of legacies

So what do you want to be when you grow up? She asks as you nibble on the cookie.

A housewife.

A housewife? Mrs. Gupta’s eyes widen. Why, little girl, don’t you want to grow up and be a doctor or an engineer?

No, I want to be a housewife. All I want to do is laze around all day and take care of my house and family. I want to learn to knit, too! But I won’t have any children. Children are a nuisance. They laugh. Your mother is visibly embarrassed. She mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like an apology, and continues to serve platter after platter of food, hoping it will erase all memory of her teenage daughter being so unambitious, not wanting to do anything significant.

After they’ve gone, she reprimands you for being cocky in front of her friends.

So you don’t want to be a doctor or an engineer? Look at Divya didi. Look at Anuj bhaiya. They’re earning so well! What will you do? Why, if you’re not going to work, no dreams to live for, what better use is there to your life? Might as well leave something behind in the world as legacy. But not even wanting children! Hey bhagwan! What am I going to do with this girl?

You’re sitting in a corner, sulking. You want to answer her questions. You want to tell her how much you detest picking up a profession just because women these days should be “independent”, whatever that means.

What your mother doesn’t understand is that you do have dreams, but they’ve got nothing to do with being a doctor or an engineer. All you want is to stay home and write, your head bent over a notebook, clutching a pencil and scribbling, scribbling, scribbling until you’re dead.

But she doesn’t understand. What she does not understand is that children will never be your legacy. They will belong to their father, not to you. Like you belong to yours. You took his surname, after all.

That’s not the legacy you want to leave behind.