You have free will. Free-will. Definition: the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion.
You are entitled to your own opinion I am told. You are entitled to your own freedom I am told. You can do anything you desire as long as there are compromises, sacrifices and the other party is happy with your decision. Then of course, you are entitled to your own free will. This topic is sensitive and there is much to discuss, and one blog post won't do justice. However, what I can do is speak on my views and opinion on this topic and possibly find the right answer around the topic. It is something worth speaking about.
As a young Bengali woman, I have heard enough about compromising with the community, society and family. But that is just one of many things factor which affects a Bengali woman like me. Don't forget about religion! I am a Muslim Bengali woman.
Some may say compromises, sacrifices and giving in is normal and if you respect your family and your society then it should not be a problem but, they are wrong. Yes, I understand completely to respect and try to understand your parents and family as they want what's best for you but sometimes it is hard when your mind is already set. This is where the compromise comes in place. I know how hard it is to compromise as it means you must also sacrifice to meet in the middle. If you disagree oh wait, what is that??? There is no SuCHH tHinG aS ThAt.
Because compromise means to accept what they lay out and you just need to gulp it down with your chai. Take it or leave kind of situation you know? But you do realise this comes from both parties? So Amma and Abba, if you do not want your daughter to leave please sit down with your chai and actually listen before she gets to the point of frustration and demands her rights. What do I mean by listening?
- Listen to what her problems are
- Listen to what she is going through
- Listen to why she did whatever she did and reason with it (or try)
The key: listen.
AND if she comes to you to talk to you about something please be proud of that as that took a lot of courage out of her. If she is finally coming out of her shell, please listen to her and before you make any irrational decisions just try to understand why she did whatever she did and go from there. I do understand communication goes both ways and both parties must talk with respect and not dragging religion or honour in every sentence because then it gets frustrating and messy.
I remember speaking to my friend about his older sister and in her twenties, she had run away with her parent’s money to study and live alone. He was angry on the fact that she had ran away but did not understand why she had run away and what made her get to that point because he didn't care about that. There is the problem. She did come back for a few days after 2 years and stayed over her parents place only to do the same thing again and take their money and run as if it's the only thing she knew. Of course, he was angry at her again, but did he ask her why she did it? No. Because what mattered is what she did and not why she did it. She might have felt alone, and she might have felt like she had no one who understood her, but I guess you'll never know because you are over taken by your anger. The same exact situation happened to a close friend of mine. She ran away at a very young age to study and live alone. Both women ran away despite the fact that they know returning home is not an option anymore but that was not enough reason for them to stay.
But the one that struck me the most was someone close to me decided that running away was the best option. I know how you felt misunderstood and struggled to make ends meet. I know you was willing to compromise and sacrifice to meet in the middle, but the other party did not. I know you decided one day you had enough and did what made you happy despite knowing you will not return home and you cannot. I was angry, sad and frustrated with you because you were leaving me, and I did not care to understand why you did it because all I cared about is that you had hurt me. Maybe because I was younger and did not understand why you did it, but I know you was hurting. However, no one and not even I wanted to understand why you went away and what caused it. We all just played the blame game with each other when in fact we are all to take part in the blame. We did not listen; we did not compromise and sacrifice to meet in the middle with you and for that I am sorry.
I understand that running away is not the solution and does not solve anything but rather it creates problems. Running away from problems does not make the problem go away because it is still there lingering. You can be gone for days, weeks and even years but that doesn't change anything. I understand they have hurt their families and that hurt is shared by both parties. From this, I understand that there is two parts to everything. We need to stop focusing on what they did and understand why they did it.
This is the 21st century and whether we like it or not she will be going through things you may not be aware of. This could be due to university or college, friends and dare I say BOY---friends (gap to make it halal no?). So, save the religious talk and speak to her 1:1 and understand her but do not pinpoint her faults and tell her how she can change because dare I say this is where she will disagree. I know how hard it can be but imagine how hard it is for her to understand what you are trying to say? Her mindset is different from yours therefore you must also compromise and sacrifice to meet in the middle.
And community, please do not point out whose daughter you see with whom because you have no right and no respect for yourself, her and her family in that aspect. How are our women meant to feel safe let alone happy within the community if there are older men staring at them and 'reporting' back to their dads mentioning their whereabouts and who they are with and at what time and what day?! I did not realise the Masjid committees spoke upon whose daughter they saw with who in their meetings? It amazes me till this day their son does not get spoken in the same manner. Do I go report to my Abba about how your son does not pray but goes to smoke that roll-up instead and how he's munching on that quarter pounder in peri peri junction during Ramadan? Oh mama, you don't see the shisha pipe on his Instagram story and don't get me started mama on where he gets the money from for his BMW series and his Versace shades because surely, it's not just from his security job. But, do I care though? No because it's none of my business and neither should my business be yours. This is much to be spoken upon because of how women within the Bengali society is treated especially by the judging eyes of men surrounding us young women. Dare I say do not point out their faults because that is where you will be treated as if you committed a crime???
You have free will and you are old enough to make your own decisions. You are old enough to make your own damn mind up. You know what is right for you and what is wrong for you. By the time you hit the age of puberty you are well enough to think for yourself am I wrong??? Yes, guide me and help me but do not stop me and allow me to make mistakes and let me learn from them as that is part of adulting and growing up. What will you leave us to teach our children? That we were corrected for every wrong we did? It is okay to make mistakes, but it is not okay to be judged by them. It is okay to advise but it is not okay to force us to follow it. Free will?
And just listen please. Look at what is making her happy oh me don't you want her happy? If doing what makes me happy makes me selfish then I must be so selfish and forgive me for being selfish.
And that's the chai for ya.