. Because if we even try to oppress our tigress wives they may chose to leave any moment. And without any male chauvinistic qualms I admit that I need my wife way more than she needs me.’

And the trio dispersed on this humored but deep-rooted note.

Read my other AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018MotherhoodWoman Empowerment

Let Go of a Toxic Relationship – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 13, 2018 0 comments

Amrita first saw it on social media. Various groups of students from various batches from her MBA college were talking about it. Within minutes, she received a message, ‘Do you know anything about it? How did it happen? You were close to her.’

Damn, I was close to her. She was my roommate and a cool one. Amrita thought to herself. She checked her contact list for her co-ordinates. I hope this is her active number. Amrita dialed the number and waited pensively.

‘Hi Amu’, came Ishita’s voice from the other end. There was a calm in her voice, as if she were expecting this call.

‘I just read. What happened?’ Amrita chucked off the formalities and got to the point. Anxiety was getting the better of her. Also, she knew that Ishita won’t mind. They had not been the best friends at college, but they were the coolest roommates that anyone could dream of. They had Maggie together at midnight, enjoyed the mushiest of bollywood movies umpteen times on their laptop together. Their late night tet-a-tete(s) were about everything under the sun. Amrita found it hard to believe that the lean girl who was known as the ‘Chota Bomb Bada Dhamaka’ in the batch had been through hell in her marriage. What forced her to file an FIR against her spouse and seek protection? Her head swarmed with questions as she waited for Ishita to reply.

‘He turned out to be a wife-beating puppet in the hands of her mother and sister. He…..’ as Ishita recounted her story, Amrita’s heart went out to her. With a heavy heart she said a few words of support to Ishita and disconnected the call.

Later that night, Amrita mused over what Ishita had told her.

————————————————-

That morning Ishita had left from home in a jiffy because of an important client visit and it was safe to have some time in hand when your office was 30 kms away from your home. She was excited about the meeting because the clients sounded very optimistic and the deal if finalized would mean 120% target met for Ishita. She had only been half way through, when her phone rang and Ishita froze. ‘What could it be? God let everything be fine!’ Ishita’s vision almost blurred with anxiety. She immediately took the call else her husband would think that she was trying to ignore him, which would not go down well with him.

“I have some friends coming over in the evening. So come home early and prepare some good food along with starters.” said the voice on the other end.

Ishita sighed, “That’s no problem. If the meeting goes well, then I will be able to leave early today.”

“I am not concerned about your meeting or clients. You should be home in time enough to have starters and a sumptuous dinner ready for 6 people”, he growled on the phone, “By the way did you clean the toilets today?”

Ishita felt a lump of air choke her and she whispered, “No. I had cleaned them just yesterday, so just washed them over with plain water.” Something told Ishita that this was going to get ugly.

“You are such a good for nothing bitch. I need you to go back home right now and do the cleaning. I do not wish to be embarrassed in front of my colleagues”, he was shouting now.

“But I could do that in the evening. I have an important …” Ishita tried to reason.

“Listen to me girl, I have had enough from you. So if you want to spare yourself the consequences tonight just drive back and clean the entire house” A tear rolled down her eyes as Ishita turned around her car to go back home.

Having done the cleaning, on her drive back to the office, Ishita pulled her car on the service road of the highway and reclined the driver’s seat so that she could lay back and relax for some time. That was the first day when the thought of not carrying on with this toxic relationship occurred to Ishita. A honking truck passing by woke Ishita up from her nap. She straightened her car seat switched on ignition and started for her office where on her request her boss had managed to postpone the meeting for 2 hours. She twitched with a sad grin. ‘Even my boss understands my condition. I did not have to give him any explanation when I requested a late arrival to office.’ She thought, “Then why is it that my own husband cannot see what he is doing to his seven month pregnant wife!”

