The Maiden Flight….(part-II)

flight

Sudha opened the door and hugged her little bundle of joy. She was crying inconsolably. “What happened mumma” little Saloni asked innocently, while wiping Sudha’s tears. She looked at the beautiful face of her little girl and held her tightly again in her embrace.

“So do you want to play? Let’s go to the park” proposed Sudha, and Saloni hugged her excitedly. In the park, Saloni got busy in building sand castles and Sudha sat on a bench under a tree. She was staring into the blue open sky and was wondering about the cusp of situation she was into; she could neither leave this world, nor she could enter the next one.  While she was lost in her reverie, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a frail body of a lady, gazing at her.

The lady must have been in her late sixties and gave a genial smile. “I am sorry, I couldn’t recognise you.” said sudha hesitantly.

“But I know you dear. I am Maumita Bagchi. I live in your society, on seventh floor of your building. At this age, I don’t expect myself to be very popular, so it’s ok if you don’t know me” replied old lady in a light-hearted tone.

“Why don’t you sit aunty?” Sudha offered and Mrs. Bagchi made herself comfortable.

“I know everything about your circumstances Sudha, from my maid. You know how the grapevine goes, right?” said Mrs. Bagchi in a low voice.

Sudha just lowered her hands and started to sob.

“I used to have a daughter of around your age. Had she been alive today, then she must have been like you. She was young, smart and full of dreams, but she wasn’t courageous enough. Like you, she also chose to accept the circumstances and made no effort to break free. She tolerated years of domestic violence silently and paid a heavy price for her folly. She paid it with her life” said a teary eyed Mrs. Bagchi.

Sudha raised her head and couldn’t understand why she was sharing dark secrets of her life with her.

“How old are you?” asked Mrs. Bagchi straight-forwardly.

“I will be 30 years old, this October.” replied Sudha.

“ If you are lucky enough to grow up to a ripe age of let’s say 80 years, then you have 50 more years. These years look like huge but actually they aren’t. On an average, 8 hours are spent in sleeping and another  8 hours in household chores every day. That leaves you with 8 hours of life everyday, which is one-third of a day. So, one-third of 50 years is roughly 17 years. So 17 years of life is really left. How do you want to spend it? Sulking? Crying? Or you want to take charge of your life? You need to decide how you want to spend these 17 years.” said Mrs. Bagchi passionately and prepared to stand up staggardly while holding her stick. She gave Sudha a pat on her head and left for her daily walk.

Sudha was immersed deep in thoughts. She was visibly perturbed by Mrs. Bagchi’s words.

Saloni came running and said “Let’s go back home mumma.”

“Let’s go and search for a new home dear” said Sudha decidedly.

Saloni was blank and Sudha was happy by being finally free. She was determined this time to take her maiden flight…..

 

 

 

 

 

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The Maiden Flight…..(part-I)

flight.jpg

Sudha was constantly staring into the mirror. Tears had welled up in her eyes and she was fed up of the daily taunts directed towards her by her own blood. She was an ace in household chores but had to really struggle in studies. On one hand she was compared with her younger sister Megha, who was excellent in academics, and on the other hand she stood no chance in front of her youngest brother, owing to gender inequality prevalent in their society. Sudha often used to feel dejected and felt like a caged bird, who was desperate to fly freely. A bird that was unfortunately caged in her own home, by her own kith and kin. She was increasingly growing sceptical and had little faith in her own wings.

The time finally came for her maiden flight. “We have seen a boy for you. He works in a bank and his family is going to visit us this Sunday”, Sudha’s mother Lakshmi broke the news.

Sudha tried to conceal her delight and continued watering the plants. She was happy that finally she would be free and would have a home of her own in true sense. It didn’t matter to her who the boy was, how he looked, how much he earned; she was only interested in getting far away from her present circumstances.

Vikram’s family was sitting in the drawing room, and Sudha clad in a traditional benarasi saree,  arrived holding a tray. Her attire and jewellery were only augmenting her natural beauty and no one could take their eyes off her. So the deal was struck and Sudha also said yes without too much of a delay. It was a win-win proposition for everyone. For Vikram, it was a jackpot to have a trophy wife, for Sudha it meant her freedom, for Sudha’s parents it was one burden lessened and for Vikram’s parents it was a full-proof insurance for their old-age.

