Episode 16

Dhipa discusses her book "Written" covering domestic violence, restrictive cultural beliefs...

Episode Notes

This week Roksana is joined by British-Bangladeshi Author Dhipa A. Lee as they delve into her book, “Written”. Written depicts the life of a young girl, Eleanor born into a complex family where restrictive religious and cultural beliefs bare the landscape for painful experiences and decisions. Written is a beautifully told story of Love, Secrets, Betrayal and Honour through the eyes of a four year old girl, the reader travels into adulthood with her.

Roksana and Dhipa read extracts from the book to fully understand the concepts and beliefs of the character. Dhipa shares an inspirational message of hope that we each have the capability, opportunity and choice to create a fulfilling life.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

•           That Domestic Violence should never be tolerated

•           You are in control of your life despite the challenges faced

•           We have different experiences in life, and that makes us unique

•           Through loving yourself, you have the power to rewrite your life story

D.A. Lee is a Bangladeshi-born British author, artist, and poet, best known for her novel ‘Written’ published in 2019. Raised in a small town in Lancashire, England, Lee describes the cultural challenges of growing up in a Bengali household whilst navigating a western world.

Lee’s novel, whilst fictional, draws on many of her own experiences of growing up in a Muslim family and explores the underworld of cultural expectations, arranged marriages, honor, abuse, and domestic violence that often limit women’s choices.

Lee first started writing as a form of self-healing through the challenges of home life. The word ‘Written’ had become a poignant theme throughout the book, a word often expressed culturally to describe the notion of determinism and predestination adopted by most traditional Muslim families as a common explanation for events in life. Lee takes us on a journey through her character Eleanor, a young girl caught between a web of family secrets and lies where she comes into conflict with these values.

Today, Lee is an advocate for women’s freedom of choice and encourages women to speak out and seek help if they feel they are in danger.

You can find Dhipa A. Lee:

Website: www.dalee.co.uk

Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/DALEEAuthor/


[Roksana] My guest on today’s episode is Dhipa Lee. Dhipa is a mum to two boys and works in cyber security, consulting for FTSE 100 firms. She is the author of a book called ‘Written’. ‘Written’ is a semi-autobiography about a girl called Eleanor who experiences domestic violence and intense cultural pressure. Welcome Dhipa!

[Dhipa] Hello, nice to meet you again Roksana.

[Roksana] How are you?

[Dhipa] I’m very well thank you, how are you?

[Roksana] I’m very well, I’m very well. I’m very excited to have you on. I was reading your book and just completely on a rollercoaster of emotions and I felt like we need to do a deep dive into your book.

[Dhipa] Fantastic well I’m already listening to your questions here because… yeah it touches on a lot of facets, so yeah, very keen to help you understand that little bit more.

[Roksana] Thank you. I’d love to start with the title of the book which is ‘Written’: where did that concept come from and what does it mean for our listeners who may not be familiar with this idea?

[Dhipa] Yeah absolutely. The backdrop to the book is a community – a Muslim community and in Asian Muslim society in general, there is this notion of predestination so is the idea that your whole life has been written already… that you know that there is a plan in place that God has a plan, and that you are really just following that plan and you are part of that plan… and a lot of communities, traditional communities I should say, follow this belief that things that have happened to you such as a circumstance or a situation that has arisen was written, and that you have no choice but to follow the plan and you know that it was all planned for you. So the book is inspired by this idea that it was everything is written, so in the story of one of the characters, the main character Eleanor, she’s been told that her whole life has been planned already and that she has no choice but to follow that path. And on that road, on the discovery and on that journey, she comes in conflict if you like with what her family have told her is planned for her, to then question you know is this the right thing for me, is this the way I need to fulfil my life? And yes so the book was really to try and look at this idea of what is written, what is really planned for you, and what is really truly your choice and your own truth and your own your own goals and how to fulfil your own goals in life.

[Roksana] I love this little sentence-  a couple of sentences from the book, if I may read them to you. “I may have been four years old, but for the first time something that mamaji said disagreed with me. You see, I wasn’t born for it to all be written for me, I was born to write it.”

