Thursday, December 8, 2016

5 years ago...

A sudden lightness in the lower part of my abdomen woke me in the wee hours of a bright Monday morning a good 5 years ago. I tried to turn to my side, but that was not to be. With some superhuman effort, I heaved my rather heavy frame from the bed and managed to sit upright. There was water everywhere. I rushed to the loo only to discover that my nighty was completely wet. How did that happen? I was unaware of the copious amount of water leaving me. Was it incontinence? In no time, the entire household was awake; my mom reassuring me that it’s all fine, my sister, running helter-skelter, getting me water and some food, putting some stuff into a hospital bag, and finding a way to get me to a hospital at supersonic speed. All of us tumbled into my car, and that’s when it began. The first time it happened, I brushed it as some random twitching of some muscle. The second time it happened, the words that came to mind were, “gnawing pain.” In no time, I was fine.



The driver brought the car to a halt at the hospital from where the hospital staff took over. After some preliminary investigations, the doctor declared that I would hold my baby in my hands today, definitely. But I may have to wait since it was only the early stage of labor and the baby may finally decide to come out only after at least 10-12 hours of labor. What do I do until that time? Can I get a book or something? I swear I was quite serious when I said that. The nurses fixed me an incredulous stare that broke into a reluctant smile and went on with their early morning hospital duties. I decided to twiddle thumbs, literally. 

Then, it happened; rather, it started to happen. The twiddling stopped for one shocking second. It was all normal the next second. I balanced myself on one arm and tried to look around if someone had actually smacked me or something. I fell back on the bed and put my arms behind my neck and tried to think of some nice-smelling biriyani, accompanied by some yum raitha. The next time it happened, I had screamed without even realizing it. I was in trouble. Labor was no joke. The pain that had come and gone like a little cramp on a particularly crabby chum time was now a full blown, gnawing, poking, wave of pain that began nowhere in particular and ended everywhere in general.

There were moments when I thought I was having a heart attack or something. Then came the kicks, reminding me of where I was and for what. I could only manage a weak smile in reponse. In no time, I was screaming and raging at the nurses telling them I was in active labor and imploring them to give me an epidural to ease the pain. They couldn’t be bothered. For it was not even two hours since I was admitted, and I was no doctor to advise them. The junior doctor inserted her fingers in and declared it was only a cm of dilation, and that was too little for an epidural and went her way. I had no option but to twiddle my thumbs, only that the twiddling now became more purposeful and was punctuated with balling of the fists.

The contractions were getting intense and came more often. I decided to grit my teeth and calculate the frequency. It was happening once every 5 minutes. All the pregnancy literature I had gorged on until then had clearly said that 5-minute contractions meant the delivery is quite close. I was now screaming my guts out, much to the doctor’s irritation. She got ready to tell me to stop my unnecessary screaming and go back to my twiddling. Instead, she checked me and declared that I was in active labor and had gone well past the epidural stage. WHAT THE HELL!

Me holding him for the first time

She said it in a matter-of-factly way and moved on. Then came many more waves of contractions and pain, and finally one gut-wrenching scream followed by the cry of a new born. The doctors deftly pulled him out as my tummy deflated in one swift movement, as they threw him on my solar plexus. The moment I saw him, all my screaming screeched to a halt at the throat. My eyes took over; they followed the little fellow everywhere. Someone checked his vitals, they weighed him to be 3.082 kg, and finally they brought his face close to mine. His little eyes finally met mine; he had by then stopped crying and had begun to scan the surroundings, and I’d like to think his eyes lingered on mine a little longer. “So, you are Kavin? Welcome darling,” I mouthed and smiled. Somebody freeze-frame this moment for me I thought to myself and let sleep and other recovery mechanisms of the body take over. The rest of the events are recorded in mind in a faint dreamy hue. Ma coming and giving a beautiful hug, and declaring that the infant resembled me to a tee; my darling sister wheeling me to the bed; and me finally falling off into a deep, dreamless slumber. My life had changed forever; I had taken the one-way bridge to motherland.
The infant who could fit snugly in the crook of my arm just 5 years ago, now demands much more than my arm. He insists on his own bed, his pillow, his books, and even his own room. And, yes, it's no wonder he planned his own birthday party a few days ago, invited his friends, and brought the roof down. 

