Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Change in the Game Part III / My Leila

"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."
- Simone de Beauvoir

I cannot help but agree with one of the most well known feminists of the 20th century. In this post, I shall tell you the story of a woman I know. A woman who inspires me every day, and pushes me to do better every minute of my time. Her name is Leila.

Leila's mother never wanted a daughter. She was typical of the narrow minded 1950s Indian mindset where boys were the be all and end all of all forms of family wealth. So obviously, when Leila was born, she was disappointed. Leila was smarter than most kids at school, and even though the family had to move all over the country, she would quickly adapt herself to the new ways of her ever changing life. Leila knew she was smart, and put her best use to her brains. She knew her mother would never understand. That she, she could do as well as her brothers. Maybe better. Much better.

By the time she was 23, Leila had 3 degrees to her credit and her parents were finding it hard to find a suitable match for her. No. She wouldn't marry a man who was going to use her as a maidservant. Never. Would she ever find such a man? She did. And the minute she did, she married him. It was 1982, and men who were liberal and encouraged their wives and sisters to study were rare. She knew Ram was a liberal, and her next 6 degrees were credited to him. Together they lived their life, studying and looking after their wonderful dogs, doing what they do best.

Leila inspires me because she never gave up hope, or strength. She never said no when most people said she was gone and done. She always proved them wrong. The troubles she faced, she faced. There were no two ways about it. This is what makes a woman, her life. Not her birth.

Here's to our unique identity. 

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