Mother, grandmother, aunts, sisters, teachers, friends, classmates, colleagues, bosses, wife… That is the order in which I was introduced to the women in my life. It would be fair to say that most of these women have had a role in defining the person I have gradually evolved into. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been brought up in a fairly open and liberal environment, since it has allowed me to look beyond convention and explore possibilities that a rare breed of Indian men is exposed to.
My mother, for instance, has constantly strived to push me to equip myself with manifold skills, so I am never short of options when it comes to earning a livelihood. While it is difficult to understand the importance of the aforesaid forcefulness till a certain age, today I can’t thank her enough for it. A stage artist, emcee and voiceover professional, she has always believed that a man is incomplete without art and sport. From sketching and theatre to playing cricket and learning music, she has made sure that I try my hand at everything. I gleefully accepted some and vehemently rejected some – but I am what I am today because of what she exposed me to, since I was a child. My wife is another fantastic example of someone who inspires me to work hard and with a certain discipline that was unbeknown to me. A stellar graphic designer and visualizer, she is a part of everything I do and vociferously stands by my side in all facets of my life. Leading by example, she teaches me to take a stand for what I feel, to speak my mind, to say no to what I’m not up for, to deal with people rationally and to be a better man.
There are several other women who have knowingly or unknowingly shaped my personality and I have only gratitude to return. The sole reason why I look up to these individuals is the fact that they are empowered in every sense of the word. Never have I ever encountered a situation where they had to compromise on their beliefs and desires because of external factors. To think that we reside in a patriarchal society that oppresses the female populace doesn’t stand true in my case, and I am more than happy about that.
Women empowerment, to me, stands for logical parity and mutual respect. The mindset and ideologies that have been around for eons need to change. And this change doesn’t have to be a massive global movement. It can change with the smallest of things you do in your everyday life. Who am I to sit like an emperor while the women cook and serve and wash and clean up? Why is it okay to expect a woman to dump her professional aspirations and take care of the house? Why should she change her surname after getting married? Why can’t she take her own decisions? If I can be out till 2 AM with my friends, why can’t she? I try to answer simple questions like these before the archetypal mardin me starts assuming things and taking women for granted. The women in my life don’t get enough credit for their contribution to my being – so, I take this opportunity to say, “I look up to you!”