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  • Rhyan Aneev

Gender equality- The Way of Life

My father never went to work, leaving my mother as the primary breadwinner of the house. She did menial work in the homes of rich people; swept floors, washed clothes, cleaned dishes. Whatever money she got, my father would waste in gambling. To quote the words of William Shakespeare- “at his best, he was little worse than a man, and at his worst he was little better than a beast.” I could not understand at the time why my mother would stay with him.

My father would yell at us for no reason. My mother never fought back. She would only try to shield me from the worst of the insults and curses. When I would come to her later, crying, she would hold me and tell me that all would be well. Not a single one of my father’s blows would cause her to cry out, but the sight of a child being yelled at caused her to sob in grief. I don't even think my father saw us as people, but only as outlets through which he could vent his frustration. How I hated him!

Looking over what I have written so far, I find that I have not described exactly what our circumstances were. I lived with my parents in a tiny shack in one of Mumbai’s many slums. My father was unemployed. My mother worked as a domestic help in the suburbs, and I tried to help her by collecting garbage to sell to the scrap dealers for recycling. However, my mother did not approve of my working, and whatever money she could hide from my father, she would use to buy second-hand textbooks. She dreamed of someday sending me to a fancy private school like the ones attended by the children of her employers.

As I grew older, I found that our situation was mirrored in most of the households around us. My mother would not leave my father because she could not; to do so would make her an outcast in our community. It was considered normal, even right, that women were to be treated so by men. I always wondered why it was so, and why men were considered to be superior to women. My mother was kinder, braver, and more capable than my father in every way. When I was nine years old, my mother gave birth to a girl, my sister. I had never had a sibling, and when she was born we both loved her instantly. However, our father was not of like mind. He despised her on sight and demanded that we put her up for adoption. Her only crime, in his eyes, was being born a girl!

That was the only time I ever heard my mother raise her voice at my father. A girl was only a liability, he shouted back, another mouth for him to feed; and for what? She would have to be married, and he would have to break his back paying for her dowry.

My mother shouted that he had never tried to feed them and was completely dependent on her. If he harmed one hair on her daughter’s head, she would take her children and leave him to starve.

Enraged, he shouted back at her. When I rushed in and tried to defend her, he raised his hand at us and warned us to never mention the incident again. Never again did he raise the subject of giving my sister away. After that, life resumed its regular monotone, but something was different with my mother. In all respects, she acted the same, but something that had been extinguished long ago glimmered once again in her eyes, something that looked like hope. I soon found out why. It had turned out that one of her employers had asked about her appearance, the day after my sister’s birth, and my mother had opened up to her, telling her everything. The lady was part of an organization that gave support to women like my mother, who had nobody else to turn to. This organization decided to help my mother. Within days, she took us both and left the shack we used to live in. My mother and I went to court and justice was obtained. We never saw him again.

As for the organization, they gave my mother a loan, enough money to send me to school. Even today, I feel indebted to them. Thanks to them, today I am in my last year at a private school, fulfilling my mother’s dream. My sister, too, is healthy and happy. My mother has always supported and sheltered me, and finally, I will be able to support her. She is going to school, and she is slowly learning to read and write. The condition of women in India is truly deplorable. The story of my family is being

played out again millions of times, and not all of these stories have happy endings. Women are in no way inferior to men, and we must learn to give them the respect they deserve.

Gender Equality- A need

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