The Woman that was to the Woman that I am

For centuries, I was judged for things I had no control over — the colour of my skin, my height, and my beauty. There was but one goal of my life, set by others — to find a husband and build a family. And so, I spent decades emulating my mother:  toiling in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning for the entire family.

And then, one day,  as I passed a school, I realized how much I wanted to learn, to educate myself. Straining my eyes as I looked at my brother’s textbooks in the flickering light of a candle, I realized my passion, my desire for learning.  But oh, the amount of resistance I faced! From primary to high school, from college to university — it took me years of fighting and turmoil to convince society to allow me to pursue education. And even when I did, I was rarely encouraged. More often than not, I was ridiculed, made to feel bad about my stubbornness to go against society’s norms.

As time passed, things got a little easier. My higher education wasn’t looked down upon as much anymore. But with higher education came the desire to build a career. With it, the resistance resurfaced, stronger than ever. In fact, in many families, the kind of job and timings I could work were dictated to me. Often, I was told I could work only 2 years as I’d have to get married by a certain age to whoever my parents and extended family chose.

Marriage. It was here that I struggled the most. Despite the new-found mindsets, I was expected to fit into traditional roles. Cooking, cleaning and looking after children were my sole responsibilities. I couldn’t pursue a passion, work, or even have time for myself. I wasn’t allowed to do that. Yet, I didn’t give up. I kept fighting for freedom — the real freedom. For equal rights. And finally, there came a time when I was ‘allowed’ to work full-time. The sad bit? Managing home, kitchen, and kids was still largely my domain. I swell with pride to see some progress, albeit at snail’s pace, on this front as the lines dividing traditional gender roles have started to blur. But it’s not easy. It never was. I am still expected to give up my career to live in another city where the man I married under an arranged marriage works, wake up early to please my in-laws, or stay at home to look after the kids because I must be a good bahu, if not a good beti.

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As I wrote once in my post, Confessions of an Independent Woman, while the definition of a ‘woman‘ underwent an immense transformation and I was taught to be more independent, we, as a society, forgot to teach our men to be less dependent (on women – in terms of cooking, household chores, kids). The end result? I am constantly caught between two conflicting worlds, always trying to live up to contrasting expectations — those of my parents, my spouse, my in-laws, and my colleagues. Often, my society as well. And hence ensues a constant struggle to prove my worth as a woman at every step — at work, at home, and in the whole wide world.
As I juggle all the different roles in my life, I am constantly looking over my shoulder, trying to prove myself.

I live in a world where I need a no-objection certificate from my father or husband to fly to certain countries. A world where I am constantly asked “when are you planning to get married?” or “what about kids?”. A world where, the moment something goes wrong in my family, I am told it is because I was “too focused” on my career. A world where I have to change my last name (and often, my first) after marriage. A world where dowry and domestic abuse are still part and parcel of the many lives I live in many parts of the world.

This is the woman that the world wants to see.
This is how society wants me to be.

But The Woman that I Am is strong, confident and bold — not because I had it easy. But because I chose to fight through it all. Because I chose to break the shackles of society. I’ve come a long way. But there’s still a long way to go.

Disclaimer: This isn’t my story, rather it is the story of women over the years.


“This post is a part of ‘The Woman That I Am’ Blog Hop #TheWomanThatIAm organized by Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul #RRxMM. The Event is sponsored by Kraffitti.”

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108 Comments Add yours

  1. Such relatable post Sonam. Brilliantly written the transition of women’s identity, roles and rights. Loved reading.

    Like

  2. Manas Mukul says:

    Wonderful take on the theme Sonam. It is great to see people like you breaking the patriarchal norms and carving out a path of your own. It is high time that women start realising what is important for them and what’s the way about it rather than being dependent on a fully grown child.
    #RRxMM #TheWomanThatIAm

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Disha says:

    That’s the story of majority of women around us, but with changing times there is a change in mindset.

    Like

  4. Rashi Roy says:

    That’s a nice take on the theme. Writing about the experiences women have had over the years and it’s true to many. It’s good to see the perspective is gradually changing for better and we are hoping the best. Am glad you chose to be a part of the blog hop and shared this beautiful piece with us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Rashi – glad you liked my post. Thank you for hosting the blog hop!

