Walk the talk : Crumbling relationships, Social networking, Eve teasing and other things


His silence conveyed that something was majorly wrong. I was in no mood to have a heavy conversation. The rain drops were still shimmering on the freshly washed leaves and the eastern sky was seeped in a rosy hue.

It was becoming uncomfortable.

“Alright , what’s eating you?”

“I could have fucking strangled him with my bare hands If Only I could know him. I had a fair idea but that hand had no face. ”

” Huh?” I was instantly reminded of a post on eve teasing by Ideasmithy called The faceless hand in the crowd.   Had he read it too?

I waited for him to go on. The park was empty so we decided to walk the talk in the serene evening.

He narrated how a hand appeared in a crowded metro and began to grope, touching , pressing his female companion’s body. No , she wasn’t “dressed provocatively” and did not do anything to “entice”  the pervert.

I listened with contemplation.

“Why are some Indian men such perverts?”

“Good Question but it is not just Indian men. Maybe the number of sexual abuse / street harassment or eve teasing  are more here but the situation is as bad as anywhere in the world I guess.

I too have experienced it many times and trust me it doesn’t end on the streets and it isn’t just about physical touch. I have seen the lust in the eyes, in the gestures , in the comments and much more. However I may be dressed I am conscious of those stares, I am conscious of the hidden agendas and the underlying meaning in their conversations or offhand remarks.

Are you aware that it’s not limited to real world , that sexual harassment is rampant on internet and by unsolicited phone calls? Have you heard of Sexting ? ” I asked

“Yes, irrespective of age, from school girls to elder women, some men are relentless. All they see are breasts. Filthy animals, they strip you naked with their fucking eyes.” He fumed.

“Ah! Don’t insult the animals my boy.”

I remembered how one day the autowala kept staring at me from the rear view mirror and deliberately applying the brakes and entering pot holes and puddles on the road.  He kept turning back and staring with a twisted smile on his face. As I sat stone faced not really ready to take up the issue with him on a lonely long road.

“accidental touching/ rubbing/ pushing ” is a common thing which women experience all the time in public transport , crowded streets/ markets etc.

Do we ask for it ? Is it what we wear creates the sudden sexual urge in those men?

What utter crap.”

He told me how he had seen a gang of boys whistle and pass  lewd remarks at a mom and daughter duo on a busy market lane in Patel Nagar. They were “modestly” dressed and were walking back home from school. The girl must have been 10.

“Unfortunately eve teasing has become such a universal phenomenon that we don’t even regard it as an issue. It is crazy to think that women are always at a wrong place, wrong time, in wrong clothes and in wrong company and they initiate sexual crimes ” He said reflectively. I agreed.

To think that a doctor can dare to touch and feel your private parts in the pretext of examining is unimaginable but it happened on protesting he simply expressed that ” a little ‘ fun here and there is good for healthy mind, body and soul” Bloody sucker . I wanted to smash his balls then and there but somehow managed to get out of the freaking clinic unable to collect my disoriented thoughts and shocked to core. I wonder how he runs his practice and was I  the only one to be sexually targeted. I know of a case at Spinal Injury Hospital where a pregnant lady was abused by the doctor in the same manner. Too scared and ashamed she just decided to forget the ugly incident.

It was getting late so we left the park .

” Is it because of crumbling relationships that people indulge in revealing their dark secrets to strangers on social networking sites?” He asked matter-of-factly.

I was taken aback by this sudden change of topic. It’s true that social networking sites have become a comfort zone for people troubled in their relationships and life in general. chatting , talking to unknown faces behind the screen maybe helps in some way to lighten the heart but then there are incidents where this so-called ” sharing and bonding with virtual friends” leads to ugly consequences, harassment and blackmailing. I have been there seen it happening to some people I know.

I told him we will talk about it some other day but he was not giving up. He had seen me struggling to keep at bay the advances of those “available” men who went by the display picture and wanted to be “Frands” thinking that every woman is easy and on a lookout. They take the networking  for dating sites and endlessly keep pushing till you want to hit them hard. A writer who found me among common friends requested to be added. After sometime he pinged on chat and asked for an evening out with him because he liked my name and found me intriguing . When I refused point-blank he stated that its good to” explore and discover each other”. I found it disgusting that a person of his caliber could stoop to such level.

