Living as a woman in India is fraught with challenges and those tend to double if you are a fatherless daughter. The number of women losing their fathers to addiction, divorces or diseases is increasing on a daily basis. A country that glorifies the institution of patriarchy, fails to console, sympathize or identify with women who lose their fathers.
Laraine Herring, author, editor and teacher writes in her book , ‘How Women Can Heal From Adolescent Father Loss’, “In a society, where men are valued more than women, gaining the love, affection, attention of our fathers is of primary importance to girls. We need to be seen by men to have any power in the culture. If we are not seen by our fathers while growing up, what choices are left for us in adulthood? If we are rejected by the first man in our lives, where can we possible find a place to belong in culture that values men more?”
Keeping in the view the power struggles within the family, role of Indian fathers is often associated with the financial aspect of the household. The emotional and social repercussions of the loss are often ignored.
Laraine, however, mentions clearly in the book that girls experience profound loss at their father’s demise. Building a positive identity for themselves is one challenge fatherless daughters grapple with.
“There is no sense of security left”, Chaitanya Sharma, an aspiring educator tells SheThePeople.Tv. She was 7 years old when her parents separated.
I think I grew up very fast. I felt alienated from a lot of activities. I was talked about like a social issue. People used to stare at my mom wondering what kind of a mother she was since she would go to work leaving us alone at home. But then,she didn’t have an option – Chaitanya
“I had strange coping mechanisms to deal with this. I used to hate all ads that had the mention of a father in it.” She further added that separation from father takes away the masculine touch from your life. While dealing with crumbling finances is cumbersome, the emotional turmoil is more difficult to handle.
Kirti Singh, an entrepreneur from Jaipur has a similar story to narrate. She lost her father when she was 18. “It was, as if, a calamity had befallen us. There was a lot of pressure on me to get married because everyone thought that there was no one to look after us. They had no faith in my abilities. There was no support from our relatives.”
Kirti, now 27, designs saris to supplement the family’s income. Through her Facebook page, she is taking her business to great heights.”My family backed me in all my initiatives. They are my pillars of support”, she added.
Loss of a male figure in the family alters the society’s perception and behaviour towards people. Especially so in India, a country married by patriarchal rules and traditions. “I remember our neighbours ignoring us for few years after my father’s death because they thought that we will be reaching out to them for some kind of financial help. I had even overheard people talking about the problems my mother would face for finding a suitable match for me”, told Kritigya Jain living in Delhi. She was 14 when her father succumbed to a major illness.
She further added that there is so much more to a father’s loss than the financial loss that accompanies it.
I was going through an emotional paralysis which no one talks about.-Kritigya
SheThePeople.TV salutes these strong women who didn’t give up during testing times and are chartering their own destiny through hard work and sheer determination. Their never-say-die attitude is truly inspiring.
Some names have been changed to maintain anonymity.