The Free Naga Woman Speaks

Alokali Swu, Dimapur

When you are born, you are always the most beautiful baby. Your parents take you home knowing that you will be a perfect little girl. And for a while, you are. You are content playing in the backyard with the neighbours’ kids.


In fact, all goes fine until you’re 10 years old and suddenly, you are confronted with the radical idea that despite what your parents have been telling you for the past decade, you are not quite perfect. It gets even worse when your legs were called hairy by other girls and so you begin shaving them every night. Will someone please tell me when exactly did hair become unfeminine?


Not very long afterwards, you learn a new word-‘calorie’. The idea is pretty simple, the skinniest, blondest girls get the boys. Unfortunately, you have brown hair and a round body. So you diet the quickest way you know how: by starving yourself or by binging and puking. Finally, a boy asks you out. You accept immediately. It doesn’t matter to you that you have never talked to him before. He’s your boyfriend and having a boyfriend is very important.


Now new problems arise. Every morning you tirelessly wake up apply coloured grease and liquid to your face until you look to close to a model as you can manage. Your parents are worried and tell you that you don’t eat enough. But they are so wrong, you remember they used to tell you that you were pretty.


Now we skip ahead 25 years. You are middle-aged now and have that nagging feeling that you have to lose 10 pounds. Your husband, whom you love so much, works all day. When he comes home, his dinner is on the table, hot. You had to get a job to help your husband run a family but it’s still your job to cook dinner. But that’s how it is supposed to work, everyone knows that. In every issue of Women’s Day, there are six pages of recipes. In your husband’s Sports Illustrated, there are no recipes, nor childcare tips. No one ever declared Sports Illustrated a man’s magazine.


Today, your 16-year-old refused to eat dinner. And you wonder what’s going on?


I bet if Barbie were the size of a human, her proportions would land her in the emergency room. But she’d be a supermodel. And you’d dream of being her.


You must be wondering why am I talking about all this.It’s simple. I myself am a girl, born and raised as one; so I know firsthand that I can be very frail and take many chances. I’m also the target for a lot of people, for emotional support and other things. My parents depend a lot on me to take care of things when they can’t, not because I’m the only girl but because I’m ‘A Girl’. This is how a girl’s life is like; it has become a routine for us.


Ever since I was younger, this problem frustrated me, the problem of male bias that seemed so prominent in the world and especially in my life. Just because I’m a dress wearing, ponytailed, doll playing human doesn’t mean I’m not as tough as anyone else in this world. I believe that since girls have a different insight look of things, people think we’re weak and powerless.


Fathers always expect their sons to be the tough ones, while the girls are supposed to be the sensitive ones, the ones who cry when they fall not the boys. Mothers always teach their daughters to clean and cook before they grow older. Girls are taught to be mothers of animals and baby dolls while boys are being taught to be Harley riders and wrestlers. Girls are taught that in a dress you’re a princess and no one could change that. Boys are taught that the more muscles you have the more people like you.


I’m sure every girl would agree on this that we girls are by no means weak or powerless. We know what is right and what is wrong; at times we say sorry not because we are wrong but because we are strong.


At the same time if we girls walking around in short skirts, short shorts, and tight clothes just to get the attention of men, we need to stop!Go outside feeling comfortable rather than go out wondering, “Does this shirt look right?” or “Is this the right fit?”. Whatever you wear and step out with, it will remain you, so that is what we should remember.


We, being Girls, should set up a line that says,“Yes, I will do my hair; yes, I like dressing nicely; and yes, I do wear make-up, but I will not be criticized for what I want to do and what I like to do. I may be girly but I can still roughhouse, fight, and play rough. Yes, I am a girl and I will still cook, not because you want me to but because I love to cook for others and myself. Yes, I am a girl so I will settle down one day, but with someone who sees me as a person, not as a play toy. Someone who understands, that I am as much as a person as they are. Someone who believes love doesn’t come from the outside of your body but from the inside of your soul, someone who understands me, cares for me and respects me.


Let us stop worrying about ‘my best friend’s getting married’, ‘my old classmate is killing it with success’, ‘my ex is happy in love’. Let them be, that’s what they decided and chose for themselves.


There is time to let your life revolve around someone else. But today, let it revolve around you.It’s absolutely okay to be alone because you can’t find someone who will respect you as a free woman. You deserve to wake up with a smile and you don’t need a man to smile.


Just breathe. It’s only your mid 20s . You’re going to be alright. You’re going to be fabulous!