The one thing that has mattered to me since I began earning a living was to have a lovely and clean home to return to. It was more than a mere idea of looking good; it had to feel reassuring, secure, and comforting. Because everything was going to be okay once I was home.
As Indian women are exploring and discovering their potentials, the outside world of the new century is now full of incredible possibilities & adventures, albeit it is also a bit dangerous; unpredictable even. And so when in familiar spaces, more so at one’s own home, its comfort & security imparts the unconditional freedom, acceptance & thus the greatest self-confidence. The home is probably where the real freedom lies.
Inspired with that conjecture, I photographed a few of the hundreds of empowered urban Indian women I know (across age groups) and whom I also consider to be independent and radical in thought, and in action. With rising economic strengths and the confidence to take decisions on their own, (or if with companion, to have the final say) a home has become the biggest priority for women to invest in. Interestingly, the women who weren’t economically strong, hesitated to open their homes. As one said, “It is not the home I aspire to yet, it is not up to the mark”; (or they required a family member’s permission first) making the ‘home’ a matter of equality, pride and presentation.
In my conversations with so many, the home means several things to a woman versus just four walls and a roof. The economically stronger invest their resources, celebrating their instinctual sense of aesthetics, beautifying their homes, making it their own, ensuring that it looks and is managed to their satisfaction. Each home I have visited over the years has reinforced the observation, that to a woman, a home is an extension and expression of emotional and personal discovery and freedom. The living room, bedroom or even the kitchen, as is in these images, become the presentation to the world and a revelation of who they really are, and to some extent, what they desire. Perhaps, there might be some truth to the aphorism that ‘to know a woman all one has to do is visit her home‘. Articulated any which way, the home is to women where all that emotional and monetary investment is returned with soothing comfort, security and mutual interest.
Whatever the level of ‘empowered-ness’ we women might be in quest for, a relationship with the space, the home, is a non-negotiable, irrevocable and an intimate one; romantic even. This is the space, women unquestionably belong to; the home, that is not a mere four walled entity, It is in-fact their pride, comfort, desires, love and personality on display. I reckon (and I say this with great hope), that sooner or later women will all be as empowered and enjoy all the fruits of great freedom we desire. Our relationships with others will also be constantly renegotiated, but the intimacy women desire to share with their homes is the real quest for happily ever after.