I casually throw these words away in friendly conversations with my people. Sometimes jokingly, sometimes desperately trying to hide the hurt with a joke. I understand I am not entirely fair in throwing these words around so easily. But, it just makes life a bit easier to hide under these blanket statements than pinpoint this person or that incident.
Patriarchy. We are all victims and survivors of it. Men, women, others. Young, old and ‘lost in the middle’. You, me and them. But often, the grand layer of privilege helps you look beyond it. Privilege of money, people and freedom lets you move forward and leave it all behind. But yet, once in a while, it creeps up through tiny crevices and hits you before you know it. Misogyny soon follows and drowns you in a pool of guilt and helplessness. That’s not to say we are bunch of helpless clueless beings. But when the blow comes from unexpected directions, it’s only naturally you fall and struggle.
Very evidently, this blog has been all about me and my experiences and how I perceive life. This is also one such, but I am unusually hesitant to write this down. It brings me shame and sorrow to quote people from my life this way. But I need this to be off my chest. So here it goes. Fair disclaimer: none of these is immediate family/friends. Phew!
- Doesn’t matter what you achieve or do. A woman is a burden to the family. ‘It’ needs to be unloaded onto another family through marriage.
- You will be defended and protected because we care about you. But only as long as you abide by the ‘rules’ we lay down for you. Else you are an outcast. An immoral woman.
- You may be 30 or 50. You better check with ‘family’ before you decide what to do with the money you earned. Oh this credit card? No, that’s not for you. Why would we waste our time trying to sell it to you!
- You may be on the right track, driving abiding to rules of the road. Bang! But that accident is all because of you. Why did the men of the house ‘let’ you drive?!
- Okay, let’s say the mistake is on both sides. But now if we go to the police, it’d be ‘uncomfortable’ for you. So let’s just say your male family was driving, and not you. 17 year old teen boy would also be okay, just not you.
The list doesn’t end, but let’s just stop with top 5 for now. So is the blame all on the world and none on me? Absolutely not. There a lot of times I have played the ‘woman card’ and got of annoying insurance/loan representatives. Many times when I have been over protective and unnecessarily worried about a female family member or friend. I have enjoyed a childhood favourite movie overlooking the spewing misogyny. It’s one step at a time to break this century old thoughts and ideologies. One step at a time.
Being stupid is perilous? Being called an idiot. Being taken advantage of. Being easily skipped over. It must be a hard life being stupid aka an empty head. Then again, how would I know. I am not stupid. But the head is almost empty. Barely some strands of hair and that’s it. And that’s usual for my age, totally. But then it was not a big huge deal for me for a really long time.
It was a weird feeling though. People would just randomly start staring at my baldness mid-conversation and just wouldn’t stop. That was very awkward. You’d relate better if you are woman when I say this. You know those instances when someone’s gaze would travel down your neck and stop further down at an uncomfortable angle. Well, I had the twin challenge. I had to resist people’s eyes wandering neither north nor south of my face. Trust me that’s an absolute challenge with an average face! It’s not like people get caught in their trails with ‘looks’!
People would eventually stare and offer their condolences for my ‘passed’ hair strands. Some offer oil prescriptions on the go. Some offer exuberant hair therapies. And there was this one lady at the railway station once, couple of years ago. She offered to make an offering to a local ‘hair-specialist’ goddess for my sake. That warmth indeed shook me, and I am pretty sure I have already written about her. Apart from some rare crazy moments, it’s mostly an annoying experience to hear people lament about hair.
Lately, have been feeling bad about it myself. Probably because it’s all locked down and there aren’t much people to whine over my hair, that I thought it’s my turn now. I could use some more hair perhaps!
P. S. All references of self-loathing should be ignored as side effects of having too much time to stare at the mirror, even while on office calls. It’s all about working things out from home after all.
White gown and the lavender lillies,
The long trail and my flower girls.
