In Pursuit of Prince Charming

Written By

Namita Kutty

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From time immemorial, you have been told that you, as a mere woman are NOT enough. You are just meant to be a part of a whole. By yourself, you are nothing. A mere plaything, meant to be pretty, fair, caring, gentle, modest, amusing…. You are an ornamental creeper who will fall to the ground if not wrapped tightly around the strong man in your life. And woe, if you aren’t married by the societally acceptable eligible age, tcha,tcha. Poor thing, the crowd murmers. Who will marry her now? What is going to happen to her? Never mind that she is a smart, independent woman who knows her mind and is happy. Happy? They query, happy without a man or a child? How is that even possible. You scoff! Come on, times are a changing. And yet, are they? In a world where a competent woman leader is rejected for the post of a world leader for a far less worthy candidate, just because he is a man. How much has really changed?
Let’s go back to the basics. A group called ‘Rebel Girls’ shared this mind blowing video sometime back. They said, lets look at a huge shelf of children’s books and talk about ones where you have female characters, quite a few fell off the shelf. Okay, now ones where they speak, a whole bunch of books got knocked off. And now, the clincher, books where female characters have their own dreams and ambitions which extend beyond finding a ‘prince or a horse or a mouse’ to rescue her. And guess what, from a huge bookshelf choc-a-block with children’s books, we now have just a pitiful handful. Sad, depressing and also food for thought. What are we telling our children? We are telling them that you are not enough. You are not good enough and you will never be. Find a strong man to support you if you want to prosper in life. And this, my friends, leads to a whole new world of pain. Let’s talk to some women who have walked in the shadows of patriarchy.
Here’s Riya Varma sharing her own experience of hanging on to Prince Charming. ‘ I was a successful IT professional and I had an arranged marriage. He was smart, handsome, witty and charming and more than one person commented on how lucky I was to have found my Prince Charming. But I realised very quickly just how charming my husband was.  He was a full blown alcoholic who was verbally abusive. I held on for as long as I could, as I couldn’t bear to think of myself as alone! It felt like a stigma. It got to a point when he lost his job and it was only when things escalated to physical violence that l finally left.’ Riya is not alone. She just joins a whole plethora of smart, independent women who cower in fear of being alone. And the dreaded ‘Log kya kahenge!’. Never mind that Prince Charming and his parents are abusive, at least she has the strong Banyan tree to her gentle, ornamental Jasmine creeper. And you know what, we have failed her. As a society, we have failed all the Riyas of the world. We have collectively told them, that they are not good enough to survive alone.
And no, I’m not against marriage or being in a good relationship. In fact, I’m all for marriage and being in a relationship. I have personally found a great deal of stability, peace and strength in my marriage with a wonderful partner. But I’ve had my share of going through toads to get to my partner and so I finally know a good one when I see it. Here’s  the thing though, I’ve learnt that you need to bring your whole self into the marriage! A marriage does not work at the “its best if the woman plays the helpless” card and expects the man to rescue her. Post pregnancy I went through post partum blues and I retreated from the world. I was a grumpy bear who guarded her baby cub with the zealous eye of a well, grumpy mama bear.  Went from my normal, border line manic cheerful disposition to flying into random rages on minor issues. And my steady, dependable rock of a husband did everything he could possibly do to cheer me up. And yet, it’s not him, it’s me. It was only when I finally pulled myself  through that I was able to bring our lives to some semblance of its former beautiful self. And that’s when I realised, you can be blessed with the most amazing partner in life, but you also need to be a strong, independent person. We are so much happier now that I’ve found my balance back! Yes, he’s still my rock, and I rely on him in a way that I rely on no one else. But I’m also my own person with my own dreams, ambitions and opinions. And that makes us tick.
Tell your daughter that she is her own person with her own hopes, ambitions and desires. She can go out and conquer the world, as soon as her nail polish (if she chooses to apply) is dry! She does NOT have to be a princess, waiting for her Prince Charming. Read to her about women scientists, astronauts, CEOs. Hubby dear was very upset that I didn’t send my daughter to the science fair at IISC. But errr….she’s two, so maybe a tad young much?
Today, do yourself a favour and tell yourself you are good enough. You are strong and independent and have a mind of your own. For as Dr. Suess puts it so engagingly “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”. You are enough. Amen.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mommy of a pint-sized dictator (read toddler). Wife of a super busy entrepreneur who's also an incredibly hands-on daddy (never mind all her whingeing!). Lover of books, yoga; and fitness enthusiast (read: the long journey back to pre-natal petiteness) and member of the top secret 'New Mommy Club'. Namita in her previous avatar was a senior HR professional for over a decade in top IT, Banking and Retail MNCs. She prided herself on her people management abilities and effective conflict resolution. All of which comes to naught as she's totally owned by a toddler at negotiations.

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