I am a creature of conversation. I often start a sentence with I was speaking to so-and-so and he told me… I love speaking to people because it offers me a glimpse into a life that I know I will never live but that I can imagine nevertheless. So I am often having bizarre conversations with random individuals.
Last week, I had the most peculiar conversation with a seven-year-old girl. I was typing something on my laptop (probably scrolling down my Tumblr feed or something) and I must’ve seemed very important and very busy because she asked me if I was studying and what I was studying. I said that I was studying to become the president (I do study politics so I it’s not like I was lying and I thought I would seem impressive to this little girl staring at me with her big brown eyes) because it used to be my childhood ambition.
She looked at me in horror. But girls can’t be presidents, she said.
The last time I was that stunned I fell flat on my face after tripping on my sister’s shoes (darn you, Bev!) But why not, I asked.
Because they just can’t.
I didn’t tell her all that I could have but here’s what I would have said:
‘Beautiful girl, you can do anything that you want. You can be anyone that you want. You can be an astronaut or a poet or a doctor or a teacher or an explorer or a photographer. You can travel the whole wide world. Or not. You can be a soldier in a war or a pilot or a scientist. But if you want to stay home and raise your children and cook delicious food, you can do that too…’
‘…Don’t let anyone tell you that something is impossible for you because of who you are. There are no limitations to your dreams. And I hope you dream. Whether you dream of running a country or a household. Beautiful girl – because that’s what you are, you are beautiful no matter how you look on the outside – the whole wide world is waiting for you. All you have to do is reach out and grab it.
Hey little girl, girls can be presidents. Just you wait and see.’
And so I would love to conclude by thanking my parents. Thank you mom and dad for never belittling my dreams and ambition. For letting me study the degree of my choice without interfering with those evil little words of ‘practicality,’ ‘money,’ ‘job.’ Thank you for never limiting me because I am a woman.
About the blogger: Shaazia is South African of Indian and Afghan descent. When she isn’t reading, Shaazia is taking part in various heated discussions surrounding feminism, Islamophobia, social justice, decolonisation and ‘fallist’ philosophy (which informed the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall student movements in South Africa). Shaazia enjoys yoga and tea and dismantling stereotypes about women who wear lipstick.