Wedding bells rang soon and Sudha was on cloud nine after getting so much importance, which she was not accustomed to. She was the new darling daughter-in-law and had a doting husband ready to attend to her every call and tantrums. Days seemed to be passing briskly and little did she know about what lay ahead.

Gradually life returned back to its normal pace and one year had passed since marriage. Sudha was still happy that at least her contribution was valued, even though the pressure to start a family was day by day mounting. Unfortunately, she belonged to the strata of the society where the value of the woman was ascertained from her ability to produce off-springs. Vikram kept his mouth conveniently shut and soon Sudha had to give in to the rising pressure.

Saloni, their first child arrived and then the mouths were shut for couple of years. Again the tongues started wagging for producing the heir of the family. Sudha was once again distraught and the familiar pain, which she had left behind, was again pacing towards her at full speed. Her identity was reduced to nothing more than a child-bearing machine, which had no consciousness of its own to decide its future course.

She conceived again but destiny had strange designs for her. It was a still-birth this time and her world came crashing down. She had invested nine months of her life in that pregnancy; nine months of love, pain, hope and labour had all gone in vain. Her womb was empty and so was her soul. She longed for peace, a respite from the drudgery. The thought of Saloni was her only consolation and gave her the glimmer of hope to continue. Such was the travesty of fate that she felt nothing less than a puppet, whose cords were being mercilessly plucked by her own blood relations. Same blood, same colour and that had given her myriad experiences.

She had not even come to terms with her loss and again she was being persuaded to follow the path of agony. Did she have any choice? She conceived once again, only to get mocked by fate, this time too. This time it was an early miscarriage. She was physically drained out to the very core, yet the verbal abuse and taunts of her new family were not helping the matter either.

Her mind was about to explode, as she could no longer bear to live like an animal. Once again she felt like the old caged bird whose wings were now clipped. She had nowhere to go now, no dream to cling to, no hope to hold on to. Her whole life had been nothing but a mirage, an illusion, which she resolutely followed, till the last ounce of energy was left in her. The freedom which she had dreamed for was no less than the “Mareecha”, the golden deer of Ramayana, merely an illusion.

Amidst this whirl of emotions, she finally made up her mind one day. She closed the door, climbed up the stool and tightened the noose around her neck. The moment she was about to kick the stool away, she was startled by the frantic knocks on the door. “Mumma, mumma….where are you?” Saloni was screaming.

……..to be continued

Gender Inequality is Nature’s Plan

gender

Growing up in the “rape capital of India” can do considerable damage to one’s mindset. After all, at the end of the day, who we are? Just the sum of our life’s experiences. Witnessing extreme brutality against a specific gender can also sow seeds of rebellion, and so was the case with me too, few years back. I agree, that even today I am a feminist but my stance about gender equality has undergone a paradigm shift.

All these years of growing up, gave me an opportunity to view life from different perspectives and also the wisdom to respect nature’s designs. Man and woman are not created equal but they are definitely supposed to complement each other.

Every design of nature points towards creating harmony and simplifying the complexities. Had it not been the case, life would have continued to keep its existence as unicellular form, for ever. What was the need for evolution? Why cells combined to form tissues and so on? Well the answer is – harmony and division of labour. If every cell would have to just make ends meet, then how the consciousness would have evolved to the current level of being a human.

Taking a break from biology and coming back to the topic; nature has created this gender difference for some reasons and these reasons became clearer to me, after I became a mom. It’s true that I have witnessed my share of gender inequality at work-place and at home too, and every time I have used that last ounce of energy left in me to fight it out, yet I say gender inequality is nature’s design. May be inequality is the wrong word here, better would be to call it “gender distinction”. It is ok to question society’s attitude but how can we question nature’s plan?

The chemical make-up of a woman is all different from a man, and science has proved that ultimately, every emotion and thought we experience can have a chemical explanation behind it. The manner in which a woman can handle work and home, I don’t expect any man to come even close to that. Ok, we do have exceptions, then how many such men do we have?