[Dhipa] Absolutely.

[Roksana] I just thought, how profound for a four year old to have this concept, this notion that I disagree with my mum saying it’s written for you.

[Dhipa] Absolutely and so this was actually a real experience in terms of drawing from one of my own experiences… is that my mother always used to say things like she was she had a argument or fell out with my dad, she would often say things like this is what was written for me this was what was in my destiny you know to live like this and to have to have this life, and you know I have no choice but I have to I have to go with what what was written for me, and I remember being four years old and we were looking up through the window and a plane would fly over in the sky, and my mum being an immigrant and emigrating to the UK, immigrating to the UK, she would always pine for going back to Bangladesh which is where my family are from… and in those moments she would say you know I I would say to her why can’t we just go back? You know you’re unhappy here, why don’t we just go back? And this is a four year old you know speaking, and she would say well I don’t have a choice, I have to be here, this is what Allah and you know this is what was written for me this is my destiny and I have to accept that. And I remember not fully comprehending what that meant… why she had to accept it, if it made you unhappy why are- we why does she have to accept it? It doesn’t seem right to me, as the child then it didn’t seem right to me that that those two words go in the same sentence and can actually mean something and I remember that point, that was the thing that really I couldn’t really accept wholeheartedly… could not accept that idea that you know you have to go you have to just follow you know your unhappiness and just go with your unhappiness. Yes so I  always had this you know in my within me, I just felt this just didn’t feel right.. just didn’t sit right there with me and I remember mulling over it, I’m thinking my mum deserves more than this. My mum deserves to feel happy, my mum deserves not to pine and long for something so much and every time a plane flew over, her words were always you know this is not my life… you know you didn’t feel real to me, didn’t feel authentic, didn’t feel real, and I remember thinking that day I wasn’t born for it all to be written for me, I was born to write it… and writing it meant as in to be able to take charge and control your own destiny and actually make choices make the moves that you need to make that feel real to you, nobody else, that feels real to you and to honour that Golden truth that inside you- that tingles inside you and says I I deserve to own this. I own this, I own this truth, this is about me this is who I am and to not let go of that to harness that in such a way that actually nobody can take that away from you… that little like that says I feel good when I do this, I feel good when I’m drawing, I feel good when I’m singing, I feel good when I’m walking out and I can feel the air around me… nobody can take those things away from you, but I think the reason why I wrote the book was because a lot of the things, especially from women not all women but a lot of women feel they need to please everybody else, or they feel they need to act on other people’s interests and put their own goals and ideas in a corner somewhere.

[Roksana] I wanted to actually talk about that. So the book delves into, very deeply into aspects of culture and in this book it delves into Bangladeshi culture but it’s not- it’s not entirely within and contained within the Bangladeshi culture. I think a lot of these topics that you delve into in the book affect many cultures many Asian cultures, many African cultures, and it delves into this this notion of where men overbear and overpower women to the point that women have to find courage open mission to even ask to visit their own family members, and often that permission is denied and then there are arguments that tend to lead to violence and further oppression and suppression. The book is-  I haven’t read it all in its entirety as like as I was saying – but with the aspects I’ve read that is a feature that comes up in almost every single chapter, and isn’t it true that Eleanor witnesses that as a youngster between her mum and dad? That’s where it starts for her, to kind of star seeing this kind of playing out to her.