      Like

  5. we all more or less have a similar journey, somewhere smooth somewhere rough. I have hope as the change is happening, men will also take equal share of household work as women have taken up at avenues outside home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is extremely important that happens!

      Like

  6. Yes, that’s so very important!

    Like

  7. I think every woman relates to it at some level. Glad it resonated with you 🙂

    Like

  8. The journey has been beautifully described. Various thoughts ressonated with what I have read or heard. The irony is everyone knows this is happening but the change is at snail’s pace. Why are women bearing so much? Once all speak and act in the same way, hopefully change is noticed at a faster pace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It needs to come from all of us Srishti – until that happens, we have to struggle. Hopefully, someday in the future. So glad you liked my post!

      Like

  9. I have read you before, rather I have read your entire book so I know the woman you are 🙂 I second your thoughts here Sonam and I always love the stronger version of women. Soft yet hits hard when needed. A beautiful narration of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Priyanka, for your kind words! Glad my post resonated with you

      Like

  10. Supriti says:

    u have beautifully captured the life of a woman over the years. we all have been through something or all of it.. u said it all.. we have a long way to go..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Supriti for liking my post! Glad it resonated

      Like

  11. Sad but true..we made our daughters independent but we for forget tomake our sons less dependent and that is the reason for increase divorce in our country. Our expectations from women are simply increasing day by day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, its everybody’s fault :\

      Like

  12. Ninu Nair says:

    This is the hard-hitting part where the definition of an independent woman means managing home and work. And, even when men in the family are willing to take their share of the responsibility, women in the family or society begin to take a dig. Hopefully, someday we become an equal society. So nicely written by you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely agreed Ninu! Glad you liked it

      Like

  13. Varsh says:

    You’re right. This could very well be the story of any woman. Fight for it if need be but don’t ever give up the dreams you have, is what I believe. Will teach my daughter the same thing. She always has one person standing behind her; me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your daughter is very lucky! I wish more sons were taught the same! Thank you for liking my post Varsh!

      Like

  14. MeeraMayaa says:

    Very strong words and I wish all get to grab this read
    It hurts even today, we live in a preconditioned mindset

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the time to make our sons independent….a little step towards equality.A hard hitting post.More power to you.
      Sangya Nagpal

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much Sangya – so glad to know it had impact and so happy you liked it!

        Like

    2. Thank you so much Meera 🙂

      Like

  15. Deepti says:

    True…it’s a story of all of us over time immemorial..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Deepti, it’s a story all of us can relate to

      Like

  16. Mayuri6 says:

    True that! Your words have mapped the journey of women over the years. Well written, Sonam!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mayuri – so glad you liked it!

      Like

  17. What a brilliant post. Each line is like a story of a woman whom I know. Who has seen rolling eyes of her own parents, in-laws and so call society. Who is still in hope of days when she will not be supposed to take permission for every other thing, when she will be free to take decisions for her own life and when she will be walking fearless on streets! All she can do as of now is fight for every right, every wish and every move.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Shipra!

      Like

  18. surabhi19 says:

    Beautifully penned. women independence is the most important and it helps to make their own decisions and also helps to our societal change. Best wishes for your future post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you co mush Surabhi!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Sometimes I feel with this whole independence thing we have just overburdened ourselves. We already had hands full and then managing work added to the chaos and the oy sufferer is us.
    There is time to shift some household responsibilities to men just the way we share financial support

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed – the change needs to come from within.

      Like

  20. Meena says:

    Great post Sonam. It echoes my sentiments that I too posted for this blog hop. The lot that women have had to deal with over centuries is quite a mountain. We have come a long way but still a long way to go,

    Cheers
    Meena from balconysunrise.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Meena, I read your post. I I wrote about this a few years back as well. Agreed – we have come a long way, but still have a long way to go 🙂

      Like

  21. The fight for us women is never-ending. Even if we win it outside with the society the slumbers and shackles in my brain would never let me be free. I am waiting for my detachment and freedom. Probably someday I will enjoy independence.
    #damurureads urvashi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed Urvashi – it’s a long and cumbersome process..

