Remember that the universe gives back what it takes. We are a family of strong women because your grandfather wouldn't have it any other way. And when he died I lost the only parent I had known. I lost a love that was spontaneous, accidental and a pot of pure luck.
My life changed that day I turned sixteen because I had found an oasis in the desert. But I didn't know it then.
My distant uncle wanted to sell me for gold, because no-one wanted to marry an orphan. Funny that the world has changed so much and for good. But back then I was very scared and said yes to the first marriage proposal I received that week. I was a smart kid with enough local scholarships to get me through college. And so, I put only one condition to marriage, that I be allowed to study.
Your grandfather was much older, twenty-four to my sixteen, but he agreed without hesitation. The morning of my wedding was bittersweet but little did I know that in my new family, I would find all the love I had lost. I was married into a home built by strong women who taught me strength and softness. They stood like a backbone while I defied societal norms to finish my college degree. And they gave me love – unadulterated, pure.
(excerpts from the transcript of a recorded conversation)
“I looked at her then, truly looked at her and saw immeasurable strength in those fragile shoulders. And I was grateful that I had inherited some of it.”
Her jejema’s words led Bidisha to the realization that the experience of being a woman is not black or white.
While the ‘personal is political’, the spectrum of our collective struggles is much more complex.
We are sometimes called to borrow a different lens and listen,
to make sure that diverse narratives find their place in our legacy of protest and acceptance.
“I withdrew my judgement and recalibrate a fresh perspective as I look into her eyes full of nostalgia.”
Bidisha Mahapatra, 23
Bidisha Mahapatra (she/her) is an artist, writer and visual communicator from Bhubhaneswar. She is a storyteller who specialises in designing meaningful narratives across mediums. She has worked in the field of advocacy communication as a copywriter for various CSR-led initiatives. She uses her background in politics and the arts to raise awareness and political consciousness about gender, sexuality and mental health.