Ishita’s thoughts ran in an endless loop everyday trying to figure out, how her life had come to be such a mess. She had completed her MBA three years back and was earning a handsome 6 digit salary per month when Harjeet’s family approached her parents for alliance through a common friend. Everything was nice and rosy until the wedding. But there on things had worsened beyond imagination. Her in-laws had not been discrete at all in letting her know that they had not liked the gifts conferred upon them by her parents. Very diplomatically they had led Ishita into feeling guilty about the whole thing and manipulated her into agreeing to spend her money on expensive gifts for Harjeet’s parents’ and extended family.

Things did not end there. Harjeet himself was a Management Post graduate and had ventured into a small business of his own. A couple of days into the wedding, Ishita realized that contrary to what had been presented to her family, Harjeet had not been doing well in his business. As a result Ishita was asked to take care of all the household expenses. She was also expected to perform all the daily chores of the house all by herself because they could not afford domestic help.

Initially, Ishita did not suspect any foul play because she being in a sales profession was enterprising enough to understand that life with a start up owner could be difficult and challenging. She was somehow hopeful that things would work out eventually, and thus did not mind supporting her husband financially or in any other way. Though she felt extremely exhausted running around the house as well as fulfilling her commitments towards her highly demanding job, she continued to work 20 hours a day for those few words of appreciation from her husband.

Why despite being educated and financially independent, did Ishita put one with this nonsense of a relationship? That’s because she did not want to give up so soon. Ishita feared that if she failed as a home-maker, people would get back at her parents for giving her a free hand to pursue a high flying career. She did not want anyone to tell her parents that, “See! This is what happens when you let your girls have their own way. They cease to be good wives!”

Six months down their wedding, Ishita declared her pregnancy anticipating that her in-laws would warm up to her now. That her husband would now take care of her and not abuse her any more. But things worsened. The conversations around her pregnancy were full of hopes of having a boy child. Whatever love and care was showered upon her came with a superscript, “We hope there’s a boy in there.” Harjeet’s unreasonable demands at home and consequent abuse became frequent and violent. Ishita’s only hope to have a peaceful and happy marriage now rested upon the child inside her womb. She prayed to God day and night for a boy.

Days passed by and Ishita went to her parent’s home in a different town for her delivery. She was admitted to the nursing home with an alarming pain in her abdomen. Her husband and his family were informed about the emergency. Harjeet traveled 2 hours to the hospital, met her parents, said some curt words about how he and his family should not be bothered again for such trivial matters and left without meeting her. It was for the first time that her parents came to realize about the problems Ishita had been facing in her marriage. They were astounded, but did not say much because they knew that Ishita needed all their support and care at this crucial juncture in her life.

All hell broke loose for Ishita when she was told that God had showered his blessings in the form of Goddess Lakshmi. A month later Ishita along with her daughter and parents travelled back to her husband’s house. She was terrified at the thought of the treatment her parents might be met with. Nevertheless, what could she do? A married girl could not stay at her parent’s place forever.

So what if she was qualified and financially independent! Her success quotient in life would only come from her ability to keep up a marriage that had only bitterness in its foundation.

Upon reaching her husband’s house, Ishita found a drunk disheveled man who seemed prepared to leash out at anyone who dared to confront him. Her parents while maintaining a composed demeanor tried to reason out with Harjeet. They said that this was their first child; they would definitely have a boy for a second child. Harjeet in his rage became violent and attacked her father with the glass in his hands. When her mother tried to intervene, he pulled her back with her hair and threatened her with her life if she interfered. As Ishita watched the series of events unfold infront of her she went numb and felt as if her feet were struck to the ground. She felt incapable of moving and taking any action. But suddenly she realized that Harjeet was moving towards the cradle in which her daughter was lying. It took her a couple of seconds to comprehend that her daughter was in danger. With the force of lightening she ran to pick up her daughter, shouted out at her parents to gather themselves up and run out of the house. Before a drunk Harjeet could understand what she was upto, she shot out of the house and locked the door with the keys that lay in her trouser pockets.