The feminist in me wants to take it even a step further, and would love to talk about female superiority. I am a firm believer of the philosophy of “Sacred Feminism”. History is replete with instances of how the role of female in the society was always downplayed and patriarchy was highlighted. Gender inequality was never part of our culture and on the contrary women were revered in most cultures.

What we believe in, that we become. The rotten aspects of gender inequality are rampant in our society because we have been programmed to believe in this lie of weaker sex. Where does this inequality resides? It resides in the mind of the perpetrator and in the beliefs of the victim. Isn’t it? So I believe, it is more psychological in nature than physical. The women first need to change their beliefs about themselves, then at least half the battle will be won.

The day fifty percent of the population of the Earth will cease to believe in this fake idea of being weak, that day gender inequality will be erased. That day perhaps will be the day, when society will start to respect the essence of gender distinction. That day, woman won’t be inferior but will be an equal partner of man. That is the day of my dreams, when we will cease to fight over inequality and will aim for accommodating this distinction by creating safe work-places, equality in pay, equality in everything, except for equality in our basic roles, which we should never try to swap.

This post is written as part of IndiSpire prompt on #Gender Equality. More posts on the prompt may be found here

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Womanhood

Women  I know for many, this celebration is out of place but for 1 minute close your eyes and ward off all the negatives of being a woman and focus on the positives. You  will encounter that “Eureka” moment of your life. That “Aha” moment when all things will fall into perspective  and you  will feel grateful to almighty for  being a lady. I agree it’s  not easy being a lady in today’s  world but  giving up  is not in our nature.

Did we give up on going out after  regular eve-teasing episodes? Did we give up when we were ridiculed by men  for not being smart enough? Did we give up when our efforts  were belittled in  the  boardrooms for just being a woman? Did we give up in  the labour rooms? We are hardwired not to give up, come what may. Period. But we always prefer not to respond, not to fight back and assimilate  years of knowledge  passed  down  upon us by our ma, nani and dadi.

The programming starts right from  the birth. In our society, women are not celebrated. They are either worshipped or ignored /or humiliated. We are known to provide a grand welcome  to our daughters by not being happy upon  their birth  and show unhappiness to our kith and  kin (Disclaimer: Thank god , it’s not a universal truth:)). Some don’t even stop there, but go on to ask  about the plans for a “second”(in  the hopes of  buying a “blue” for the second one). The little bundle of joy is rarely celebrated on a grand scale.  In the growing up years, the child is programmed about  the ways  in which she should  talk, walk, dress-up, play, eat. If you don’t smile enough, then you  are rude. If you smile often, then you are inviting. If you  laugh  then hell may break loose. After marriage, the same programming plays on a loop but the programmers change. I often think that it’s better to swap positions with robots sometimes. Question arises when to live our queen size  life? When to break out of the mould? When to tell the world that enough is  enough? Well, let’s not get stuck in a  sulking-loop. That time  is now.

Now is  the time of utmost importance because now is the  time when we can act. Past  has faded  into memories and thinking of future  action is sheer procrastination. It wouldn’t be long when we would  be lost into oblivion unless  we  start to think about ourselves, unless we start to celebrate ourselves. Feel good about yourselves,  laugh out loud, dance  like a child. Make castles in air even if  people laugh at you. Some action is better than no action. Celebrate each and every woman around you. Don’t belittle anyone as we  all have been  through a lot and somewhere our chords  connect! Come out of your cocoon, for world is a lovely place and life is beautiful. Empower  your daughters and teach your sons. We  create life, we nurture it, we build societies, we inculcate civility in our children, we build future, we build homes, we foster relations, we are  the connecting link. Let’s not become the missing link. It’s foolish to feel of ourselves as unequal and cry out for equality. Feel like superior beings and it will become our reality. It’s foolish to try to sought equality  with men. Nature has created us differently, for different roles. True equality will be when, men would also start giving birth (this  is not going to happen in near future). Till then we are miles ahead. More  than half the population of the world is living in this hangover of  their supremacy. Well then hangover is just a hangover:) It will wear off one day (the optimist in me can never die:)). Till then, get up, dress up, apply your favourite  shade, face the  world, shine and celebrate this gift of  being a “Womaniya”  !