A WOMAN OF NO CONSEQUENCE? By whose measure?

January 26th, 2009 by elaine

In response to CBC’s THE SUNDAY EDITION  feature “A WOMAN OF NO CONSEQUENCE  -  2009/01/25

“Born into a cultured family in the ancient Indian kingdom of Travancore, she read all of the novels of Charles Dickens before she turned ten – which was also the age she was forced to leave school to get married. At 15 she was a mother. And for most of her adult life, Sethu Ramaswamy was in the shadows, trying to find her place in the light.

Then, at age 80, her memoir, Autobiography of an Unknown Indian Woman, was published, to great fanfare and acclaim all over India. “Finally, an icon,” wrote one reviewer. “A woman comes of age,” read another.

This morning producer Sarmishta Subramanian, grand-daughter of Sethu Ramaswamy, brings us her remarkable story. ”

The story is called “A Woman of No Consequence”, and I say, by whose measure?

“As a mother [of six daughters] and for most of her adult life, Sethu Ramaswamy was in the shadows, trying to find her place in the light.”  I know the feeling, been there, done that, like so many other women of a certain age (mine).  But now that I have been in and out of the so-called light, what I value most are the children, now adults with children of their own, who benefited (and suffered) from the time I spent with them in the so-called shadows.  Perhaps those shadows are so dark and dreary because society, all societies it appears, so diminish the value of that unpaid, unheralded work…as if children don’t really need mothers.  There are day-cares after all (there weren’t then) and schools, and nannys, etc.  Mothers should be doctors, lawyers, psychotherapists/writers (like me when I got around to it), or they should work at Walmarts to help support the family (i.e. pay for day care).  I know a woman of no consequence right here in Montreal, the mother of six daughters, among them doctors, nurses, holders of PhD’s, whose contribution to society, the mother’s contribution, I mean, because of the time she spent with her children, is far greater than any poem or novel or memoir she might have written, or any picture painted, piece of music written and/or performed, trial won,  or discovery made.   MOTHER, the time an intelligent, loving woman spends with her children in the shadows or in the light, is precious and of enormous consequence.

Posted in Letters to the Editor


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