The Nothing Woman

I know you. You’re not a CEO. You’re not a manager. You haven’t held a powerful position in the corporate world and you certainly didn’t burn your bra during the 60s. You have endured the sneers of your own kind, the intolerances and menial jibes of your family. You’ve watched your own daughters become educated, something that was never valued or provided to you. Their success is wrapped in the fierceness of your love, but you’ve also battled with resentment and a sense of loss. You believe you have contributed Nothing, and to the outside world, it appears you have accomplished Nothing.

You have done Nothing – if Nothing means moving countries because your husband wanted to be closer to his family. You left your family and friends to travel to a bigger country, leaving behind your comfortable life. You endured snide remarks from those within your own community for staying at home, for being a housewife, for doing Nothing. They forgot you were a project manager, carer, chef, chauffeur, mother and wife, and ensured everyone within the household ran on a tight schedule. Nothing meant waking up before dawn, dropping your husband at the train station on time at 6am in the morning, and making breakfast, lunch and dinner fresh each day; only to repeat the thankless tasks the next day and the day after that. There were no massages, ladies’ lunches, or yoga classes. There was only Nothing.

There were the years in which you fell sick, and instead of being comforted and loved by those around you, there was only frustration and neglect. You had children who weren’t old enough to share some of the burden, and were needed by you. The times you went to the doctor were not viewed as an investment in your health, but sadly whispered as more time for you to do Nothing.

There were the years in which you made mistakes and the years in which you would forego what you wanted to say, what you wanted to do, and even what you wanted to eat, to keep the household peaceful. The seemingly timeless fire that fuelled your boundless strength was slowly cooling, and on reflection, there was probably a realisation that you had lost a part of yourself in the sacrifice of doing Nothing.

Don’t you realise in doing Nothing, you have allowed me to make Something of my life? I know I could never be a Nothing Woman because the sacrifice required of me is far too great to endure. Just like the Olympian Atlas, you have held the weight of the world on your shoulders so that your daughters could roam that same world freely. My entire generation could not do what your generation and the generations before have done for us. We do not denigrate what the suffragettes have sacrificed, and nor do we diminish the women who were brave enough to stand up to their perpetrators resulting in legislative and policy changes across the world. But can’t you see #PreetiWoman, it is on the immeasurable foundation of your Nothing, that we built up Something. #PreetiWoman#PressforProgress