[Dhipa] So Eleanor was witnessing a lot of this for herself and she would often see you know that her mum was being abused physically abused, you know just even the smallest things you know such as going to the supermarket was frowned upon by her father… and you know there’s a lot of very very deep detailed psychological effects of that oppression on her mother, which meant that she was even affected by it. Eleanor’s life was almost you know was with affected by the subjugation that Eleanor’s father inflicted on her mother, and I think there’s a lot of the reason why that becomes an adverse effect on the family and the community is because everybody then starts to feel that they have to conform or fulfil this idea that you know if a woman- a woman needs to behave like this and then that would mean that you know she has to live within these boundaries… and that means that everybody else also has to follow through and then eventually it permeates through the whole of that community or society, and before you know it you’re surrounded by people that believe in these kind of beliefs, and some of the things in the book which Eleanor discovers is that it is not it- if you surround yourself with people that feel this is the way forward and it’s not right for you, then you end up fulfilling their ideas and their truth… but if you if you breakaway from that you’ll find that your own truth is is is really really important, really you know -that is what makes you real what makes you alive… and so Eleanor’s journey is always going through that going you know walking that path of the fine line of where do I become me and where am I becoming my mother? Because she she she when she’s going through this she realises that a lot of what she’s going through is actually what her mother went through and that’s because she’s trying to please her parents and please her family and trying to abide by those rules in those conditions, but she’s learning that doing that is actually not really being true to herself.

[Roksana] And she said she says this, if I may say, “I married Saeed because I owed it to Mamaji for the price she had to pay for suffering with Babaji. Giving her a gift; the gift of honour.” That was so powerful.

[Dhipa] Yes I mean this is again another thing, you know that in – I wouldn’t say in every community- but a lot of the mindsets and a lot of cultural mindsets are that you know, you’re not marrying just for you, for your happiness, you’ree marrying for everybody’s happiness… you’re doing it because you owe it to your family because they suffered, they went through this. You know in Eleanor’s story you know Mamaji arrived in this country very young you know you know a child of 12 years old married to a man who was 20 years older than her, and you feel that is you know, she’s just following orders you know, she’s following orders from her parents in there who you asked you know her mother- you know Eleanor’s grandmother had also the same conditions that she had to meet… and this perpetuates, you know over and over and over again, and you can see that Eleanor is also thinking the same that she is now… gone through the suffering, you know seeing what her mother goes through and her mother pretty much lived through a marriage just because she wanted the best for her daughter, and her daughter is now taking up this idea that yeah I I have to do this for my mother. I have to live- I have to marry to make sure that she feels the weight of her her life has you know no longer start – the reason she lived is the reason why she exists.

[Roksana] It’s almost like a debt is being paid off with every daughter that marries the person that the family approve of.

[Dhipa] Yes.

[Roksana] Like the next generation of daughter is paying off the debt almost by doing that, for the hardships that were endured by her mother and her grandmother and to breakaway from that would be disrespectful and send a huge ripple through the entire family and community that are associated because that’s just the way it is for everybody.

[Dhipa] With the book, with Mamaji, you know Mamaji sacrificed everything if you look at it from her point of view you know. Mamaji would almost say, I did this for you, I did that for you, you know I suffered you know huge wounds, I sacrificed my whole life so that you can be happy, so that I can one day see you married and be happy, and it’s all good intentions, but really the weight of those words and not following through on those words is devastating, it’s devastating for the whole family if you do not carry that- fulfil that wish that you that being in this case Eleanor’s parents had put on put on to her that you have to marry you know because we sacrificed our whole life just so that you can have a life and it’s almost as if for Eleanor, if she didn’t then it would almost be seen as that Mamaji’s whole life was in vain. That it was in vain to you know if she didn’t fulfil you know the marriage.

[Roksana] And it sounds like from a young age Eleanor had quiete a social awareness there what was going on what was-  I believe and you know I think this when I reflect back to my childhood. I think that children know when things are right and when things are wrong, maybe feel it in their core, and I know I could when I could when I saw or experienced oppression or suppression, I just remember feeling anxiety, like intense anxiety in my body and I feel like when I was when I was reading the book and I was reading Eleanor’s account of what she was seeing and through her eyes in the child I thought she just knows she has the truth inside her already. She just isn’t old enough to be able to kind of piece it together, but she knows that it’s not right for people to live in this way.

