My Grandmother Didn’t Lead a “Woke” Life. But She Died a Feminist

Gender

My Grandmother Didn’t Lead a “Woke” Life. But She Died a Feminist

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

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ack in 1947, my grandmother was among the millions of people on either side of a hastily drawn border, who were packing up their lives to leave the only home they’d ever known. But she also had a peculiar predicament awaiting her: My grandmother was about to be married off at 14 to a stranger from another city, 11 years her senior. Her elder sisters consoled her saying she had it better than them — their fate as women had been decided even before their first menstrual cycle.

I’m not so sure she did. My grandmother got pregnant at the tender age of 20. When she confided in her mother that she didn’t feel ready, she was told that six years’ worth of “consideration” from her husband was gift enough to quell all complaints. Four years later, when she announced her second pregnancy, her mother-in-law made it clear that she shouldn’t expect a holiday from household chores this time around. “In our day, we wouldn’t even be sent to a hospital. Women belong at home,” she told my grandmother.

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