The Commercial Pilgrimage

A very popular pilgrimage is that to the  four abodes in Himalayas called Chota Char Dham (Chota meaning small):BadrinathKedarnathGangotri and Yamunotri – all of these lie at the foot hills of Himalayas.  It is considered to be a journey that the devout undertake for earning punya … a term I have no English equivalent for – perhaps good deeds?  But then many undertake it in the summers, to escape the heat and placate the Gods at the same time.  Killing two birds with one stone…

Everyone has a personal religious journey to undertake.

There was a time in life when I was overwhelmed with life itself and everyone and everything that was happening to me.  I did what people normally do, when confronted by impossible odds.  I turned to religion.  Since I live life and do everything with passion, when that did not work for me … I went whole hog; I turned to world religions, to occult, to spiritualism and to astrology.  I wanted answers to the question that plagued me, “Why me?”

I did not get the answer to my question, but I got much more.  I got a world view on how human beings made sense of their surroundings, of nature and environment through religion.

In my humble view, all religion stems from one basic fact; it teaches us how to live in harmony with our surroundings, with nature and with each other.  It is a set of rules to live life by.  Rules which, when flouted, have disastrous consequences.

“Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” [John 2:16]

 The Bible says that Jesus cleaned up the House of God by throwing out the merchants, the money traders and people who were plying their wares.

Matthew 21:12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

The Koran has very strict rules on attire, behavior and conduct when one visits the mosques.

The Hindu religion, like every pagan religion has its root in nature worship.  We have myths woven around banyan trees, peepul trees, tulsi plants.  We consider our mountains holy.  We have huge temples and shrines built on rocks and hill tops.  Kailash Parbat is the abode of Shiva, the Himalayas are given a religious significance.  We, by rights, should be a very eco-friendly country should we not?

How did commerce get into it?

I went to JagannathTemple in Orissa once and was put off by the rampant commercialism.  I came back upset; there was no sense of piety there.  I visited Vaishno Devi twice and then turned away.  I get more happiness chanting and meditating in the confines of my bedroom sitting on my bed than I get when I go to these places.  But then each to his/her own.  My purpose here is not to upset any one else’s religious sentiment.

Religious tourism is a huge commercial force.  And hotels have been built to cater to pilgrims who can afford to be the religious tourist, afford the Char Dham Yatra.  The priests in the temples almost salivate as they take our donations, by hook or by crook.

Everyone is familiar with the images of the buildings being washed away in those awful floods.  Six floors to a building, or more, and built so close to Kedarnath, that one does not have to walk too far.  Pilgrimage in comfort.

Shiva in water

The images scared me and shocked me.  To me, they seem to be a scary version of our belief of washing our sins away by taking a dip in Ganga.

Are the Gods mocking us?

Are the divine forces sending us a warning?

Our ancients built these shrines with a purpose in mind.  The purpose was that spiritualism stands for harmony with nature.  They were situated far away in the lap of nature, where piety and peace would be found.

Nature is a stern taskmaster.  And a powerful one.  It is sending us a message … those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.  As a Devi worshipper I implore to all …

“Stop turning my Mother’s house into a marketplace!”

 

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What’s in it for me?

What’s In It for Me? … another post at Parentous where I talk about my kids when they were teenagers

 

Who but a teenager would think that if he hid his report card the parent would not find out?

And they believe in magic. It is not surprising to me that Harry Potter and Twilight did so well. Who but a teenager would think that if he hid his report card the parent would not find out? And who but a teenager would actually believe changing 30 into 80 on his class test paper (it’s just two deft strokes of the pen) would work?

 

Read the rest here

 

 

The Elusive One

Elusive One

The challenge stared at me in the face.

I scowled right back, inwardly intimidated, outwardly in my usual combative mode. I also cursed the person who flung that challenge at me. I am not the one to back down from a challenge. Rrrrrowwwl!

Nah I am not!

But then I am rather proud of my bad habits, I wear them like badges of honour, medals that I have won in my wars, rather like a boxer wears his scars and a soldier his medals.

But the High Priestess of Indiblogeshwaris, Vinita Bahl aka BlogwatiG had spoken.

Turn it or twist it the way you look at it. Take on a challenge. Adopt a good habit. Get rid of a bad one. Change something. Write one new chapter. Read a new book. Listen to a new song. Anything, almost anything singular that you’ve been putting off for too long. You have a month to do it. And then post about it on June 2, 2013 only.

I am bad with rules, ever badder with deadlines – so this is a day late.

