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Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Success

The success of an individual lies in the distance that she has managed to cover between the mindset (and therefore life) of her own grandmother and the life of her daughter.

That is her own personal contribution to evolution. Because no matter how fast technology and the media and society turn around us, unless the mindset absorbs it all in an open unbiased way, there can be no question of ‘choosing’

And without choosing, we will just all blindly follow the footsteps of our ancestors and so will our children.

The contribution lies in how far we have traveled on the bridges of intense thought to change the course of our lives and the lives of our children.

(This idea is applicable only to those segments in a ‘developing’ stage such as women of India or the tribes of India. These are segments in which there is still a great potential difference (to borrow a term from physics) between the ambient group and that particular segment.)

With my life being as it is, it would seem I have a high degree of freedom.

But my mind has always  been caught up in the very same shackles that bound my grandmother.

My grandmother gracefully accepted what society taught her – that men are superior and women are lesser mortals.  To me, it was always an axiom that no man is ever going to be superior or inferior to me just by gender. But this idea was quite incomprehensible to almost every person I knew. While every educated person paid lip service and pretended to believe in ‘gender equality’ their lives always reeked of obeisance  to males. And so, I had to fight to preserve my faith in my idea and myself. Surprisingly the fight was mostly with women who did not want their belief system rocked and chose to find comfort in ‘letting things be’  rather than in freedom or equality.

When you are fighting a whole paradigm, there is no specific fight and no known enemy.

It is an all-pervasive background – oppressing every attempt of the soul to grow into the sunshine of freedom.

No doubt with all the wrenching and fighting I overcame the hurdles and bloomed. But every scorching thought of imposed inferiority made me lash out and before I knew it, I had grown thorns.

An unwanted unanticipated side-effect of chasing the sunshine against all odds : Thorns.

But these thorns performed the critical function of protecting my core. And by the time I was the mother of a daughter these very thorns were very very useful in fending off anyone that threatened her sense of equality & freedom.

And so she has remained absolutely untouched by the concept of gender bias in her own life. Raised as an equal between an elder and a younger brother, she has no sense of limitation or bounds on account of her gender. She views it as an absurd idea that women cannot do as much or as good as a man.

So ensconced within the thorns that I grew defensively on my own soul, my little bud has been nurtured safely away from the clutches of gender bias that pervades the Indian mindset.

My daughter, a daughter of India has been delivered to Tagore’s dreamland “Where the head is held high and the mind is without fear, into that heaven of freedom ….” let my daughter reign.

That this journey of transition between my grandma’s life and my daughter’s has been crossed over the bridge of my own life –   is my most powerful accomplishment  – one that outshines all others on my CV.

jm

April 2013

 

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