Each December, I make this travel in my mind and re-live this little story of how Kavin entered our lives. And, I must say it rejuvenates me and gets me started for a beautiful new year. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

To the weekend, with love

A week ago, I decided to take Kavin to the beach since it was a long weekend and all. The driver parked our car and I went to the beach, carrying a bag that contained, among many things, change of clothes for me and Kavin. En route, we were accosted by hawkers of all hue, tempting K with their wares that ranged from Captain America key chains to spider man masks. Some brand position and market strategy, I say. Anyway, after sometime at the stalls, we resumed our trek to the beach, lighter by a few hundreds. Only when we started walking did I sense something amiss. My bag was way lighter, not literally, though. My bag didn’t contain my wallet anymore. I was more than one hundred percent sure I had lost it, because the car seat was completely empty when I got off it just a few minutes ago. I didn’t mention it. So, to avert any such altercations, I decided to play it quiet and went to the beach. 
I was going over what was to be done with contents of the wallet. Actually, until I came to the point of recollecting every single item in the wallet, I wasn’t too rattled by the loss. What with the blocking options of the cards and other such comforts of the times, I had actually no reason worry about any major financial loss. However, the wallet contained something, which I will never be able to recover, not as long as am on this side of the grave. It contained two of my father’s hand-written letters to me. He had written them to me sometime in 2004 when I was in Delhi and when cell phones and emails hadn’t become so ubiquitous.

The letters did not contain important information, but they did contain my dear father’s own handwriting. He always wrote on one of his factory-issued scribbling pads. In one of the letters he had told me in bullet points the enclosures of the letter; my tax returns, some employment news cuttings, and my train ticket. His handwriting had an unmistakable, confident right slant that will ensure his words followed a straight path on an unlined sheet of paper. And that’s something I struggle with even today. In the other letter, he had listed all the housework he was doing, such as watering the plants, ironing clothes, and many other things, all this amidst a hectic work schedule. He had also strictly, that’s in all caps, told me not to get any clothes for them for Christmas from Delhi. On the very next line, in his unmistakable affectionate, daddyish tone he had asked me if I wanted a saree or salwar kameez for Christmas.


A huge wave washed over Kavin and me. K held on to me and squealed with joy. But my heart was ready to burst with the sadness that was settling in the pit of my stomach over the loss of my father’s letters. Swallowing the anger I felt for my erratic and careless ways, I decided to simply let go. The waves kept washing over the shore and Kavin kept asking for more. And, my thoughts would keep swinging back to a post-script on one of the letters; he had said, sorry for grammatical errors, and in fact, it was one of the letters that didn’t have any. I remembered how I was in splits after reading the letter the first time in 2004. The letter had arrived when I was in office, and when I read out the postscript to my colleagues, some of them looked at me with pure hatred (for doing that to my poor father), and the rest decided that they weren’t the the sole victims of my grammar Nazism. I wasn’t exactly crying, but what began with the promise of being a happy, pleasant evening was swinging anywhere between misery and gloom. But, since becoming a parent, I have learned (ok, not mastered it yet) the art of postponing one’s own grief.



With waves gaining speed, Kavin was unstoppable. He jumped, tried swimming, rolled in the mud, and so much more that in an hour’s time when we took him to the nearby shower, he was unrecognizable as our child. Covered with mud and many other things from head to toe, he looked like a child brought up by Tom Hanks in Cast Away, and not by an IT professional living in a metropolis. It took me some effort to extricate the real Kavin from all the grim and sea sand that he was covered in. 



Refreshed, but crestfallen, I walked back to our car. My eyes scanned every nook and cranny for the letters, hoping for the thief to have dumped all the unnecessary contents of the wallet. As we drew closer to the car, tears had already begun to cloud my vision. I opened it to see the seats stare back empty, exactly as I remembered them.

