What's in an age?

My sister finished law and joined the local sessions court as an advocate in early 2000. Back then, women were not a common sight in regular male bastions, especially when it came to a small hill town like ours. The first few days were hard. The process of learning the practical aspects of jurisprudence and the task of making a space for herself continued simultaneously. I remember the evenings when she would come back exhausted and would yet jump into the kitchen to help mother prepare dinner.

It was around this time when talks about her marriage first began to crop up. As it turns out, she’d already met someone during her LLB years and had made a decision in that regard. However, when it comes to Indian families, inter-caste marriages are a tough pill to swallow. My father opposed the arrangement tooth and nail. So did many others who thought that a girl marrying by her own choice was an inappropriate and imprudent idea. With everybody providing an unwarranted opinion and nobody taking any concrete action, my sister decided to take the matter into her own hands. Call it diplomacy, honesty or ingenuity; somehow she managed to convince everyone who mattered. But by then, it was too late. The boy who’d promised her the very best for eight long years had abandoned her at the first hint of a rocking boat.



She was almost thirty when this happened and though she never showed it, the entire episode took a toll on her. A huge piece of her soul had been wrestled away. Since then, professional competence became her only agenda and she spent the next decade of her life completely devoted to her job. Most of the cases that she accepted dealt with women who’d been mistreated, deserted, violated or abused. It took me a while to figure that getting justice for them probably gave her a semblance of closure.

Once again though, questions about why she wasn’t married yet, started to be raised. Nobody was willing to accept the fact that a woman could be self-dependent, single and happy. While some began to attribute her resistance to what had happened in the past, others began to suspect that this might be due to a flaw in her character. Why else would a woman possibly prefer a career over a man, right? Realizing the gravity of the situation, a number of ‘well-wishers’ took it upon themselves to compel her for ‘settling down’. It was already late, they said. A woman is only as significant as her biological clock, they argued. Conception of children would be difficult, they put forth. Quite clearly, her choice about what she wanted to do with her life was rendered irrelevant. Nevertheless, she did not give in.

Today, at forty, she has finally decided to take the plunge, on her own terms. She has found understanding and companionship in a man five years younger than her. Together, they’ve decided to build a home where individual freedom is placed much above in the order of priority than societal expectation. Her story may not be extraordinary but her resolve to battle the notions which propel patriarchy and misogyny as an everyday affair, most certainly is.

In her own quiet way. One step at a time.

Comments

  1. All the best to the couple! :) <3

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  2. Her story reminds me of atleast two female friends of mine. Incidentally, both are as old as your sister and are five years elder to me. One met exactly the same fate as your sister did, while the other one got divorced. The former is a journalist and the latter is a Group B Government officer and a graceful single mother.
    Now that I know your sister's story, I am very happy to know about one more strong woman.
    I wish her a happy married life and a super successful career.
    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. That's such a kind thing to say. My sister is ten years older to me and I'm glad that her story resonated with the other women you know. Thank you :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Inspiring :) May be if she hadnt taken the step...she wouldnt be in a position in which she is today. Her sufferings made her shine like a diamond and thats what life is meant for.

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    2. I agree. Thank you for reading, Ashu :)

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