A son. A daughter.
A male. A female.
A man. A woman.
A penis. A vagina.
Hoping for the best, expecting the worst.
For as long as she could remember, she had always heard her parents discuss her brother’s future. One of the major notions of dissent in the house was whether he would stay in the same country for the sake of their parents or fly abroad to live a life that he had dreamed of. Money had never been an issue for her, especially when it came to the education of his children. Both her and her brother had been taught in one of the best schools of the city, with the best tuition and the best facilities. To her father’s relief, he never got an opportunity to be disappointed in the siblings or push them to work harder. Her brother realised as well as she did, that it was their obligation to at least give their father a healthy return on all the money, time, resources and efforts that he contributed to watch his children secure their future. Being the elder one, her brother very dutifully set morals for her wherein he made her acknowledge the fact that they were lucky enough to have such a supportive and encouraging environment. And being the good sister that she was, it never even struck her to think away from the track that her brother was traversing on.
They were a family of scientists. Her father was one of those people who lived on the fine line between eccentric and genius, inclined towards the latter. To everyone’s surprise and their lucky stars, he was a stable man who embraced his responsibilities as openly as he fantasized about his own pursuits. Her brother was the guy in the white lab coat with the funnel in one hand and the beaker in another, who held but one conviction in heart, to revolutionize the world with a drug for cancer. There was no tragic history behind his obsession but only the inspiration to complete what their mother started with, as her ultimate wish in life. She was still a school student of 12th grade, when the debates started taking form. Her brother had discovered a groundbreaking theory for the application of which he needed financial aid. Rigid as the Indian system is, he decided to go to the United States of America for research and support. Life was on his side and her father agreed to send him on the condition that he would come back once his project and his final target is achieved. It seemed like the perfect chance and well, hadn’t she been the devotee sister of her flawless brother. She worked out her speech in her head, hoping for the best and expecting the worst she walked up to her father on what seemed to be his sane day. A graduation degree in the best possible environment, is what she asked for. Her father looked down at her with a resilient silence for five whole minutes before deciding that his ground was too shaken for a decision at the moment. She pulled back in, gave him time and thought of all possible reasons in her head. She knew her father through and through, his heart most exposed to his little daughter. She knew the thought of being away from his kids made him insecure and apprehensive. He loved them with all his heart, with a tinge of bias towards her. To send her far and away, at a time when even her brother wouldn’t be there to fill up the void, would come onto her father as a heavy weight. But she had put in front of him, what she wanted and what she believed was the best for her. Hoping for the best and expecting the worst, she went to him a few days later for an answer.
With a voice, ringing with uncertainty he picked his words carefully, “You are the glue of this family. You are the sun that we wake up to, you are the moon that we sleep to. You are our alarm clock and you are our goodnight wish. You are my pride, my respect and my dignity. Whatever you do, wherever you go, remember you carry my and my family’s honour with you.”
She had never, for a record, never felt so guiltily privileged in her life. Undoubtedly she felt worthwhile to know that she had given her father a reason to smile and a reason to walk with a wide chest. At the same moment, she envied her brother. She envied her brother for being able to think for purely and solely for himself. He knew what he wanted and he would go for it. A mistake would be a mistake if he would make it. A mistake would be a blunder, a spot on her family’s repute if she would make it. He would be allowed a wrong move for being human. A wrong move meant the wrong upbringing when it would be her. The hassles of being a girl aren’t as simple and resolved as she, her family and society like to believe. With being the special one, came the responsibility of carrying a good name forward. A time when the daughter, the sister or the wife were raped in order to take revenge from the father, the brother or the husband is against a time when a girl would take a decision about her education based on how it would reflect on her parents, her family. A woman, a representative of a family, a society, a community and a generation had to withstand the test of time to protect the honour of all those mentioned. A woman today, has to make space in her mind for not just herself, her life and her dreams but for her family’s pride, respect and dignity.
She realised that stereotypes never really break. They don’t go away. They are only modified and only tampered with, in order to fit the time frame that the society is passing through. A woman’s life had never been her own and it still wasn’t. If anything, women are optimistic survivors, hoping for the best and expecting the worst.