For Lakshmi, being a woman means looking up to your mother. It also means understanding that your mother does not have the power to protect you. Lakshmi’s mother has had four children after her, but none of them have lived. Being a woman means no health care.
Being a woman means remaining in the goat shed for seven days when you have your first period.
Being a woman means working like a mule. “Women’s work” includes cooking, collecting wood and dung for the fire, raising the children, patching the hut walls, and burying the children.
Being a woman means not looking a man in the eye, not talking back to a man, not eating until your husband has eaten, and satisfying your husband in every way.
Being a woman means needing a man for protection, but being powerless to do anything about a man that doesn’t uphold his obligations. A man’s obligations are voluntary, whereas a woman’s obligations are mandatory.
Being a woman means dreaming big and hiding disappoint when the dreams evaporate.
If these are the rules, is there anything Lakshmi (or her mother) can do to break them?
“Being a woman is terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” – Joseph Conrad