Ishita is running pillar to post for a battle (legal and emotional) that is hers to fight and win, so that her daughter can live a life with her head held high. As Ishita looks over her sleeping angel, she understands now that God did not confer his blessings upon her in the form of Goddess Lakshmi. Instead he sent Ma Shakti in the form of her daughter so that she would give her the strength to let go of a toxic relationship and fight back the injustice she had been tolerating for so long. Becoming a mother changed everything for her.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018MotherhoodParentingWoman Empowerment

Jealous Mother-in-Law

posted by Anupriya April 11, 2018 4 Comments

Smita was at the end of her wits as she took a cab from the airport to her in-laws place. She was visiting her in-laws for a family wedding sans Sharman and was slightly uncomfortable at the idea of staying with her mother-in-law without her husband being around to play the medium. But on second thoughts she was also curious to know how her mom-in-law would treat her in her son’s absence.

In the past, Sharman’s mom had not been very welcoming of her son marrying a girl from outside their community. But she conceded to Sharman’s will and to the fact that Smita was in every way suitable for her son. Smita was equally qualified as her son, earned almost an equal salary in the same organization and not to forget, they made a presentable couple. Smita knew, that the old lady though was not so shallow, so as to give so much importance to looks, but she couldn’t help observing how her son and his lady love complemented each other in every aspect. She guessed that it irked her even more that her son was find such a nice girl on his own.

But Smita had found it very strange how a mother was always clinging to her son in her daughter-in-law’s presence as if to mark her territory or claim what was hers.  Smita often found it very outlandish how her mother-in-law had become so insecure once another lady became a part of her son’s life. She just could not get the logic behind the insecurity when they played two exclusive roles in a man’s life. With all these thoughts swarming her mind, Smita whooshed out a blow of air and got down the cab, bracing herself for what lay ahead of her.

‘Smita, mera bachcha how are you?’ Mrs. Patil held her daughter-in-laws head and laid a peck on her forehead, while Smita bowed down in respect, before entering the house.

Over the next two days the lady duo spent a lot of time in frenzy preparing for the oncoming wedding. They sat amidst a pool of shopping bags as they opened each and every package, unfolded the dress and placed it on their shoulder to admire the beauty of it on their bodice. Shortly Mrs. Patil became busy with re-packing their shopping and giving out instructions to the cook to prepare dishes that Smita liked. Smita observed her mother-in-law, intrigued by an absolutely different facet of her personality. In the last two days Mrs. Patil had been extremely sweet to her and gone out of her way to please Smita. She was also confused by her behavior.

Last time when Smita was at her in-laws with Sharman, she had found herself continuously on the edge. Sharman’s mom was continuously summoning her son to lend her a hand for some house chore or be all ears as she went around ranting about what other members in the family were upto. Smita was exasperated at the way her privacy was being intruded. There was absolutely no space for the couple in the house. It was always about ‘Sharman, your father wants you to do this’, or ‘Sharman, please help me putting this in the store’, or ‘Sharman, let’s go out to your favorite dinner place today’.

When Mrs. Patil was not calling out on her son, she would be busy talking to Smita,

‘You know what Smita? Sharman never went anywhere without me.’

Or

‘Smita, you must know that everyone in the family considers Sharman to be the ideal son that every mother dreams of’

Or

‘Smita, Sharman knows my taste and preferences like the back of his hand.’

At the last one, Smita had not missed the dichotomy in her tone which implied that ‘he has always had my preferences in mind, except for in your case’

Smita had felt stifled at how Mrs. Patil’s tried to absorb her son’s each and every waking minute and lay her claim on it. At one point of time, Smita had been so pissed that she had considered discussing this with Sharman, but given how much he was actually attached to his mother, she thought it better to keep mum. But the lady with whom Smita had spent the last two days was in a different avatar altogether. She was nothing like the ever fumbling, badly in need of her son mommy. Smita figured that though she definitely was a control freak, but a considerate one. She did not even once try to dominate Smita during their shopping together and instead asked for her opinion in everything. She infact was even a pleasant company. Smita was glad that she had deferred her judgment and not mentioned her reservations about Sharman’s mom to him. That night she went to bed a happy person. Also because Sharman was to arrive next day.