[Dhipa] Absolutely and you know with the with Eleanor one of the things that that was quite interesting which was inspired in my own real life was she had a imaginary friend… which in the book you move read is Mrs. Abbots and some- for my own experience I used Mrs Abbots, I brought Mrs Abbots into the book because really she was somebody who – the imaginary friend I had growing up and I used to talk to this woman and I used to draw pictures of this woman I used to say to myself talking to her Mrs Abbots, do you feel this is right? I mean, I should be allowed to draw paintings and pictures of people, and the voice would come back and in the form of this beautiful woman, in the book you might read, and it would always come back and it was it was really me speaking to this imaginary character but actually it was my own intuition and some other things that are in the book which is you know, surround yourself with people that will provide you with that positivity and that you know, that will help you achieve your goals you surround yourself with that you know pull on all your resources, is one of the things that Mrs Abbots would say. And I used to then draw on that you know my my real experience was that the challenges that I faced would always be based on the fact that well what have I0 you know I feel I can’t do this but what can I do, what is in my power? You know if I’m coming up against a problem with exams for example, I could always pull on that and go well I need to search, I need to scour, I need to make sure that all of this is not a case of, no you can’t do it… I need to make sure that I’ve checked everything through fully covered all my resources really scoured everything that I can draw on, everything I can to possibly make that decision to say before I say no I can’t do it you know. I think that’s something that really pulls you through especially when you see a lot of you know when you come into adversity with something, is actually before you say no I can’t do this really thoroughly checked that this is completely impossible? Because most often you’ll find that as you continue with that search to overcome that issue, that there are multiple ways of solving that problem in multiple ways in which you can… and in Eleanor’s case, she felt that her whole life she didn’t have a choice and it’s only until she was happily married does she feel that there was actually a choice and there was a way forward, there was a way for everything despite the fact that you know making those choices would have often meant that she would be disowned or the whole family would not want to know- not want to know her anymore…  I mean it is really hard world to live in you know to feel for women especially to go up against all of that is it is huge, it takes a lot of courage, and it takes a lot of loving yourself to overcome it… but I think one thing that I really wanted to make clear is that if you have something inside you that really sparkles whenever you think about it it could be let’s just say art,you know and you know you wanted to draw something but you felt like I shouldn’t do it… but you kind of hold on to that that little Golden truth that said yes this is who I am this is what I want to do this is, what makes me feel alive, you should let that you know smoulder or like sit in you for a while and and not let it be taken over by the darkness which often what actually kills a lot of our intuition or kills a lot of what we really want to do. I really, I’m not I’m not suggesting that everybody should just start, you know just going into some some really kind of extreme angle if you like on something, but I think there’s definitely something that you can nurture when you get that little sparkle. It is a really beautiful feeling when you when you’ve done something that you really enjoy and you really love and just harnessing that belief that that you’re getting that feeling because it’s there, it’s yours, this is for you to tap into, and nobody should take that away from you. In my case the biggest thing in my life was I really wanted freedom, and freedom was looked at in a really shameful way for women. The word freedom meant you must be some kind of whore, you must want to you know go clubbing, or you must want to do something you know outrageous and really these- so once you start to take that on board it actually starts to close in on you, you know that you know you don’t have a choice in anything. So I really wanted to get that out in the book that there’s a lot of things that we start with… the beliefs that we start with as we will grow older and we don’t have freedom, without freedom of choice, but actually even in the most strictest culture and ideas, you can breakaway, breakaway from that idea and actually realise that you do have a choice. You can either choose to stay within the confines of these ideas or you’ve chosen to go no this does not feel right for me this does not feel like the right way for me to live my life, and I’ve only got 100 years on this planet so you know I don’t want to waste that opportunity to live it the way I came here to live it… and it starts with that, start with that feeling that you love the ideas that you have and embracing it and just making sure that it doesn’t get clouded by the darkness that often life throws at you in all sorts of ways.

[Roksana] Absolutely, and I think the common theme throughout the book also was hope. So whilst Eleanor lived in great despair (we’ll come on to her wedding day and the thoughts that are running through her head) but I remember there was a passage where she finds hope because I think there’s a Magnolia tree outside her bedroom window and the …. come back on the trees and just seeing those gives her some hope in herself as well so just been with the natural occurrence of the seasons changing it uplifts her. Her human experience is looking for hope and spirituality in some way to lift her out of the depression of her situation I really found that amazing and I think that the other passage that really affected me as I was reading it is Eleanor’s wedding day. So she’s about to marry Saeed, and she said I fought back the thoughs that often crippled me with despair of having any freedom to flourish and blossom again.

