Mirror Images

broken-mirror 335

She looks at herself in the mirror. And she is surprised to find that she is still tiny not an inch over four feet  and eleven-ish inches. She looks at herself and wonders if she is self-obsessed. She looks at herself and wonders if change will engrave itself in pits of her skin. She wonders whether the change will fill the imperfections and allow room for something more pleasant.

It was one of those game periods – where giggly girls sit in groups and gossip. A bright sunny winter morning, ironically didn’t inspire them to pick up rackets in their hands for a bout of badminton or go fetch the orange ball and dribble it on the limestone court. They sat their on the patch of grass growing in the uneven ground of the school campus and chit-chatted. They talked of everything aspirations, travel, food, life ahead and their expectations. Somehow the talk went off tangent, and diverted to the first episode of Satyamev Jayate. The show had gone off air for about more that six months. But then too the girls sat and gave their opinions. She listened as she always did, putting forth ideas as a wise lady of barely seventeen. Ideas and suggestions and opinions – each person had. How it wasn’t suitable that there should be prejudice based on gender.

‘Really, do you think a first-born baby being a girl is welcomed into the family with the same happiness as much as a boy?’ Vedika spoke aloud. She was a pretty girl of eighteen with dusky complexion and sharp features. The previous year, she had been the school captain and before that the class leader. Her word was listened to – always and adhered most of the time. I concede I was not as fond of her as others but she was likeable when I was in the mood. I looked up from tearing the blade of grass into minute pieces and stared at her like others, willing her to continue. ‘I can say without any convictions that my family wasn’t happy when I was born – especially not my papa. He didn’t even hold me in his arms for the first six months because he couldn’t return for the birth of a mere daughter. And my mother affirms that her life would be easier if her first born was a boy.’ Almost everyone had a piteous face for the lovely girl who hadn’t been appreciated. Nishita was one of Vedika’s – for the lack of decent phrase – close friend. She bobbed her head at every command, the leader issued and marched as she was told to. ‘Oh, a few orthodox families do feel that way, Vedu! But not all. Every one has modernised. My family didn’t mind me being born before my bhai,’ she tried to soothe the aggrieved friend. ‘As long as there was you bhai,’  Vedika spoke curtly. ‘And really, it’s true. Sons are more important than daughters. They’ll provide the finance for the upkeep of their parents. They can’t expect me to leave my household and look after them.’ She added to the unpleasantness of the pleasant day. I wanted to speak. I did open my mouth but was shut up by Kay’s nails digging into my palm. She understood, it wasn’t a place for aggression and I would do nothing but add to the upsetting mood. 

 

If twelve years of education in an all girls school still teaches one nothing but that sons are more important for the upkeep or that to be happy about a girl being born is ‘modernisation.’ Where do we go? In front of the mirror. And for what? To put on some more make-up or a facade of pretentiousness or to look at the blemished face, see the pits and dark patches and try to heal them.

 

She’ll always remain 4-11-ish. She can either always wear high heels and learn to walk and accept or she can pretend she’ll grow up. She will always have a small mirror in her bag. She can correct the make-up at times but she needs to remember, it’s only that – make up not her.

 

The present situation inspires truthfulness in all its glory and ugliness. The unblemished surfaces need polishing and the dark corner – a hint of sunlight. What it doesn’t need is unwanted unhappiness and a hollow mass of greeting and nodding of heads when there is nothing within those gray cells.

 

A/N – A very Happy New Year to everybody. This one is dedicated to new beginnings everywhere, to the changes for the better and to womankind in general! Let us make our education fruitful.
The is something not completely related to gender bias. It was supposed to reflect the thinking process of the girls in at least small towns. Even after being educated and being able to have opinions and rationally judge a situation, one is unable to look beyond the influence of the family. That is what I wanted to convey through the contrast of the narrator and Vedika. Because both exist – girls who have been adored and loved – May be their parents were even biased about them and there are girls like Vedika who have accepted that sons are more important than boys. It is us – women and girls, who will have to understand and most importantly use our education – make it fruitful, before we make a person of the other gender accede to out point I think I’ll have to work harder to get that point across.
Deeksha 🙂
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5 Comments

  1. D you are a fabulous writer. Why are you hiding this talent here? Go & write something on IF, let people know that there are talented girls like you, someone who has not believed that men are superior, someone who can show them who’s the boss. And mind you, I am damn serious.

    Coming to the update I’d say that it was short. I wanted to read more, know more. If I am not wrong, you the 4 feet & eleven inches girl & I loved the way you portrayed yourself. I king of agree with Vedika. In our society people still rejoice the birth of a boy. But I won’t say that girls are considered as bad omen or something, I have seen people welcoming girls with open arms in their family, treating them better than their sons, feeling proud of her achievements & living with them even after their marriage & I feel this is a good change, only drawback is that these changes are taking place in the upper classes of the society, by upper class I mean educated & well to do families. I hope other people understand this & take a step in protecting women of our society.

    The last lines are beautifully written. I’d love to read more from you.

    Happy new year 😀

    -Alanki 🙂

  2. lovely post my love, and very heart-touching, but you know what i can proudly say that my parents cherished me, not that i want to rub it in vedika’s face but my father was not with my mother when i was born yet, here in saudia he and his arab friend went and took all his friends out and celebrated and my father gave a lot in charity even though times were harsh because he was so happy and he has time and again told me that when people said its a girl he said yeah and kids who have elder sisters turn out to be waaay luckier than kids who dont. so she’s the princess and he holds to that even today!!!

  3. Deeksha,beautifully worded article with perfect touches of reality.

    I was lucky to be born to parents who rejoiced my birth as much as they had done for my big brother when he was born.It has never been rubbed into my face that I am a girl and hence I should feel any less than boys.But I am from a small town and I know the bias that still persists in many minds.My father had once been told by one of his patients that he has seen parents sacrificing for their son’s education but rarely for a girl[My Mom lived with me in New Delhi for seven years so that I could get educated,meanwhile dad lived alone in my hometown.]
    As for looking after the household and parents,I have always refused to adhere to the fact that girls ‘have to leave one day’.I am perfectly capable of eating my parents’ heads for as long as possible 😀
    I love the last three paras-the makeup part and everything 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree with your note.The last time I emphasised on the fact that a girl is as capable as a boy,my best friend branded me a ‘feminist’.Eduction is nothing when you are still caught up in the stagnant waters.Its time we made it useful!

    -Risha

  4. I was the first girl in my family after 50 years, so when I came people were happy. 😀

    Call me an incorrigible feminist, but I love your article and the inherrent weakness Vedika displayed. I pity Vedika, and what she has to live in.

    Its not right, what it is… how girls are looked down upon our society. And with so many years of education, if that is the conclusion our society can come up with, then the education is wasted.

    We are a fucked up species, humans.

    -Vee

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