On Being A Woman – Year End Post


It has been over a month now since I wrote anything here. I am not really in right frame of mind. Anger and pain has made me numb. Excuse me for this rambling and just ignore the errors for now.

kuch alfaz ab bhi seene me hain uljhe

kuch girahen abhi bhi khulni hain baki

hain sawal kuch jinke dhoondhne hain jawab

hain jawab jinhe ab bhi hai sawalon ki latash

Sometimes I feel my life is like an exquisitely embroidered shawl. Richly embroidered in vibrant hues which people see and appreciate but it is I who feels the inconvenient knots and tangled threads of its inside.  When anyone says “I understand how you feel” I say “No you don’t”, you possibly can’t imagine how tough it is to be a woman in this country, to struggle each day, to fight for survival. To live here is an act of bravery and then you see what ultimately happens to the brave hearts who dare to dream of living a life on their terms. What are these terms? you will ask.

 

The terms are – Dignity, honor , equality in all spheres of life, a right to LIVE as a fellow human being.

 

” Ha!, you say, don’t talk about these philosophical  terms that feminists quote. You have all that you need –  security, food, shelter, money, a husband to” look after” you, what else do you want? What is this about dignity and crap? Your dignity is within the four walls of this house. It is in your hand to preserve and protect it. Don’t listen to these so-called “committed/progressive women” these “feminists from women’s Organisations” they will try to lead you astray, they will break your home and fill your head with shitty ideas that will only take wrong decisions.  Dress”modestly” . It is because of these “dented, painted disco going women” that all these cases of rape and molestation happen.Stay within your boundaries, follow traditions and norms set by society for their women, know your duties and follow the moral code. If you do all this then only you can give good values to your children. God has been kind to you and given you two boys. Thank God for not burdening you with a daughter. Don’t talk to the neighbors, make only a few friends (although we don’t see the need of it) and mind you they should not be men. You are a married woman and your commitment is only towards your husband, children and in-laws. Your parents? Their son will look after them, it is his job not yours. Now you are part of this family and nothing else matters. Remember that silence and patience, tolerance and abiding to the wishes of your husband is the utmost priority in your life even above your own self for that self is also now His and not yours anymore.

Do you get what I am saying ?”

 

“Well,  yes I do see it. I followed it like an idiot for a major part of my life and screwed it. Now I intend to trash your “Codes for an Indian Woman” and chart my path make my own rules, take my own decisions, Live My Life.”

 

“What? Then you are not a good wife, daughter, DIL, and mother, you are not even a good woman. See, this is what happens when women are let loose. When they gain access to public spaces and get exposed to things like Internet. This is what corrupted you. Now your head is filled with all those lofty notions of independent living and all the crap about women’s rights. Mark my words, you will suffer, realize your mistake within no time and come back on your knees.”

 

***

“If that is what you think, Shame On You.  I do not wish to be labelled as a “Good woman” by Your Standards. I will sell myself if I have to and live under the open sky if push comes to shove but I will not give in now and will not come back to this prison with invisible bars and barbed web of rules designed to keep me in hold all through my life, that’s a promise.”

2011 saw emergence of a new Me.

Many women are not living their dreams because they are living their fears.

 