We were nearing home and the young man was still in a reflective mood. “The whole scenario sucks. Be it home, workplace, streets, malls, markets, public transport, net women are not safe anywhere damn it.” He shook his ahead. I was glad he was awakening to the basic core issues that were eating up the society. I had seen him tackle some with great effectiveness. It made me feel good.

“Men too suffer ” He said .

“Yes, especially those who tag along in life holding the pallu of their mom’s sari. Those adult babies who can not think, act without permission and support of their mommy dearest.” I  said with bile rising in my throat.  “Let’s drop it. Some other day maybe.”

“Umm, No, I meant this abuse stuff. men too suffer at times but they suffer in silence. Maybe that is one reason the social networking sites become their ground to find comfort and solace.” ” I am not saying that justifies for what some creeps do but all men aren’t bad after all.”

I laughed. “Spoken like a man”  I said. “Well, you do want to protect your tribe.”

“Naah, I know each of us is targeted due to some assholes who nothing but burden on this earth. and it agitates me”.

I felt for him. He was struggling with a lot of issues. “It is sometimes not about gender, it is about mind-set and power. It is about how open we are. Being modern is not just copying West, it is about  being fearlessly yourself , it is about looking at things from a larger perspective and mainly looking within.”

“We will continue to talk more about it. I think this walk the talk idea is good.” .

He smiled. “I guess so. I hope the solutions to these things were as easy as talking about them. We talk a lot. ”

Profound.

I knew he had a lot to talk about . So did I. I  have seethed about various issues lately. From bomb blasts and our precariously hanging lives, sexuality, LGTB, relationships, this ridiculous obsession with body image and “beauty”, the moral dilemma and much more.

We were still hanging out in the parking lot when he suddenly caught hold of my hand and said, “let’s go have an ice cream”. I love this kid. 🙂

“Two things I want to know by the way” He said concentrating on the small round pebble he had turned into a football.

One –

‘Why didn’t you teach a lesson of a life time to that motherfucking doctor? and

Two –

Is having a close friend of opposite sex after marriage  such a turn off  especially when this institution of marriage sucks( I agree to this but then can one generalize this) ? Is it infidelity to open up to someone other than your legal partner( don’t know if I liked this term but it tickled me no doubt)?  Why is it that a relationship crumbles so easily and two people who swore love a few years ago can’t bear the sight of each other now and for good reasons”

Those were two too many questions.

“We will talk about it”, I said.

Sleep did not come easy to both of us that night. The questions burned like embers.

One thing was clear. In days to come we were going to have a lot of walk the talk sessions. Sometimes it is better this way.

Girlhood Dreams Or Nightmares ?- In Conversation


She is fifteen years of age. A Muslim by birth and a “girl” by accident of birth. Youngest daughter among ten siblings , she had four younger brothers and three elder married sisters. One sister died when she fell from the terrace.

Nabila’s  (name changed) story is not just hers but  reflection of many who are caught between the life of their dreams and the bitter reality life has put them in. Forced to work as domestic help the girl never went to school. The harsh conditions and subjugation at home has made her bitter about her community, gender and society at large.

She does have a mind of her own but that is not enough for her to stand up against the  discrimination inflicted against her.

” I am beaten up for the slightest mistakes while my brothers get away with whatever they do. My married sisters are like furniture at home , they have legs but they can’t dare step out of the house on their own. Elder brother, eldest among the  siblings, decided not to step away from the family after marriage  and is frowned upon and called “joru ka gulam“. He hardly visits us. ” She was in a mood to rant and I probed her by some questions to hear her inner voice.

“Are you ill-treated because of your gender ?”

“Yes, My brothers get the best of food. I cook all meals and work in the house and in three houses here. I am beaten up if I protest. I am the last to eat. When I ask for some pieces of mutton etc. I am abused and told to eat whatever is given as boys need more nutrition and energy. Don’t I need it ?” She looked at me.

“Of course, you do and it is very wrong on their part to do this.”

” I am told not to dress up nicely, apply bindi or henna or any make up. The Hindu girls do it and no one stops them. How am I different?”

