Earlier this week, or perhaps last week, Mom made a very profound statement while we were having breakfast. The conversation was basically revolving around Kashmiri weddings, the hype, and the follow up: The marriage.
So while touching upon the area of the expectations everyone has from a daughter-in-law, Mom, visibly emotional from all the discussion, said, “Asli chunne korren kahn pannun garrai aasaan” [ A girl, does not have a home. Period].
She went on to elaborate and said that, right from the time that she is old enough to make sense of stuff, they keep telling her that, “czhe chui voparr garre gassun” [ You have to go live in a stranger’s house]. Then on her wedding day she gets told, “Wein chui yohai czhe garre” meaning that, this, her in-laws place, is her actual home. As she settles into married life, she realizes that she is constantly torn between the two places, not knowing what to call home.
We wrapped up the discussion when the clock struck 8 am and got busy with our everyday lives. The usual stuff. The statement however, remained with me. It still is. It made me think.
We are at a point, where the condition of women around us, is being questioned, vehemently and repeatedly. The Delhi gang rape shook me, like every other person who heard about it. I cried a little. All I could think of was this young girl, exactly my age, who just wanted to have a normal life. Like me. Like perhaps every other girl.
Maybe she wanted to be in the papers, one day. Like me. All those practice interviews I gave out as a kid, hoping to replicate it for real someday. And there she was, in the papers. All the papers. Even international ones. And yet, in a way, no one could ever imagine themselves to be. What was her fault? Wanting to be normal?
I hear of the way women are treated. I realize how I am treated. Men don’t take us seriously. Like if I say something in class, and my interpretation doesn’t match with what the boys think, I am bound to hear stuff like, “aapko asli pata hi nahi hai.” And these are my friends. People I hang out with. Knowingly, unknowingly, men generally react in a manner which if pondered upon, stinks of sexism and prejudice. I am not generalizing. I have also met men, who have been quite the opposite. I’m glad we have those. But mostly, I come across male teachers and friends, who think we are not to be taken seriously. Worse, some even pretend, we don’t exist.
I have a small personal example to share.
In the first week, at the Business School, they asked us to elect a class representative, someone who would act as a link between the faculty and the students. The Director, however made it clear, that for equal representation purposes, we needed two. One from each gender. So, two class representatives. He however, went on to add, that the guy would OBVIOUSLY have more responsibilities than the girl, because we wouldn’t want a girl to do all the rough work. Call me whatever, I thought this made complete sense. A class representative has to meet up with people till late in the evening, like whenever they need him. And, we live in a place, where if the girl turns up home, after 7 pm, everyone she passes by, in the neighborhood, looks at her like she has suddenly grown monkey ears. So, yes, it did make sense to me.
Okay, so elections happened. One of the guys became the class representative. And I was elected as the female one. Unopposed. (Like a boss!) So there.
But that’s not my point.
Funny thing is, that over these past three months, I have suddenly, from being called, the class representative, gone on to be called, the deputy CR!
If I don’t think about it, it’s no big deal. Only that, it actually is.
When I noticed this change in nomenclature, I wondered how exactly did this happen. That’s when I realized, it was my male counterpart and his group of friends, who had come up with this term. Nice guys and everything. But I noticed it was they, who always referred to me as the deputy. This and a couple of incidents, more. And there it was. The writing on the wall.
I fail to understand why would someone react that way. I mean why is it so hard for a fine, well read guy to have a girl at the same position as his? What’s the insecurity?! What?
As a woman, I have never felt helpless. NEVER. But lately, I have begun to realize that men consider women to be a little below themselves, in terms of both mental and physical capacities. “Tumko cricket khelna aata hai? Tumko basketball bi khelna aata hai?” are casual remarks made by the most finest men, but the surprise element in the remarks, makes all the difference.
What some men don’t understand is that men and women differ in terms of physical strengths. Of course, they do. But that doesn’t mean that one has to be above or below the other. Because men and women are different, very different creatures.
Most men think that if a woman is a X, they are 2X( in any random attribute). That’s where all the trouble starts. What these men fail to understand is that, if a woman is a X, they cannot be any degree of X. They CANNOT be. They can be Y, Z or any other Godamn alphabet other than X. Because we are different. TWO DIFFERENT ENTITIES. Hence, no mathematical operations/ comparisons possible, whatsoever. It’s basic common sense. Why not understand?
Male chauvinism, putting down women, “showing them their place” may be denounced by every single man out there. But truth is, apart from some exceptions, men are still programmed to think like that. They may do it in a small casual way as the CR incident, or in the most brutal manner, like the Delhi incident. Small or big, it’s there. Very much there. Runs in our bloodstream. And not just men, most women also think the same way. I mean c’mon, when a girl is born into a family, it’s the women folk, who cry buckets. “Kyun ji? Beti hui hai”.Women are also programmed to consider men as a superior entity. Women do think that way. And the ones who don’t are very conveniently branded as feminists.
We live in a society, where girls may be encouraged to become Indra Nooyi, Chanda Kocharr and the likes, but “banani to end pe rotiyan hi hain.”
The propensity of the double standards, that exist in our society, shocks me. Mostly, into silence.
I go back to what my mother said, about girls, and their lives. She isn’t a pessimist. She has experienced it. She tells me this with a hope that my life is better than her’s, but also with a note of caution, that if doesn’t turn out better, that’s how it is. That’s how it’s always been.
She is a mother. She’s worried. And I get it. I totally do. But as I think about all the sufferings, all the pain that a woman has to go through, just because she is a woman..
..suddenly, the grief of the women folk, when a baby girl is born into the family, the disappointment,
somehow, ironically, makes sense to me.
Maybe, they cry because they don’t want anyone to have the same life. The life of a woman. Maybe.
I don’t feel victimized, I am my own hero. I know how to fight for my equal place in this world. I don’t think I need a man to rectify my existence.I have always been his way. The question is, how have you been?