Glass ceilings, granite pillars

2007-11-30 00:00

As we approach the 16 Days of Activism, I look at my life as a woman, a woman who has been through four decades of socialisation, education, turmoil and, finally, personal victory.

The fourth stage of my life, which lead me on the path to self-actualisation, began when I met my husband Ajith, who is, symbolically, the granite pillar, continuously keeping the glass ceiling away from me.

Our marriage, like any other, has its fair share of misunderstandings, but through the fact that he is a confident and secure person, we manage to work through issues, without ever making gender an excuse for authority or submission.

Living in a male-dominated household (I have one child, a young man of 13: Sidhart) can be challenging, especially when we as women desire a fulfilling career and social life, and want to be the best we can in the domestic sphere. Ajith has taught me, over the past 18 years, not to cling to ideals that I can’t fulfil, but to do what I can and to live my life to the fullest, exploiting my potential in whatever way possible.

I have changed careers through the stages and he has always encouraged me to ignore any glass ceilings that I might perceive, and to instead realise that he will always stand by my choices as he has faith in my decisions. I have learnt that although his opinion is necessary, he will not use it as an excuse to impede my progress. In all his support he has also taught me the art of compromise without being disadvantaged in any way.

I have a hectic life with regard to my involvement in community service and he has stood by me, supporting my projects by not getting in my way, as he believes that I am capable of leading my teams to success. He has been the voice of reason when my oestrogen levels have led me to varying moods, when my migraines have clouded my sense of judgment and when I basically wanted to blow my top for no apparent reason.

In this environment, we have managed to raise our son to be a levelheaded, mature young man who is able to understand life broadly, and who has learnt from our lives. In order to be fulfilled, we cannot change anyone totally. All we can do is encourage a desire to modify, but never to steal one’s individuality.

Life’s challenges are here to stay, and the one statement that always rings in my ears is the one Ajith made to me early in our relationship: “We live in a civilised society, not in the dark ages of cave men, hence there is no need for physical abuse if we have the ability to talk!”

I am blessed to have this granite pillar always keeping glass ceilings away from me, and the young granite pillar growing up with the same values. We are all human and humans make mistakes. However, if we can’t learn from them and move on, life is not worth living. Ajith and Sidhart, the two men in my life, are the wind beneath my wings.

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