When you're a teenager, life isn't always easy.
Firstly, there's the whole thing about trying to be an adult, way too soon. Then, you have movies and music videos presenting you a completely wrong idea about high-school. Add to that your fast-evolving looks (hello, pimples!), confidence issues and raging hormones. Lastly, everyone around you has some or the other 'advice' to give while all you want to do is to be left alone. Whoever said being a teenager is easy, has clearly never been one!
My teenage years were nothing different. I too was enjoying my juvenile sense of freedom, until one day an elderly relative asked me to dress appropriately.
"What's the harm in wearing a T-shirt and shorts?" I asked.
"Achhi ladkiyaan chhote kapde nahin pehenti." she replied.
Confused and disappointed, I told my mother about the incident. In return, she took me shopping with that relative and bought me three new pairs of shorts.
This was the first time that I realized how strong my mother was. Or maybe, this was the first time when I was sensible enough to process it effectively.
I had now started to notice everything that my mother did and the reasons behind them. This is when I realized that my mother, a homemaker, was the strongest and the most independent woman I knew.
She is fearless, opinionated, smart and being a 'housewife' has never stopped her from being her own person.
My mother took to her responsibilities as a homemaker effectively and it always bothered me as to why she never gave a shot at making a career. In fact, I even asked her that and this is what she had to say:
"I do this because I love it. Looking after the house and all of you gives me the opportunity to handle everything from management to logistics to finance. Is there any job that will give you that kind of freedom?"
I was stunned. This is when I learnt that it doesn't matter what you do. What actually matters is whether your work makes you happy.
You make your own choices and that way nobody but you are responsible for your actions. God forbid, if things go wrong, you muster up the strength to correct them and if you still find yourself stuck, remember that she's always a conversation away.
My mother married at the young age of 21. Times were different back then. Sanskaari bahus were all that families were looking for. Today, when egos run high and it doesn't take more than a second for our temper to fuel up, imagine settling into a society where you'd be judged for even raising an eyebrow, forget your own voice!
It was in instances like these that my mother taught me how to fight patiently.
"Listen to everyone and do what you think is right. But never bow down in the face of injustice. If you think that you have been wronged, make sure that you fight back. These battles are yours, nobody can defend you better than yourself."
She taught me how to cook not because one day I'm expected to cook for my husband but because I should be able to live alone without going hungry every night.
She taught me how to handle finances not because that will get me a good rishta but because I will never have to ask anyone for money if tough times come my way.
She taught me cleaning and housekeeping hacks not because I'll be expected to to clean up after my husband leaves for work but because one day, I'll have a house of my own that i'll need to maintain.
She taught me all this and much more, not to make me ideal bahu material, but to help me become a self-sufficient, independent woman who can call the shots in her life.