First the task was to identify something I want to change …

Now came the big question, what was the elusive one I had to change

My older son spoke : Get rid of your “Main Bechari attitude.”

Of course he spoke it in a completely different context. Of course he did not mean me. Me? If this were ten years ago, I’d have boxed his ears for impertinence. But then I have only myself to blame, I put him into martial arts. And he is bigger, more agile, and kick boxes to pass time.

And the “Main bechari brigade”? I laugh at them, scoff at them, snap my fingers at their nose.

Am I not the person who says “Get rid of the concept that the world owes you. It owes you nothing, it was here first.” Eh?

“It’s crept into your way of thinking,” the second born said sagely nodding his head.

Ouch! That hurt!

So I started watching what I said, how I thought.

And sure enough, the elusive one surfaced when I saw paani pooris. I squashed it like a bug!

Me and my body have made a deal, I shall eat right, and it shall loose the flab and keep the sugar level down.

Wow! Look at my saintly halo!

Only to have it surface when that *&^%% flaunted her absolutely obscene diamond solitaire in my face. I stared at it and resolved never to even acknowledge her existence again, EVER! No ma’am, I will not. You are bad for my mental peace.

Besides I do not like diamonds.

Sniff!

It resurfaced again when I saw Deepika Padukone’s absolutely flat stomach, enlarged to a godawful number of pixels on the big screen! She never gave birth, did she? No wonder she has this absolutely unnaturally flat stomach, don’t you think?

If only … sigh!

Backtracked again. I am not giving in to self pity.

And then I read a chapter from Daphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. Taut, well written and absolutely engrossing.

This writer lived long before I was born!

She still lives – through time! She is immortal.

And I love her!

Will I ever be remembered like that?

Sob sob!

Main Bechari

Women Bond

I kept the title of the post Women Bond to get search engines, yes I did.

To celebrate the bond us women have with each other was secondary. Search engines, yes, they are all important 😛

Sorry but I am not going to add a photo of a Bond bombshell here .. this pic is a delightful one and more apt

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Traditionally men were hunters, women gatherers. Male bonding was absolutely essential for hunting , it threw the hunters into life and death kind of situations, and they had to form bonds, so that someone watched their backs as they went for the kill. Total drama, which required partnership, it also required men to kill or die for each other. The movie industry has made millions tapping into this basic need of men. Male bonding is celebrated, it is immortalized.

Females, as gatherers and the sex that gives birth to and raises children, also had a critical need to build cooperation and trust with other females. In the olden days, a pregnant woman or one with small kids was highly vulnerable, and weakness often resulted in death. Women bond did take place, but it was informal, bonding at the bathing ghat, washing clothes together at the river, while harvesting, while cooking.

Women sang songs, helped each other. Trust was needed, but it wasn’t as desperately dramatic like the men had it. The Women Bond was based on cooperation, reciprocal helping and sharing of day-to-day tasks – and child-minding, providing care and support around childbirth, during illness and at other ‘weak’ or defenceless times. Women bond is not the ‘I will risk my life for you’ rather it is the ‘I will care for you’.

And that is what we need. We are the nurturers, we are the care -givers. If we form a Woman Bond that gives us the assurance that we will be cared for, we are blessed. Somehow movies and television shows love showing the bitchy side of the female nature and not the way we care for each other.

Male bonding is formal, every corner of the world has Men Only games, Men Only clubs, associations. LOL, and they have such pompous fusses, coat tails essential, ties only etc etc. Women have no such fusses, we simply bond. We don’t need cricket, we don’t need fencing or martial arts clubs, we don’t need card games. We are there to share what comes to us naturally, care and love.

For the past one year, I have been a member of Indiblogeshwaris, a group of bloggers. I just have one regret, why did I not have a support system like this when I was young, going through grim times? I don’t remember who added me to this group, but it has truly enriched my life. I had to celebrate with my fellow members today, but could not go. This post is my tribute to all the intelligent, strong, wonderful women in the group ..

Ladies,

Years ago I was absolutely alone. The one who was supposedly my partner was out of my life. The people I trusted shared with me a bond of blood, but did not support me. Those people who I shared a blood bond with also sabotaged all the friendships I tried to make. I leaned heavily on my sons for companionship. Then they grew up. In an effort to set them free from the crippling burden of being a companion to a parent, I turned to blogging. And then I found you, my community of women.

We are so different. We come from different walks of life, we live in cities and towns all over the world. We have one main thing in common, we blog.

