Over aeons the role of a father or a male figure in the life of a girl who is growing into a woman has been vital. In modern times a father/brother will always have your back, protect you from any inappropriate behaviour from men, be a shoulder to cry on, someone to spoil you with meaningful pampering and the best part, the pocket money. We never really realise this until we are put in a situation that is beyond our control.   

Independent women have always been underestimated for their abilities and intelligence, even more so in the Asian community. The whole misconception of a woman’s place being in the kitchen and pleasing a man in bed really fascinates me. These intelligent beings were branded as “characterless”, the generic opinion of those who envy their lifestyle. Society has influenced many male relatives to become stricter with their daughters.

Growing up without much input from Dad brought about feelings of anger, upset and sadness. Not having Dad around for birthdays and special occasions that really mattered was heart-breaking. I spent my teenage years amongst powerful women. My first job was at the age of 16, while being in full-time education. I quiet enjoyed the idea of working. Perhaps it was the thought of being independent, whatever that meant at 16. I remember receiving my first pay packet; it amazed me! I had £460 to my name. It meant that I could now help my sisters pay the rent and reduce their worries. I went home, excited and wanting to offer my hard earnings and tell them how much I received. Instead, they said it was well-deserved as pocket money. That day I realised and learned: the money I earn can buy me anything I wish, and no one has a right of opinion on this. The world truly became my oyster.  

I went on to study and complete a bachelor’s degree in Media and Communications and soon began working. Working made life easier, it bought the things we needed, and any extra cash would buy things we desired the most: holidays was the highlight for me. Opening doors to travelling, seeing many places and meeting amazing people. I recommend travelling whenever you can and as much as you can, it helps to broaden the mind and to discover yourself!  Often we travelled back to the homeland but never stayed at home; our independence became key and avoided constant taunting about our lifestyle. 

We were taunted about the clothes we wore, the tattoos we got and the drinking of alcohol in the presence of family as it’s considered to be disrespectful. Despite being estranged from my father, the most painful taunt was, “you don’t have a father” and that almost gave people the ticket to accuse and make us feel vulnerable because of our gender. In those days I realised and learned: if you have an independent mindset and are prepared to stand up for yourself, there is less importance paid to people with opinions that don’t contribute to your life. We often shared our fun and successful times on social media, and many watched, some with happiness and pride and others with sheer jealousy and hatred.  

I wouldn’t change the situations and environment I grew up in for it made me the strong, ambitious and focused woman that I am today. Being raised by women means that they are my parents, they taught me the ways of being independent, being polite, being kind and standing up for yourself and what’s right. 

The three biggest moments of my life were:  

When I bought my first flight out of the country. A well-deserved holiday, with my family, the people that raised me to be the woman that I am.  

When I bought my first car. This did take a while, but I got there eventually. I am forever grateful to my family for not pressurising me to do this sooner.  

When I treated my family the first time, to a lavish dinner. It was the proudest moment for me and my independence. 

The biggest realisations for a woman:  

No one can stop you from achieving your goals except yourself and your beliefs. If you believe you belong in a kitchen serving others than your soul, that’s what will be. If you believe you can be a successful business owner, the CEO of a company, that’s what will be. Successful women don’t intend to show off; their intention is to share success for the world to learn something from and to make a statement that they can pick themselves up for a better tomorrow. And a father should be around to support you mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. With many in the world without fathers in their lives, they made or broke their futures. You decide which way you take yours.  

Working is not shameful. Travelling is not shameful. Being independent is not shameful.  


by Rupinder Kandola

January 2021