Isolation, restriction, guilt, humiliation, denial, continuous controlling and criticism and  lack of empathy, love, companionship, shattering of a dream of ” a life long relationship based on mutual respect” breaks them. Emotional, mental tortured is hard to explain due to lack of  ” solid evidence” . 
Emotional Abuse comes silently most of the times camouflaged as “love, betterment, moral duty, guilt, emotional blackmail, and marital rape. Silence helps it breed and dig its claws deeper.
In our country ‘thinking’ for oneself is not encouraged. It’s always conformity & herd mentality. The  moment a woman begins to voice her thoughts she is condemned, ridiculed & told to shut up. If she rebels , her condition is even worse.
Does that mean we keep suffering ?
NO.
 Trust me it is better to raise your voice and make your life worthy than suffer and reinforce the fact that women can be used as objects and treated like an old newspaper.
Two years have passed since I cut those silken chains and  moved out to rediscover myself as a woman , as a person, as a human being. I had to pay the price. I had to leave my boys behind.
“What kind of mother is she? So insensitive and unconcerned, so selfish.”  I still hear it but in hushed voices.
Emergence of new woman who can defy everything that binds her and yet be happy is a painful, uphill task.
Today when I sit and look back I know I was privileged. I had friends who stood by me like a rock, I had patronage to be economically independent in some way after a gap of 22 years. I had a family to go back to though it was a halfhearted acceptance.
It is easy to say what took you so long? It is easy to say ” Hang in there, everything will be fine”, it is easy to sympathize but it takes immense courage to hold the hand of someone who is defying and rebelling against the system. I was privileged in more than one ways to have people with such strength.
I owe it to them as much as I owe it to myself .
 If anyone thinks it is selfish to think about oneself, to dream, to have desires then so be it.
I am selfish. I can’t deny the love I am supposed to give myself. It would be utterly dishonest to do so and if I am dishonest to myself how will I ever be honest to others?
I believed and hoped my boys understood. They stood by me.
They did not have a choice.
They said nothing.
It is tough to be separated in such manner. The guilt ate into the fiber of my being  day and night. It still does. But I had to make a choice – To live or to exist. I chose the first.
I have a lot to thank for, lot of people to offer my gratitude for helping me be myself but the battle is not won yet. Even after two years I   have one foot in the past and one in present. Sometimes I see myself at the periphery of a void at others I feel absolutely thrilled by what I have achieved in last one year. I have been able to break many mental barriers. It has been a productive year in many ways but still something is amiss. I have not been able to completely shake off the layers that hide the real me stirring and quivering underneath in want of  release. A lot remains entangled and knotted not just due to the rotten system we are part of but also because of my own failing to regain the confidence and courage. I am still a sucker of emotions, still vulnerable to the core, still seeking approval when I shouldn’t.
I took the step in direction of change but it seems like a move from a smaller prison to a larger one. A little more space to breathe and move about but still confined. It makes me question my decision. I lose my footing and begin to slip back. It scares me to venture into a society where every moment women are violated, sometimes so brutally.
Physical rape is just one aspect of VAW, the society we live in and are part of strips the female of their species  of a dignified life from the time she is conceived. Some live through the horror of it till they cough last and some are spared that trauma by getting  murdered in the womb itself.  There is only a small percentage that breathes the free air and lives as desire.
As we step into another year my thoughts are with all the women who are facing a challenge to free themselves of the chains that bind them, who are daring to break the silence despite of the risks involved, who are struggling to make a place for themselves  within the culture of violent subjugation and male dominated power structure around which everything revolves and in which women die many times over every day. Most of the times unheard, unsung. There voices stilled. I am thinking about the lack of a support system for those who have the spark to stand up for their rights and fight against the system.
I am not just thinking of women’s rights and gender violence but also about  gay rights, racism, casteism and coexistence which doesn’t exist in our society. I am thinking of equal opportunities, paid employment for women ( just 14.5 %paid employment as compared to men speaks volumes about the structure of our society. 2 million women lost their jobs in last five years), basic education,  basic hygiene and medical facilities. I am thinking of children and the crimes against them. Earlier too there have been catalyst who have shown harsh light on the stinking rotten interiors of our society. Earlier too there have been movements against every damn issue which is shoved under the carpet, How many more ? ? How many wake up calls, How many lives cut short before the change finally occurs?
Will there ever be one single day when a woman will feel safe in this country and breathe easy? When her security and self-respect will not be ground to dust? Will we ever be rid of our sexist culture? Unfortunately when I ask these questions the city that comes to mind is the city in which I have lived for more than forty years – the national capital Delhi.  Not a single moment of my life I have felt secure here. Fear has been a constant companion since I began to move out in public spaces. Fear of those so-called “protectors”. It started when I joined school and continues till now.
As I write this last post of this year I am wondering what lies ahead for the women of India, for me as an individual.  I know it will take a lot of effort and time to completely overhaul the mindset of people to bring some much-needed positive changes but I can begin with myself and my life. It is a rough path that I have chosen but am not giving up. Ever.
Here are two brilliant articles for you to read and ponder upon as I take your leave.
He says among other things,” Men abuse women in every society, but few males do it with as much impunity, violence and regularity as the Indian male.”
(TRUST ME IT IS TRUE)
And
The problem is us  by zigzactly
I have not been regular with my posts but I know you will understand. In a struggle to find my footing I have to sometimes give priority to other important issues that I am dealing with. Thank you for supporting me in all good and bad times and for encouraging me by reading and commenting. I appreciate it very much.
Do something constructive in the coming year.
Have the moral courage to Defy what in Unjust. Don’t be a performer.
You can view all the Previous Entries about being a woman and other social issues HERE 

GBE2 Week #64 : Hidden – A veiled Life


Her fate was sealed the moment she was born. The Chador that wrapped her, grew with her infant body. Layer after layer it hid her slow painful journey into womanhood, chained forever to her home and hearth,  by norms of society and religion. She was born to serve and submit.. Serve  and submit to the omnipresent men of her clan. In silence.

She was one of the few who survived birth but her voice was stilled for life.  The muffled cries of her infant sister dying a forced slow death still woke her up in the middle of nights. Unlike the so called emancipated, literate, liberated urban women, her life was tied by invisible ropes that rubbed against her soft flesh and left wounds that scarred her being.

She ceased to be human the moment she “came of age”. The menstrual blood brought with it emotional and physical abandonment. It also brought a sudden realization of turning into a “woman” who had, a body “to be kept hidden”, tongue which was just a purposeless mass of flesh, heart which would in long run become a vault for unmet dreams and desires and a mind which was considered “non-existent” and which only worked behind a camouflaged screen of darkness.

Suddenly she shrunk under the chador which had taken monstrous proportion since her infancy days. Her life was no longer hers.  A marionette whose strings were pulled and pushed by the men in her household and extended family.  Shrouded in mystery of her gender, modesty, pleasure, shame, pain and drudgery she carried her body through the lonely barbed web of rules designed to keep her in hold all through her life.

She was still in better position than her aunt, barely a few years older than her and a widow, who had to continuously protect her “unguarded, dangerous” body till she is lowered into her grave safely, a daunting task in a society of vultures ready to pounce on any slice of flesh that they can lay their eyes and hands on.

Deep buried and hidden under layers her body and voice stirred and quivered in want of release but never reached the climax. Considered unfit for any function but marriage, childbearing, housekeeping her entire being came out from the hidden depths during the dark recesses past the midnight silence.  Lying next to a snoring satisfied husband or alone, she  freely roamed around the courtyard and beyond the threshold into the unnamed, unknown lanes and streets like a alley cat.

Suddenly the landmines erected by society to prevent her from deviating from specified gender roles forgot to explode as she stepped on the prohibited terrain.

Not swathed in black from head to toe in the age old dirty chador that hung near the main door, she set the woman in her free. Reclaiming herself. Night after night.

In those intimate hours with herself she would try and familiarize with the contours of her body, feeling that fervent rush which knew no outlet in her forsaken life. Many times she would slip into the veranda, dressed in nothing but a thin duppata, which made her a bit comfortable with herself, throw her bare arms in the air and watch the night sky with two bright starry eyes, letting the breeze flirt with her.

Imagination would thrown open the doors and windows which usually remained bolted. Walls that had risen brick by brick around her segregating and secluding her would collapse in a heap, making her vulnerable and alive. She would create and recreate the stories told in the midst of giggles and laughter by her city cousins.

Before the first light of dawn, hidden in the safety of the darkness she would dare to live a life she imagined. Strange that the very darkness that engulfed her in daytime became her saviour at night.

