This week is International Women's Week. I thought about how women had fought to be heard and valued over the last century. We have come a long way and still have a long way to go. To men who supported this movement, I commend you. To the women who had taken the path no one else dares to roam in bringing forth more equality, I thank you with the deepest sense of gratitude. You are my heroes, who brought opportunities for me, in which women in the previous generation didn't have. One of these women was my grandma.
My grandma was born the 12th or 13th child (I need to do some fact checks here) to a poor farmer in China. When she was 7, she was sold to a rich family as a servant. After some bad experiences, she ran away from her mistress and found her way home. At the young age of 13, she was married to my grandfather. The bride price my great-grandfather received was used to pay for a bride for his only son. My grandma had her first child at the age of 19 and had 4 more children subsequently. My dad is her second son.
Grandma lived with us for many years in Fiji, and she had told me many stories of her past. I was her little listener as I listened to her stories over and over each day. It was almost like she was waiting for me to come home from school so she could repeat the stories to me. In a way, I think she felt validated when I listened to her without judgment and comments of her past. My grandma had always been very resourceful as she had little as a child and needed to make the most out of the littlest things she had.
She would make watering cans out of used food cans. She would set up a mouse trap with just a bucket and some oil/grease and bait. She would enjoy making the ugliest fashion out of loose fabrics. When she told me about all the hardships she had endured raising 5 children on her own, I had wished her life to be different. But because of her strength, I was born and raised in a much better world and into better circumstances. I would console her by helping her see that she could finally enjoy her retirement and that my dad loved her dearly and was taking good care of her.
I had always thought that if my grandma was born 100 years later, she could be a great leader in our times. If she had the opportunities that I was given, she would have done much more with them than letting fear turn her away from trying. My grandma was like a woman of steel to me, and her legacy lives in all her kids and grandchildren. May her stories be told for many generations to come and never be forgotten.