As part of the series for the International Day of the Girl child, Youth Champion, Anupriya Sathe uses creative writing to explore subsumed gender identities and gender discrimination in this blogpost. Anupriya works with Population First, Mumbai (India).
I came into this world, naked… with hands, legs, nose, eyes and ears like any other human being. Even before my mother asked after my wellbeing, she asked the nurse if I was a ‘Boy’ or a ‘Girl.’ I came to know that I was called a ‘Girl’. I was wrapped in a cloth with some sadness, and I could hear my mother silently sobbing and the doctors consoling her. At first, I could not understand what it was all about! Later, it dawned upon me that perhaps being a ‘Girl’ was not so good in the world of these adults. But a question formed in my mind then, and continued to linger throughout my life: WHY?
All through my childhood, I used to try and imitate my friend’s elder brothers. I tried to dress like them, join their outdoor sports and their study groups. At every step I was reprimanded by my mother and my grandmother! However, I failed to understand why was I not allowed to do what ‘boys’ were allowed to do. Eventually as I grew up I also pursued courses which were taken up by the boys. The knowledge did not seem to be specific for any sex. So, then WHY does the society create stringent compartments for things to be done by girls and boys ?
All through my youth I failed to understand these “Do’s and Don’ts” meant for the ‘Girl’! As an adult, I was expected to do chores at home, and look after the family without any help from my husband in these chores. However, I was expected to earn competitively, to experience a better quality of life for the family. Still, no one had answers to my ‘WHY?’.
Years passed by and the big ‘WHY?’ remained unanswered.
With the graying of my hair I could see the rising violence against women in the world around me. At the same time, I would also read of young women achievers bringing laurels to their families and the country. And yet, girls were not being looked up to, in many families or in the country. I failed to understand why girls/women can be expected to shoulder more responsibilities than the men in their households (earning competetively being an addition responsibility) but their birth still remain unwelcome! Seriously… WHY?
As I lay in the cold grave, the last rites performed were similar to what would have been done for a ‘boy’ in my tradition. And the question WHY continued to linger… Being a Girl.. WHY is it that bad?