Who Made You A Woman?

International Women’s Day was on the 8th of March 2013. I did not do anything special as I am not involved in any association whatsoever. Just like many career women around the world,  I was at work. Life goes on for me.

I have time this weekend to reflect as a woman how it has been for me. I cannot speak for other women, let the experts do that and represent us women. I want to be able to really see if I could write how I feel as a 47-year-old woman who is a mother, a weekend wife, Malay, a Muslim, a friend, a sister, a daughter in law, a career woman and a citizen of Malaysia.

I started the day on the 7th by sending my 2 kids to their school. On the radio they were discussing on how to celebrate “Happy International Women’s Day”. The Lady DJ is trying to get the Guy DJ to understand women’s “pain”. She talks about make-up, waking up early, waxing their legs, giving birth, making breakfast etc. And I was like what? Is that all what women are all about? Make-up and heels? Is that what women want from men…..? To understand the hardship of make-ups, wearing heels and the pain of waxing? Come on.

There is a lot of progress for women in many industries and places in the world. I may not be so knowledgeable on the data and statistics but in my industry, there are more women at the managerial level than before. The hindrance for progress is sometime women themselves.  We are so cooped up with what the society expects us to be that we never try to change.  I am what I am today because of the women in my life.

Below are the women who ‘made’ me who I am today and I strongly believe in their own small way, break the tradition and social values at the time.

As a Malay woman, there are some expectations of what I should be. I should be obedient, be a good Muslim, abide to all Malay cultural beliefs and expectations and take care of my family “name”. Of course there are more expectations….that is just some of it. The difference for me was that when I turn 18, my strict grandmother allowed me to go overseas for further studies with an extremely heavy heart.  It took all her courage to let me go and I could never thank her enough.
She is the woman who gave me wings to soar.
May she rest in peace. I love you, Mak.

My grandmother was illiterate.  When she had her first 2 daughters, she did not send them to school.  When her 3rd daughter and her son came along, something changed. They were sent to school. My mom was her 3rd daughter. My mother was the 60’s child – young, free and happy. She travels, acts in small moving theaters, makes her own clothes, craft and sings. She met my Dad, had me and my brother and passed away at 25 yrs old. I know she had a short wonderful life just by the pictures.
She is the woman who gave me life and love for life.
I love you Mama. Rest in Peace.

My second aunt was devastated for not being schooled. She left home to build a better and more independent life. In the 50’s it was unheard for a woman to leave behind her home and her family. No one tells me the detail of the story but I could imagine my grandparents disowning her. She worked washing clothes in Johor and later in Singapore. Her employer was a Chinese businessman for so many years. She got married and became a second wife but was treated unfairly. My aunt left and is happily living on her own till this day. She IS the independent woman in my eyes. She learned to read and write in Jawi on her own and later a bit of Malay. She makes her own money and lives in a place where I learn about transvestite, homosexuals, single moms and what minimal possessions means. I learned that there was life beyond my front door and to understand, I have to open not just my eyes but also my heart. In order to see with eyes and my heart, I have to learn to be a good Muslim and understand the Al-Quran better. She taught me the value of a good laugh over rice, vegetable and salted fish.
She is the woman who gave me courage, independence, empathy and an open mind.
I love you, Along.

My first aunt was the beautiful one among the sisters. She was married off early into a very tumultuous marriage with an adulterous husband who blames her for everything. She got a divorce and came back to my grandmother. She vowed to stay single and make a life of her own. She’s an illiterate businesswoman who has a memory like no other. She would’ve been a Finance Minister for all I know. Illiteracy held her back from being a millionaire. She was a millionaire in my eyes nevertheless. She led my family out of poverty. In the process she was ridiculed by the neighbors. She was a divorced woman who roams the town selling products. She was treated as a woman who may ruin other people’s marriage. She persevered.
She is the woman who gave me the strong belief of possibilities, the power to pursue my dreams and to never give up.
I love you, Ayong.

My daughter will turn 19 on 23rd March this year. I am proud of her and of whom she has become. She’s an independent, confident, sweet and courageous young woman. At this age, she has face cyber bullying, in school bullying and being ridiculed for how she looks. I never have to save her from those experiences because she handled it on her own with a lot of courage and stride. She wanted my support and ears, an occasional hug and validation on her actions. He future is her possibilities…I love her to bits.  On top of all that, she thinks I’m hip 🙂
She is the woman who gave me the acknowledgement that I am a good mother and that it is alright to wear red.
XOXO, Asna. I love you!

Mukim 15-20130311-00170 Mukim 15-20130311-00174Mukim 15-20130311-00171Mukim 15-20130311-00172 asna 2

I am proud to say I am who I am today because of them. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, I lost myself but I could easily come back because I have a strong foundation. In 3 years, I’ll be 50 and I know it will be great being a 50 year old woman…..grey hair, wrinkles and all!!

Have a wonderful Women’s Day all!

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