This post is written for GBE2 WEEK #64 (8-5-12 to 8-11-12): Hidden

Inspired by Tamil writer Salma’s book and Kamla Das( one of my many muses)

Satyamev Jayate – Are you ready to do your bit?


It takes a special kind of moral courage and commitment to self and society to address issues that have been pushed under the carpet for so long. Issues that are associated with our everyday lives and yet we have an ostrich like attitude towards them.

Female feoticide/infanticide ( do read the link Unnatural selection published in The Caravan magazine), new-born girls dumped into bins to die ( womb to bin )  all crimes against women, child abuse (including CSA), child labor, child marriages, beggar mafia, gay rights, honor killings and mining and wood smugglers nexus, Deforestation, e-waste, elephant and tiger poaching, farmer’s suicides and many more such burning issues need total involvement of masses, stringent laws and punishments, and most of all strong administration.

Isn’t it sad that it takes a Reality Show on National TV hosted by a film actor to awaken the masses and bring their attention to what’s happening right under their noses?

Didn’t we all know that female foeticide exists in our society and needs to be abolished. If we decided not to wake up to the grim reality will this celebrity reality show really do anything ? If it does then it would be a miracle.

Sad, that despite the regulations, campaigns, awareness programs, sting operations, newspaper reports, blogs, media coverage the truth is that the evils have managed to dig their claws deeper into the core of society and government is feeding the monsters.

Amir’s effort is credible, there is no doubt about it but the questions which bother me are  –

Will it also become a twelve day wonder like all other reality shows?

Will it just keep gathering accolades week after week?

Will people just sit down in the comforts of their homes on Sunday mornings and watch the show, listen to the stories,  write/ talk / tweet about how “brilliant” it was, how much they “enjoyed and liked” watching it( I was appalled to see wall post of some people on Facebook saying how much they “enjoyed” the program and congratulating Amir and other panelists).

Did they miss out the silent tears and agony that had now dried up in the eyes of those who have suffered?

Was it all just a staged event for them?

Did they miss the point somewhere?  I hope Not.

I hope this doesn’t become a routine where an issue is brought up every week , raises the TRP, trends on twitter and other social media networks and dies a silent death.

This needs to go beyond. The social change, the mindset change needs to be bigger than this.

I sincerely pray that the fight against issue of female foeticide or sex selection  does not get limited to sending SMS to Rajasthan Govt. or signing a petition. It needs to get more real than this reality show. It needs to cover the entire nation.

Another thing that makes me ponder is- what next ? What are the options, what actions need to be taken, what is an average person literate or illiterate (for education has nothing to do with this inner awakening) going to do in this direction?

The issues have been raised, the horrifying painful truth brought out once again from under the carpet, Govt. agencies, Doctors, medical practitioners’ nexus exposed , Now What?

Will some one wake up and take an oath to eradicate this evil from the root at least by doing his/her bit ?

Anyone?

The website of Satyamev Jayate  , the Facebook page  , the twitter handle  , the You Tube channel  , will they just provide praise and links and act as promotional sites to increase rating OR offer solutions, knowledge, support systems ? Will it be the nucleus to the Sunday program  where   people get involved and work in the direction of bringing the much required change?

If Not, then all the effort will be  a lost cause. People will choke over their morning coffee watching the show like benumbed spectators like we have been doing since centuries. Aware but always in denial. Telling ourselves that somehow it doesn’t matter to us.

Let this not be just an “exquisite piece of TV journalism” .

Let it be the spark to ignite the flame in every heart to abolish each social evil.  To change the narrow mindset, to fight against controlling, insecure, prejudiced deep patriarchal attitudes that are entrenched in our society’s collective psyche  resulting in skewed sex ratios,  lack of brides in some states, men are forced into bachelorhood due to lack of brides,  thriving racket of trafficking of women where they are sold and resold ( remember baby falak’s story )  and any related crime against women.

Sex-selective abortion statistics are mind numbing (Thirty million girl-children killed in the womb in the past six decades).

Simple language, no screaming to bring some pressing issues to the fore, important points explained for the benefit of those who may not know the facts, the inter- relation of some other crimes which are born under the wings of this one , the positive stories of those brave people who not only fought against the evil and emerged victories but made decided to share it with millions of viewers , to give them courage and reason to step forward and shed fear. The change brought by Deputy Commissioner Kishan Kumar of NawaShahr where the sex ration is equal . ( 1000 girls per 1000 boys)  was an exemplary story. Exemplary for everyone; masses , officials, government. Y chromosomes of a male are responsible for the gender of the baby. An important fact which should be brought into focus more strongly.

The show presenters  took care to cover all aspects  but there needs to be a constant engaging,  proper interaction  with the masses, follow-up to show what efforts were taken on that particular issue.  I hope it  helps in sensitizing Indians about so many issues that they would generally ignore and provoke them into some sort of positive action.

Amir says,” “I want to be part of this silent campaign in a very dignified way without hurting any body’s ego.”

When issues like these are raised, when dying fires are stirred, when centuries old norms are questioned, when nexuses and mafias exposed , not one but many egos will be hurt.  Are we ready to push through all this and  join our voices with his?  Will it create That impact in the hearts of its viewers?

The choice is ours.

Speak up, Fight,  or Suffer.

So,

Are you ready to do your bit with or without Amir? 

Get Up Stand Up Stand Up For Your Right


Don’t give up the fight. Life is Your Right 

RECOGNIZE your inner strength, BELIEVE in yourself, Be Ready to SHED what is not YOU,  if you feel you are being caged ESCAPE  from the tiniest crack you find,  FIGHT for your Dignity and Worth.

Be True to self,  Be selfish Love Yourself  First, Break Away, Cut the cord that strangles you. Bend the Rules.  

Never let anyone write your story. Never hand over the pen to them.

Never feel guilty of  doing what your heart feel right. Never complain. Never explain.

There are no excuses to let yourself be treated like shit.

Never compromise yourself .

Never be bullied into silence. Don’t be a victim.

