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Look at this person, people just don’t know how to drive. Must be a woman.

No papa, it’s a man.

Oh then, I am sure he was taught driving by a woman!

Pooja squirmed in the backseat, but quietly retreated to her safe haven- the music on her air pods.

5 mins later, he blasted again. What’s this new age music, absolute nonsense. It’s only noise. These women!

Pooja of course couldn’t help but react- It’s not a woman singing, it’s a man.

So what, said her father. I am sure his teacher was a woman.

Thankfully they reached home, the 10 mins in the car felt like 2 hours.

Relieved, they entered their house. Why don’t you make tea for everyone? She really wanted to say- your son is sitting there twiddling his thumbs, why not tell him? Am I not as tired as you, and it’s been a hot day.

But like always, the thought just churned in her mind.

The phone rang and he bellowed, who is this woman who’s calling? She again couldn’t help but react, how do you know who’s calling without seeing the caller’s name!

Anyway, she picked up the phone. It was her friends calling her for a walk. The moment he saw her wearing her shoes, he shouted- its 7, you can’t go down. She just sunk into the sofa with a frown.

Her brother though promptly got up and stated- I am going out for a few hours. And her father simply said OK.

It was amazing how she; a college student wasn’t allowed to even go down. But her brother, though much younger, enjoyed the freedom to be out till late.

While she was lost in her thoughts, her mother hollered at her to come help in the kitchen to prepare dinner and set the table. All this while, her father simply sat in front of the Television and drank his favourite Whisky.

She who had been a topper and gold medallist, was always told that she could never work, and she would be married off right after her studies. Even though she had offers from the top corporates, she could never work.

Married into a family that was from the dark ages, she was aghast to realise that here she was supposed to have no existence even as a human being! At least she was allowed to read, write, sing, use the phone, meet friends and family, have a house help in her maiden home. This was a 4-walled cage, where she couldn’t even cook or eat what she wanted to.

Anything she said to her parents fell on deaf ears. After all this was the way things were supposed to be. The man of the house now, her husband duly declared that he was God and should be treated like one. All the decisions to walk, talk, breathe were dictated and to be obeyed. And if not, deserved punishment both verbal and physical, with scathing taunts.

Her soul scarred, she cried helplessly. Endless nights were spent in fear for life, after threats to both her and her family. Frustrated, she did not know what to do. Days turned into years and entered an angel into her life. That little angel completed her and her life revolved around providing her the best and a safe place for her to live. But her girl had to suffer endless apathy and abuse too. After all, she was a girl..and not a boy.

She couldn’t play outside or dance to a tune or read a nice book or wear a skirt. She couldn’t speak to anyone or make friends. She was holed up in the 4 walls, controlled and managed on a leash. A human being reduced to a fraction of a beaten-up animal.

The in-laws laughed and prided themselves in their upbringing. The husband and father felt more like a man when he had complete control and basked in the aura of a man who was a mere reflection of both her and his father.

Who gave these men and women the right to think, act, behave the way they do? Was it me? Was it my daughter? Was it society?

Is the only answer rebellion? What then is civilized society/ Is it just a fragment of my imagination? Or have I been the unfortunate one to have never experienced a life where women are truly respected and treated as equals.

What is true patriarchy or feminism? Why does one even have to deal with these terms? Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world to simply be born without gender specific rules and roles, without any stereotypes, without any malice, without any desire to control the other, without any conditioning of superiority, without the confidence of misusing power?

With these thoughts, I leave for a dinner with my college going daughter…without a worry about informing anyone. After all, I did become a rebel with a cause!

-Nidhi Bansal


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