‘Who will give us money to eat?’
This was my question to my mother at the age of 3 when I saw my father leaving for an official tour. Despite countless reassurances from my mother who opened her handbag to show the money she had to provide for us during my father’s absence, I did not stop repeating the question till my father came back. My mother was a housewife in the early 1990’s and hence I always equated my Dad’s presence with safety and well being of our family both in emotional and financial terms.
This thinking was not surprising then for in a patriarchal society the power lies with the men because they earn, so any family without a man due to unforeseen circumstances is thought to be unstable, insecure and unhappy. But something deeper entrenched itself in my mind and that was equating financial status with security and stability. Though over the years I managed to shake off this thinking by realizing the power of love for survival and also healing, the thoughts came back during my marriage where I was kept completely financially dependent on my ex and his family to prevent me from raising my voice or worse, walk out of the marriage. They also went to the extent of belittling me and portraying me to be unworthy of being given even paltry amounts.
So once again I am battling thoughts in my head which tell me that the more I work, the more I earn and the more secured my future is. I have also come to notice the change in my attitude in the times when I leave my house with or without my handbag. I have a certain spring in my step, confidence in my walk and a look as if everything is in my control when I have my handbag neatly tucked under my hand with my financial security in place.
The confidence grows when I recall the times I was berated simply because I was forcibly kept financially dependent in my matrimonial home. There are times when I cannot help but answer back in my mind, ‘Look at me now. I am earning and I am living for myself. More than anything else I can live my life according to the way I want and not bow down to anyone’s whims or fancies.’
So for the time being I am going to use the security provided by my handbag as a springboard to launch me forward into my life where the power to decide anything in my life, big or small, lies with me and not with anyone else simply because they can use my financial dependence as leverage.