On my brother’s birthday, we wore western outfits, all of us sisters. We made a plan to go celebrate at a restaurant. Since it was just us girls, without our parents, we dressed the way we liked.
All of sudden, our father said he too would join us. We always wear different sort of clothes when we go out with him, more conservative kurtas, or suits. So we looked at each other, wondering what we would do when he walked in. When he did walk in and looked at us, he said let’s not go to Jama Masjid where we had planned to go.
“We shall go somewhere else”, he said. I was amazed that he didn’t object to how we were dressed, instead suggesting we go elsewhere. I said to him, “It’s not what we wear, it’s about our mind, and as long as our thoughts are pure, there is no need to prove yourself to anyone. You are there with us, we are with you, let’s all go together.”
We actually went to Jama Masjid after all, to a restaurant, and he even took a few photographs with us. We had a really good time. When we had walked out of our house to leave for Jama Masjid, one of our aunts saw us and stared at us disapprovingly. But our father very proudly stood with us, and that was a lovely moment I will never forget.
In many ways, my father and mother have broken out of a certain mould of thought, common in their generation, where prejudice is a huge problem. While we don’t agree on everything, I feel supported and confident because of them. When I see my sisters’ lives, I feel proud of them. And I want to achieve things in my own life for my sisters, and for other girls. Where there is hope, there is hope that things may change.
When I look back, I see a version of myself, a girl who was scared and wasn’t confident to raise her voice. But I found the courage to tell my story now. And this was possible because of all the opportunities I had to question my own judgements of others, these changed how I think and see the world.