“You are not different it is just the attitude of your parents even Hindu girls are treated like you in many houses.It is because you are a girl that you go through this.” I had no other explanation coming to my mind at that moment.
‘” It is about religion too”, she insisted. I did not want to go there and put ideas in her head to voice at home and get beaten again. I had to tread softly.

“Have you ever asked your parents about it ” , I asked.

“Yes, they say I am a Muslim and I must follow rules. I don’t like being a Muslim. The Hindu girls are not treated so badly as us. In just one or two years I will get married and then all will end. ” Her face clouded with the very thought. All men are rascals. My father drinks and both parents hit me with whatever comes in their hands. ( I saw the wounds on her arms the day she was hit by brick by her mother. The reason –  she forgot to put salt in vegetable because of her attention was diverted towards TV serial.) No one loves me. Parents love two of my sisters and the middle one is neglected too. She is beaten up by her in-laws and hardly comes here.”

“Why is that ? Your parents should intervene.” I asked.

“I don’t know. She is nice but has T.B.” she said matter-of- factly.

” I wanted to study in madarsa but wasn’t allowed. A tutor was assigned to teach me Urdu so I could read Quran. I won’t be able to get married if I can’t read Quran. He used to hit me a lot and told abba I was useless in learning and slow. I had just begun to understand but he was paid off and told not to come. In the village I am supposed to lie about my education and say that I study. I got fed up and told my jija ( Brother in law) the truth and was beaten up and kept hungry for two days by my parents.”

I made sure she colored the drawing books and wrote her name and numbers etc taught her to greet in English ( it was her ardent wish to learn the right phrases and how /when to use what ). I noticed that she used a lot of English words correctly even though the pronunciation may not be correct at times.

I also found she was having a lot of difficulty in learning as she was past the age for the basics and was too distracted.

Her dreamy eyes glued to TV she kept asking questions about the latest Bollywood gossip and what attracted her most were the advertising.

She was dissatisfied with the shape of her nose and knew it could be retouched by some procedure. I was aghast.

“Who told you that?”

” I heard somewhere. Priety Zinta got it done.”

“Arrrrrrg , I said ” do not get carried away by all this, it is just an eye wash I tried to explained. She was surprised but not convinced. Lured by the beauty products and the screen Gods and Goddesses she wanted to  change everything about her from clothes, hair color and length to features. The only thing that made her glad was her fair skin. I made sure to educate her on how the advts. are air brushed and natural beauty is what matters , that too inner beauty. The talk was lost on her. With one sentence she silenced me.

” All that is alright but it is my outer beauty which will get me a loving husband and good home. My sisters are not that fortunate but they are good home makers. See how unhappy they are. ” Looks Matter”. That ended the matter. A devout follower of her screen  idols she went back to her dream land.

I tried to persuade her to learn to write more but she didst want to do it at the cost of leaving a movie or a serial  mid way. I told ma she could be a great film critic and columnist if she knew how to write.

With a sigh I went back to my work but she was wired and switched off the TV.

“We will do to the temple and do Puja one day.” She suddenly became animated and I realized what a brilliant smile she had. I smiled.

“Why would we do that? I don’t believe in God.” I wanted to get  reaction from her.

” Why don’t you believe in God? Your Gods are so colorful and plenty. Choose any one you like. It is fun to visit temples. you get Prasad and the atmosphere is so lively and the pujas are so creative.” She went on with various descriptions and incidents while I searched for something to burst the bubble.
“Our Allah lives in a book. At least your Gods are real . You know how they look and there are female Gods too.” She stressed on this a lot.
“We have a male God that too formless.” She very strongly showed the disapproval.

I laughed and told her all these Gods were creations of our imagination and none is real.

She refused to believe. “You can not imagine and create, there has to be someone , some model, you see”, she explained.

“I don’t get jobs because of my religion. My sister had to change her name to Hindu one to work in the houses as domestic help. People think we are trouble makers. Very few treat us nicely.”

I saw her point. I had a domestic help who called herself Seema. Her real name was Najma. She faced the same problem. People are prejudiced against Muslims. A sorry state of affairs but it is true in many fields. I knew a couple who refused a PG accommodation to a Muslim student just because of her religion. People do not rent out places to Muslim tenants at many places.

