What are the challenges you have overcome as a woman to live a happy fulfilled life
March 8, 2021
Categories : Blogs by our residents
A lot of credit for making a fulfilled life possible goes to my grandmother and my parents. Right from my early years my grand mother and mother instilled in me the value of education and the importance of learning to stand on one’s own feet. My grand mother always said” your hands should be held high to give , never in supplication to take” .Whether you marry or not you have to have an independent income. You may have three brothers but never be dependent on anyone. That stood me in good stead throughout my life.
All the same it was never easy. Despite the family support , at every stage I had to run twice as fast as men to be in par, as life showed that it is a Mans world. As an attractive young girl one had to learn early to protect oneself from the groping hands of men who tried to take advantage of a child’s innocence. Strangely, danger did not lurk in the form of strange men but men known to the family, at times even close relatives .I clearly recall the strategy that my friends and I had while travelling in Chennai buses and trains as students to keep at bay wandering hands of male passengers . We had a sharp edged umbrella handle tucked under our elbows to poke any anatomical detail that brushed against us. That was convenient and sure worked!
In then male dominated coed colleges after the initial reluctance to speak up in class one learnt to shed ones inhibitions encouraged by teachers and soon realising that we were smarter learners than our male counterparts!At work as a lecturer and then a university professor while there was absolutely no problem with students one had to learn to assert oneself with male colleagues very representative of the patriarchal world. In order to be heard one learnt to speak up, to speak loud, even yelling if necessary at meetings where male dominance was the order of the day. Yet in mixed group research collaborations this was seldom a problem . The male colleagues in the group, especially when from abroad, recognised our contribution and respected our views. That toned down the Indian male colleagues!
As for publications in national and international journals the blind peer review system that was followed eliminated the male bias .My work was recognised for its value not because of my gender. Hence name and fame followed . This enabled me to travel all over the world for conferences ,teaching, and collaborative work opening the windows of ones mind. Incidentally one came to realise that male dominance was not India’s monopoly though it was better disguised abroad.
However, one must admit that there was a price to pay for the rewards of independence and achievement. Having seen the male dominance in the family, despite otherwise progressive attitudes, one became wary of the submissive role expected of women in marriage. Hence no partner seemed to suitable and egalitarian enough resulting in a lonely path of ones own choice. Well as a Jyotish once commented on seeing my horoscope, “ Good you did not marry. Otherwise because of your independent nature you would have been a divorcee” !
Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific Communities . Bangalore