“What do you want to be when you grow older?”, she was asked “A pilot”, “a teacher”, “a doctor”, the five year old said “You can do whatever you set your mind to”, she was told This opened up for her, every possibility ahead
With time, her dreams grew wings and they were let to fly Allowed were they, during the times into which she was hurled Her kind were out, learning, working and leading After all, they only had one extra ability, than the rest of the world
Power comes with knowledge and independence Something that was held for a long time from this gender With the ability to stand for what she believed in She didn’t have to care for any offender or defender
What she did not know, was that her times were only half ready for her They said she could dream, but not be misled “Who will raise the children?”, “who will tidy the home?”, they asked “How can we be led by those, who until now, only bred and fed?”
She reasoned that the domestic and social responsibilities were shared Efforts and skills determined capability, and from their masculine ego, she be spared They turned to religion and traditions, “you forget your role”, they opined “We may have advanced in other ways, but in these interpretations, we will remain ancient”, they determined
She knows her sentiments resonate with many But to the systemic arguments against her, she must hold her own She may be alone in fighting now, but there are many like her You better prepare fully for her, the seeds of change have been sown
Don’t take her compassion for granted, it comes from great care Don’t take her silence for meekness, it comes from great strength You do not comprehend her fierceness, she is the energy that sustains you You do not comprehend her power, she is the fire that can keep you warm or burn you.
Peculiar Bengali homes, rustic wooden furniture, tea, lush village settings, men in their cotton kurtas and dhotis. I have always enjoyed Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories. What defines them singularly though are his women. Their elaborate white and red sarees, beautiful big red bindis, Victorian style blouses and traditional ornaments. As colorfully as he painted them on canvas, the real beauty is in how he captured their emotions in hues and shades that are a perceptive rarity.
We humans, have lived for thousands of years now. We have advanced in phases over time. We learned to put down our roots, we established societies, we defined some borders that nevertheless we have been fighting about since, we developed faith out of fear and we explored philosophy in the midst of darkness. We are at the height of our scientific achievements. Yet, we have gone on for so long ignoring fundamental basics and enduring such injustices. While we aim to balance our own lives with our careers, relationships and saving money for our future, there are still fellow humans struggling for safety, security, warmth and food. There are people who are more deserving with fewer opportunities. There are people who are still oppressed and forced, let alone out in the big bad world, but in their homes by their own people. When I think of women and all the rules of the societies they have played by all these years, I ponder if it is really a slighter issue than say basic health care or savaging wars.
I have come to feel that society and the world at large is a bigger being, just like each one of us, going through its own imbalances, disappointments, hurt, joys, pleasures and triumphs. Everything is connected. And everything goes up and down in its own time. When I see our world with this view, I get to an understanding, not of a tired acceptance, but a curious, passionate, patient wonder of our existence. It is true that each race, gender, society and species have their legitimate complaints and rightfully so. It is the ones that have cut through their own waves, withstood their opposing tides that know what it took to cross. But there is a piercing beauty in perceiving the battles of others. In realizing the strength behind someone’s patience, in reading someone’s silence and in seeing the joy in someone’s eyes. In knowing someone’s small pleasures and the little gestures that could make all the difference in the world.
At the peak of the independence movement struggle in India, Tagore observed the beauty and struggle of women of his times. He was able to empathize with women’s desires, restrictions and individuality. Let alone then, these are somethings that most still strive for today. The houses, attire, and lush surroundings have changed. We have modernized and opened our minds, yet women struggle to satisfy the same desires, break free of the same restrictions and demand recognition of their individuality. In what sense have we advanced then? We are so blinded by habit and insecure of change, that we are unable to welcome new things even if they may be better.
The resistance is always from those who aren’t directly impacted or rather those who benefit from it. The change is always from those it affects the most. They do not rise from courage but from necessity, they demand change not to ruffle feathers but for peace. There is so much to learn and be aware of, we all just pick up a few pieces, and so much of what we have learned gets left behind. And that’s why history repeats itself. But there is always hope too. That we will do better. We may wonder, how difficult it is to be and let be. I guess that nature feels most comfortable at the equilibrium of harmony and chaos. But even if that may be, chaos could be so much more meaningful. Chaos is the sound of all the birds chirping away together, chaos is all the trees shedding their leaves in fall and chaos is kids at play. And so we hope. Hope that we can fight together instead of each other, hope that we can love more fiercely than expect of someone, and make new mistakes and find new problems to solve.