I told her my reason for being non religious. Told her about the ugliness of ritualistic religion and how God has just become a mode to spread hatred and how religion has become a puppet in the hands of few.

She nodded her head in agreement and quoted something she had heard on TV about Hindu Muslim clashes and about terrorist attacks.

“All Muslims are not terrorists” she said looking straight into my eyes.

“Agree with you completely” , I replied. “Terrorists ,fanatics can be in any religion even Hindus are utter fanatics.”

Confused about t he identity of “her” non visible God and “our” unreal Gods she concluded that a God who creates disparity, division, discrimination and much more. I explained that some self-centered men with an agenda of their own use religion as a tool to do all that she is talking about and people blindly follow because of fear and ignorance. The problem is bigger than what she is facing and seeing around her.

To Nabila all that mattered was the unjust behavior of her parents and the close-knit community she was part of. I watched the girl fidget with her duppatta with down cast eyes full of sorrow, pain and deprivation.

“You get such nice clothes to wear and the bangles, ear-rings etc. ” “Your father does stitch nice fashionable stuff for you. ” I wanted to get away from the topic of religion.

“I pay for my clothes. It all comes from my salary. Only during festivals or marriages etc. my father spends.  I give all my earnings to mother but now I have learned to keep some for myself and buy things I like. She beats me at times but abba says it is her money at least she is not asking us for it. Mother is the root of all evil”, she said with anger in her voice.

Who told them to have ten children? Their first-born was a boy then could have stopped after next child who was a girl. Why brings so many mouths to feed? She is fat and useless. Only sells roasted corns and hits me. Always irritated about something or other. She is greedy too. ”

I agreed as I had once spoken to the mother at length and knew exactly what Nabila was referring too.

It was a difficult life she was living. Precariously suspended between her girlhood dreams and reality. Dreams which will make her a misfit in her community due to many reasons including the socio-economic ones.

Exposure to electronic and print media ( she is supposed to look up the newspapers( Hindi and English ) everyday even if she can not read) is making her aware , discussions with people like me make her think again about what  has been instilled into her.  I wonder if her dreams will prove to be nightmares for her as she grows up. I have watched her trying to copy the hair style or pull her dress off shoulder when no one is looking . Many times she has asked me questions about various cosmetics, clothes. Questions about the page 3 pictures in newspaper, smoking ,drinking by women and sometimes about the various places around the world whose names she has gathered from somewhere or the other. It is beyond her imagination to measure distances between places. To her the world consists of her village and a few more places in and around that  and distance is what lies between the village and Delhi which is her home now.

Working at different places has opened some windows of her mind and it scares me to think what may be the result of it. I already see a rebel in her. A spark which may either make or break her. Naive and happy-go-lucky girl of fifteen she is maturing quickly for her age ( physically and emotionally). She is aware of her fair skin and good looks, aware of her body and the exposure to TV is doing no good to her. She is exploring life outside of her cramped living. Her aspirations to be like her favorite heroines or the girls whom she sees in advt. is taking a grip on her psyche and do her more harm than good. I feel for her and try to educate her as much as I can so that she doesn’t get waylaid.

A fear always looms large in my mind. What will be her fate eventually? Will she keep turning under layers and layers of social norms, customs, rituals, duties, obligations, adjustments ? Will she find strength to at least break  some of this chains and make a place for herself?  What is the future of this girl who has dared to dream?

It was time for her to go home.

I watched her as she brushed her hair, washed her face and gathered her things.

” Do you sometimes feel it would have been better if you were a boy?” I asked

She looked at her shimmering bangles, her new salwar kammez and henna on her hands.  Caressing her freshly brushed hair she said ,” I don’t think so. I love to dress up.Though by birth and by religion I am cursed. ”

The lift doors opened and she was gone before I could say anything.

My Sins Against Gender Stereotypes: Ritu’s Tag


Ritu of  WEAVING A WEB tagged me to do this very interesting post. Must thank IHM also for always thinking out of the box.

