The Begums of this World

Life for a woman is never easy, largely because of how society is, the way people are and the way they have been conditioned to think and believe. No matter what we do, where we reach, what we achieve, certain stereotypes, certain stigmas continue to be an integral part of our societies, and women have to bear the brunt of most of these. Every young woman believes she can break the stereotype; she can be the one to bring the change; every mother believes her daughter could be the one to change things, but how much difference really takes place? Yes, as we move from one generation to the next, things change, but the progress is too slow, too little.

Stereotypes exist in every sphere of life. Though we are aware of their existence, we don’t always realise how deep the penetration is till a situation comes and stares us in the face. Bombay begums, a recent show on Netflix, is one such depiction that tells us about the murky reality of the corporate world. It tells us the truth behind the glitzy, glamorous walls of those offices, those buildings.

The story revolves around the lives of four women, three of who belong to the corporate world and one who accidentally[ in the literal sense!] gets to become a part of their world.

But what is shared amongst all of them? What brings them and binds them together?

It is their common struggle, their struggle to survive in a man’s world, that brings them together. We get to know that for a woman, no matter what her status or position in life may be, the struggle to survive in a male-dominated is a constant. Despite having the ability to get to a level, it is as though she has to prove herself all the time. Not only do men refuse to accept her in their midst they also try to make things as difficult as unpleasant as possible for her. In their desire to show the woman her place, it is as though they cross all limits and are ok to come across as fools. They want to do everything they can to pull her down, make her bite the dust. They show no acknowledgement, appreciation or concern for anything she does or achieves. For instance, a woman getting hot flashes in the middle of a meeting is reason enough to make fun of her and put her down. It is unbelievable that in today’s day and age when we are all men included supposed to be educated, and not only literate men can actually behave the way the show depicts. Shouldn’t the woman be applauded, appreciated, and supported to give her best to her job despite such physical discomfort? Apparently not!! She needs to be made fun of !!

Can a man ever imagine putting up with such discomforts and still carrying on? Point to ponder.

Because of the myriad roles she has to play, a woman has to balance a lot, which can be extremely challenging. The struggle to hold a pregnancy, the challenge of appeasing the husband who is desperate for a child, and meeting work deadlines are a part of a regular day, but what it takes out of her to do all that can probably not even be imagined.

A young confused girl from a small town is trying to make it in life in a big city. Yes, she is foolhardy, takes unnecessary chances, but what is it that she ultimately wants? She wants money, power and companionship and men out there are ready to take advantage. she doesn’t want to go back home to marry a man chosen by her family. Is that a crime?

And the less said about the dance bar girl, the better. If she wants to change her life for the better, the men the society won’t just let her.

Thus they all take on the task of keeping their head above water in a man’s world. That is the common thread that binds the four women together. And though it is disheartening to see them being treated like that along with all the other issues of their lives, there is a positive feel to the show.  And that is the fact that none of these women loses their determination, their resolve. They come across as fighters who will not relent, who will not give up. So if one can use her position to call out on a mentor, a colleague, another one has the guts to file a sexual harassment complaint against a superior, and the others come forward to support her. They all get together, support each other, hold each other’s hands to fight the men, to stand up against them. It is not easy; the men make it as difficult as possible, but they don’t give up.

This brings me to an important observation and then a conclusion.   The show reiterates the fact that women can achieve the impossible if they decide to stick up for each other. After all, women have so much in common. It is so easy for a woman to understand another woman’s situation, her predicament, which is not something a man can do. So then why can’t or why won’t women do that? Why do we let others divide us?  Are we stupid, or does the desire for small temporary pleasures make us lose sight of the larger picture? I wonder…

Isn’t it time for us women to get together? Isn’t it time for us to let go of our petty jealousies, insecurities and support each other? Don’t they say, ‘United we stand divided we fall’? Cliched as it may be, there is an important point being made there. So wake up, girls, smell the coffee!! Stand up for each other. Don’t let the world divide you and then rule you.

Be there for each other, support each other, empower each other, and you will be the begums of your destiny, the begums of your world.

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