A short story first.
Her husband had refused to accept dowry in the name of 'Shagan' when they got married. Whatever the educated father of the well-educated girl wanted to give out of love, the husband was somehow convinced to accept. The educated in-laws supported their son's stand, just like the son supported the woman of his life. The wedding went off smoothly. The families rested happy. But the tale does not finish here. There was a section of humankind not happy at all - all Women. Taunts to the mother-in-law for getting no clothes for the extended family, diamond ear rings for their daughters, car for the family and silk saris for themselves flew everywhere. Inane directives in shrill female voices to the newly wed daughter-in-law varied from no-inauspicious-white-hanker-chief-please to shock being announced at her being left-handed (with the husband being told politely to correct the bad habit). These, not by witches from every woman's nightmare, but by the 'closest' Female relatives of the family, who had themselves, dutifully (and traditionally!) married off their own very educated daughters with much fanfare and enough jewellery sets for the camera to capture and neighbours to see. And Daughters of these loud ladies - architects, doctors, engineers and pilots, quietly let their mothers act the devils in no disguise. (Silence is golden. Our parents taught us not to speak in front of elders. And anyway, it happened to us, why should someone else get away easy? Going against "tradition" is a modern-mentality and westernised human nature to be looked down upon and talked-about. What club-mentality!)
A small and singular example, but a universal truth, of how we as Women have failed to respect our own kind. How we as Women have not the courage to stand up for change that we ourselves desire. How we as Women help perpetuate a system of hurting, humiliating and hating other Women - all in the name of what our educated minds and hearts know as wrong.
Lighting candles for victims of another's disrespect is easy.
How about lighting one for those Women in our own lives who we have 'victimised' ourselves, with disesteem and contempt, rejection and orthodoxy? Or lighting one for searching out the she-devil on the loose - wearing anything and everything from a bindi to Prada, a saree to Gucci, vermilion to a tattoo?
Let's look within for the human who can see and change the smallest yet darkest details at home, rather than for the leader who promises to change the country. The revolution begins there - within and at home. And if you as an educated woman cannot see that, then use the same candle to burn the degrees you have earned. They are all a waste, and so is the gift that was given to - that of being a Woman!