The brown shade of drying mehendi,
And my own troupe of dancing gala.
The turmeric paste and the saffron bindi,
And my flowery garlands and the three knots.
The well-begun tale of my dreams,
And the ill-fated days that followed.
Says every men and women,
Embracing the halves that make them better.
Like yet another fly and its drawing to the light.
I am not a feminist, never was, never will be. Because, I don’t believe in discrimination on any basis – gender, age, race, economic status, language, knowledge, power – positively or negatively. Feminism to me is just discrimination on gender to ‘benefit’ out of it. If there’s any ‘-ism’ ever, it must be individualism and I hold that philosophy very closely. But lately, I feel suppressed – emotionally and intellectually. I am a working professional, socially active and emotionally open to new arenas of a social life. And I feel overwhelmed by what I experience each day – at work, on the road, in a discussion forum, a public place and the nuances of simple conversations! I wouldn’t call it out as misogynistic since it’s not always purely on gender, but it greatly does seem so. The biases have been based on age, power and even knowledge. It’s frustrating when you are cornered for being in a ‘discriminated class’. The co-worker who pulls the strings of ‘power’, the reckless driver who questions your ‘female’ driving, the male friend who ‘stares’, the relative who dismisses your ‘inexperienced’ knowledge – no I am not pulling a #metoo moment here. I am asking if this is a #youtoo moment. Have you dismissed a younger person’s wisdom because they aren’t ‘old enough’? Have you played the ‘victim card’ for your own recklessness on the road? Have you made someone uncomfortable by ‘ogling’ at them? Have you been rude to a subordinate because of your ‘entitlement’? Please say no. Please don’t be that person. You are scarring an individual by all those unfortunate moments of truth. Age, gender, power – they don’t make up a person. They are merely some states of a person. Don’t limit an individual’s experience with your inadequacy. Grow. And let grow.
So why does all these matter suddenly? Perhaps because of my fortunate half of life where I have been blessed with unbiased individuals. People who don’t judge you. People who see you for who you are without their baggy lenses. I have had humble bosses who respected their colleagues, dignified men who look up to women for their worth and a great deal of amazing people who make life worth exploring. It’s because of them that I sit down and contemplate on the rest of the world. Why not make a difference with a simple gesture, if it has the potential to make one more person relevant in this system. Why not!
How do you know if it’s time yet for something? How do you define being too late or being too early for something? I guess it’s mostly when someone else points it out to you. For instance, I didn’t think it’s time yet to write again. I didn’t notice how long it’s been since I last updated my blog. For me, it always felt complete and unfinished, at the same time. The duality was confusing, and I was dazzled by it. And hence, until someone pointed it out (threatened to write, to be precise), I didn’t realise it’s time yet, to write.
Looking around, it’s this unawareness of time and space is what makes our life. What’s the right time to think of your career goals? When should one join the gym? When is the right time to trim your stubbles? When’s time you get a full-body massage? When’s it time you get up? When are you ready to face life as you must? When’s it appropriate to talk about sex to your kid? When’s it that you jump into the middle of an argument? When do you make the right move on your love? When is it time you start saving and investing? When’s it time you go see a doc? When’s it time you perhaps stop talking? When is time for you to finally sit down and relax?
It’s too many questions to answer in a single go. A person finds answers to all these with life itself. Rather put, life is all about making the right choice of time, more than any other choice in life. Making the right decision is too easy and most of us do it all the time. And that’s where the flaw lies. All right decisions at all wrong times! Time is the parameter that we are too ignorant to notice, when that’s the only we should actually account for!
“Tenth standard already! It’s time you put him in **** coaching centre!” “24 and not married?! How irresponsible parents! It’s high time..” “It’s 6.30 and you haven’t started yet??!” Time is a simple parameter, that completes the complex equation to life. Making time itself too complex, look at how we’d probably stare at an inequation to life by itself!
And it’s time, they say. For me to shut up and hit the bed.