Virtual Sisterhood

Swapna Narayanan

sororidadI was recently thinking of the term – virtual sisterhood.

We all know sisterhood well. And while we want sisterhood to get together, unite and emerge, it is a reality that it does not happen often. Both in our personal and professional lives. Finding a strong sister support in your family or a getting a highly encouraging woman peer or supervisor at work is a rarity.

So where does one find inspiration from? Where does one seek solace, and get some comfort from when our lives push us to a corner? Who will urge me to listen to my gut feel? Who will nudge me to continue walking in the path that my heart is pushing me towards?

If such a sister/friend does not exist in real, I look for it in the fiction. I look for some empowerers in the world of movies and books who seem to go through some tough times and yet emerge winners. Women whose thoughts resonate, whose actions appeal and whose hearts connect with mine.

These form a part of my virtual sisterhood!

download (1)And recently, I added a few more women into this realm of sisterhood. They are the women characters who appear in the latest bestseller from Anita NairEating Wasps. Each of them have a unique story that is real and grounded. While I would recommend you to read the book and see who can join your virtual sisterhood network, here are the ones whose stories appealed to me.

When the man fails… – While the world always has enough diktats and standards defined, against which a woman is measured, who measures men? The main protagonist of the story, Sreelakshmi, really connected to me. A strong, intelligent and independent woman, she was blessed with a supportive father who made her pursue higher education and nudged her to be a working woman. As per the times during which the story has been set, Sreelakshmi’s education acts as a deterrent and she does not get married. Her father passes away. She takes up a full time job, moves to another town, and lives alone chaperoned by her mother. Barring a one-sided relationship with a boy in the university, she has no man in her life. There are enough attempts by her family to get her married, but nothing works out. Meanwhile she also starts writing and becomes a well-known author with a weekly column in a magazine. And then she falls in love with a man. She experiences love – something that she longed for. She experiences comfort, warmth, bliss and peace in her relationship. Yet, it was short lived. Both her love and her writing career. While the social milieu around her pitied her for being a spinster, it could not digest her being a bold author. A story that depicts the true and ugly face of our highly patriarchal society and the men that fail to live up the relationships. Yet, she emerges a winner in the end to show that it is her life, and it would be her choice to live it or end it!

Is there no life after children grow up? – Does a woman’s life end once her children grow up and fly away to their own lives? Embedded in the book is the story of a bored wife, Urvashi, who steps out and decided to explore the world on her terms. Constantly surrounded by the latest technology applications, chided by her friends for being outdated, and to basically get out of the monotony of her life, she steps out and gets entangled in an affair with a younger man. But as in most relationships, the man becomes obsessed with her and assumes his ownership on her. After realising that what she wants in life cannot be fulfilled by this relationship, she backs out, but not without constant threatening calls from the man who torments her. Till the day she stands up and decides to face him and gets liberated from the relationship. A lovely woman who shows that whatever one is looking for lies within her and not outside her.

Motherhood, at times, is not always the most beautiful feeling in the world – Yes, you heard me right. There are times in the life of a mother when the burden of nurturing her young one(s) takes its toll. More so, if you are the mother of a special child. Then the only thought that becomes your constant companion and lives with you, giving you sleepless nights, is ‘who will take care of my child when I am gone?Maya, a seventy-one-year-old woman with a thirty-eight-year-old autistic son, shares her birthday with her son. On this birthday, her lingering worry takes an evil form and she decides to take some drastic measures to ensure that her son is not left alone in this world. Having a son who is completely incommunicado gives her the confidence that she is not being watched, yet it is the same son who, with his loving birthday greeting to his mother, changes the entire perspective! A beautiful and realistic story depicting the beauty as well as the demanding circumstances of mothering a special child.

Can a progressive upbringing help, when the milieu around is still regressive? – The story of Najma showcases the real ugly face of our society, yet also empowered me the most. Brought up by a modern single mother, Najma dreams of life of happiness, independence and respect based on what she believes is her strong ally – her job. A modern mother who only wanted the best for her daughter, ends up dying in guilt when her precious daughter becomes the victim of a vicious acid attack by a rejected suitor. An attack that happened in a train which she takes regularly and in front of the regular commuters who knew her well, and none stepped up to stop it. A story that depicts the apathy and hopelessness of our society, yet also highlights the strength and hopes of a young girl who faces her scars and moves on to make a life for herself in a lonely world.

Sisterhood exists, though is not often spotted – A seasoned journalist, Urvashi, while on a break to bring some semblance to her own life, ends up meeting a very successful badminton champion – Brinda. A child prodigy, who has now grown to be a world champion, is a front page story Urvashi cannot miss (even if she is off work). Yet when she hears the story of how the player is going through a crisis and wants to base her life on something longstanding, she immediately connects and sees herself empathising with the player. A lovely story of a woman understanding another woman and respecting her privacy.

And there is Liliana, Rupa, Molly, Theresa, Megha

Each one of them have a story to tell that may engage, enlighten and empower you.

So who are you adding on to your virtual sisterhood network?

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