But scratch the surface, and you find so much in common …

We are opinionated, we have no hesitation speaking out our mind. We are quick to anger, we are equally quick to sarcasm. But we are quicker at letting what angered us go, to forgive and laugh it off. We are quick to lend encouragement, support someone in need. We are quick to give and take love from each other. The frankness, the honesty, the love and companionship is something I truly value.

Thank you my sisters, for being there for me.

I will never know loneliness again.

When Parents Grow Old

Nothing prepares kids for the time their parents grow old; nothing is as devastating as that. They react to it as though the parent has betrayed them. My personal take on the subject is rather like Anthony Powell’s who said “Growing old’s like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.”

My kids groan and talk down to me, they have more information and they do not hesitate or mince words when they tell me that.
It is very strange, growing old is inevitable, but the reactions are so strong against it. One has to accept it, and I do, for most part. My hinges and joints need oiling, I need my pills, my brain is chock full of old incidents and concepts, which growing information and technology has made redundant, and I can get repetitive. My kids groan and talk down to me, they have more information and they do not hesitate or mince words when they tell me that.

Read the rest here

Rape of a minor

The recent Delhi rape of a minor reminded me of what happened in December, both in Delhi and also close to my house when Damini was struggling for her life  ….

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A six year old was gangraped and left in our neighboring colony – left to die.  Some good Samaritans from our area collected whatever was left of her, a bleeding scrap of womanhood, torn from cunt to ass, stomach badly injured (yes, I will not gloss over facts), and deposited that pitiful heap at the hospital.

Then the tamasha started …

The girl came from a very poor family – surprise surprise!

The boys were from a village close by, and they were unpleasantly shocked that the girl still clung to life.  Why did she not oblige them and die?  Worse – she recognized them.

They were even more intimidated that citizens, the educated and comparatively well off ones cared.

So they looked around and got some local neta (belonging to their caste) into the picture.

The neta tried to bully the doctors into listing the child as a patient who was 22 years old.  Apparently child protection laws are not as lax as the woman protection laws.  The doctors (it was a government hospital) refused, stating that they could not justify the treatment that they were providing the child as the same they would have given a 22 year old in this case.

The neta bullied …

The doctor went on leave rather than argue with the politician.

The child fought for her life, clung on to it grimly, though even a small movement from her made her pee, though some of the intravenous meant to feed her oozed out of her stomach.

Women activists that I had contacted wanted to start a morcha – create a noise.

Backdoor negotiations were going on to hush up the case.  A price was being settled upon.  A price for the life of that abused girl child.  I even heard someone say, “What is left of her, anyway?”

Within a few days of her being taken to the hospital … she was found in the hospital dustbin, dead.

Her parents, migrant labour, were nowhere to be seen.

A janitor told me  with a shrug: “She would have required constant medical help as long as she lived.  Gareeb aadmi, (poor people), how can they afford it?”  I opened my mouth to say something nasty and saw that stony look in his eyes.  How many times had he faced the tyranny of the rich or well connected? And how many times had he been forced to cut his losses in a similar way?

I went out, sat in the car trying to come to terms with what I had seen, just been a part of.  The cold December morning seemed colder, dead, horribly so, like that small thing that had once been a six year old girl playing in the colony… before she was raped.  There was nothing left to do but ring the women activists who had planned a dharna.  There was nothing left to fight for.

It jolted me out of my upper middle class complacency.  We take our safety for granted, we girls/women who belong to the upper classes.  I know we are not safe – but we are much safer than our poor sisters, who have no recourse to “political connections” and the law.

I talked to a cousin who is a family counselor, a psychiatrist, trying to come to terms with something so grim.  She explained that to some men, women are objects.  I knew that!

But did I?  I knew it, like every woman in this country knows it – but we somehow do not want to admit it.  An artist’s representation of what men view women as – yes even a six year old child ….

I have removed the picture since I have no copyright to it, and the owner of the picture objected to the usage without permission.

What was done to that child and the child who was found recently in Delhi is complete objectification.  Use, abuse, throw.  If the girl survives, bad luck.  It will cost some money – which can be paid, and the abusers walk away with impunity.

The police will try to hush up the case – even slap a woman if she protests.  And why should they not?  They have been brought up to think of us as stupid cunts.  How dare a woman raise her voice?  How dare she look me in the eye and challenge me?  If she does, she deserves to be slapped and shown her proper place in the society!

Scene from the protest in Delhi in December

 Anti_RapeProtests_Delhi_AP1

 

 Nothing has changed ….

