The Stages of My Life | Definitions

Exploring Patriarchy – Chapter 20

It used to be Baby ‘cos they saw I was young
the one they looked after when her parents weren’t around.
Then, it was Didi – the elder sister
a young adult woman without a ‘Mister’.

But 2 years of marriage and that was all gone
then I became Bhabhi - their sister-in-law!

Now things have changed and there’s grey in my hair
more on my middle and some signs of wear.
I’m Auntie and my age gets me more respect
for I’m older and wiser – at least that’s what they expect.

The years will go by and things will change
I"ll be Naani or Daadi – that’ll be a different stage.
This poem was first published here

An role of an Indian man is defined by his career and his income. MM felt that she lived in a society where definitions mattered. And where they determined the quantum of respect for an individuals right to live. To eat. And to worship.

It appeared to her, that human life didn’t have equal value even to the God’s. And it made MM ask that eternal question that so many thinking people have asked, in their quest to examine the true meaning of life. And creation.

Did the God’s create humanity in their image and likeness? Or did humanity create the God’s in their image and likeness.

From the diaries of Microwave Madam

Either way, definitions seemed to matter. Faith wasn’t enough and it needed religion with all it’s rules and biases that can take one far away from kindness and humanity.

The role of the Indian woman is defined very differently from that of the Indian man. Her career, education or income level matter very little. What seems to be important to society is her personal choices. Or those that are made for her by her family. And by the God’s.

Her role is determined by whether she is married or single. By whether she has left an abusive marriage to live a life of safety and hope, thereby depriving many budding poets of the opportunity to write of her martyrdom. And many musicians of the opportunity to sing songs of praise for her suffering.

By whether she has children. Or is child-free.

And by her age which brings her a regard and that is not often accorded to girls and young women in our country. Age. Which brings her a wonderful anonymity that makes any dirty-minded man on the street look through her. Or see her without her sexuality.

Age gives her a freedom to walk down the street without being abused, with less need to be wary of being grabbed or pinched. Age brings her a respect for her right to live and exist that the Indian man always has and takes so much for granted. A respect a young Indian girl rarely has when she ventures out beyond the doors of her home.

MM understood how a woman feels when she knows the streets, and even the community, are not as safe for her or her mother, as they are for her father and her brothers.


I invite you to read all chapters of Exploring Patriarchy and walk with Microwave Madam as she explores the impact of patriarchy on her life and on society. And looks for solutions.

Published by Anitaelise

Anitaelise teaches piano lessons at Anitaelise Piano Studio and writes poetry and essays at The Relaxed Housekeeper.

2 thoughts on “The Stages of My Life | Definitions

  1. To some (much lesser) degree this same fear is present in many women even in the US when walking alone. The punishment for rape is in the laws but getting a conviction is very difficult. That patriarchy is not only found in India. When I was in HS I wanted to be a Veterinarian but the reality was that the admission requirements made it nearly impossible for me to apply! I couldn’t dead lift 100 lbs. I couldn’t carry 50 lbs. for 50 yards. I wasn’t over 5 foot 9 inches tall. Soon after they started admitting women when the standards for admission were removed (law suits). Now the Veterinary classes are slightly over 75% women. Times change though slowly and not without effort.

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    1. Yes, the fear exists everywhere is diffnnñnjerent degrees. The problem often is the unwillingness of society at large to call out the small offenses that are practise and ground work very often, for larger ones.

      There’s also a need to blame the victim for the way she dresses or behaves too.

      In India it’s such a mix of education and a lack that can create barriers. Combined with people from societies where women and men don’t speak freely even within extended family sometimes, as it gets misunderstood. Then coming to cities where women work and live in communities without such barriers.

      There’s a constant, very subconscious judgment of women, and a curiosity about where they go when they go out, to decide if they’re nice or not nice, that is done women also. So security guards and taxi drivers have much social support in this, and it does affect safety and introduce a need for caution.

      Sad you couldn’t pursue your dream, but yes it is wonderful to see progress and other women having opportunities. Every small bit of progress, both at careers, and at home matter. And yes, it does take effort.

      Conversations like this one matter, so thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

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