when I look back at my life I often wonder why I have never encountered the kind of problem I have seen at the movies or read in the book. Perhaps my ‘problems’ were never that big. Perhaps I have never acknowledged my difficulties. The kind of problem I faced is either because I am a girl or just my sheer bad luck. Dear readers, I offer you my bag of suffering as I continue writing from here.
I was born in a rural patriarchal society. Possibly my parents were frustrated after knowing my gender and felt insecure when they thought about a secure future because they couldn’t give birth to a boy. Growing up, I heard my relatives asking me why I wasn’t a boy (as if it was on my hand!) My nani shrugged, if only I was a boy of a darker color! My Parents never planned till my higher education however they sent me to a school because, if I don’t go to school I can’t get married to a well-off family.
I was an obedient daughter to my mother. Whatever Maa asked I listen to her. She never allowed me to make friends without her approval. She did not like me bringing my classmate to my house. By chance any of my classmates came to my house, Maa shouted at me in front of them. I couldn’t play with my neighbor’s child because my mother had a bad relationship with my playmate’s mother (or some of them were not good at study). I felt like my parents loved to humiliate me in front of others. My classmate & playmate always laughed at me for this. They did not bring me to shopping, family programs, wedding ceremony or relative’s houses. And none of them knew that I was left out, instead, I was tagged as an unsocial daughter. I obeyed her and I didn’t want to embarrass anyone in front of other people. I really want to remain a good girl. My mother was very happy and she always bragged with her sisters about me.
After passing the SSC exam my mother was confused about continuing my studies so asked for my aunt’s suggestion. My aunt agreed but there were a lot of conditions. I shouldn’t stay in a hostel or stay by myself (if she sends to me the hostel then I won’t listen to her and she can’t control me anymore). Maa was helpless, she desperately asked my aunt to keep me at her place. It was a favor they did to me.
I still remember that look I received on the day of my college admission which is also the day I went to my aunt’s home. She observed me from head to toe and remarked ‘you still wear long kamiz? No one wears it anymore!’. I was mummed. Yes, my fashion taste was poor. (Also, I went back to the village later and shorten off all my long kamiz)Within two days of my stay, I felt my sixteen years was a lie, everything that I used to hear about me or every perception was misled. My distress continued.
Every single day my aunt told me I’m unsocial, I didn’t know how to communicate with others, I am not presentable, my dresses are cheap, I couldn’t consume good food, my parents are poor, etc. I was accused of my cousin’s shenanigans and my existence was a laughing stock of the family. All this pettiness led to tears. I was a teenager, neither could I stop my emotion nor could I address it.
So I cried before I sleep. God knows if sometimes when I couldn’t resist anymore I have burst in front of them, I was accused of having a boyfriend in secret. I couldn’t even cry when I was sad.
When I told these to maa she wasn’t in disbelief. I didn’t want to discontinue my study I just wanted them to stop abusing me verbally and emotionally. But my mother was jittered. She reminded me of the favor that my aunt did to me. These were coming for my educational expense. There was bullying, blaming, lying, and abusing. I kept silent. I was a good girl, remember?
I stayed with them for two years and I always thought why me? I used to be a good girl; I always listened to my mother. How come maa never supported me? I hate you maa. I even thought about committing suicide because I wanted to teach Maa a lesson. But there is no one who feels sorry for me even.
Looking back to my younger self, I wish I could resist. I wish I had the language to protest against all the accusations and prove them wrong. Yes, I still argue with them in my head, over and over, recreating the situations. Aghh..I wish my parents were helpful. I wish Ma supported me.
Was it only the social and class gap? I often ask myself. Perhaps it’s not. It’s the patriarchic hegemony and the language she used. I needed closure to ease away my pain. My aunt spoke the language she was trained to use for a ‘good girl’. In our society, a good girl is someone who bows down, a subservient character- and you need to bully her to test her ‘good girliness. If she breaks down, if she bites back, her good-girl-ness is gone. Why was Ma so quiet? She was scared her good daughter will not be so good anymore.
My closures took the ‘good girl’ in me, but somehow it brought peace to my heart. I look at my nieces and teach them to never get bullied, to identify the language, and to stand up for voice. I teach them the language that I never had. I might not be a good girl anymore, but I am a cool aunt!