I was tagged by Dipali to participate in the Indusladies International Women's Day Blog Contest. This is my entry, though I am yet to make up my mind if it should be tagged under 'Women's Education' or 'Relationship Issues' - I think the former.
Though the name has been changed to protect privacy, I know both these women, and the stories are my interpretation of their life story....
The Tale of Two Women
This is the story of two women. Two women who share the same name, but have little else in common.
Vasanti and I were in school together. We lost touch soon after we graduated, but a series of coincidences got us back in touch. Vasanti is 38-year old mother of two. A former relationship manager with a commercial bank, she married a b-school classmate, but chose to stay at home when she had a child 8 years back. She’s pretty, articulate, and has a figure that any woman would kill for. Her husband dotes on her, and she has two maids and a chauffeur to take care of her every need.
The situation of the other Vasanti couldn’t be more different. The third of five daughters of illiterate construction workers, her childhood was spent baby sitting her sisters, and the children of her sisters. She grew up on the rubble heaps piled outside construction sites, and hadn’t held a pencil or a piece of chalk till an NGO persuaded her parents to let them enroll her in a municipal school at the age of 9. She caught up very fast, and ten years later, is enrolled in a B.Com. course, and dreams of becoming a lawyer.
When people talk about Obama as having triumphed against all odds, I mentally picture Vasanti. She may not have made it to the White House, but her victory is no less significant than that of the American President. From a legacy of illiteracy to working towards a college degree. From being the daughter of a daily wage earner to having dreams of a professional career. Resisting marriage, taking on social norms, working towards a dream that only she could see- if that is not triumph against odds, what is?
If the second Vasanti’s story can serve as an inspiration for all women, the story of the first Vasanti is the polar opposite. She had it all – a privileged background, a good technical education, a career people aspire to- and she threw it all up to stay at home. Now, I don’t have anything against stay-at-home mothers – I have been one myself for three years, and respect any woman who can make the rather difficult choice - but I do believe that the decision should be one you take yourself, not one that is forced on you. My classmate, Vasanti, quit her job because her husband informed her that only one of them could work, and since his career was more important, she should leave hers.
She has all the material comforts that any woman could want, and yet is tremendously unhappy because she was forced into a situation that she never liked.
Two Vasantis. Two women from very different backgrounds. Two people who would have been expected to have very different futures.
Two people in different situations- one is in control of her destiny, the other is merely existing from day to day. Which is what one would have expected given how they started out.
Except, the one who should have been in control is not, and the one who should have been merely surviving is living.
They may share the same name. But what is different is their attitude towards determining their destiny. And in the ultimate analysis, that is the only thing that really matters.
To be eligible to participate, I have to tag three women. There seems to be nothing in the rules that specifies that the women should all be Indian, so I am tagging three women who I am sure can give their own perspective on things - Ron, Manasi and my dear blogging buddy Jan who though not from India will definitely have something interesting to say.