I quietly settled in and secured the seat belts for K and got ready for a long, pensive drive through the ECR. It would be almost midnight by the time we’ll reach home. What’s usually a pleasant drive seemed to be a quiet and a sad drive. As one last attempt, I thrust my hand into the back pocket of the passenger seat. And, no prizes for guessing; sitting snug in the pocket was the wallet, holding in its safe confines my father’s words, telling me to be careful with my words, with my actions, and perhaps my stuff too.  I let out a huge sigh of relief and smiled, no laughed, and got ready for a long, happy, chatty drive home.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Iraivi: Perfecting the art of mansplaining


With all the hoopla around the very title, Iraivi, and the manidhi song (Iraivi is an attempt at feminizing a word traditional used to refer to God; manidhi is again feminizing the ‘man’ word), I went into the theater expecting an honest rendering of at least one woman’s story, if not all 3, as claimed in the trailer and the teasers. But, I guess that was too much and I was literally begging for trouble! Come on, you can't fault me for nursing such expectations, especially after the amazing films like Jigarthanda and Pizza that Karthik Subburaj (the director) had dished out earlier.

For someone who could delve right into his characters and make them look convincing like he did in his earlier attempts, Karthik’s characters in Iraivi fall rather, short. The film worked only in parts for me, and before I go into any more details on why the film as a whole didn’t work for me, I’ll first dwell a little on the parts that did.

There were some extremely well shot, thoroughly researched, and crafted scenes and dialogues. In one of the scenes, the men sit around a half-dead woman, the mother of the protagonist, and talk. And talk. And talk. The scene for me was a brilliant piece of feminist reading of the everyday. The woman, after years of struggling under an oppressive family structure, with the foil of a neglectful and an arrogant husband, has almost called it a day and is in a half dead state, where she neither cares or can even be bothered, for she has been milked dry of all her humanity by the patriarchal structure. The son, whose only way to meet failure is to down gallons of alcohol, with absolutely zero responsibility towards his role of a father or a husband, becomes this little scared baby who runs to its mama, asking, no demanding its share of attention, completely blind to the pain of the almost dead mother! While the dialogue begins with adequate foreword on the mother’s great sacrifices, the heart of it continues to revolve around what matters to men; their aspirations, their failed dreams, the arrogance of other men, what to be done next, the plotting, and other macho things. As these conversations happen, the camera keeps panning around the room, prising open a male world, where women are these emaciated (figuratively), half dead, muted spectators. Just to nail the point, comes the rude dismissal of the woman nurse, who keeps reminding them that this place is something the mother has finally won for herself and they are usurping even that!
Another high-impact scene for me is the one where Michael (played by Vijay Sethupathi) confronts his wife about a probable straying. The shock Ponni (Anjali) registers on her face is simply par excellence. It doesn’t tell you anything, it could be outrage or even fear of being discovered, but she never gives him an answer. As Michael looks at her expectantly, it begins to rain, which Ponni notices fleetingly and runs out the next moment to pick the drying clothes. This one scene adequately illustrates the two different worlds that men and women straddle every day. Besides exposing the double standards of men who hold on to the sexual ‘purity,’ of their wives like a holy grail, it deftly shows how little a woman cares about sexual purity or the husband’s obsession over it! She’d rather do something more productive and useful like pick the clothes before they get wet!

Except such glimpses of brilliance, the film has left, at least me, longing for more! Someone called it an unusual feminist film. I literally blanched at that! (He even titles it with "few good women." *Yawn* where were they, actually?) Now that was taking it too far; it was an out and out boy’s day out film, complete with gore and swearing, amidst which the men have an epiphanic moment of a sexist realization about their monstrosity or the absolute helpless, vulnerability of 'their' women! The problem is right there, in that binary, Karthik Subburaj! Neither are men such monsters within the family, nor are women all that broken or under the mercy of a single man. The structure oppresses women, and they, unlike the women in the film, regardless of class, negotiate, and many of the women today are empowered enough and do negotiate a far better deal. That of course doesn’t mean that today women are all equal to men and they are all partying hard in a feminist paradise! I am just saying that you couldn't read into the complexity of the oppressor-oppressed relationship under the aegis of patriarchy.

A hint for you when you attempt mansplaining women oppression next time is to remember that the prototype of an oppressive figure in real life would be the “guilt-ridden” Radha Ravi and not any of your 3 little boys, who have clear anger issues, alcoholism, and other such problems that need psychological intervention! By presenting these little caricatures of men, who are actually struggling and buckling under patriarchy, you aren’t really helping the cause of the women or these poor men! Women’s struggle within the patriarchal confines of a home, and I don’t just mean the struggle of just the wife, is against not only the men, but against a structure that's founded in not just women oppression, but the oppression of the powerful against the powerless. It would have been refreshing and truly feminist or even unusually feminist, as one of your uncritical fans mentioned, if the only women spoke or even if the film had been about them at all in the first place!