Never lose your true self  under the deluge of  masks society offers you to wear.

Society has never been kind to women who stand up and speak their mind, make your choice. Be free or be damned.

Freedom to be oneself  comes with a price , sometimes a huge one, Pay the Price or let others pay the price of  trying to cage your spirit.

Nothing is more important than your dignity.

HAVE COURAGE  to Chat Your Path. Never resign to your fate. 

Stand alone, it better  than being lost in a crowd. 

Never submit to the will of others.

Walk out of relationships that smother You. Dare to break away. Be at loggerhead with the society. It is not a cakewalk but it is worth every moment. Subjugated life is devoid of any soul.

Have the moral courage to Defy what in Unjust. Don’t be a performer.

Never let your bodies to be outraged. Never let yourself become an object.

Draw a line and stop the “little adjustment” from becoming a big compromise.  If it takes the monstrous shape it just engulfs before you know it.

Don’t wait for change to happen.  Make your move. It is never too late.

Stop living in your fears.

Think for yourself, never go in with conformity and herd mentality.

Recognize Abuse , for it is often camouflaged as love, betterment, moral duty, guilt, emotional blackmail.

Speak up. Silence only helps it breed and dig its claws deeper into your being.

It is better to raise your voice against unjust than suffer and reinforce the fact that women can be used as old newspapers.

Be financially independent.

Be fearlessly yourself

Sometimes  it takes more than just courage and will to do what is “right”. Look within and you will know your reason to do it.

 Someone said to me , ”  It is all there for you to get, the only thing is How badly you want it.”   You can’t imagine how true it is. It gave direction to my life.

Courageous Risks are life giving  – Take Risks

I DID 

“My priorities are sorted out. I have moved on” , I said.

“Moved on ?”  “True moving on is to bring the past to a closure. It is done and over “

“True that ”  I said.  “So be it.”

It was last year this date that I made the life changing decisions.

This year this day  I am  That I am  and nothing else matters.

I am grateful to my friends, fellow bloggers, readers, and each person who believed in me and stood by me, some visible some invisible.

My boys are my strength and it fills me with tremendous pride and love for these young adults for understanding  my decision despite of the physical distance it created.  Thank you for  being my children and for loving me for what I am.

We all have a spark within but to turn it into a flame  one needs a breath of life –  ♥ レo√乇

Remember 

There is nothing more gratifying than being oneself. 

If it hurts it is not love #Violence Against Women Awareness Month #October


She was 23 when she married for “love”. As a girl she felt the lack of  “warmth” even though she wasn’t stereotyped for being born a girl. Caged and distraught by the environment she wanted an escape . Unfortunately that escape to freedom chained her for good, emotional and mental abuse, marital rape, seclusion from social life to an extent, discontent due to financial dependence, emotional blackmail, continuous verbal and emotional onslaught by in-laws and no support from her husband became a way of life with her. For years she “ADJUSTED ” and tried to ” mend the relationships” that actually had lost meaning. It weighed heavily on her mind and reflected in her deteriorating health until one day  she decided to break the shackles and face the consequences .

She knew that however life may treat her it wont be as bad as before. It was time to change, the path she carved for herself was rough but her spirit could not endure more indignity. This is the true story of Tara (name changed). One can ask hundreds of questions about WHY it took her so many years to take that much-needed step especially when she was aware of her rights and educated ( not just literate) . I guess sometimes there are no answers.

One may say , what crap, it is just a question of how badly you want your freedom and dignified life .  Sometimes it is easier said than done. Sometimes it takes more than just courage and will to do what is “right” .

Emotional abuse starts from the time you sense the first sign of contempt, rejection.It starts as birth and continues at every step where ever a girl is restricted, curbed, violated in any form, undermined, ridiculed or is wrapped in the blanket of ( “social sanctions/ moral norms/ duties/codes).

It starts when she is assigned to play roles that of a daughter, sister, wife , mother DIL and much more.

It starts when her own identity is pushed way back and get buried under the “socially accepted” way of life.When Her voice is muted.

In many cases of DV centuries of conditioning, controlling, traumatizes and intimidates the victim and the lack of support system forces her to either isolate herself into acceptance or drives her to take her life.

The deep-rooted sense of “guilt” of being born as a girl, of being “a burden” weighs heavily on her psyche and is continuously nurtured by the society saturated by Misogyny. Violated for “being born ” starts the emotional abuse.

October is VAWAmonth and let me share the  #VAWMonth and #VAWAM you can aslo add your voice HERE  and Here 

Emotional Abuse and marital rape are often not discussed and are pushed under the carpet.Despite the unwillingness to recognise marital rape as a crime, the fact remains that it is prevalent throughout society. Women’s bodies are outraged, regardless of their educational qualifications, class or status.  Even after the outcry and awareness of laws women seldom shed the inhibition and lodge a complaint or simply walk out of such abusive relationship. This is because cultures worldwide discourage their women from openly discussing sexual matters, let alone within marriage. Most women don’t even think of rape by their husbands as marital rape. Sex is considered obligatory and taboo. The bitter medicine called ” being a good wife ” is pushed down the throat of women, the code of conduct set by society;  to serve and never to “wash dirty linen” in public ; forces them to endure the pain, mental/emotional trauma,  sexual dysfunction, physical injuries and much more. { LINK }

It is a myth that only uneducated or rural women are the victims of abuse. I agree that many women are raising a voice against DV and talking that bold and much-needed step to walk out of such abusive marriages but still a lot more is needed to be done. I feel that forcing a girl to marry someone against her wishes or under the pretext of ” we know what’s good for our daughter ”  is also a form of abuse and should be stopped.

What has changed for Indian woman as she enters the second decade of the 21st century ? Violence against women is still widespread and is increasing day by day.

Do women lose human rights after marriage ?

If rape is a crime then why marital rape is still not considered as crime under IPC?

Is it not discriminatory to call an act “an offence”  merely because of the difference in person committing the act?

