Women across the world are facing the problem of gender-gap. Feminists all over the world have been seeking equal opportunities and rights for both the genders especially for women as they have been sidelined while their male counterparts have always enjoyed rights and privileges in their lives. Gender-gap though is a global problem but it’s more widely prevalent in Asian countries. India, the country where I am born and brought up was extremely liberal to women at the dawn of civilization but as the times changed, many restrictions were put on women. Currently, though women born to educated parents are getting opportunities to chase their dreams, still there are many who do not get this luxury. This topic of women not getting the chance of living a life of their dreams has been touched very sensitively by Twinkle Tomar Singh in a short story written by her. Born and brought up in the pious city Prayagraj of North India Twinkle Tomar Singh received a Masters degree in English Literature and currently teaching English in a reputed school. She is also a renowned blogger. Her articles, stories, poems have been published in prestigious magazines and newspapers in India. She has translated many books from English to Hindi too.
The Day Without Colors
“Mom, were there no colours in ancient times ?” My seven-year-old daughter was scrolling over an old picture album of my mother-in-law. It had only black and white photos.
“No baby, there were colours but the cameras were not technically so advanced as to capture colours too. ” I tried to make her understand although I knew she was very young to grasp it.
“Umm…. Mom….See who can say what colour of lehnga Grandma was wearing in her wedding. None…See it in black and white only.” She was very fond of the picture of her Dadi as a bride. Poor she spent very little time with her grandmother. Last year her grandmother passed away. She was very much attached to her that’s why often she used to see her picture album.
” Bebo, that time all used to wear colourful clothes like we do today. But the camera could not capture those colours. ” I tried to feed in her little brain that the world was not colourless, only photos were colourless.
“Mom, you wear matching colourful bindi with your different colourful dresses. But it seems grandma wore only single coloured bindi everyday… Black !” Putting her finger on her bindi in a photo she said. Again bindi on the forehead of her Grandmother was an interesting thing for her, as she was only two years old her when her grandfather died. Since then growing old she had never seen her grandmother wearing a bindi. So it was a curious thing for her that what colour of bindi her grandmother had worn.
” No sweetheart… Dadi didn’t wear bindi of black colour. She used to wear red coloured bindi every day which seems to be black in the photo.”
” What… only red bindi? Did Grandma have no different colour bindis.” She put one more question very innocently. That made me quiet for a second. For a while, I also fell into a fix.
After meditating for a few seconds, I felt Bebo was right. Yes, those were the days when all the colours were reserved only for men. They were free to live their life in their own way. They had unlimited choices. But the women had very few colours in their life. If she is married it was red, if she was a widow it was white. The little girl drew my attention towards a very philosophical point.
I had always seen that my mother-in-law spoke in a low voice in front of my father-in-law. MIL sometimes on getting emotional used to tell me an incident. Once she wore a very colourful, iridescent saree. Father- in- Law rebuked her a lot saying “what rubbish cheap colourful saree you are wearing like down class people?. Can’t you wear a sober saree? Do you want everyone to see you only when you are coming from a distance?” Coming out from the past, controlling her tears she told me that she never wore a saree of the colour of her choice after that day.
Unknowingly I started to compare the difference between her position and mine. Today when standing before the mirror I choose what colour of bindi I should wear today, I never feel how precious freedom of choice is. I have freedom in every walk of my life. I can steer my life in any direction. I earn myself, I make all decisions independently, I can hire servants for me, my husband supports me fully well. As a matter of fact, I am here to choose any colour to paint my life.
“Mom, but when we click a picture with our mobile it captures all the colours. Isn’t it?” Bebo holding the album in her hand was still stuck there. Hearing her voice I came out of my trance. The curiosity of a child wanted a satisfactory answer. She still believed that the world had no colours before and now it was colourful.
I picked my mobile, changed its camera setting on black and white, clicked a picture and showed it to her. Then only she got fully satisfied. She started turning over the pages of the album once again, saw all the pictures and then leaving it aside got busy in watching TV.
Here I was left still flowing through the current of thoughts. Even today there are only a few fortunate women who have got the freedom of choosing the colour of their life. Only god knows how many women are there who are forced to lead a colourless life or a life with limited colours, limited choices. She may be my mother, my sister-in-law, my colleague, my neighbour… anyone. The camera of their life is still stuck on an old technique, in an old setting for them….black and white!
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