The film revolves around three men, all spoilt, selfish brats running around TASMAC, chasing their independent dreams, with no particle of responsibility neither about themselves or the people around them. Now this was a betrayal of sorts after showing the three women in the first few shots as if we are going to be told of their stories.  The women in this film continued to be the fixtures that they have been all these years in the history of mainstream Tamil movies. Even if one side steps the male-centeredness of the film, the absolute vacuum one encountered in terms of even the experience of the female character, or their presence, was too to much bear. The film runs for almost 160 minutes, and I am sure the scope for women wasn’t anywhere more than 40-50 minutes, at a generous estimate. If this is not mansplaining woman liberation, what is? Next time around you want to make a movie on women liberation, tell the men to lower their decibel; they seem to scream louder than the women about women liberation!

As already mentioned, keeping aside all political hang ups, the film works to some extent. But it misses the mark by a huge margin, especially the mark that Karthik Subburaj made with Jigarthanda and Pizza. The storytelling was good in parts, all actors did a great job, and the photography was great too. 

SJ Surya definitely deserves a word of appreciation. I have always steered clear of his directorial ventures and his epic acting attempts! However this one stands apart, and it speaks of the director’s potential to get the best out of an actor. I liked every frame that had SJ Surya in it. An absolute powerhouse of an actor; a great find, but which works only under the strict supervision of an able director! Radha Ravi and the character John gave some great performances; was totally floored by them! Anjali was good, except for her Telugu accent grating on your ears. So, I wouldn’t write off the movie completely, it does have some interesting spots, but that’s all there is to it…spotty and speckled with the faraway haunt of a feminist specter!


Images source: https://www.google.co.in/search?&biw=1440&bih=784&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=+iraivi&oq=+iraivi&gs_l=img.3...11838.13719.0.14549.15.10.0.0.0.0.400.1082.0j1j2j0j1.4.0....0...1c.1.64.img..15.0.0.noiSoggpy0w&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.&bvm=bv.123664746,d.c2I&dpr=1&ech=1&psi=Lo1SV6DECYf2vASOvpPQCg.1465027886812.3&ei=Po1SV-jJFoycvQSuyqrwBw&emsg=NCSR&noj=1#imgrc=K_EB76mEQ-nBcM%3A


Friday, June 3, 2016

Dil Kya Kare...

Yes, Dil Kya Kare….what can the heart do, when such a number does a little dance and wouldn’t let you go?

This song has been playing on loop on my new MacAir (shrill blow of the trumpet) for almost a month now. While the visuals was umm..let’s say, better left hidden from plain sight, the tune and lyrics are to die for. Whoever penned these lines must have known the searing pain of forbidden love that can slash through one’s very heart.

 I can’t quite pick out the lines that affect or caress the soul the most because every line is so endearingly beautiful; deftly carved by a master craftsman. Hearing it is almost like the brush of a gentle, salty sea breeze on a starry night. I see the ships playing hide and seek on the dark horizon as these lines play:

Jaise parvat pe ghata jhukti hai (Just as the clouds stop their tracks on the mountain) 

Jaise sagar se lehar uthati hai (Just as the waves rise in an ocean) 
Aise kisi chehre pe nigah rukti hai (The gaze stops at someone’s persona) 
Jaise parvat pe ghata jhukti hai (Just as the clouds stop their tracks on the mountain) 
Jaise sagar se lehar uthati hai (Just as the waves rise in an ocean) 
Aise kisi chehre pe nigah rukti hai (The gaze stops at someone’s persona) 
Ooh… Rok nahi sakti nazaroko (Nothing can stop the gaze) 
Duniya bhar ki rasme (Not even customs of the world) 
Na kuch tere bas me Julie (Nothing in your control) 
Na kuch mere bas me (Nothing in mine) 


The imagery the poet picks to describe the absolute helplessness of anyone in the face of pure, fierce love are so powerful that they perfectly capture the essence of the inner struggle that the character goes through in this cult film of the 1970s. In my rather myopic opinion, the film could have run for several just for this song and the beauty it captures. A couple falling so desperately in love, breaching all social barriers, beside themselves in amorous passion for each other was so beautifully captured by Lakshmi and a little known actor, Vikram. These lines lie at the heart of this forbidden passion:

