Dear Amitabh Bachchan,
We have seen you in a number of roles on screen. You have touched so many lives and changed the life of many too with your performances on the silver screen. But the letter you wrote yesterday (September 5) not only made you the sole nominee of best grandfather award but also gave girls the power and much-needed encouragement to face the societal pressures. Mr Bachchan, you were right, this letter is not just for your granddaughters Navya Naveli and Aaradhya, but for every granddaughter and every woman out there.
Sir, you pointed out how Navya Naveli and Aaradhya are carrying on the legacy of their Pardadajis (great grandads) and their families. And I agree with you that apart from being a Nanda or a Bachchan, they are first and foremost, girls. I am glad that in a country with as skewed a sex ratio as ours, you said daughters are an integral part of the family and carry forward the name of the family.
Sir, you said that they should marry for love but didn’t mention the word ‘honour killing’. If you look for the meaning of this term, it is described as, “the killing of a relative, especially a girl or a woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonour on the family.” How come dishonour is always the result of a woman’s doing?
You asked Navya and Aaradhya not to bow down simply “because you are a woman people will force their thinking, their boundaries on you.” It is a reality and one which, as a girl and woman, we have to live with every moment of our life.
What is she wearing? Where is she going? Where is she coming from? Why does she return late from work? Does she have a boyfriend? It must be her fault if she was molested? Even rape, that most heinous of crimes, is said to be caused by a what a woman wore, what she said or what she didn’t say.
Your words “don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement, make your own choices,” gave me power. When you said “don’t let anyone make you believe that the length of your skirt is a measure of your character,” it gave me a pause, for all those moments when I was shamed for what I thought or what I wore. They called me the weaker sex, knowing that I was stronger than any of them. You told me I can be the change and I intend to strive for it.
But what hit me really hard was your advice for your four-year-old granddaughter Aaradhya. What you are saying today and the issues you are raising will still be relevant when she is grown up. The thought is sad and troubling.
They call us the fairer sex but nothing is fair if you are a woman and getting ready to face life and the world. At most times, opposition comes from the people you are closest too. But as you said, we are the change. And that change begins right here, right now.