What is the justification of differentiating between women who are wives and other women as far as the offense of rape and violence goes ?

The 172nd Law Commission report had made the following recommendations for substantial change in the law with regard to rape.

  1. ‘Rape’ should be replaced by the term ‘sexual assault’.
  2. ‘Sexual intercourse as contained in section 375 of IPC should include all forms of penetration such as penile/vaginal, penile/oral, finger/vaginal, finger/anal and object/vaginal.
  3. In the light of Sakshi v. Union of India and Others [2004 (5) SCC 518], ‘sexual assault on any part of the body should be construed as rape.
  4. Rape laws should be made gender neutral as custodial rape of young boys has been neglected by law.
  5. A new offence, namely section 376E with the title ‘unlawful sexual conduct’ should be created.
  6. Section 509 of the IPC was also sought to be amended, providing higher punishment where the offence set out in the said section is committed with sexual intent.
  7. Marital rape: explanation (2) of section 375 of IPC should be deleted. Forced sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife should be treated equally as an offence just as any physical violence by a husband against the wife is treated as an offence. On the same reasoning, section 376 A was to be deleted.
  8. Under the Indian Evidence Act (IEA), when alleged that a victim consented to the sexual act and it is denied, the court shall presume it to be so.
We are still waiting for the change.
I often read this reports and wonder that in a country like ours where minds are governed by skewed traditions, orthodox norms etc, does having a legal provision really help?
The refusal to acknowledge of the extent of violence women suffer within their homes, or the insurmountable hurdles they face when they try to use laws that contradict each other, their implementation and their inefficiency  is something on needs to think about .
There are trillions of reports, articles, cases that one can quote but  an average Indian woman’s story of abuse (Physical/metal/ emotional) continues and those who step out (with exception of few ) find themselves hanging in an abyss due to lack of proper support system.
Tara took some bold steps.
She refused to have any physical relationship with her husband without HER consent.
She refused to be treated like a slave or a property though it stirred a hornets nest in her marital home and created further discord.
She made it clear that she would not be party to any forced ” duty/ order that she is “expected to do / obey” as a DIL / Wife .
She realized that she had not only lost her voice but also her self-esteem and confidence in self. Born in an open-minded, educated family she had never heard or seen such stone age behavior and after giving her best to them and shedding her skin to “Adopt” their ways , she could not bend any further. The man she married in the name of ” love ” gave her wounds which scaled her soul. Being tied to the Apron strings of his mom He could never stand up for her. The  time had come to decided whether to break or to stand up straight and walk out with what ever was remaining. She decided to do the second.
The first reaction she got was ” why after so many years ? It took you more than 20 years to realize that you were being reduced to dust  and you can’t take it ? Well, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.
After earnest attempts to ” make things work” ( a Utopian dream) , She decided to Give Up and Not Give in . She left.
She is termed as deserter having no respect for “social moral values”. Mental and Emotional violence can extend beyond the  abused when abusers accuse family of girl of”ruining her marriage n keeping her “against” social norms. Her family is labelled as ” conspirators to her foolishness” and looked down upon by in-laws for ” supporting her when her ideal place is in her husband’s home “no matter what” .  Her husband feels she has abandoned her children for some vague notion of ” dignity” fueled by feminists and friends.
The in-laws  feel that if “her wings were chopped timely” she would not have “dared to do” such an outrageous thing but for the sake of society and their heartbroken son  they would shut their mouth and abide by her wishes IF she returns “Home” . Husband agrees.
They feel her it is improper and shameful to act in this fashion. A woman needs to learn to keep everything inside her and “adjust” no questions asked.
She should serve her husband and look after “HIS parents ( not hers of course ) for it is her duty to do so.
Social seclusion is essential because too much mingling with ” advanced women/men”  poisons the mind as in her case.
To keep a woman from going ” astray ‘  she needs to be broken financially so No Job and No Friends esp Males.
Rules, traditions, customs , sanctions , code of conduct , religion , rituals are to be followed without a word.
Mother in law IS  Law .
She has no other identity than her husband so she should be  gracious and be condescending.
All this and more applies because this is not America , this is India and this is in our culture so abide by it.
  TARA Disagreed. 
She was fortunate to have a supporting family and friends who were ready to help But how many women have this considerate,caring system to help them fight the injustice ?
Many women are not living their dreams because they are living their fears.
Isolation, restriction, guilt, humiliation, denial, continuous controlling and criticism, lack of empathy, love, companionship, shattering of a dream of ” a life long relationship based on mutual respect” breaks the victim. Emotional, mental tortured is hard to explain due to lack of  ” solid evidence” .
Emotional Abuse comes silently most of d times camouflaged as “love,betterment,moral duty,guilt,emo.blackmail,marital rape. Silence helps it breed and dig its claws deeper.
In our country ‘thinking’ for oneself is not encouraged. It’s always conformity&herd mentality. The  moment a woman begins to voice her thoughts she is condemned, ridiculed & told to shut up. If she rebels , her condition is even worse.
Does that mean we keep suffering ?
NO, trust me it is better to raise your voice and make your life worthy than suffer and reinforce the fact that women can be used as objects and treated like an old newspaper.
This is not an essay on Domestic violence it is cry of a muted heart which has found its voice .
Related posts : 

Custodial Rape : Where could this girl have disappeared?


http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/indianpenalcode/s376.htm Section 376- Indian Penal Code. Punishment for Rape. 

 

Who Gets Raped http://www.dancewithshadows.com/rapes_india.asp

 

 

I am sharing a post by Indian Homemaker titled Where could this girl have disappeared  Please read  and copy the matter for signature campaign petition to President Pratibha Patil  from Jeanne’s comment on the post. Forward to all in support of this teenage rape victim. 

 

Where does a rape victim go for justice when her “custodians” turn into ” violators” ? This isn’t the first case where a rape victim( a teenager in this case)  is raped again in police custody. Expect a police officer to humiliate a rape victim, be foul-mouthed, discourage or blame her and even rape her.

