The Indian Woman; A Misnomer

Do you visualize a chaste, graceful girl with long hair and big, bashful eyes nestled lightly in kohl? A soft voice that whispers words of wisdom yet is never boisterously verbose. Subservient to god, respectful towards elders and replete with righteousness; the embodiment of family values, culture and teachings. A woman who prudently preserves herself for the one man and
virtuously enters matrimonial bliss. A woman who puts family before self. The Indian Woman?

Why, there is also the girl with the same big eyes but lined heavily in a bright rebellious blue outlining a strong, confident demeanor hidden slightly in dark, dense tresses. She is fiercely opinionated, loud and can strut around shooting cusses at people through the cloud of thick smoke she just exhaled in a state of utter inebriation. She is ruthlessly smart and can stare down any man who dare venture his eyes into her revealing cleavage unless she wishes the same. She is adventurous – not just in life, but also in love. The Indian Woman?

Or is she the chaste yet charming, blate yet boisterous girl with the same kohl-smudged eyes so reminiscent to us, with a solid disposition yet a tamed tongue? The girl who is respectful toward elders, but profane toward friends? The girl who is adventurous in life, but not in love? The girl who is open to intoxication, but not to voyeurism? The girl who is ambitious yet emotional? The girl who shuns blind faith, but embraces tradition and values? The girl who reads Lolita alongside the Mahabharata? The girl who respects family values, but also wants independence? The Indian Woman?

A monumental confusion pervades our minds today – what does being Indian mean? It seems almost archaic, the definition of the quintessential Indian woman. Parents vehemently berate girls who have traversed to the ‘darker’ side, calling them culturally derelict and oh, completely hopeless. To them, the eligibility of a girl is directly proportional to the roundness of her chapaati. Can we blame them?

You see, it’s a war of the extremes, where a girl is constantly a misfit. We put too much pressure on young people these days to be balanced, to be a bit of both, to be modern, yet traditional. And that comes at a severe price; where does one draw the line?

Perhaps the only way out is to not judge. As long as a girl is completely comfortable in the skin she is in, we must learn to appreciate and accept. Or to not accept, but respectfully so. Perhaps there is no such thing as being Indian anymore. Our ideas have been far too diluted by modernization and globalization to stick to the perfect concoction brewed by our ancestors, non?
The modern Indian woman is no aged fine wine; she’s your next cocktail.

Nikita Bhalotia