Since childhood, I was always been told stories of princesses and horse carriages and a fair, handsome prince. Grandma used to say that she was eager to see me happily married off to a good boy before she passed away from our lives. And she told my brother, that she wanted to see him get a good job and lead his life happily. I wondered why she never told things the other way round.
I wondered why everyone gifted me dolls on my birthday and cars on my brothers. I never told anyone that I liked dolls, but surprisingly I had a mini shop for that. My side of the room was pink and my brother’s side was blue.
I was seven when I asked my mom why no one never bought a skirt for my brother. And my mom laughed on my face and said, “Because he is a boy”.
It took me a long thirteen years of life to realize that weight of the difference behind the words: Boy and Girl.
I was not supposed to be out after 7 in the evening and as days passed by I was asked not to hang out with my male friends. I tried to make my parents understand, but they wouldn’t. My freedom was curbed because I was a girl.
I was supposed to be knowing all the kitchen work, or else I wouldn’t be married. My talents were supposed to be my beauty, the complexion, and my skills in cooking and embroidery. I was not allowed to play cricket with my brother, those were boy’s games.
Slowly I realized that it's not a problem that occurred recently. Even in the stories, the princesses were finally asked to get married to some handsome prince. And that was supposed to be the end of the tragic life of the girl. The belief of a girl bound to the house and beside some boy is instilled since ages. But I was adamant on changing this.
But one fine evening after a lot of struggles and fights to make my parents understand that they should not be worried about me being a girl and discriminate, I realized I should let go. My mom told me “you’ll understand when one day, you would become the mother of a daughter.” I understood there was no point in fighting to fix already broken glass.
So after twenty whole years, I have the chance to be a mother. And call it a coincidence; I am the mother of a daughter. I had the questions to myself on how should I bring her up. Should I let the same princess stories be told to her? Because Cinderella and Snow White stories cover a beautiful part of my life, but I needed her to know that her life is worth more than a perfect prince charming and beautiful face and long hair.
I want her to know that days have changed. That, when I mention “a long time ago”, I mean a long time ago. Now she needs to realize things from a different perspective.
I’d tell her that Cinderella is still working in someone else’s house, but she doesn’t need a good gown or a prince charming. She is waiting for her fairy Godmother to come and give her the opportunity with pens and books. Snow White is still out there looked over by a wicked mother waiting to sell her to any random cruel hand who can prey on her soft flesh. She needs to be saved from the poisonous apple which is selfishness. Sleeping Beauty might go to sleep for the rest of her life, and no Prince’s kiss can save her. She needs the right medication.
I need her to know that Bella was not loved because she was beautiful, but because she cared for people who were considered as monsters. Snow White had the love of the seven dwarfs because she loved them when the world mocked at them. I want her to learn that Mulan, though in some faraway land, finally knew that one should always stay true to oneself. Like Merida, she too would also make terrible crimes. But like Merida, she needs to take the responsibility to rectify them too. And like most of those characters, she does not need to be declared a princess. If she has a kind heart, good intentions and is true to herself then she is a princess already.
I also want her to know that I am old. I was brought up in a generation when many things and thoughts were not as advanced as it is now. But she needs to sort it out with me. I am ready to listen. I am ready to understand. We together can be the change.
I hope I'll succeed.