My Life as a Slave
People think slavery is dead, but I shall prove them wrong. Slavery is alive and I am it’s living proof. I can break away from it, though I choose not to for I have little choice. While I may be unhappy with my condition and I can change it, I will choose to remain in my life’s course. I know others will disagree and ridicule me for my decisions; however, this is my life- my responsibility and burden. I am a mother whose life is dedicated to taking care of my husband, children, and chores, and despite the fact that I love my family, I feel like a slave. I am a slave because my work lacks payment, my dreams are dashed, and my identity has vanished.
I am a slave because I do not earn from my work. I am on call 24/7, working day until evening, but no one pays for my ceaseless labor. At 4AM, I wake up to go to the market and buy groceries. By 5 AM, I am back at home to cook. My children wake up at 5:30AM and I take care of them until they leave for school at 6:30 AM. While my kids are at school, I clean the house in and out. I pay the bills every now and then. Sometimes, I also do chores for my husband. Before my kids come home, I have cooked dinner. When they arrive, I dedicate my time helping them with school work and making sure they feel loved. At 8PM, my husband comes home and I take care of his needs. My work is done by 11 PM, and it is time for sleep. If my kids are sick, I look after them the entire night. Besides working the whole day and night, unpaid labor goes on forever. Even when my children are older, I worry about them and help them any way I can. Relying on me as he grows older, I take care of my husband too. I am employed for the rest of my life without remuneration and paid leave.
Apart from not earning a living from what I do, I have sacrificed my dreams to conduct my roles and responsibilities. I planned to become a mine engineer, but I fell in love and ran away with my husband. My college degree is wasted, and I have to forget about my goal of pursuing mining developments. I have to set aside my personal desires. If I decide to become an engineer, it will consume my time and energy. I would rather spend them on my children and husband than spend my life eaten by guilt, or perhaps have it crushed by a divorce or delinquent children. I am obsessed with this ingrained idea that I must have no dreams for myself or else I will sacrifice the dreams of my family. I swept my yearnings to the air, to fly away and never return and haunt me again.
Besides losing my dreams, I have lost my identity. I am my social functions and nothing more. I am a mother and a wife, everything else is secondary. If I wanted to do something for myself, I reject the idea immediately. A spa is too expensive; a beautiful dress is too selfish. Every penny I save must be set aside for emergencies. I hate to have a nice bag then cry over it because I do not have money for my children’s school needs. Doing things for myself, buying things for myself, they seem too self-centered. Family first is my mantra. The idea of solid selfhood is a myth as I only serve others. Who am I? I am a slave to my family. I choose to be one and my society chose me. The future is murky with my traditional duties as a woman. My sense of identity is a speck in the sea of gender norms.
In the absence of a salary, dreams, and identity, I see myself as a slave. I wonder how many women are like me, and I feel sorry for them. People glorify motherhood, yet do they know the true sacrifices of one? I look to my children; they are my life, literally. One day, they will be gone and have moved on with their lives, and I know I will be hollow by then. Alone, I am empty and life will be meaningless. I hope I can still cry, but even the tears cannot come from dry lands, hollowed out since the day I have accepted my life as a slave.