Little did she know that Sharman will bring along with him, the same abrasion that Smita had initially feared from her mother in law.

Next afternoon when Sharman arrived, Smita was about to run upto him to the door to receive him. Mrs. Patil, instead hurried her way past her to open the door and pull her son into her embrace. She did not leave Sharman for the next 30 minutes, as she brought him his favorite kokam sharbat, his favorite sweets and continued to talk to him about the family, the impending wedding and everything else under the roof and sun. Smita took a deep sigh and turned to retire to her room and wait for her husband inside. It was atleast another hour before Sharman showed up and called out on Smita.

Smita by then was a live wire due to pent up anger and for fear of spewing any venomous words at her husband, she just shut her eyes close and acted as if she were fast asleep. When she woke up they had no time to catch-up as Mrs. Patil  was hyperventilating on how they were going to be late for the ceremony and kept banging the door to their room, urging them to get ready quickly.

Smita had lost all enthusiasm to participate in ceremony and wanted to be left alone. She was upset about the turn around in her mother-in-laws attitude and also by her husband’s nonchalance.

Smita’s agony continued at the ceremony too. Mrs. Patil kept pulling on Sharman for every little thing, leaving Smita to the mercy of being entertained by Sharman’s cousins.

A little later into the party, when the music started playing, everyone called out for Sharman and Smita to join the dance floor. There already were many members of the family, young and old dancing to the latest bollywood hits. As Sharman took Smita’s hand and took her to the dance floor, as if on impulse Smita’s head turned to search for Mrs. Patil. Mrs. Patil’s sad yet smiling eyes, her pursed lips and a straight face tugged at Smita’s heart. She felt the weight of her piercing eyes, and she almost flinched and pulled herself out of the dance floor. She went in her mother-in-laws direction and held her by her shoulders.

‘Mom, why don’t you join us?’

Mrs. Patil turned to look at Smita in disbelief and gave way to a smile whose warmth touched Smita’s heart. The mother and couple trio held hands together and had the best dance of their life.

That night they returned home very late and retired to their rooms almost immediately. But Smita lay awake for a long time, thinking about her mother-in-law. She had a monologue with herself –

She surely loves her son way too much. But then she has single handedly brought Sharman since was 15 years. Dad, was always traveling due to his job until 3 years back when he retired. It is only logical that she is very close to her son.

But what is the need for her to be so intrusive all the time. Because she really wants to spend time with her son? May be. He has been her sole purpose to life for the longest time.

Is she jealous of me?I don’t know. But how do I figure?

Smita did not have to wait too much for the answers. Next morning, Smita woke up early and climbed up to the terrace to breathe some fresh morning air. As she ascended to the wide corner of the roof top, she saw her mother-in-law standing along the support wall with a cup of tea in her hand. As if on intuition, she turned around to see Smita who was contemplating to stay or go back to her room. Once spotted she dropped the idea of going back and with a slight smile, she went to stand by her mom-in-law’s side watching over the playground where young boys were playing cricket before going to school.

‘I can see that Sharman is very happy with you.’ These words from Mrs. Patil stunned Smita. She turned to look at her mom-in-law and tried to gauge her emotions.

‘You know what, there were times when I felt very lonely and helpless due to your dad’s absence from the household. At that time, even at the tender age of 10 years Sharman was my pillar of support. I know teenagers can be so difficult to handle, but not Sharman. Not even once in so many years, he has complained about things that I could not do for him, because I was a pseudo single mother with a chronicle ailment.’

Smita knew that Mrs. Patil suffered from asthama and bronchitis. Sharman had told her how he could never leave his mom and go for any college trips because he needed to be with his mom.

‘I had always thought that I will get Sharman married to someone of my choice, to whom I will be able to dictate how important my son was for me.’ Mrs. Patil continued, ‘Also I wanted to mold the girl to be dancing to my tunes since the beginning.’ Smita looked on without blinking at the old lady who was on the verge of tears.