Ha mein teri yaad me, sab ko bhola du (Yes, in your memories shall I erase the existence of everyone else) 
Duniya ko teri tasweer bana du (I’ll make the world a picture of you) 
Mera bas chale to dil cheer ke dikha du (If only I can, I’ll tear my soul apart and show you) 
Ha mein teri yaad me, sab ko bhola du (ditto) 
Duniya ko teri tasweer bana du (ditto) 
Mera bas chale to dil cheer ke dikha du (ditto) 
Ooh… Daud raha hai saath lahu ke, (My blood flows along with…) 
Pyaar tera nas nas me (your love in each of my veins) 
Na kuch tere bas me Julie (Nothing in your control) 
Na kuch mere bas me (Nothing in mine)

Such moments take me to the chicken and the egg question, is it lyricist who’s so talented to string such perfumed words out of thin air or is it the state of being in love that nudges the nectar out of a well…a regular next-door human?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why?


It’s one of those lazy Saturday evenings where you are relaxing with not a care in the world, as the baby slumbers on and you are nursing a steaming cup of ginger tea. Many things come to mind at such divine moments; how long it has been since you’ve had a good, long night’s sleep without worrying about the unwashed clothes or dishes, when was the last time you danced in the rain, when did you last look out a speeding train and waved to the scenery flying past, and when was the last time you blogged? While I can’t do anything much to change most of the questions, I can do something about the last one. Yes, I can blog again. I can write again. Or should I? Or can I? Most of the time, the latter has stopped me from writing. Perhaps for reasons that escape words, I haven’t been able to write. Is it just ennui? Or, is it a deep seated pain that wouldn’t go away? Or, is it just good old laziness? I would never know…



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Going Papayas…

It was just few weeks since Kavin was born. And, in one of those rare occasions when I get some time, I was gorging myself on a particularly sweet papaya. At that moment, I had a split-second thought; will I be able to grow a full tree out of this seed? I almost shooed that thought away with, it’s just a seed now and it’s gonna take forever to become a tree and even longer to give you fruits! But, Kavin’s cooing jolted me; Kavin was also just the size of a peanut within me and I had nurtured him into a little man, who had very clear demands and brought so much meaning, beauty, and joy into my life. So, without any more delay, I gathered some of the seeds and set them to dry on the window sill in the kitchen. In three days time, they were ready for sowing, and I sowed them, half expecting them to sprout. In a week’s time, there were 3 pretty infants smiling gaily at me. Confirming with my garden friend, Kanna anna, that these were indeed papaya infants, I transplanted them to the backyard, where a banana sapling was taking root (of course how the lone banana plant created a banana orchard will be another post!). Only one of them survived the journey. I bid the two adieu and hoped this lone one will grow into a beautiful girl (note the gender preference; in the plant kingdom, we have illusions about who among the sexes is more productive and worthy of investment!).

After a few months, the plant grew into a tree; I still remember the first big leaf and how it fell to be followed by bigger leaves. In all this time, the stump kept getting stockier and stockier and the ground around the tree suddenly became devoid of any grass. Was it a year later? I really don’t remember when the first buds started coming and much to my disappointment, they were male buds! Aah! I let out of a deep sigh, “let’s just chop him, ma” Kanna anna said. I couldn’t make up mind and so kept quiet. He continued, “there’s no use for these male papaya tree, let’s get rid of him.” I told him, “I’ll tell you na, if we ‘ll do away with him.” It was quite a night for me wondering if I should simply chop this little guy; I mean, yes, he wouldn’t fruit, but, he’s still a tree. By morning, I had made my decision to keep him. So, next morning, I told Kanna anna my decision to keep the tree. I started hoping to see all the beautiful floral hangings that are part of male papaya trees. But, I was in for a huge surprise when the next set of buds turned out female! And, that’s when I realized papayas could be hermaphrodites too! The rest of course is history! We harvested loads and loads of sweet, if not very sweet, papayas that we had and gave away to near and dear ones.