[Dhipa] Yeah I think a lot of us get beaten up so badly by the demands of society that we almost give up hope, we almost go “I don’t have a choice,” I’m going to just- I just gonna- I just feel so defeated I’m I’m gonna give up on that idea you know and you know in Eleanor’s case you know, she goes through that because at that point, all of these things that were going on and she just could not see a way forward you know for her it was “I’m just gonna I’m just going to let go of that I’m going to let go of it” and you know she truly did go down the path of… I wouldn’t say force, but it was definitely not choosing her own path but actually going through that you know the cycle of I’m going to choose my family, I’m going to choose what’s right for them.

[Roksana] Repaying the debt, wasn’t she? The debt of her mum had paid and the grandma had paid, and that’s something I want to touch it on a little bit so in the book there’s times when she does manage to leave her marriage that is quite violent and very hostile. And she leaves and goes to her grandma’s house in Luton and she feeds her and hears her story, but then it’s almost like here, here, pat on the back, off you go back, this is what we expect. And she has a very similar experience even from her own mother in-law who lives in the same house where she fully knows what’s going on in the marriage and how violent her son is being, but there are women all around Eleanor who have a good idea of Eleanor’s situation but they don’t step up and speak out and support her and I’d like to explore that a little bit coz we’re seeing generations of women or being complicit to the dis-empowering of a young woman and that did not sit well with me at all, I have to say, I was really kind of just having this anxiety inside me, like somebody help her!

[Dhipa] Yes yeah I mean I think I think for Eleanor, she knows in herself that what is going on is not right for her. She knows that- she’s know that her whole life but she feels so compelled to do right by everybody else, and one of the things that really frightened her was that the people around her were constantly telling her that this was OK. That abuse was okay, that domestic violence was OK, and it was in a “me too” kind of way, it almost has a its own hashtag because it you know- we’re talking about things that you know, writing before that hashtag was invented by the way, but in Eleanor’s case you can see that she’s in this house and all the women in the house saying you know I I went through this too… I you know, I’ve been beaten up and yeah and this is what life is and this is what marriage is and this is what you know, your grandma and your aunt, and your in laws they all the they’re all chiming with the same detail for Eleanor, this is the way life is. And this brings you back to this whole idea: who are you surrounded by? Are you surrounded by people that actually have your safety in mind, or have they just got themselves in mind? Because really there’s nothing- the biggest distinction I could make to this and at the time I couldn’t… the biggest Golden truth here is that your safety, your physical safety, is everything. Your physical safety, your health your physical safe- if you can’t feel physically safe, then nothing in the world that can justify that. Nothing in the world that can take that away that if you’re physically unsafe then nothing else matters.

[Roksana] Nothing else can make it better. Nothing else can ease that pain.

[Dhipa] And here we are with all these women around Eleanor telling her that no no it’s okay, it’s completely OK- look you know this is – you you know you must be over reacting or you know you can make this work. All for the safety of this honour, all this you know to not be shamed by everybody, to not bring down shame in the community, that was where it’s coming from… and Eleanor could really see that, she could see that in all the faces, that they could- they were thinking at it from that angle and it was at that point I think for Eleanor she could really feel this sense that she was alienated. She was just one person you know in a room that did not believe what the rest of this community or this family was subscribing her to.

[Roksana] I felt despair for her, I just felt utter despair at some times. I just thought Oh my goodness how she ever going to escape? And then I love the fact that she had these glimmers of hope and she concocted and plotted and thought, and sometimes it came to something and sometimes it didn’t, but I loved and admired and I was rooting for her to be able to try it out. I kept thinking third time lucky, like one- like at some point the plan will work and she will escape this and bravo to her. And I think just focusing on the women again, it what I really see coming through the book in particular is with all these women being complicit in terms of you know bowing down to this whole notion of honour and shame and everything else that is talked about in particular culture is that they were victimised you know they have been victimised by the very system that they are now choosing to support… and I think what comes through for me is this kind of lack of education and empowerment for women in these cultures that they just have resigned to the fact that this is just the way it’s going to be. Let’s not even let our minds go there.

