It was International Women's Day on Friday. Lots of wishes flying back and forth. Many inspirational quotes made appearance on Facebook. Women threw parties, went clubbing, some were pampered by their spouses, others treated themselves to good old retail therapy. My boss very kindly gave all the women in office a half day to acknowledge their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and more than anything as women. It was a happy time all around- some over happy hours even.
It got me thinking about all the women in my life- badi mama (my grand mum), my mum, my aunts, my cousins, friends, nieces, colleagues, and even the women around me who I see on the bus, by the pool, at school, at work, in the supermarket. Today these women have busy lives with their careers, their husbands, their kids, their ageing parents, their kitty party friends, their catty colleagues and more.
However at one time each of these women was a little girl. A little girl with big dreams. Some dreamt to be a princess and wear pink everyday. Others envisioned themselves as doctors saving lives. Yet others wanted to travel the world as a journalist. Or become a teacher, a baker, a model, an actress, a gymnast, a singer, a war correspondent, a ballet dancer. Limitless possibilities. Countless dreams. Some were innocent dreams like marrying a prince who had a white horse. Some were ambitious like becoming a leading fashion designer and having Madonna as their customer.
Some little girls loved to dress up dolls. Others adored jewelry especially tinkling colored glass bangles. Many loved crayons and some preferred water colors. There was the Tom-boy, the girl-next-door, the miniature diva, the bossy pants, the goody-two-shoes, the bookish nerd (yes that was me). Each unique. Each special. Each with her own likes and dislikes. Her preferences and priorities. Her passion and pet peeves. Her love and her fears.
But what each and every one of them had in common was the big girl dream. "What will I be when I grow up?" She thought about it constantly. While sitting on the swing. While day dreaming in class. While lying on the grass in the park. While sitting by the window seat in the bus.
Some little girls spoke about her dreams to their best friends while sharing a milk shake. Some confided in their mums. Others with their sisters. While some kept every dream a secret, lest anyone steals it. At slumber parties they discussed their future together. They shared their hopes loudly and spoke about their fears in hushed voices.
Where is that little girl today I ask you? Does she still exist? Or is she lost in the demands of her kids? In the commands of her husband. In the complaints of her in-laws. In the expectations of her boss. In the commitments of her family. In the claims of her career.
She is lost perhaps in the supermarket aisles. In the train queues. In the elevator lobbies. In the PTA meets. In the car pools. In the soccer matches.
She tries to find herself in shopping malls. In yoga classes. In barbecue parties. In wine bars. In island getaways. In coffee sessions.
But alas! It seems she can't be found!
Because no one is looking for her in the only place where she still lives. Deep inside the heart of us big girls. She lies there. Waiting to be found. Wishing to live her dreams.
I urge you all today to go find her. Coax her to come out. Explain to her that even though the dreams lay unfulfilled, there is still time. Time to make those dreams come true- may be not in a big way, but come alive all the same.
Its too late to be a journalist, but not too late to write for a community newsletter. It's tough to study medicine now, but you can volunteer your time in a hospital. It's too late to have kids, but there are millions of orphans who are starving for affection.
And it's never too late to learn. Pick up the paint brush. Brush the dust off the old guitar. Take up a baking course or a drama class. Don't resist the urge to dance. And if your heart desires to sing aloud, do so.
Of the many forwarded messages on International Women's Day, this one stood out for me:
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us, are tiny matters, compared to what lies WITHIN us"
So search for that little girl within you and let her live out those dreams.
Wishing all my lovely friends and family a very happy International Women's Day.