The beautiful hands of the one who created me:
I drew this simple design on my Mom’s hand on Valentine’s Day. The act held special significance. My Mom is an Indian Hindu widow from more traditional times, widowed young when I was just a child. Tradition holds that once a husband passes, a widow must no longer beautify herself the way she did during his life. So for years my Mom wore white Indian dresses.
You can imagine, then, that to apply henna – usually used to adorn brides- on a widow would be an outrage to the traditional, older types. Shameful even. Especially on Valentines Day.
Yet with the passage of time and the growth of willful, rebellious, authority-defying children in the US, my Mom slowly sheds away what I view as many disempowering customs of old.
And so, mostly unbeknownst to my Mom (she just thought I wanted to doll her up in honor of the day and play with henna) that’s exactly why I did it.
Here’s a toast to my brave, progressive Mother, who often can’t see her brilliance as clearly as I do. The world has been cruel to her as it has many Indian women of her generation and even mine. Being from different times, cultures and countries, we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye but she tries. And for this, I am so proud.
And to every Indian woman like her throwing off the cultural shackles preventing our gender from flying… Thank you. You give me hope. And a future.
Happy Women’s Day.