‘When Sharman chose you out of his will, I was dumbfounded and spent countless nights worrying about the fact that I may get distanced from my son.’ Mrs. Patil sobbed, ‘Every time I saw Sharman walk past me to meet you or talk to you, I felt a knot in my heart.’ Her emotions gave way to her long withheld tears.

‘But last night when you held my hand and took me to the dance floor, I realized I was so wrong about you.’ Mrs. Patil took a deep breath and turned to look at Smita. Smita saw a glint of happiness in the old lady’s eyes.

‘I am glad that I raised my son well enough to desire you, deserve you and claim you to be his.’ She placed a palm on her cheek, ‘Still I must warn you that at times my menopausal hormones may lead me to act weirdly and do funny things to stake my claim on my son. But you must know that I love you like I love Sharman. Only that you do not have the years behind you.’ Smita let out a glad sigh as Mrs. PAtil giggled at what she had just said.

Smita felt alleviated of a burden off her chest.

‘I promise you I will catch up on the years very soon. And then you will love me more.’, she engulfed her mother-in-law in a bear hug before adding.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

Woman Empowerment

Special Quota For Girls in Education – Is This Diversity Initiative Justified ?

posted by Anupriya March 7, 2018 4 Comments

Reservations have remained an actively discussed topic in our country for over three decades now. And an even more discussed topic of higher concern is gender imbalance in our society. The beginning of this decade saw a Child Sex Ratio at an all time low of 918. This imbalance worsens as the girl child grows up and the affect is less girls in schools, even lesser in colleges and a meager number in institutions for professional education.

I belong to a middle class household and never faced any challenges with regards to education or exposure that would make me self sufficient. Instead, my parents were very particular about my education and that I should grow up to be financially independent. I also have come across households where the parents rather pressed their daughters harder to excel in studies and ensure a financially stable life for themselves without having to depend on the husbands that they might have. Yet, when I look at the whopping difference in percentage of women in top institutions such as IITs and NITs, I realize that things are far from assuring for a girl child in our country.

As a 30 plus something woman, I am further exposed to the follies of our society. I know better now that we are miles away from a dream society that gives the girl child equal rights to be educated and live her dreams. This is irrespective of the socio-economic strata. The reasons lie more in the psychological DNA. But that’s a discussion for another day. My concern today is that in a wake to bridge the gap between girl incumbents in various fields of education, are gender based reservations justified? (and please here were not discussing the third gender)

I would like to bring in three scenarios for you to ponder upon –

  1. Special schemes to help prepare and admit girls into defence and para defence forces
  2. Special privileges for girls to promote education at primary level
  3. Reservation for girls in professional institutions such as medical and engineering

Almost no one will have any problems with initiatives taken to promote primary education for the girl child. Infact this is one most powerful initiative to lead our society to a better tomorrow where every household is taken care of by an educated lady. But reservations in services and professional educational institutions open up a pandora’s box similar to the one that we have faced while debating the issue of reservations.

Relaxation of age limit is one way of opening up opportunities for girls aspiring to reach for the stars. But it’s an all together different thing to lower the standards of performance in entrance exams to bring in more girls to the table. For somebody who has toiled hard to get into a prestigious institution, even as a woman myself I do not see the equality of distribution by providing the girls an edge by setting up a quota.

In a statement while announcing 14% quota for girls in IITs, the Woman and Child Development Ministry said many girls are not encouraged to have extra coaching and that is one of the reasons why even those who are interested are not able to qualify. Without taking sides my only concern is that similar could be the situation with any candidate preparing for entrance tests. So many (girls and boys) do not have the resources to pay for special coaching and thus miss out on opportunities to perform better than others. It’s a pity that we have had only one Mr. Anand Kumar who too is able to coach only 30 boys every year and ensure a place for them in prestigious institutions.