[Dhipa] I think a lot of the time as well in in a lot of these cultures that women are so in fear of doing the wrong thing that actually, they almost are an enemy to themselves… they do not even give themselves the right to even practise any idea of thinking outside of the realm of what were they confined to in terms of the rules and ideas and expectations.

[Roksana] I wanna turn our focus a little bit onto the men in the book, if I may… so Saeed was the husband that Eleanor married. Now Saeed- the other questions that came to my mind was this and it might not be the reason why he is the way he is, but I wanted to ask but why are boys or men so revered by the women in their life that when they grow up, if they hear no from a woman, it perplexes them, like what’s going on here? And this is what just it just came across to me like spoilt.., person who has no sense of humanity to the point that he dehumanises Eleanor. She’s not allowed to think, she’s not allowed to do anything for herself, and even in the moments when they’re fighting and rowing he still – even when he knows that she’s angry or upset or sad or heartbroken, he will still continue pushing his power onto her, to break her to take her to breaking point it seems.

[Dhipa] And I think the yeah, this was this the character that I wrote explicitly about to actually really shed the light on this idea that you know in these cultures, men especially are empowered and anything you know, anything goes in my opinion, that the way in which they’re socially- they’re accepted in any way, you know, whatever they do… even if they’re beating up a woman it’s actually seen as well you provoked her- you provoked him, sorry, yeah so it’s absolute natural that he should react like this. And again that comes from a man has complete right and privilege to what he owns he owns his woman, and he believes that he can do as he needs to, to make that possession of his completely completely for his for him for himself he- you know it’s just viable everything is justifiable because it’s his right… and I think there is definitely a lot of improvement that needs to be made you know in how we nurture our boys, our young men you know.

[Roksana] What can young men, in particular Asian cultures or particular families, because let’s not generalise too much, not all Asians are like this, this is this very extreme behaviour displayed towards women you know when dehumanising a woman is absolutely part and parcel of what being a man is where there’s these kind of thoughts… how do men break that cycle? The way I see it is that you’re growing up in a culture where everyone is raining down with these ideas of a woman’s place to walk one step behind a man, to be subservient and passive, without shaming men because there will be men- and there was a man in this in this story was matter was a brother-in-law who was witnessing a lot of pain and physical pain and the emotional pain that was being inflicted on Eleanor. I’m guessing he is somebody who probably does not want to experience the same things in his own life and I’m sure there’s other men who don’t want to experience and don’t want to inflict themselves in any way, shape or form, but you know that products of their environment they might not know any better, what can they do?

[Dhipa] I actually think that a lot of this stems from how we’re nurtured at a really young age and also depending on, you know your way of thinking how you perceive men… because yeah I look at my own family and my husband’s side of the family. So my husband’s side of the family is a matriarchal family, so the mother- the mum in the family is the head of the family, and she kind of pulls the purse strings, she makes the choices, she makes the decisions, she leads the family and when I look at my family it’s very patriarchal you know that the man is a dominant force he’s the leader in the family… and I think that just looking at my own experience of both a matriarchal and patriarchal family, I see a massive change in the behaviours of men. So for example men in my family, my side of the family, they’re very macho, they come and go as they please, don’t listen to anybody, they don’t really take on anybody else’s ideas, they’re pretty stuck in what they want to do is what they want to do, whereas when I look at my husband’s family, especially my husband, you know he is very much a hands-on person and he’s very much into the wellbeing of everybody in the family and and wants to be involved in the family and I think the reason the way in which both sides would be nurtured is different whereas and I see on the matriarchal side, you take responsibility for your actions, you not allowed to do that, you know you can’t just go away and do this even if you wanted to… and I think there’s got to be a little bit of a stop in how we nurture boys, you know even from the tiniest things such as doing chores, putting your things away, you know making them feel completely responsible for what they do for even the tiniest action, and that there is no expectation then on a mother figure if you like, on a female figure to be doing those things. I think that’s one way we can break the cycle in terms of how men actually respond to a lot of these things you know it’s actually looking really closely at our actions and you know from a very young age, nurturing this idea that there’s no such thing as you know this is a woman’s role and this is the man’s role, and even with my own two boys I see there’s a lot of that they can quite easily be influenced by other people thinking then, that’s for women, that’s a woman’s interest, that’s a man’s interest, I think we need to try and get down to the real detail of our everyday living and really question you know what the thought patterns come from and where the behavioural changes need to be addressed so that they don’t inflict things, these ideas we know when they get older and they have relationships with women for example. I know that I know there’s a big difference as well with my own mother for example you know the way she raised- she was raised in the way she she thought of things like well left for man to do that for a woman to do, and I think it is key for us to actually start looking at that and say hang on a minute, even if it wasn’t intentional… shouldn’t I do the washing up today or should I be doing this and actually breakdown those role models and that will actually change the perception that men have on women… and I think we’ll go to you know go to a long – of long term view on you know look we have a lot more equality if we stop these ideas that this is this is what men do and this is what women do.

