This article was originally published on Sejal Sehmi:
“Does it ever go away?’ she asks, clutching her friend’s frail hand as she tries to get a glimpse into her almost sullen eyes. The long silence answers on her behalf.
What do you see when you look in the mirror, she is asked. Daddy’s little princess whom he nurtured from the minute you were born, leaving no stone unturned to fulfil your every need? Mummy’s golden child who would “do everyone proud?” The reliable sibling and friend who would always be there? The perfect girlfriend who will mould herself to be the good wife when required? The wife who juggles her roles as the mother, partner, lover and homemaker? The obedient daughter in law who prides herself as the pillar of the household? Or just the mother who knows nothing more than to just give and nurture?
The blanket of expectation to mould into the multiple roles, many that are often self-created, is draped so tightly that her throat is dry and sore as the inner voice screams but cannot be heard. The seeds of shame and fear of vocalising her anxieties are deep rooted inside the head, causing a throbbing pain, as they creep up and wait for an escape route. The only sound that is audible to her ears is that hidden whisper consistently reminding her, it’s her fault.
What do you see when you in look in the mirror? Does this so-called failure and inability to meet expectations reflect unattractiveness? She pinches her tiny waist avoiding the sight of her protruding rib cage, “Maybe just a little more? Maybe then I will be loved?“
When did the words that promised to cherish and comfort clench into a verbal fist that left wounds deeper than those visible to the naked eye she often wonders. Her over indulgence in keeping occupied is the only way to help shut out her distresses. “If I keep cleaning, will it eliminate those scars and the pain?”
Born into a culture that prides itself on unity and togetherness, what has created this thread of apprehension and shame that pulls her away from reaching for that hand to seek comfort in? Pain is unavoidable but suffering is optional. She can acknowledge but she can’t release or even realise that control is merely an illusion.
“Mirror mirror on the wall, if I wipe away this cloud of judgment, fear, shame and expectation, I really WILL be the happiest of them all.”
Sejal is a passionate Kathak dancer and traveller. She flew to India in 2012 with a fellow filmmaker friend, Shakir Kadri, to attempt to understand one of many South Asian stigmas, and became the subject of the documentary, “Desperately Seeking Husband,” that attempts to understand the importance of marriage today. Sejal is also the writer and director of “The Evolution of the British Indian Woman,” a mini film series created in association with Global Arts Kingston, UK, that explored the essence of a British-Indian woman through the experiences of three branches of one family tree. Her experiences both in India and as a British-Indian woman encouraged her to create a platform for discussion and she has written articles for Asiana.TV, Asian Woman Magazine, Chak De India and has kept personal blogs. Sejal has been a guest speaker for the BBC Asian Network on several occasions discussing social issues impacting British-Indians today.
Follow Sejal on Twitter.