Many a time women are expected to be submissive, they are expected to follow and not to lead, they are expected to just listen and not say. If a woman goes against norms, society rejects her for after all she was a *woman* and was supposed to follow a certain pre-defined path - that which someone else defined for her. But then there are also women who have the courage to go against these socially dictated norms and triumph. They are the ones who make the times change slowly and gradually, they are the ones who make the social and cultural mentalities change for good, they are the ones who empower other women too and make them feel proud of their womanhood. My friend Nabeela is one such woman. I met her a couple of months ago during one of the feminist workshops here in Pakistan and was really impressed by her achievements. Born in a small village of interior Punjab (Pakistan's 2nd largest province), she was a fifth child. According to her she was born to a mother who never knew what it is like saying "No" and that was also the primary reason that she end up giving birth to eight children. Nabeela like her mother and other girls of the family as well as the village was expected to be "all yes" but she decided to not be so. She thinks, her life started with a "No" - at the time of Nabeela's birth, everyone prayed for a baby boy but NO - a girl i.e. she was born. Then she was named Na-beela - "Na" in Urdu means No. When she grew up, she was told that girls stay at home and play with dolls but she stayed out and played with marbles, rode bicycle and played all games that were perceived to be only for boys. She was told, girls choose professions such as Medical but she chose a totally different profession that is Broadcasting.She was told girls are finally meant to move to someone else' house but she built her own house and that too in a city where no one knew her and she proved herself there.She was told girls get married and have kids but she said No and decided not to marry; rather she plays with others' kids. She says, her mother said "Yes", divided herself into pieces because of her husband and her children and became a *good woman* but Nabeel stayed "All No" and hence she couldn't fit into the socially acceptable description of a good daughter and sister but she feels contented and I believe that is what matters at the end of day.
Everything in life comes with its own advantages and disadvantage and so does the choice of saying "No" but what makes the difference is if you make your own choices. Making your own choices gives a mighty satisfaction!
PS: Nabeela is contesting in the ViewChange Film Contest. You might want to watch her story of life here and vote her.