Real Women are NEVER quitters
A couple of years ago, in order to polish our conversational skills, our German teacher asked each student to describe what he/she wanted to do after the course got over. Of the 22 stories, one made me sit straight and feel very angry with the speaker (an aspiring engineer) whose plan was to migrate to Germany. When asked the reason, his answer was, ‘das system functioniert nicht’- the system doesn’t function.
I was not bitter because I thought he was lying or exaggerating; our system is indeed one with a million holes. What made me bitter is the solution he found: to blame and flee.
(A funny diversion: a few later I found a poem written by him at one of my books - a sign of some affection for me. It became a great joke as friends started teasing me – “you attracted a quitter!”)
However, that classmate of mine isn’t the only one I have met who is ready to quit at the drop of a hat. I have seen hundreds others like him and many of them are women as well. It hurts me every time when I see these women – young, educated and from not so underprivileged families, are just looking for a chance to flee at the first given opportunity to US/UK or any other richer country and settle down. Their stories and languages may be different (“no opportunities here”, “my parents want me to get married”, “people are narrow-minded” etc, etc), but the message is the same: das system functioniert nicht.
What a waste of youth and resources, I feel when I come across such stories, ‘out in the field there are women whose bodies are full of scars, who have children to feed and no money, who are abandoned both by their husband and parents and are yet not quitting the fight. 6 months ago I met a 65-year old lady in Calcutta whose sons had thrown her out after she wrote her will and gave away all her property to them. She had sciatica and walked with pain, was living under the staircase in a neighbor’s house and sold incense sticks door to door. ‘I have never begged and will never do it, Ma,’ she told me. I want to live and die with dignity’).
And here, women half their age, with their parents beside them, a university degree to help them find decent work, are ready to take the first flght out of the country. Because, the system doesn’t function.
The question is, whose job is it to make the system work? Is it not our job? Isn’t there more dignity in trying to mend your shoes when they develop holes, than go begging from someone else? Above all, if you demand equal space in the society, shouldn’t you be the equal bearer of the responsibility to right the wrong?
Yes, seeking support is crucial, so are building networks, forge partnerships and make friends, But the first step to make the system work should be taken by us. After all it’s our country, our society. So, instead of being a quitter, let us be a sticker.
Let us stay put and try to make the system work. Because, real women NEVER quit!.