A farmer’s teenage daughter gangraped  in Mahoba, UP, has disappeared after she was raped by the Station House Officer Deepak Pandey in the police station, Times of India reported ( LINK )

When the senior officers of district polic did not offer any help the family then approached a lawyer and sent complaints to the Chief Minister, Director General of Police and the National Commission for Women.While chief minister Mayawati and the DGP didn’t act, the  NCW directed the district police to get the complaint probed.Additional SP, Mahoba, R K Pandey probed the case.

On Friday,the victim was summoned by the police and sent for a test. As the victim was slated to appear before a magistrate the next day, she was directed to stay back at the Mahila Thana.On Saturday,the family came to know that she had disappeared from the police station.

So where has she disappeared ? I wonder if at all she is alive. 

Cases of custodial violence against women are horrifying reality of  this democratic country governed by “rule of law” . It is very intimidating when one reads of increasing number of such reports. Be it eve teasing or dowry harassment or rape women are too scared and hesitant to even lodge a complaint or to approach “men in khakhi”.

Here is another  { LINK } to a report where an under trial is gang raped in police station.

and yet another “attempt to rape ” and murder of a minor girl ( LINK  )

I believe that the reason we hear about so many of such acts of violation of human rights is because the police feel that wont be held accountable and punished even if the truth is revealed. So they torture (mental, physical, emotional) , rape, kill at their will. It is just the power of strong over the weak and suffering. Flouting the basic right of a citizen and violation of human dignity. No women is safe in any village, city or state in India.

I cringe at the very thought of the mental agony of being violated inside the four walls of a police station under the shield of uniform and authority.

Here is a LINK to what Kavita Krishnan has to say.

Crime against women are on an increase and according to reports one woman is raped in every 18 hours in Delhi. The perverts who commit such crimes like rape many a time get away due to their ” connections” .Delayed justice , harassment by police, social shame and lack of support system are the reasons most cases go unreported and here we are not talking about marital rape which is still not considered a crime in our country. Rape cases are under reported throughout India and in only 6 percent of cases of rape and molestation strangers are involved, in the rest the accused is known to the victims.

People in power have always used it as a tool to sexually molest women. Abduction, assault, rape, murder is commonly done using power as a tool and if these people who are supposed to be provided help turn monsters then women in India  have a very bleak future as far as safety and dignified living is concerned .

 Bhawari Devi had been fighting for justice since 1994, she was gang raped by five men in front of her husband on  22 September 1992 for stopping a child marriage. A FIR was lodged and it was only after two years that a case was registered.  (  LINK TO THE CASE ) . Bhawari Devi was missing for last three weeks. Now it seems she was murdered. A complaint for rape and murder was filed against the accused minister of water resources Mahipal Maderena on 20th September 2011. 

She was the torch-bearer for women’s movement in our country and dared to raise her voice against the sexual assaults on women.  Though everyone remembers the name, few know that even 14 years after she was gang raped by upper-caste villagers for attempting to stop a child marriage in her village, Bhateri, about 45 km from Jaipur, this “icon” still hasn’t got justice and now possibly murdered. She was pioneering an ANTI RAPE Movement which helped so many other women but unfortunately not her. The political blame game has begun. ( LINK ) I hope She is alive and justice is delivered. ( LINK )

Reminds me of Aruna Shaunbag , Maimun and the Shanti Mukund case ( LINK )  These woman never got justice .

I hope justice is not delayed for this Dalit girl and culprits punished. Expecting police to be sensitive seems too far-fetched a thought.

The bottom line of rape is…a sense of entitlement, power and oppression, among other things and it needs to End.

Related Link https://tikulicious.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/rape-blame-the-rapist-not-the-victim/

Last Call : Mom I fear for my life


Doctor murders wife in Delhi, drives 1000km to dump body in Ganga 

This is the Times of India Headline today.

Another headline says

Last call : I fear for my life 

This is not the first time a woman is brutally murdered by an abusive husband.

This is not the first time that parents of the girl have refrained from prompt action and saved their daughter from the clutches of death.

This is not the first time that a literate woman has stayed in an abusive marriage and paid the price with her life.

The question is WHY? 

Why is it that parents wash their hands off once their daughter is married? Supriya Tussar was literate ( a BTech from Hyderabad and an MBA) she had an offer of a lucrative high paying job which would make her financially independent.Dr. Sahu was not in favor of it. Financial independence means strength to the woman and that would have taken the “control” from his hands. Her parents were literate too.(father was a retired superintending engineer of Jharkhand PWD).  Her husband , a senior surgeon was batch topper in master’s course.  Clearly it shows that education doesn’t really change the mindset of people. Dr. Sahu (31) showed no remorse for strangling his wife and told police that he was “physically and mentally incompatible” with his wife.

I use the word Literate because there is a huge difference between being ” educated” and ” literate” and most of these cases happen because of lack of education. Degrees have nothing to do with education I believe.

He had a history of violence in his ten month old marriage, the local police station was aware of the constant fights between the couple (Tussar had lodged a complaint there)  but no one bothered to take any action. The parents of the girl continued to seek reconciliation between the young couple even after their daughter was thrown out of the house.  She was their Only child and though they educated her for a secure future they never could muster enough courage to save her from an abusive marriage which ultimately took her life. If only she wasn’t raised to be a secure bride and taught to live with dignity irrespective of anything then today she would have been alive.

I fail to understand why the parents always think that “things would get better” ?  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Never-thought-her-body-will-be-carried-in-the-car-chosen-by-her-Mom/articleshow/10147405.cms

Why there is so much social pressure to let the daughter rot in marriage which is clearly heading for disaster?

Supriya was “forced ” to get admitted in Hospital tally challenged by her husband.

My question is

Why do girls, especially educated girls, tolerate such abuse?

She was denied food, pocket-money, he was beaten up, abused verbally even then she continued to live with him for she knew she could not go back to her parental home. This is true of many such Supriyas who are forced to live in abusive marriages for the lack of support system, counselling and fear of social stigma and being left out.