It has been 2 years since the first flowers. And, it was time for it to go and even as I was getting mentally ready to let s/he go, it broke! Yes, an accident happened couple of weeks ago and it broke. I hugged the tree close and finally bid a teary goodbye. However, the tree refused to bid me adieu! In a week’s time, there were new leaves in that broken stump. 



Kavin and I may perhaps not be around in this house to see it bloom this time, but I do hope it happens and there’s someone to care for my dear papaya.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rape: Let's Unite Against The Enemy, Patriarchy


Ok, another gang rape, should we say, a reported one? If I remember right, per a survey that outlook published some time ago, for every 1 rape reported in a big city, almost 64 rapes go unreported in any of the smaller cities. In any case, I don’t want to dwell on rape, for there’s enough and much more to spare written on rape. After all, who doesn’t want to look the defender of a woman’s modesty (sic!)?
Some of the words that people use to describe the act of rape are painful, horrendous, injustice, heinous, outrageous, irreversibly damaged, etc. Simply put, all these descriptors are laughable or even expressions of our misplaced angst, because all of our responses are colored, or rather dictated by our feudal mindsets that want our women to be untouched sexually, except by the man who is socially sanctioned to touch her on the day (err…night) of their wedding! And, that’s not all. The marital bed might even be examined for traces of virginal blood the following morning by the mother-in-law, who is again a victim and a stooge of patriarchy. 

And, hence, virginity/chastity (karppu) is something that the woman guards with her life, heart, soul, mind, body, etc. A woman’s mind is dwarfed or rather mangled (like perhaps a bonsai with constant pruning, trimming, and wiring) to think that she’s around just to grow up into a beautiful young woman, who will be married off in her prime (read biologically just right to get pregnant) to a man her parents shall find, and she shall cook and clean for him and his family (and, of course, have a career if the man deems it fit or something to simply kill time or contribute to the family economy, if need be), beget him children, and raise them as chivalrous gentlemen or ladies like herself to continue this brilliant saga! Isn’t this outrageously horrendous? And, we are outraged by a gang rape!
A woman’s attitude towards anything and everything, be it her choice in clothes, career, stance, food, color, marriage, friends, etc . is influenced primarily by the societal expectations from her due to her biology. For example, even as a girl child is born, people start talking about putting money away for her dowry, make jewels for her, buy pink frocks, high heels, etc. Where is all this coming from? It comes from the basic idea that the woman is a womb, and hence everything about the girl child is only beauty (she will have to beautiful for her man), fair skin, dolls (because she will be a mother someday, so start planning even as she is in the cradle!), kitchen sets (she’ll have to cook and clean for the household!), and anything and everything that would firmly peg her to the house, kitchen, and pregnancy! Now, I ask, aren’t all these heinous? And, we are outraged by a gang rape!

I am not sure if there’s data to support how girl babies and boy babies DIFFER in their gyration towards violence or motherhood, irrespectively! Maybe they do too, but why should we as adults stand back and watch or rather applaud when your boy starts using expletives and thrash when the girl does the same thing? Why are girl children taught to cook while boy children are not? Is cooking done through ovaries, which is why men don’t cook? Why should girl children be taught to clean? Why should boys/men be handed out coffees by women every day? Do men suddenly become lame or crippled the moment they enter their homes? Or, is it the upbringing that makes Indian men take any woman to be a custom-made domestic worker, mother, and even a careerist (outside the home of course!). It just can’t get any better for Indian men, or can it? I ask, isn’t this a travesty of justice or a caricature of a just world? And, we are outraged by a gang rape!

As a teenager growing in a metropolis like Chennai, I could never venture to the beach all by myself or even partake in the all-night parties that used to happen on the mount road on new year’s eve, because I, or any girl/woman, ran the risk of being gang raped! Even if the all-night party animals on that road came from ‘good’ families or on better days would be chivalrous too, wouldn’t think twice before actually getting down and having one helluva fuck, because such wayward women could, rather should be raped! Not only that, as a young girl travelling by public transport to school/college/work, I have been exposed to stares of all kinds (the approving, the disapproving, the disrobing, so much fucking more!!) and even harassment of all hues. And, believe me, the men guilty were anything like these ‘animals’(rapists) that all ‘good’ men of today seem to distance themselves from! These were boys/men who went to colleges like the ones I went to or even came from families who were our neighbors! Even today, as a fully grown adult, I can assure you that I don’t feel any less vulnerable while taking the public transport or am the only woman in a lift filled with men! All this and much more completely strangulate a woman’s very identity and crush/stonewall her into the bloody roles that patriarchy so confidently defines for her! Now, isn’t that horrifying? And, we are outraged by a gang rape! 