      Like

  22. itsmylife126 says:

    Independence is very important if you have to achieve something. And one has to struggle for it. Very well written. – Yatindra Tawde

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, its a constant struggle – thank you Yatindra!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Well, I bet most women can relate to this and as much as I understand, though women are being thought to become independent and make their own decisions, men are just becoming more and more dependent. Once this changes our society gets better by the day. A very beautiful post Sonam. Loved it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sundeep – agreed, this change will make the society a better place.

      Like

  24. Pr@Gun says:

    I’m proud of every such girl who chose to fight. We live for these societal parameters and completely forget about the Woman we are.
    Lovely post, showcasing our adjusting capabilities in every phase and situation of our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pragun for liking my post!

      Like

  25. Ritu says:

    This is a reality for almost every woman out there. Balancing the two conflicting worlds and hypocrisy. And the whole no-objection certificate from father or husband gets my goat. Well said, Sonam. And of course, your doodles are unmissable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why I want my son to learn everything what my daughter learn even household work.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you Ritu – glad it resonated with you. And thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Neeraja Ganesh says:

    Some parts sounded like it was my story being narrated!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Sonia Madaan says:

    Well written post depicting a woman’s struggle. Every woman could relate to this. Changes can be seen, but still a long way to go. Let’s be hopeful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, still a long way to go 🙂
      Glad you liked my post

      Like

  28. shail says:

    Your post resonated so well with me. We are still at the stage where we have to balance our career passion and home chores and yet at the end of the day we are judged with how well we look after our house and husband and kids. We may be reaching milestones in our professional lives but we are still answerable to the society if anything goes wrong with our husband or kids it is our fault. Hope we can bring the change in this mindset if not for us at least our future generations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Shail, and this is something that needs to change.

      Like

  29. vidhya29 says:

    wonderfully penned I always love reading your posts

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Vidhya 🙂

      Like

  30. Jyoti Arora says:

    Wonderfully penned Sonam!! The struggles in a womans life are at every step. We have come a long way, but still a long way to go!! 👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Jyoti – agreed! Thank you 🙂

      Like

  31. What I like the best about your post is the tone. There is this undercurrent determination to fight but there is no aggression or bitterness. Even as the post deals with hurdles, you projected a sense of hope rather than hatred. I haven’t read your works before so really stands out for the presentation. Wonderful. Hugs. 🙂
    ~Srivalli

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Srivalli – I didn’t want to sound bitter or hurt. I don’t blame men. It’s just the way they’ve been brought up – they’ve seen their mothers toil in the kitchen. It’s no one’s fault. Yet, everyone’s.

      Like

  32. Society taught women to be independent but forgot to teach the man to be less dependent on women… Well-said and so true! We can just hope to raise the next generation of children who realise that cooking, cleaning etc are individual tasks irrespective of which gender you belong to. Well-written piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Surbhi – that is exactly my point. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Marriage changes everything. It is too much of adjustment for any woman. No matter how much a woman is successful once she gets married, every expects her to change and fit into the traditional mould which we have created for years together. God knows when this situation will change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Mahesh. Even though we have evolved a lot, many expectations around marriage remain old-fashioned. Hope to see a change in the near future.

      Like

  34. Jyoti Jha says:

    A lovely post very close to almost every woman’s struggle of trying to find a foothold for herself. The journey continues with new struggles with the changing scenarios. A long way to go! More strength and courage to all women!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Jyoti! We have a long way to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. mahekg says:

    True it’s a story of many women, things have changed but we have a long road ahead. Women have evolved and will continue, men need a drastic evolution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, absolutely. Glad you agree with my viewpoint Mahek!

