To all the women I know, and to all women everywhere.
Here’s to you.
You, in the metro. Coming back home after a long day, worn out. Your kohl is smudged slightly under your eyes, your kurta is crushed, and your hair falls out of the bun, you decided to put it up in. You are tired and drained, but you give up your seat for the old man holding the big bag and stand for the rest of the hour you have to spend in the train. You are beautiful inside and out.
You, with the baby in your arms. Your warmth and love radiates and forms an aura around you, and I watch as it fills the small room. You look down at the bundle in your arms as if he is the center of your universe, a single string that ties you to the ground. You are selfless and you are strong.
You, as you wait for a text from a son who has no time. You gave him your life and more, and now as he makes his own, you are nothing but proud, and do nothing but wish him well. You put your loneliness aside, and only hope that no harm shall come to him. You worry constantly; if he’s home, if he ate, if he’s okay. You are patient and you are kind, and you are the reason your son is where he is today.
You, as you cry your heart out and scream into a pillow for the boy who made you promises that he never intended to keep. Everyone disregards your feelings so you force a smile, but nothing hurts more than this. You are fierce and you will see, that one day this won’t matter, and you will laugh it off. Everything you feel matters, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You, as you sit at the head of the conference table and hold back screams of frustration as you face the inefficiency of those who work under you. They don’t take you seriously because you are a woman, but you know how to get the job done. It’s not that time of the month, you aren’t hormonal, and you aren’t overreacting. You know discrepancies when you see them, and you are admirable for that. Words are just words so let them bounce off your back. You can lead a team better than any man can.
You, with your head covered. Some may say you are oppressed, but I know it isn’t always so. You are empowered in your own way, and your allegiance to your faith is a beautiful way to express it. People will brand you with all kinds of cruel labels, but brush them off. Wear every cloth on your body with pride and dignity. I admire you for it.
You, who fell in love with a soul, and not a gender. Societal norms are nothing but devices that hold you back. You are brave, so brave. Your love knows no bounds and nothing holds you back as you kiss your lover in the face of adversity. Don’t be afraid to hold her hand, to be with her, to call her yours. Love is love, after all, and it is equal.
You, who works under the scorching sun, with bricks on your head and your sari tied firmly to your waist. Sweat pours down your back and the sun and the world beat down on you, but you are not fazed. Your reward may be nominal, but your determination is priceless. You earn so your children will lead the life you aspire for them, and that is the most selfless act in the world.
You, who stands before the mirror in your tall heels and a dress that hits mid-thigh. A night in the club with your friends is what you need, and though some may judge you for it, you don’t give a damn; and that is commendable. You are not afraid of labels and judgement, you are fearless. You are bold and beautiful as you buy a drink for the boy across the bar, as you let loose on the dance-floor, as you tumble and fall and giggle with your girlfriends. Turn a blind eye to the looks people give and the comments they pass. They mean nothing, and this is your night. So live.
You, who pinches the fat on her tummy and wishes it wasn’t there. Your weighing scale and self-doubt are your companions. But my love, your worth is not defined by your weight. Rock that bikini like I know you can, your confidence is your key. Don’t push away that cake, push away the fear of judgement. It’s not for boys that you need to love yourself; it’s for you.
You see, I know what you’re going through, and what you go through every day. No one knows the woes of a woman like other women do. In a world that tears us down, and pits us against one another in a competition we didn’t ask to be a part of, I stand by you.
The colour of your skin, your background, your orientation, your religion, your size; all those and more don’t matter. You are my friend and I will support you, whether I know you or not. Together we will defy the norms that try to force us into oblivion. And I urge you to do the same. In a world that seeks validation and defines your worth with the approval of men, female camaraderie is often overlooked and laughed at. Let’s make that go away.
Empower and coexist; together, we can beat them.
EDITED BY DIYA MATHEW