Here is what the Indian Homemaker and Phonenixritu say:

If you are a woman

Have you ever wanted something that is considered ‘manly’ ? Like a basketball, a cell phone, a dog, a camera or a new laptop? A new car or motor bike? Ever wanted to be a pilot? A doctor or not a nurse? And the manliest want of them all – The remote! ;)

As a kid did you enjoy playing with a bat and a ball?

There was a time when books were considered ‘manly’, women authors had to pretend to be men – would you say books are still rather manly – women should want to embroider and crochet?

If you are a man

Have you ever wanted something that only women are supposed to want – like bags, shoes, clothes, creams, perfumes, babies, flowers? A peaceful home and a happy family? Have you ever been afraid of the dark or of insects?

As a kid did you ever want to play ‘teacher-teacher’, cooking or did you like playing with a doll? Have you ever enjoyed cooking? Bought something in pink? Loved chocolates?

So here’s a tag – Please list at least ten things you have ever wanted or done which your gender is not supposed to.

The tag is called ‘My Sins against Gender-Stereotypes’. And you must tag twelve blogging friends :twisted:

Here is my list of ten things.

1. I hate jewelery (except my small silver ear rings) and all those delicate womanly footwear . Prefer tough sandals, boots, sports shoes, sneakers etc.

2. I hate it when people tell me to dress up like a ” married woman” . I feel like an alien. For me denim and tees, Bermudas and pants are just fine. love to wear men’s shirts teamed with tees. I always check the men’s section for great selections in clothes. Black being my favorite color.

3. I love football, played basketball, marbles, gilli danda, did skids and other stunts on the bicycle as a teenage girl. Love to read about cars , bikes etc. I did my first trek at the age of 13 with YHAI’s Himalayan trekking group.

4. Good girls don’t whistle .. But I do 😉 Does it make me a bad girl ? 😀

5.  I love Snakes, Spiders, Raptors. I have handled snakes and find them absolutely facinating… and also love the Dark. Ghost, spirits and all the other creatures of the dark world. Have walked down in a cemetery at night during a visit to the hills. Night does not scare me.

6. I love chocolates for more than one reason but does it make me womanly ? Nah… Try a dark bitter liquor filled one or an orange flavor while you watch a horror or sci-fi movie in the dead of the night. Maybe I am just the perfect blend. 🙂

7. Girls do not climb trees, run about with their skirt flying, have fist fights with boys, or play pranks . That was an unsaid rule when I was a teenager . Rules are meant to be broken 😀 I think lazing on  thick branch or hanging from a Tyre attached to a rope tied to the branch is  a bliss. Even running along rolling a  cycle Tyre with a stick along with the boys was great fun.

8. My boys think that a mom like me is born ones in a thousand years. LOL I take part in all their adventures.. well almost all of them that are possible at my age :D. My Hubby thinks he should have read the finer prints before saying I DO 😀

9. I can do most of the repair work, electrical or otherwise around the house.

10. My MIL thinks that a woman’s job is to look after husband, kids and home. Letting men into the kitchen is a sin I commit and I WILL ROT IN THE FIRES OF HELL for dressing up and behaving in a most unusual fashion. Having drinks, wearing ” odd clothes”, listing to  ” angrejee janee jinka na sar hai na pair”, and not looking like a DIL and making men of the house my ” slaves”. My boys and I love to experiment with cuisine so does my hubby when the beastly shadow of his ma is not lurking anywhere around. ( She would have a heart attack if she knew I smoked pot ones or twice and still steal ciggies  and try to make the smoke rings I could never make. 🙂 LOL

She hurts my feelings and as far as fires of hell go I am the beloved daughter of satan so hell is my home sweet home.

Strange that what we term as sins against the gender stereotypes are mostly considered as sins by our own gender and not by the other.

All those who find this interesting  are tagged . Please leave the link in the comment section if you do the tag . I will be delighted to read your list of sins.

Bhed (discrimination) – A short story


“The children are starving since last two days. Please get us something to eat from somewhere.” “I can not see them suffering.”

“I am trying dear, morning till evening I try to get something that can sustain our children. Even I can not see the family going hungry each da

“Why don’t you try the garbage dump?” “Maybe you may find some leftovers there.”