The confusion in my mind has again spiked up asking whether the objective is to uplift the underprivileged (girl or boy) or to create a nice pie chart that gives us feel good diversity figures by compromising on the merit.   I do not have answers, yet this Woman’s Day I only pray for every girl and woman to get a platform to showcase her true capabilities in this male dominated world. For our government, I would only say that they must device more sensitive yet robust schemes to bring every girl child to a level where she is free to fly. Leave the direction and distance of her flight to the strength of her wings.

ParentingWoman Empowerment

#InternationalGirlChildDay – Love your Girls! But …

posted by Anupriya October 11, 2017 14 Comments

A couple of days back I happened to meet an acquaintance of my mother’s who did not look in the best of her spirits. When I cautiously prodded her on why she looked so somber as if on cue she broke down. Her MBA daughter had married the guy of her choice and moved to HongKong with him. And now after 2 years of a seemingly happy marriage, she had got herself transferred to India and was living alone in another metro. From the sound of what my aunt was saying, it looked like her daughter was unwilling to go back. I told her to be more compassionate of her daughter and figure out if there were instances of physical or mental abuse.

This aunt of mine began to sob inconsolably by now, “No beta! All of it is our fault. Apeksha is our only daughter and we brought her up like she was our son. I can see my daughter’s fallacies now. She is incapable of any kind of compromise. She did not learn how to cook. In India, she could have managed with a maid. But in a foreign land… Also, she has not been able to come to terms with the idea of a marriage where two people have to collaborate and sometimes compromise. I wonder if we went too far in making her independent and forgot to instill some basic virtues for a happy life.” Continue Reading

Woman Empowerment

Celebrating Dussehra And Killing The Ram Within Us

posted by Anupriya September 29, 2017 6 Comments

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to hurt the religious sentiments of any religion or sect. The views expressed are completely unpolitical in nature. What justifies the title will only emerge in the conclusion.

“Dasha Hara means removal of 10 bad qualities from within us. Vijaya Dashmi means victory over these 10 bad qualities.” – I woke up to this Dussehra tweet by Virendra Sehwag and recounted how we have grown up learning that the good always wins over the bad; Continue Reading

LifeStyleMotherhoodWoman EmpowermentWork and Life

Want to Return to work? Watch out for ReStartHer

posted by Anupriya September 13, 2017 17 Comments

When I asked Neha Bagaria, Founder, JobsForHer as to why according to her Indian women find it so hard to get back to work after a break, her candid reply was,

“The ecosystem just does not support the comeback.”

But she was quick in adding that the corporate world was definitely headed for a transition. Several multi-national companies now realize that diversity isn’t just important because it puts them in a more socially acceptable space. Diversity is also important because it directly impacts the bottom line of their business. There is concrete research Continue Reading

LifeStyleWoman EmpowermentWork and Life

Why SHEROES SUMMIT Kolkata 2017 touched my heart

posted by Anupriya August 7, 2017 2 Comments

An event such as SHEROES SUMMIT Kolkata 2017 is a significant leap towards fostering a culture of inclusion in our society.  It is imperative that women are treated as equals and her priorities are respected and encouraged.

Educated women in our country suffer from a condition I call the Stuck-At-Home-Post-Marriage-Or-Kids-Syndrome. For almost 25 years of their lives, girls mark equivalent achievements as their male counterparts. And then one day a knight in shining armour comes riding on a horse and flips her life upside down. Continue Reading

LifeStyleMotherhoodWoman EmpowermentWork and Life

Being Fair to Working Women for Becoming Mothers

posted by Anupriya June 29, 2017 6 Comments

Sree had been working as an insurance underwriter with a reputed bank for last 4 years. In these four years, she had never availed leaves for more than a week or 10 days at a stretch. Even for her wedding, she had taken only 10 days off – 3 days before the wedding and a 5-day honeymoon. It was a decision that Sree and her husband had agreed upon so that both their jobs did not suffer. Sree had been 31 when she got married and the couple knew that the biological clock was ticking. When she conceived within 6 months of the wedding, the couple had been on the top of the world.
Continue Reading