We are human and have the right to live lives of dignity. 

A post I had to link here, thanks Priyanka Dey for this very powerful post

 

To She Who Must Not be Named

A poetic challenge to someone who is trying time and again to make me feel uncomfortable … I affectionately call her “She Who Must Not Be Named”

Feel free to guess who :

 

images

 

Let us not beat around the bush

I did you wrong when I did you a favour

Instead of help I should’ve given you a push

Into the widest and deepest river

 

 

Some people do not like gratitude,

They think it is a canine emotion

Envy is more suited to their attitude

And now I’ve become your obsession

 

 

Oh you’re itching to pull me down

Somehow I make you feel inferior

But then, I am so important to you

On my defeat you’d build your career

 

 

I’m on to you, you silly clown

I’m on to every low down trick

Fighting you would slow me down

So I’d rather use my wit

 

 

Bring it on, girl, give it all you have

A fight has to be fought to the finish

Embarrassing photos, pointless bitching

Too pathetic, not worthy of the skirmish

 

Yes I am a fighter, combat is in my nature

And confrontation is my game

I hereby call you out for an open war

Sneaky tricks are boring, too tame

A Daughter Remembers

 

A father daughter relationship is close, so people say.  Most girls think their daddy can whup the world and fix everything.  My daddy couldn’t.  Or rather one could say it in another way – my daddy wouldn’t.  That was his style of parenting.

Papa

 

Papa was an engineer by profession, a government servant whose transfers took us all over the country.   My brother and I often got mistaken for army brats; we have so many miles packed under our belt.  But one could not categorize Papa as solely an engineer.  He was a closet diary writer, who belonged to an era where men did not display emotions and his rarely surfaced.  That he was fond of reading shayari, that he was emotional was something I found out after his death when I went through his files, found his diary and each and every letter penned by me and my brother to him in them.  Childish scribbles, home made cards, crayoned by both of us for him.

Papa and I

The only pic of Papa and me together at my wedding …..

He even had this beautiful gazal by Shiekh Ibrahim Zauk penned down along side my brother’s picture as a diary entry on the date of his death

laayii hayaat aaye, qazaa le chalii chale
apnii khushii na aaye, na apnii khushii chale

*ham saa bhi ab bisaat pe kam hogaa bad-qamaar
jo chaal hum chale voh boh’t hi burii chale

behtar to hai yahii ki na duniyaa se dil lage
par kyaa kareN jo kaam na be-dil-lagii chale

ho umr-e-Khizr bhii to ma’aluum vaqt-e-marg
hum kyaa rahe yahaaN, abhii aaye abhii chale

duniaa ne kis kaa raah-e-fanaa meN diyaa hai saath
tum bhii chale chalo yuuN hi jab tak chalii chale

Translation

The life brought me so I came; the death takes me away so I go
Neither I came on my own nor I go with my will

There may be a few gamblers as bad as I am
Whatever move I made it proved to be very bad

It’s better that one should not get hooked to the charms of the world
However, what one can do when nothing can be accomplished without getting involved

Who’s come to the rescue of someone who’s about to leave this world!
You too keep moving till you can move on

O Zauq! I’m leaving this garden with a pinning for fresh air
Why should I care now whether zephyr blows or not!

 

He was not very social, he preferred to have a few select friends with whom he would open out.  They would exchange Urdu couplets and talk about life in old Delhi.

 

aye Zauq! kisii hamdam-e-deriina ka milnaa

behtar hai mulaaqaat-e-Masiiha-o-Khizr se

[hamdam-e-deriina: old friend, Khizr : Man of God]

His style of parenting was benign neglect, a style of parenting which I have inherited.  As long as the kids are happy, fed and healthy, they need to breathe and live their lives on their own.  All they need a guide, someone who can give them reality checks and keep the moral compass from spinning out of whack.  Thanks Papa for teaching me this through example.

Ma said he was distant.  May be he was.  He had absolutely nothing to do with us until we grew to a decent age like six or so.  Till then he watched us from afar.  Once we could speak whole sentences and argue, he warmed up to us. He was a big fan of Socrates and drove us nuts by using his style of “dialogues” with us.  When our friends and fellow students got absolutes from their fathers, mine threw us googlies.

Each and every question of ours was answered by a question.

“Krishna saved the Pandavas.  He was God!” I remember telling him completely awed by the Krishna tale.

“Rubbish, how do you know?”

“Erm … that is what Mahabharata says.”