Why was Supriya’s humiliation, mental, emotional and physical pain, her indignity not enough for her parents to support her and get her out of the violent marriage?

Do these parents choose a dead daughter over their so-called izzat (honor) in the society? Why can’t they stand up for their child and help her get back to a dignified life she deserves?

They actually “dispose off” their daughter in the hands of a monster just to abide by some sick social norms. What is the point of crying and all this drama later on when they couldn’t do anything for the daughter when she was alive ?

I want to ask Supriya’s parents what marriage means to them ?

Is it being tied to a man whatever the conditions and at whatever cost ?

What was the point of all this education when it could not enlighten them to break away from the customs that kill ?

I see no logic which justifies why parents would allow their daughter to be tortured thus. And if you can’t stand up for your own child, who can you stand up for?

This whole so-called traditional value system makes my blood boil. It has weakened our fiber and turned it into shreds and this is the reason girls like Supriya don’t have confidence to walk out of the marriage with or without the help of their “social status hungry” parents. Since day one, daughters are taught that subservience is the key to happiness, endure whatever comes your way-for if you don’t, you damage our(parents) reputation, society will condone us.

Most of the time girls have no faith in the support and love of their parents and in Supriya’s case she had seen that her repeated attempts in voicing her fear for life had not evoked any strong reaction. A battered, weak woman with lack of support and confidence often tries to “make adjustments/ compromises) thinking things will change for good which  of course never happens. With a broken spirit and constant reminder that “all will be well” most of these women end up dead either they commit suicide or are murdered.

I have no sympathy for parents who let their daughters to death by putting the blinkers on. I feel they are as much a part in her murder as the husband.

It is tragic that these girls, however educated, often succumb to social pressures instead of thinking about other alternatives. It is the result of  constant drilling by their parents that they should “learn to adjust and stay in the marriage” what ever happens. Most of the time it is the girl ( daughter or DIL) who is lectured but hardly anyone blames the parents for this rotten mindset.

I have always failed to understand What is so special about this so-called “sacred” marriage  that makes people tolerates some insecure, misogynistic bastard beating up their daughter, just to preserve this institution?

Till the time marriage is viewed as a “holy grail” and a “commitment till the end of life ” I don’t think many women will be able to walk out of abusive marriages.

I wonder how many more Supriyas will be murdered at the altar of marriage before this society wakes up from slumber and corrects itself.

When will we see a news headline where parents of a girl report an abusive marriage and help the daughter to put the culprit behind bars?

When will the women take their lives in own hands against all odds and be rid of guilt and pressures to walk out and say NO to domestic violence?

When will families start raising their daughters as individuals and not as prospective brides meant to please and be grateful to everyone, parents, brothers, husband, in laws and the rest of the world?

We have laws against Domestic  Violence  but they are effective only when there is a change within. What is the point of having stringent laws when time after time women are abused sexually, mentally ,verbally, physically in so-called “sacred” marriage. It make the headlines, accused are punished but in a few days another monster appears and kills. The  idea of the “sacrosanct” institution of marriage is dished out by the mainstream Indian cinema and daily soaps on TV is a myth and contrary to the reality. Our society is sick to be honest. It is heart wrenching to see that even after knowing their rights, even after being literate enough to support an independent living women prefer to stay in abusive marriages.

Even those who dare to take that first step and move out with or with out parental support life doesn’t come easy But I feel that it is better to step out and struggle and not give in and die. Ultimately it is your life.

I know this looks more like a rant or a rambling of an angry mind and so be it .Enough essays have been written , enough protests, enough campaigns have taken place. If that hasn’t shaken up the society what else will ? How many daughters need to be sacrificed to bring the change ? 😦

The post was shared on the Bell Bajao Site . An Honor. 

Walk the talk – Temple tales


“I am an Atheist”. He said.” I do not believe in organised, ritualistic religion or God “.

I believe temples are the biggest wealth hoarders  and should be termed as business houses if not anything else and for that matter even the churches , mosques, gurudwaras and all other so-called places of worship. Can we use RTI  to question all these people who are amassing wealth in the name of religion?

I can not believe in anything that doesn’t exist like ‘ God”  if super powers are what we are talking of then I can a name a whole pantheon of superheroes who are more real to us than some non entity that lives in an abyss . I would rather  respect Nature for that matter.

Long ago before this whole class division etc happened people simply revered the nature around them then some men  devised this concept of heaven and hell to  put fear in masses and used it as  instrument of power. People use it because it is comfort beyond compare for those who do not have faith in their own abilities and a sure shot way to richness and power. Those modern-day worries have made people use religion as a crutch and that is the reason they blindly follow those babas, gurus, yada yada to the highest degree of stupidity.”

I decided to listen. It is a wonderful thing to do. A lost art too. “I would rather believe in Good than God ” I said.

“We live in an increasingly gender-neutral, technological world then how can we believe in a sham like religion.”  Except for the temples of Khajuraho I detest them all. Noisy, their air dripping of communal ism  and class/gender differences. I hate the priest who fleeces the zombies who visit these places ..zombies for they are bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli.

” The “God” sits there smeared with various things,  adorned with finest jewels and watches this crap or in some other religions He is conveniently formless. All that milk which is poured on the shivlinga can feed hundreds of malnutritioned kids.  Wonder if God knows that. I find this whole Abishekam and shringaram rituals pathetic. Such waste, and to think people pay hefty sum to be a part of this, to watch God bathe. Yikes!

People do not have faith in themselves , they do not have love for themselves and their fellow being , animals, trees , things that sustain life but they would draw blood and commit the most atrocious things like child sacrifice for a belief they can’t even explain properly. They are like those terrorists, fundamentalist who have blinkers on and one agenda – their supremacy.

I was impressed at the use of vocabulary.

“Losing an illusion is better than finding a truth”- Ludwig Borne

God loves you and he needs money.