[Roksana] Not undermining and demeaning the roles of other people, so where you do have traditional families like you know I do, and you grew up in a traditional family where the mum was at home probably cooking, cleaning… is not to undermine that, it is to actually consider the sacred role that it is. That kind of mindset shift that needs to happen that actually the mother and the kind of maternal person in the home is of high value and valued and that is displayed through the actions of the males in the family by showing respect, by being kind, by offering help and those kinds of things are when the boys are young and they’re looking and they’re seeing that this is how you treat women this is this is where we learn.

[Dhipa] I think one of the big things that I’ve seen and I completely agree with that is when a child sees it starts to translate that into an expectation. So when we start to form expectations, well that’s your job, that’s what you do and that’s you know that’s a woman’s job… I think that’s the danger. It’s actually you know everybody has really great intentions if- for example, I love cooking, so I enjoy cooking for my family, but I always try and reiterate that this is not that this is a woman’s role, it’s just that I enjoy doing this. Not because it’s you know mum cooks, and you know this is what this is what the expectation is all you know, that’s the difference I think. That’s when it hurts, is when it suddenly become goes from intention and just doing good for others, to this is now an expectation that you abide by this and that’s the thing that’s a danger… that’s when societies start to breakdown because no longer are you doing it willfully, no longer are you doing it because you have the freedom of choice, you’re doing it now because it’s suddenly being imposed on you and I think I think we can all easily fall into that trap and it’s just you know bringing that back in and actually saying hang on a minute, we don’t need to have the kind of expectations on people. We need to look at this again and say no it’s not an expectation, I’m doing it willfully, I’m doing it because I want to, because I want your happiness… and I think I think that’s one thing I I try and teach my children anyway is that look you know we want to promote freedom of choice and choice is you know that you doing things because you want to do it because you feel this is the right thing and this is the right way forward rather than no, you’re a boy you do this you go out and you do this or you go out and play football are you know do something which is manly or you know male-oriented… no I think it’s more bringing it back to that is what I am and I think it will you know, I’m hopefully raising men that will contribute in in that way of thinking and inspiring others to think more equally.

[Roksana] Oh my gosh Dhipa, it’s been an amazing conversation. I would love to have you back on again to talk a bit more about you and your life story and where there are interconnections between Eleanor’s story and journey and your own, and where they’re different and how it’s shaped you to become the woman that you are today.

[Dhipa] Ohh well it’s been an absolute pleasure, Roksana, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you and of course if you’ve got any other questions about the book, I’m more than happy to go through that as well but yeah look forward to another session where we can discuss more about me and my journey.

[Roksana] If you want to get hold of Dhipa’s book, it is available on Amazon- is that the best place for them to go?

[Dhipa] Yep, absolutely. If you search DA Lee and Britain, you’ll find it in the search.

[Roksana] Brilliant. Thank you, Dhipa.

[Dhipa] Thank you, Roksana.