| (From right) Author Pratibha Satpathy, daughter Paramita and granddaughter Anwesha. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee |
The seasoned woman
Pratibha Satpathy, 68, author and mother of four daughters
“Whoever she may be,
A mad woman or a slut,
Or the Goddess of fulfilment;
God Himself dare not stand by her side
And show her the way…”
A woman plays so many roles, it is not easy to define her. For me, being a daughter, wife, mother, teacher and author has been part of womanhood.
As women, we were barred from certain experiences. There was no respect or admiration for creativity. Women writers were not taken seriously. I had to balance between taking care of a joint family and my job as a lecturer.
Society for women
Going to school was a daunting task then. The family was cautious about sending us to the nearby village for education. There were just eight of us girls in the class and one of my friends was raped at the age of 12. It was still as bad.
But there was also more concern and care from people around you. When daughters go out for jobs and education, we are worried. Though I never had a bias for a son or daughter, gender bias was strong then and, despite some changes now, it still exists.
On the new generation
They get much more freedom to explore the world. Their experiences are different from ours. Their food habits are, at times, not that good for health and though I have no complaints with my granddaughter, they could be more sensible while choosing their attire.
Yet, the softness at heart and the care a woman showers on her loved ones is still the same.
The charismatic lady
Paramita Satpathy, 47, author, bureaucrat, mother of a daughter, Anwesha
Women are self reliant, confident and have strong conviction. At the same time, they strike a balance between duties towards the family and profession.
Our generation was the one in transition. We saw the traditional lifestyle during childhood and then globalisation changed many things. For me, womanhood has been a very rewarding journey.
Society for women
I have one daughter and I feel complete as a mother with her. But the craze for sons leading to female foeticide is disturbing. I feel more concerned for the safety of my daughter than my mother used to even when I went outside to study at JNU in New Delhi. Though perceptions in our society are changing, the process is slow.
On the old and new generation
My mother had to fight to get her due because of lack of cooperation from society. For me, it was easier. Yet, it is difficult, at times, to find the balance between family and work.
I feel my daughter will find it more difficult, as work spheres have become more demanding than ever.
For her generation, the cooperation and understanding of their partners will be even more crucial. And it is actually the men who have to live up to that challenge.
I learn about gadgets and the new social etiquette from her.
The optimistic teenager
Anwesha, 19, granddaughter, daughter and student of psychology
Women are about independence, strength, and courage. They are caring, forgiving and mature at any age.
We have independent views, but women of my times listen to the advice of elders. They have a sense of judgement to follow some of it, although not all suggestions are accepted (smiles). We are modern people with a strong hold on values.
Society for women
The attitude of society towards women not only scares and worries me, but also fills me with rage. We tolerate everything, so society has existed this way.
Even I have been discriminated against at school or college for being a woman.
When a girl goes out at even 7pm, there are so many questions she has to answer that a boy will never go through. We need more freedom, respect and equality. The society also needs to understand that what a woman wears is her wish and she cannot be judged on it.
On older generations
I have been lucky, as I have grown up around creative people like my grandmother and mother.
I feel the women of my generation need to learn many things from their elders. We can take their traditional values and leave the conservative ones behind.
We are in substance the same with unconditional feelings, forgiving nature and full of love and understanding.