“What made you talk about this suddenly?” I asked.

“I refused to enter the temple where granny had taken me and that brought hell right on earth at the doorstep of the temple. He laughed. “I  was lectured on how I would burn in hell for offending Him. Ah, well , who cares.All that fasting had made her irritable and in my opinion she needed food than God at that time. The best thing to do was listen and text to bro for a fake call which came promptly to my rescue.” lol It was my turn to laugh.

“Also I watch our house help pray religiously for her husbands long life and well being and in returns she gets beaten up, abused sexually, emotionally, mentally by  that drunkard day in and day out and I say to myself surely her God is deaf and pro rich and pro men , someone who can  listen only when some seth or sethani is playing raunchy bhajans based on latest film songs  by a loud speaker and offering him a big notton ki gaddi. This poor woman’s tear streaked voiced drowsed by pain and sorrow doesn’t reach his ears.  It makes me sick. ”

“I don’t see any relevance of these grand structures. Mosques, temples ,churches , I love the architectural, cultural or historical aspect  but beyond that, nothing.  It is a height of conceit to clothe some non existent God in human form and  ascribe to them our petty vanities and jealousies. Rituals, beliefs in Horo(horrors)copes, gems, stones, astrology, numerology anything that gives people that illusory hope and a name in His good books is lapped up whatever the cost may be. Sad isn’t it that we have no compassion for living but we can go to any length for some abstract thing/ person or an ambigu­ous con­cept that is not well-defined?”

“True, I hear ya”, I said munching the roasted chana( good choice, when thinking) .

“Religion is the root of all the mess in this world and the most racist, sexist , discriminatory vice of the society and the viral root cause of all evil in this world. Society will rot if this doesn’t end. Religion is a refuge ground for all the unscrupulous people, politicians,business men with number do ka paisa, criminals and many such others. I don’t think I need their company. It is a tool for gender inequality mainly oppression of women. I am perplexed at  how even eman­ci­pated women pre­fer to stay within their reli­gious faiths and strug­gle against oppres­sion, and not choos­ing to dis­card religion? Glad you discarded it long back. ” He heaved a sigh of relief.

I told him about an article from Guardian ,” Religions do a good job of training people to be obedient and loyal to the authorities and women in particular are raised to be both devout and submissive. Religions are sticky: they are hard to abandon and that is doubly true for women, given that subordination and unshakable fidelity are their chief duties.” { LINK }

Fanaticism is at t he core of all religion. A man kills100+in Oslo & is termed as “Gunman” “attacker” “Assailant” by media but If he were Muslim he would have been declared a Terrorist. Somehow the word terrorist is conveniently associated with Islam but I feel everyone who has deep-set ideas and beliefs that are rooted with age-old dogmas, rituals, religious norms has a potential terrorist trait.

“I never believed in religion. I cringe at the fact when someone says “Hindu child” “christian child” so on and so forth. I never took mine to a temple to force religion on them.  I encouraged to ask Why? and take their own stand in life, to choose what is right and acceptable to them. Today it seems I made the right choice by taking a conscious decision of not to indoc­tri­nate my boys and fill their impressionable minds with my aesthetic beliefs.

I remember a huge debate that rocked our home when my FIL decided to build a temple in his ancestral village and a room at Badri Kedar . The question which we raised was “whose temple is it anyway, yours or God’s”? It was funny to me but to the family it struck like a bolt of thunder. It also sparked another fire when I asked how a family can fast for seven days, chant bhajans in praise of the goddess, light a lamp twice a day and abuse , insult the DIL of the house ? Does the Devi grant permission for that? The question evokes responses which the Goddess  herself is still wondering about  but her devotees have forgotten conveniently.

I detest the gaudy display of wealth in these places of worship where we see the names of  people who have given “DAAN(offerings)” . It looks so crude. Is this some “name to fame”  kind of show? Something to brag about for generations to come. Birla Mandir is one such example. Poor God has been left sitting quietly on his pedestal. It is not something new, it began from the times of kings.

“People can go through an entire lifetime without questioning”, I said ,’  It’s impossible for me to believe in any of the anthropomorphic gods, because they are simply ridiculous. They are obviously the fantasy-projections of scientifically ignorant minds.”  I winked at him and said, ” may be we can believe in “Hoobanog”. “What’s that ? ” He gave me sharp look. Well Don’t ask , it is beyond explanation, a kinetic energy that I believe runs the entire show of the universe .” He laughed . ” you just coined a new term. ya well, we need to label our beliefs.”

Jokes apart I am good without God. I said as we neared the gate of our building.  I am in awe of the universe itself, and very grateful to be a part of it. That is enough..When will we grow up and be cured of this illness of  our unfounded belief  in religion and face the real tragedies and pleasures of life?

“How is your writing going? Any new assignments which will pay?” He asked suddenly.

“Huh? No, not so lucky I guess. ” I replied.

” Hey why don’t you become a priestess? It would be damn cool.. ” Tiku – the high priestess of Delhi. She has the divine power . ”

I laughed out loud ” ya,sure and trust me I will have no shortage of wealth. ”

“Absolutely, that’s the point. All you need is a few strings of rudraksha, some rings with colorful gems, a robe ( the Osho maroon is cool), a crystal ball and such other stuff plus a swanky office in posh south Delhi. How cool is that !”

“We are such fools.Adam and eve must be crazy to sow the seeds of human race”, He smiled. “Were they” whites” ? ” How come then we have so many colored people?” ” Something went wrong”?

The sun was setting behind the high-rise shopping mall across our balcony and I wasn’t in a mood to indulge in another discussion.

” Our obsession with white skin must be the by-product of that. Did anyone commit any sin to get brown, yellow, black skin?”

I  decided to enter my sound cave by putting in the ear plugs. He hugged and got busy with the laptop. That God for small mercies.. oooooops :p

Thoughts mentioned are personal and I do not wish to offend any religion, belief  or viewpoint. 

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.