      Like

  36. Arushi says:

    Sonam, this is such a beautiful post!! You have written about things very close to my heart. The constant struggle a woman faces in this patriarchal world really bothers me. Women are strong and they are able to make a choice but there are many who can’t stand up for themselves. I hope the world makes it easier for women and let them define their path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Arushi. I hope that the next generation doesn’t have to fight the same battles and has it a little easier 🙂

      Like

  37. I think all the issues of the the women of today and a courageous story that you sketched gives confidence to me 😊🤗👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sivaranjini – glad you liked my post 🙂

      Like

  38. Archana says:

    That is the bitter truth of our society, that a girl’s dreams wait for the approvals of her parents, husband, in laws etc., there are still many things many thoughts didn’t change with the time and unfortunately, getting approval certificates from others for a our own self (Girl)is among one of those. Well portrayed the reality of the freedom of woman’s dreams!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Archana – agreed – there are many things that have still not changed, needing approval being a major one!

      Like

  39. Deepika says:

    When a woman taught is like to be independent. I personally feel she is n the confusion after her marriage because she doesn’t want to give up on her independence due to family resposibilities but she has to do some compromise at the same time. It tough. I understand. I love your definition of woman dear! Well Done.

    Deepika Mishra

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Deepika. Yes, women didn’t come this far to give it all up for family.

      Like

  40. Yep. Definitely a long way to go. The definition and expectations of a woman are continuously evolving, recently for the better and that is good. It is heartening to see that you have this much insight even before you are married!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Namratha! That means a lot 🙂

      Like

  41. Janaki says:

    So relatable , Sonam.many women are living this life. Very well written.
    Janaki@beyondthefamiliar

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Janaki – glad you agree

      Like

  42. poorvikhare says:

    Very well penned dear! I had to fight to not change my first name…and I won that fight.
    I could relate to so many things in your lines.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Poorvi – it’s sad that such things still prevail in our society

      Like

  43. You’ve been strong and will emerge stronger. A wonderfully written post. True long way to go, men still have to accept the new avatar of women. Lovely post.
    Deepika Sharma

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi sorry, since it was written in first person I assumed it to be your story though I was skeptical. Still the point that it’s well written is true. The trials of each woman is visible in it. 😊
      Deepika Sharma

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you so much Deepika 🙂

      Like

  44. Ruchi says:

    This resonates. A story of many of us. Tiny steps at a time. We have come long way from the time girls were not educated to the day where financial independence is our power. Still the destination is far, when boy or girl won’t be deciding factor in who is the homemaker and who is the earning member.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Ruchi – we have come a long way. I hope that the next generation does not have to fight the same battles we did.

      Like

  45. Swarnali Nath says:

    I am with you Sonam. I am also pressurized by neighbors and relatives but my parents want me to become a girl of my own choice. More power to you girl.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Swarnali – although this isn’t my story 🙂
      I was trying to depict a woman’s journey through the ages

      Liked by 1 person

  46. ritecontent says:

    You are so right, we have come a long way and have a long way to go! A wonderful expression of the feelings of all women.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. journey of life is difficult but we need to be strong to over come the problems and make sure it doesnt stop. It is a life long process of travelling in life. strong, confident and bold – this what we are made up of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sad and harsh reality portrayed beautifully. We are pressurised and judged since time immorial. We need to break the stereotypes and make our own rules and define our own path.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Zenobia – I completely agree

        Like

    2. Yes Romila, I agree

      Like

      1. Abha Mondal says:

        Being a woman we face lots of restrictions and judgments yet we never stop fighting and growing. Such a wonderful post about women’s journey.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you Abha 🙂

        Like

    3. Monika says:

      You are right . That’s the story of many women . She has to fight at every step . But we will keep fighting . Finally the world belongs to women more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we will keep fighting. Glad you liked my post 🙂

        Like

    4. Absolutely right Romila 🙂

      Like

  48. Hats off to your resilience, strength and courage!
    More power to you!
    You said it so right. Men need to learn to be independent and not depend on women for household chores. Only then equality will prevail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly! Glad you agree

      Like

    2. Exactly! Glad you agree

      Like

  49. Your post is beautifully written Sonam .I could see myself journeying with your words through each phase and expectation in a women’s life..Your definition of woman was bang on..Yes,men forgot to update the definition ☺Best wishes for your future posts..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pashmeena for your kind words 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  50. Well said, we have come a long way and long way to go, the journey is difficult but one step at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pooja – this isn’t my story though – it is a woman’s journey over the ages

      Liked by 1 person

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