This is the concluding part of our interview with 25-year-old Harshala, entrepreneur, founder of A Week In Life, student and a single unmarried mother of a 4-year-old daughter.
For Part 1, click here.
How has motherhood changed your relationship with men around you?
I was a victim of sexual assault by my babysitter’s husband and son from the age of 5 (or that’s when I remember it all started). Since then, I have always been an introvert.
Growing up, I ended up in an emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually abusive relationship. These experiences made me believe in the idea that all men are the same.
But after Ira came into my life and I started interacting with young boys (4-12 years of age), I realized not all of them will grow up to be the same.
Since then, I have met some amazing men who are feminists, who actually stand up for Mother Nature. Those who would choose a bicycle over fancy motorcycles, and men who are not afraid to be themselves and let their feminine side take over.
One such example is my college friend’s husband. They both go out to work and earn the same salary. She takes care of the cooking and groceries, while he is responsible for maintaining the house and all household chores, including cleaning the dishes, laundry, sweeping and taking out the trash. They have an understanding that’s rare to find.
Did it also change your friendships? Were your friends supportive or did they decide to maintain distance?
I never really had a friend circle. I just had two friends by the time I turned 15. One from my colony and the other from school. At 16, I met the first guy in my life and I disconnected from my friends because he wanted me to. But after Ira was born, things have changed so much on this front too!
I have made so many friends. I never imagined that a socially-awkward girl like me could have her own girl gang, who are like family. I give all the credit to Ira for bringing friends into my life. Harshala
I feel I connected more with people as Ira’s mother than the single girl I am. Both my childhood friends ended up becoming doctors and moved to other cities. But we connected again when they came to see Ira. We were just 19 then and the concept of unmarried motherhood was a cultural shock for them too, but they were so graceful in accepting my situation.
What, according to you, single unmarried mothers need from society today in terms of support?
We need to be more open-minded and evolve in terms of what we’ve been taught as children. Not only as a single mother but also as a member of this society, I feel we all want and need a place that is free of hatred and fear.
I think keeping our noses out of others’ business would be a great place to start! That would surely make us feel more comfortable. Harshala
Parents also play a crucial role when it comes to acceptance of mothers like us. Giving birth to a child, irrespective of whether one is married or not, is NOT a sin.
So many women suffer in bad marriages because if they decide to break off the alliance, they will be either termed as “bechari” or “characterless.” And this is the case after all the taam-jhaam of the great Indian wedding. I can totally see what such people would think of me.
Do you think we have enough laws in the country for unmarried mothers? To ensure that they are not discriminated against and have a safe “village” to raise their child in?
I am grateful to environmentalist and activist Maneka Gandhi for moving mountains in order to make our lives easier. I feel there are quite a number of laws and regulations in a developing nation like ours.
But the problem is not with the laws. The problem is with the human representatives of these laws who can’t keep their personal biases separate from their professional responsibilities.
The only example I can give for this is that my daughter got her birth certificate in August of 2018, 3 years and 9 months after she was born. It took away a piece of my soul while I fought for a piece of paper that is a necessity to prove her existence.
We hope Harshala’s journey so far makes us all stop and think. I will end the interview with the words below, something we can all think about in our spare time.
Anyone can be made to feel like an outsider. It’s up to the people who have the power to exclude. Melinda Gates, philanthropist
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of aweekinlife.com. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and A Week In Life does not assume any responsibility for them.