The outrage in my view is in itself outrageous or even hypocritical, especially because of the sheer number of men who seem have unleashed their unbridled sense of shame at this! I ask, where are these men and women, defenders of a woman’s modesty or proponents of women liberation, when the women’s reservation bill gets shot down or women bodies are objectified in mindless fashion shows or movies or when virginity tests are conducted on women? And, how many of these men haven’t whistled at a girl, brushed against a woman’s body when the opportunity presented itself, or didn’t enjoy a rape scene? And, will this outrage be of this scale if some men had gang raped a sex worker? 

Where were all these people when the armed forces brutally raped and killed Thangjam Manorama? Where was the outrage when an entire village watched and cheered as the men of the village gang raped even the dead bodies of two women? I am sure it would be so much easier to distance ourselves from such things as ‘aberrations’ that happen in the hinterland! And, who’s going to utter or let out even a whimper when men rape men/young boys? 

Our outrage therefore is very selective: our very core is shaken and we are spurred into action (as in people who don’t give two hoots about protests/demonstrations or who even denigrate such protestors as some misguided, lazy nincompoops) ONLY when the chastity of a ‘good’ woman is outraged. It’s of course a different matter altogether if she’s murdered for dowry, honored killed for marrying outside caste, is killed because of invasive fertilization techniques, is killed because of unsafe termination of pregnancy (for carrying a female child), is killed because she defended her home and land, is killed because she refused to do menial labor and wanted to study, or becomes a mental wreck being nothing more than a glorified domestic help at her own home all her life, and the like!
A day, a blog post, or even a bill may not be enough to change this situation, and any list of dos/don’ts may not even make the cut! What perhaps is needed is for us to internalize the fact that all of us born are equal, and because of the psychotic mistakes of our ancestors (hope you all burn in hell, if there’s one!) we live in a world that’s defined by various levels and each level is equipped with its own brand of weapons to keep the rest down under. Perhaps, we need to educate ourselves about the working of our society and the brutality it hides under the grab of morality, virtue, chivalry, and the like. Maybe then, we would organize and interrogate ourselves about why we need to be outraged and what we need to be outraged about. I know, not many people will have the time for all this, because it means taking collective responsibility of violence, especially the systemic kind, and working towards a solution. And, that would mean giving up of the many, many privileges that the powerful in the society (the men) have enjoyed for several centuries now. However, it’s time for the women and oppressed men, the victims of the systemic violence, to organize and agitate alongside in the long term. And, we can rest assured that our battle has just begun, and we have miles and miles to march before we can see a semblance of victory. Perhaps, our great, great grand daughters and sons might thank us for embarking on this journey. 

On a side note, for all the privileged men, more than responding to something that’s so far removed from your immediate reality or doling out some pearls of wisdom on how women should conduct and protect themselves, please introspect! Walk that extra mile, be a human, be defined not by your biology, but by your humanity! Don’t define a woman or her role or her identity or her ability by her biology, but by her right to exist on this planet as freely and happily just as you do. Maybe then, all of us can be united against the enemy; patriarchy!

Monday, July 8, 2013

As I Mourn....

The ferocity of my unexpressed grief
shall one day
uncurl my balled fists
and get your throat
and rip that collar
of ruthless hegemony
fortified by layers of vacuousness
couched in systemic violence
that flows unabated
through your words
in your voice
spewing venom
setting my home on fire
splitting my skull
and splattering my soul
on your stealthy that love tracks
that mask your rottenness
your demonic innards
your incompetence
and the dark dark vacuum
called your heart!

That day shall
beckon
not just Elavarasan
but, Gokila
Bhotmange,
and the whole army of us
shall overthrow you
your bunch of lies
your poisoned breads
your rules of social behavior
your advice and counsel
and your justice!

5 years ago...

A sudden lightness in the lower part of my abdomen woke me in the wee hours of a bright Monday morning a good 5 years ago. I tried to turn ...