It all started with my grandmother, she’s the kind of woman you really cannot mess with. It started with the zeal she held in her heart to study, work and create her own identity.
From an early age, she wanted to become a doctor, but due to the partition and lack of finances, she couldn’t study medicine. However, her love for sciences didn’t die there- she decided to teach biology and chemistry.
She became the first bahu in the family to go out and work.
Then came my mother, who learned from her mother to never let a man define her or her personality. She studied in the best boarding school in the country and developed a deep love for the English language.
She decided to become an English teacher and dedicate her life to children. She married an Army officer but hardly lived with him because the schools weren’t as good where he was.
My maa stayed away from her husband for almost 25 years to pursue her own career in teaching.
Then I came into the picture. And from an early age, I was fed the mantra,
“Baboo, it’s you and you alone. Never let a man or anyone else dictate the terms of your life.”
I studied in the same boarding school as my mother, loved working with female energy and embraced a strong feminist identity. “I am my own person”, I told myself. And I abided with the mantra I was taught.
I inherited the love for the English language from my mother and set out to achieve my goals of becoming a journalist. I studied mass media and beamed with pride when I saw my dreams within reach.
Between all of this, I met a man. He was the kind of man fantasies are made of. We were both in college, and what started as a fling (from my side) almost instantly became a love affair that I knew would last a while.
We graduated college, pushed each other to get dream jobs making sure that neither of us compromised on our careers for anything.
My mother’s words rung in my mind- it’s you and you alone. So one fine day I decided to put myself in front of everything and make the big move to Mumbai. I didn’t think about my relationship, friends or family. Just one thing ran through my mind- ambitions.
While everyone went on with their lives in Delhi, I worked hard at my job. Becoming a writer, getting published was a part of the vision. Why then did I feel a pang of loneliness at the back of my mind constantly?
It was supposed to be me alone, why then did I want another in my life?
I spoke to my boyfriend and one day on whim said,
“Babe, I’m moving wherever you are.”
The urge of being with him and reuniting with my friends grew so strong that I couldn’t stay in Mumbai any longer. The dilemma I faced continued. I was a millennial feminist, I was a part of the change, wasn’t I?
I saw myself as a career-oriented woman who came from a family of financially independent women. Why then was I willing to give it all up for a boy?
I lived for many months with a constant feeling of guilt on my mind. On the one hand, I felt guilty of being so willing to give up my career and everything I had slogged for. And on the other hand, I even felt guilty of moving away from him and putting our relationship at risk.
What is with us women? Are we just made like this- made to put everyone first? Made to put everyone’s tiny need before our own? And just by chance if we put our own need first, why do we feel guilty while doing it? Well, at least I did.
However, over the months I realised that I wasn’t compromising one for the other. If I wanted my career to take a step back for my relationship, it wasn’t something bad, right?
If anything it strengthened my feminist personality. Yes, I love my career. Yes, I love my writing but I do love my boyfriend too. And if I was willing to make compromises for him it wasn’t that I was giving up on myself.
If I didn’t choose my career over a boy, doesn’t mean I’m any less for equality.
I am taking charge of my life and choosing for myself what is important to me. It may be work to some, but to me, it was my relationship.
So dear women, don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty for working late and having your career as the motivation and don’t feel guilty for choosing your family over it all. It’s your life, you get to scribble your own life story.