“Do you know he was just taking care of family business, the Pandavas were his cousins?”

(Mind you I was barely eight and much into Amar Chitra Katha.  This was not in the comic.  So we had to actually go to the library and get books to prove or disprove the theory.  Google, how I wish you existed then.)

It is excellent training for a scholar or a thinker … but how I wished at that time that I was given absolutes – made life so much simpler.  But that was not Papa’s style.

During the course of our growing up, we learnt a fair amount of curse words … Punjabi, Hindi and English ones were too common, and we would be spanked if Ma heard us using them.  We learnt how to curse fluently in Khasi, Naga, Manipuri, Mizo etc.  Ma never caught on to them.  Papa did (after all he worked with the labour on those huge government Hydel projects) but he let it pass.  The one word he did not permit, in any language, was Paagal or Mad.  To him it was the worst abuse.  “To be born a man, a thinker, is a gift.  The worst thing that can happen to a human being is to lose the thinking process.”

I often got into trouble.  I am absent minded, a rebel and act and speak without thinking it through.  Papa would not protect me from the consequences of my own stupidities.  “Every person has the right to make mistakes provided he/she pays for it,” he said. If I complained that my fellow mischief makers’ parents came to defend them he would say:

” ek hi ullu kaphi hai, barbaad gulistaan karne ko;
har shaakh pe ullu baitha hai, anzaam-e-gulistaan kya hoga !! “

Today when I see rich kids, spoilt and irresponsible, who have this undue sense of self importance, and a pride which is completely undeserved and un-earned, I recall those incidents with fondness.  Yes Papa, you were right.

And we clashed.  I wanted a scooter, Papa insisted that I first learn how to change tyres and clean spark plugs!  In my view that was cheating.  A father is supposed to arrange driving lessons and buy the damn scooter, not give mechanic lessons!

But most of our clashes were intellectual – he despised my fascination for Mills & Boons romances while I was a giddy teen.  “I gave you better taste” he would say.  Yes I read “Of Human Bondage” when I was ten, loved the classics and knew Shakespearean sonnets and the Gita.  But teens are for Mills and Boons.  He never forbade me … it was against his ethics.  He would just tell me not to read rubbish for it pollutes the mind.

He never stopped me from getting married to the man I did.  All he said was

Bewaqufon ki kamin nahin ai ‘ Ghalib ‘Ek dhoodon hazaar milte hain..

I later found out that he had a talk with my husband and insisted that I finish my post graduation, and my husband agreed.  That was his style of parenting.  He wanted his kids to live their lives but the safety net was there … not obvious but it was there.  He would never cramp our style, which was not his way.

My brother and I

My brother and me as kids

My brother died when he was 21 and I was 22 years old.  I was devastated.  My marriage was in shambles, I hated it.  I had a small son to bring up and my sibling, my companion, my best friend was dead.  I was angry with my brother, with life and with everything.  In my selfish anger, I failed to notice or even comprehend what Papa must have been going through.  He did not cry.  Whatever mourning he had to do was in private, behind closed doors.  He just kept on with the rituals and the hoards of relatives that landed up at home.  On the chautha (the fourth day of death ritual) he took me aside and said, “I have been waiting for you to grow up.  Now we’re out of time.  You have to take over.  There is no choice in the matter anymore.”

What?  Me, take over?   My in-laws had nothing good to say about me.  I was viewed as incompetent, good-for-nothing.  My husband never stood by me.  My mother had always thought I was useless.  What did my father want?  He expected me to do the impossible, become the support.

I panicked, all my low self esteem issues came forth.  Papa again used his beloved poets to get his point across

‘Girte hain sheh-sawar hi maidain-e-jung mein, Woh tifl kya gire, jo ghutno ke bal chalein’

Life has this wonderful way of changing once you are ready for it. And I had Papa believing in me.  It became a game changer – not immediately, but slowly.  I developed a backbone, I grew confident, got out of a restrictive marriage which was doing nothing for my self esteem and actually became the karta-dharta of my own family.

ab to ghabraa ke ye kahte haiN ki mar jaayenge

mar ke bhii chain na paaya to kidhar jaayenge

 

Papa would often drop in at home, and we grew slowly into friends.  It was an intellectual kind of friendship.  He was not the hugging back slapping kind of person any way.  Hmmm – come to think of it, neither am I.  My sons got the male role model they needed in their Naanu.

