Thursday, December 24, 2020



I look at the neighbourhood aunties, sitting in the garden, quietly gossiping about something while pointing their fingers at my friends and me. We try to ignore them but they were persistent in their gossip. I overhear words like 'moti hogayi' 'she has turned so dark ask her mum to not give her chai' 'ask her mum to give her something to eat, she is still thin as a stick', they laughed and giggled as they spoke about us.
I tried registering and comprehending this event as a fifteen-year-old.
Were these fully grown women bullying us? Were we wrong to have not said something about it right then?
Then it struck me, this little incident that I had just witnessed was the result of the never-ending cycle of bullying and trying to make women fit into the standards the society has set for them. These aunties, who were now bullying us, were probably bullied into fitting the right vision of a woman the society deemed fit.
A society so blatantly unfair in its character.
I recall a conversation with my grandmother, she was telling about the days of her youth, when she was skinny, fair and "desirable", she said she wasn't always that way and that she had to become skinny to become the "desirable" woman the society wanted her to be. She smiled and said she was keen on finding the "perfect" bride for my father too. I asked her if she thought it was fair to expect women to fit into such standards, she smiled and said "that's what my mother wanted of me, Jumaina, we never had the audacity to question our elders"

We may inherit a lot from our mothers and foremothers, but one thing we, the daughters of these brave women, pledge to not inherent is their silence. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colours and we refuse to be bullied into "fixing" ourselves.

-Jumaina Fatima