Lela, 40, Kutaisi

“I realized in my early childhood that females represented the ‘inferior sex’. There were two children in the family – my sister and me. We often heard from our father that he was not motivated in life because he did not have a son – his heir. I found it difficult to understand that then and I still find it painful today. I already knew as a child that I would find it hard to forgive him for that. After so many years I still have this feeling and it has not gone anywhere. Then I grew up! Pain and sadness associated with the birth of a girl here have not faded away. Society has also reminded me often that I was a girl; I could not laugh carelessly because women were supposed to smile modestly. I was terribly curious. I wanted to know who/what was it that gave a detailed instruction about the things I was supposed to do. I asked questions whenever I had this opportunity but never got answers. I have answered some of the questions myself through my life and my choices which I made and still make.

I find it very natural now that I had a courage to demonstrate my youthful protest first against my father and then against the society. I wore the shortest dresses in the 90s; I used a red lipstick, which was hardly used by anyone in those days. Probably I started smoking for the same reason. This was my small protest campaign against my father, who labeled me as a ‘second-class’ child and the society that tried to deprive me of my individuality every day.

Unlike my father, my mother who was an amazing person, always understood me, supported me and tried to protect me from everyone and everything. She was my big friend. I had dreamt from my early childhood to see my mother’s eyes, which were always sad, sparkle with happiness.

In the late 90s, when women started to leave for different countries, I thought that this could be a chance for my mother to escape. I wanted her to leave the family. I hoped that her absence would help my father realize the importance of her presence and appreciate her warm hearted care and love she had given us for years without expecting anything back. My father’s responsibility was restricted to providing for the family. He did not think he had to take care of anything else. The environment/culture has taught and teaches men to be irresponsible. They embrace this role and find themselves rather comfortable in this role. I wished to talk to him about this but we failed to find a way to talk to each other.

Of course he was against my mother leaving the country. In those days people questioned woman’s ‘decency’ if she dared go beyond her yard (!). Probably this was one of the beliefs that have been destroyed in our patriarchal society and our men have had to swallow their pride.

My mother went to the UK. Of course she stayed in the country illegally. She died there in one year and eight months in a car accident… This was the biggest disappointment I had ever experienced in my life. I was rather stressed and was depressed for many years. My father often blamed me for my mother’s death. Unfortunately, my father was not the only person who thought like that then…
I hesitated whether to get married or not. The family structure that changed people so much and demanded such a big sacrifice from women frightened me. I was also afraid of the violence and unequal distribution of responsibilities in the family.
I had been in love with the person who is now my husband for four years. Dark streets with damaged roads in the 90s were mercilessly littered by loafers who used to spit on the roads all the time. Giga was really different from them. But as soon as we got married he turned into a typical husband I used to see around others. Many years have passed but I still find that painful. Why do men view their wives as their property?!… Giga has proved to be a better father for my children than my own father was for me. Naturally, there have been a lot of hardships that accompany life, which should be changed.

It makes sense to fight. Running away from problems is easy!”