Waterlily (The Story)

Since the tender age of 10, I’ve held a steadfast conviction against the idea of marriage and starting a family. This inclination didn’t emerge as a natural desire for me. As I grew into adulthood, the persistent pressure to conform to these societal norms became increasingly exasperating. I felt devalued as a woman, subjected to threats implying that I could never attain a fulfilling life without adhering to these expectations.

It’s a shame that those who pass judgment rarely take the time to delve into the underlying reasons behind our choices. Why is it assumed that we should all share the same desires? Must every girl grow up to become a mother?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

A fair chunk of my grown-up years has been taken up dealing with the baggage of traumas, not to mention wrestling with ongoing mental health issues. I’m not a fan of how unsafe and capitalist the world can be, how society mistreats the marginalised, and how we’re trashing the environment. Given my current economic status/social class, it would be exceedingly difficult for any potential offspring of mine to compete with those born into more advantageous circumstances and enjoy a comfortable life.

While I’ve witnessed how technology has enhanced our lives, much of it seemed to be deployed to remedy the damage that development created in the first place — talk about irony. Concerning the future, “I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist”. I mean, why would I choose to bring someone into this world only for them to go through all this suffering?

The apprehension about having children goes up a notch when considering the possibility of having a girl. Mainly because I can relate more closely to that experience, not due to gender roles. Everyone has their own unique set of challenges.

And thus, the song “Waterlily” was born. I envisioned myself as a mother who, unable to provide for my hypothetical daughter, “Little Lily,” wishing that she would find herself in a more nurturing environment and, one day, “rise from the mud, bloom out of darkness and shine into the world”, much like the Chinese idiom “出淤泥而不染” (chū yūní ér bù rǎn), which signifies rising above adversity and remaining untarnished.

Resources for International Day of the Girl:

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Waterlily’s lyrics & translation.