Bound by Tradition


I’ve seen her go about her daily work, which was to send kids to school, talk with her kids who live abroad, cook, clean, serve food, pray five times a day and relax at around 6:30 in the evening with a routine cup of tea. She is in her mid-forties. I’ve seen her repeat the same routine every day for some months.
Being a woman who is not ready to limit myself to the house, I couldn’t help it but wonder if she never felt tired; if she hasn’t done anything just for herself in 20years? I was also intrigued by her strong religiosity, but she also seemed to have given with ease the freedom for others to believe less. I’ve seen glimpses of her kind and sensitive heart, now and then.
Yesterday she opened her heart to me and answered to a few questions that I never asked. What she revealed was both sad and heart-warming. For all those years of serving others, making other people’s lives easier, she has received but only a little bit of appreciation. She told me that she realized that her family, her relatives and particularly her mother-in-law have all taken her for granted. It was clear that she has reached the end of a phase.
The culture she comes from has given a role to the woman and devaluated that role. There’s no appreciation because “that’s what a woman does” and because “why, every woman does it?” There’s no appreciation because people have not given emotional labour its due value. For a good part of her life she has played the role of the good woman, which is to serve and forget herself.
She says “Why don’t people take a bit of time to just say thank you, just be nice?” I agree. A little bit of appreciation means a lot, to everyone.
However, after all the years of happily taking care of her family and others, she told me that she asked from herself this question: “what have I done for myself?” In the process of questioning, she has found a new independence which she seems to enjoy. Now she works, earns money and she still does a lot of the housework. The difference is that nobody can “use” her anymore, asking to do those little annoying things that they themselves could get done as easily. She escapes from the unnecessary burdens and walks the Earth with a freer spirit.

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2 thoughts on “Bound by Tradition

  1. Hi Georgie! Thank you. And truly how many times do we say thank you to them? This is a good reminder for me as well! It touched my heart and that’s why I wrote about it. I am very happy the post spoke to you!

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  2. Wow…what an insightful portrait, Timali. I can almost see this woman. I know this woman (obviously, not the precise person you talk about). She’s my gran, my mom and all of the other women in the family. How many times did we forget to praise them and appreciate the hundreds of tiny small gestures that transform a house into a home?

    What’s different, and what impresses me the most is that this woman decided to do something for herself. Very happy the change -not a big, dramatic one- came within her and is making her feel good about herself.

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