In uncharted territory

One of the poignant sections of the biography of Dr. Susan La Flesche deals with her competing roles as a doctor to her far-flung tribe and as a mother to her two sons. She was in uncharted territory and she had to make it up as she went along. Sometimes, when there was  no one to watch them, she even had to take her young sons with her when she had to visit patients.

Anandi too faced several conflicts arising out of her new status. Her husband’s growing resentment was just one of it. The other was that, upon her return to India, she would be a working woman who earned a living while also trying to meet the expectation that she should be a dutiful daughter-in-law.

As her return drew close, she wrote a letter to her mother-in-law, inviting her to make a home with her. She gave the assurances that a son would have been expected to give.

I will take care of you, you will not want for anything, whatever is mine is yours.

When there was no responses even after two months, she sent a second letter. In this one, she tried to allay any reservations that her mother-in-law might have harbored because of the fact that Anandi had lived among Christians.

Please indicate to her that she will not have any cause to worry because of my converted-ness. I will make sure not to even touch her.

She had to allude to her “converted-ness”, even though she had not converted and, indeed, had courageously resisted all attempts to convert her.


The uncharted territory of one generation becomes accomplished fact of the next one and all the ones that come after. Even in the present time, new uncharted territory is being charted. As Hillary Clinton said in her speech at the DNC, “And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.” The last 30 seconds of the below video.


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