When he died I was broken – but surprisingly, not much.  It was his gift to me – the backbone, the self confidence to live on.  Another one of his favorite verses …

“In dinon garche Daccan main hain badi qadr-e-sukhan
Kaun jaaye Zauq par Dilli ki galiyan chchod kar”

To me he lives.  Whenever I hear Urdu couplets, whenever I see my sons, strong, confident, with the courage to not follow the herd, when I realize that I actually became a writer and blogger at the age people think of growing old and dying, when I look back on life, I think of him, I thank him.

Thanks Papa for being the man you were.  I love you.

 

 

A Requiem for Our dead Sister

A Requiem to our dead Sister

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We never saw her face.

We never knew her name.

We never met her.

But she touched our soul.

She shook us up from apathy

We called her Damini

Braveheart, Nirbhaya, Amanat

Her struggle to survive touched us

We prayed for her, lit candles

We came out on the streets

She will never know her names

She will never know we wept

She will never know our empathy

She will never know we mourned

She will always be a part of us

We, the daughters of India

Who hunch our shoulders

On streets to shield our breasts

From being groped by strangers

While our steps do not falter

We who avoid eye contact

With louts who make lewd gestures

We who do not linger

To hear sleazy comments made

On our walk, our anatomy our dress

We who face daily inquisition

Why were we out of home?

What were we wearing?

Did we know him, or invite

The man who groped us?

She will never know her names

She will never know we wept

She will never know our empathy

She will never know we mourned

She will always be a part of us

Rape and its aftermath

Mark of Shame

I do not think any person in the country is not following the recent rape and its aftermath.

I often write about women, and how strong they are. I admire the spirit of women who live, laugh, love and nurture. But the recent events have shaken me. The thing is – bloggers like me are fortunate. We were born to educated people, nurtured in – maybe not gender equal atmosphere, but were given some opportunities, and since our families loved us, we were not suppressed – not much at least. (Here I am talking about my generation.)

And we were lucky. We did not climb into a wrong bus and got raped.

But we got groped. We encountered sleazy teachers, certain cretins who visited our homes and touched us inappropriately. We went out to buy vegetables and got whistled at, we also had fellow students who tried to – as is euphemistically termed “acted fresh”.

And we were told by our mothers that our brothers and fathers would set the person right – if the act was dastardly. If not, we were told to ignore and move on. Just don’t provoke men. They are “like this only”.

The list of provocative behavior is endless

(AT HOME)

1. Do not laugh loud

2. Do not talk sweetly … but do not be rude and cold

3. Do not react angrily

4. Do not sing … the servant may be listening.

5. Do not sit outside and read

6. Do not comb your hair in the verandah

7. Do not hang out your underclothes to dry in full view of public

8. Lock your room door before you enter the bathroom, on the chance that the servant may be in your room when you emerge

9. When you talk to your school friends on the phone, do not talk loudly. Your voice should be low.

10. Do not mingle with your brother’s friends.

OUTSIDE

1. Do not go out alone

2. All the above rules 1-10 have to be observed with suitable modifications.

3. Do not be over familiar with any boy and with girls who have brothers of the same age as you

4. If you have to visit your school friend’s home, your brother will go with you.

Mind you this was the sixties and the seventies. I obeyed. There wasnt much choice.

But did that stop anything? Boys would follow and whistle. There would be cat calls. Me being what I am, I would turn my cycle and charge at them. I would throw stones and shout gaalis. It encouraged them. That was not a deterrent at all.

So behavior as per the above listed rules did not work. Reacting angrily did not work.

What did I want?

Just to live my life …

Forty years have passed. Has anything changed? No.

Sure we are more educated, our girls have been “granted” more freedom. But has the country changed? Have the men who walk the streets changed? No and they won’t. Because they do not think they are responsible.

It is the woman’s fault. She is the instigator, she asks for it.

What did the girl who got raped want? What was she asking for?

She bought a ticket on a bus and wanted to go home. That is all she was asking for…. She was not asking for rape.

She was wearing decent clothes. She was accompanied by a male friend.

This, as per Shiela Dixit and Delhi Police is appropriate behavior, and falls within the norms of safe practice.

But the rape happened.

CLOTHES DO NOT GET A PERSON RAPED, BEING OUT AT NIGHT DOES NOT GET A PERSON RAPED.
A MAN FORCING HIMSELF ON A WOMAN GETS THE WOMAN RAPED.
A MAN FORCING HIMSELF ON A CHILD GETS THE CHILD RAPED.

Men who do it are the rapists. They are the violators. Men rape women and children. That is a fact.