“Absolutely out of question, that place stinks and the entire colony throw its garbage there, it’s such a bad place, I won’t go there.”

“Please this one time,” she said with her eyes welling.

“Oh! Alright I will go.” He turned and hurried towards the garbage dump at the end of the long road.

It was cold, foggy and there was no sign of sun.

She waited impatiently. Her children cuddled close to her. She looked fondly at all of them .They sure will have food today.

Hours passed and she started getting worried. Her eyes fixed on the road.

She could hardly see beyond the nearest tree, but then she saw him running toward their home. He held something in his mouth.

The children gathered around her full of hope.

He dropped what looked like a loaf of meat, in front of her. Trying to catch his breath, he sat on the ground.

“What is this?” she started inspecting the thing lying in front of her.

“Oh God! This is a new-born human girl child.

Their eyes widened at the sight of the dead female infant.

“Are you sure”?

“Yes, I am”. “Someone who did not want a girl child threw her in the garbage dump.”

“How heartless and cruel these humans are. Thank God we don’t discriminate between our children.” She said licking the nearest one fondly.

The puppy, happy at the sight of food and love, wagged its tiny tail.

“Let’s have our meal quickly, it is a question of our survival”, he said.

No one moved.

this is an indivine post , vote for it Here

Laadli- A Girl Child Campaign- Have you pledged support against female foeticide?


Laadli is a campaign against female feticide. I came to know about this site while working on a story and I decided to promote it as part of my campaign for the girl child.

You can pledge Here or   SMS LAADLI to 575758 to pledge your support.

Although we have a law against sex selection  it has proved inadequate and every year 10 million girls go missing due to either foeticide or infanticide.

The law :

The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act) 2003 provides for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception. Its purpose is to prevent misuse of technologies such as ultrasound that enable determination of the sex of a child before it is born. It is illegal to test the sex of the foetus for the purpose of eliminating the female. The law provides for imprisonment, which may extend to three years and fine up to Rs. 10,000 for the first conviction.

When we talk of female foeticide there is a lot that needs to be considered

the fact that a girl is killed before she is born , a crime so appalling  and yet it doe not shake  conscience of the people involved in committing it.

that  sadly women are the abettors in these crimes and  encourage or force the mother to be to go for sex determination tests and the moment sex of a fetus is determined to be that of a female; the unborn is killed.

that there is technology privy to this heinous crime and those very doctors who should stand up against this practice help it take stronger roots for the love of money.

They are  involved in first determining the sex of the baby, then carrying out “safe medical termination of pregnancies

that it is a crime under the Indian Law

the Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) 1994 Act, the Section 307 IPC (of attempt to murder) and along with crime of abatement of murder .

yet no arrests are ever made nor any case registered as millions of girls go missing.

With more advanced methods  being used for sex determination the practice which was once done slyly has gained a bolder form. Doctors who are considered life savers take part in this heinous crime against womanhood just to make some extra money and it is unfortunately not just the lower strata of the society which goes for the tests but the so-called educated middle and upper class too visits these clinics for  termination of pregnancy if it’s a girl child.

The slogan of many ultrasound sex-determination clinics is: “Spend five hundred rupees now save five lacks later”

These are the lines from a folk song  from UP which tells how unwanted a girl is

Prabhuji mein tori binti karoon
Paiyan Paroon bar bar
Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Na Dije
Narak Dije Chahe Dar…

Oh, God, I beg of you,
I touch your feet time and again,
Next birth don’t give me a daughter,
Give me Hell instead…


I have written some more on this issue , one can read the articles here

A daughter that never was

Nanhi kali – I too want to blossom

discrimination – A short story


First they died of neglect or poisoned after birth and now they are killed for just being girls right there in the womb.

There is an urgent need to start a crusade against female infanticide and foeticite. There is a need to change the mind-set and evolve a system with a strong enforcement mechanism to check the strict implementation of the laws that protect the rights of living for a girl child.

Why is GIRL CHILD  still a curse word in our society ? Who is responsible

Here are some books one can read related to the topic global sisterhood network

also a very informative article here on Gendercide watch: female infanticide

As the International Women’s Day approaches , let’s join hands and raise our voices for every little girl born and unborn .

This is a Indivine post. vote for it here