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.

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

Ring the Bell

Ring the Bell

Ring the Bell and Indiblogger organized a meet on International Women’s Day.  The aim is lofty i.e.

Ring The Bell calls on men and boys around the world to take a stand and make a promise to act to end violence against women. From 8th March 2013 to 8th March 2014 we’re going to get a million men to make a million promises to ACT to end violence against women

It was a well organized event with celebrities like actor Rahul Bose, Entrepreneur Priya  Paul, Sitarist Anoushka Shankar, her fingers move on the sitar string like wow!  There is no way to describe it.  I reached very early and saw her rehearsing.  It made me think I’d seen it all.  But then she performed live on stage and it mesmerized me. .Mahabanoo Modi Kotwal was a huge surprise.  I am a fan now.  SWARATHMA, is electrifying.  I am going to buy their music.  Advaita Kala of Kahani was also there.  She spoke about women as strong women and definitely sexual beings.

 

Under the sky, Sitarist Anoushka Shankar rehearsing

Under the sky, Sitarist Anoushka Shankar rehearsing

As far as the aim is concerned, the ground realities sadly, are pathetic.  The laws for Women’s Reservations and Rape still gather dust in some filing cabinet while the Parliamentarians are busy sniping at each other and taking potshots at each other – it is pre election year, you see.  The powers that be are not “Ringing the bell.”

Swarathma did a wonderful satire on politicians, but their song on child abuse titled GHUM or LOST was awesome.  I was too enthralled by their performance and did not take pics.  This is from their Facebook page

 

Swarathma

 

I live in Haryana where women are treated at par with the cattle they rear.  Sometimes cattle are treated better.  Ring the bell …. anyone?

Gentlemen

What bothered me is that patriarchy is so well entrenched in our psyche that even well meaning men like Rahul Bose spoke about teaching brothers to “give power” to their sisters.

Give Power?

No one gives power, you just have to grab it.  Wasn’t that patronizing and patriarchal?

No, I am not dissing him.  He means well.  It is just that the attitude is so deep rooted in society that men feel that power is theirs to appropriate and, if they feel benevolent enough, they can bestow it on their loving sisters.  He did redeem himself in my eyes by wanting to support, counsel and enlist men whose wives/sisters/mothers have been assaulted or molested by low lives.  Considering that every third woman has been in such a situation at some time and at some point in her life – we have a huge population to enlist.  What is more, these men would be sensitized to the issue and be supportive to the cause.

Mahabanoo Modi Kotwal’s reading shook me.  It brought a certain incident I was recently involved in – trying to help a minor victim of rape – back to my mind (if it will ever leave it).  The child is dead and yes, I was unsuccessful.

There were two grass root workers from rural India who were invited to stage by Indira Jaisingh.  These women spoke from the heart, bringing forth real problems they have to deal with, awful attitudes they battle every day of their lives.

Speaking about the patriarchal mindset we battle everyday – my thought is simple.  Sensitive men are not born, they are nurtured and brought up so.  Just treat the boys and girls at home as equals, make them both aware of the challenges the other sex faces.

Utopian thought?

Perhaps …

Then again, perhaps not.  My sons say they want independent women in their lives, girls who can walk free and do their own thing.  They want to live their own lives, not be fettered with the responsibility of chaperoning their women everywhere and protecting them 24/7

Yes, that is one call for emancipation …

I think I did well as a parent :  They do not attend any women’s meets with me.  Overtly they do not support such things : they think I am more than equal.  But to my mind they ring the bell.

She was all dressed up and in the mood to rock the audience – which she did!Anoushka Shankar performing

anushka-shanker

Eat your hearts out people, we saw her this close.  And she plays wonderfully.  It was magical.  Pic courtesy our very own IHM

Was great fun meeting old blogger friends and new.  Ruchira, Aabha, Tikuli, Akanksha, Priyanka and so many others.  Met Bhavna for the first time – shy and so well brought up.  My Ma would have told me to behave like you – you are such a pleasure!

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.

The politics of raising my voice on social networks

There seems to be politics when you raise your voice on social networks. A word of warning : Do not ask me to shut the fuck up. It never works

It seems that in today’s India raising your voice in outrage brings about a few reactions that are very interesting.

1. Oh come on, lets talk about cheerful things

2. Stop talking and do something about it.

3. Yeah, this was bad but there are far worse cases

4. So and so social strata has it worse

5. Don’t you have anything better to do?

And yes, I am talking about the recent rape case.

I’d love to talk about cheerful things, but somehow this news item has freaked me out. I do not have a daughter but deeply fear for girls and women on the roads. Yes it has affected me.

What has disgusted me is this insidious competitive spirit that has crept into expressions of outrage. Certain women have taken to social network with enthusiasm in the spirit of “Uski sari meri sari se safed kaise?”

One status was :

oh plz jst stop updating ur status against ds DELHI RAPE KAND.if u really care dn side ur expnsive laptop n cozy blankets….come out n protest.v 9 v cant change it by protestng bt atlst v can slap ds govt in public..

I completely empathize with the sentiment but would like to put certain things on record

a) This is not a competition. People who can not travel (since they have jobs to do, dinner to cook, children’s homework and needs to attend to) are not doing any less. They are raising their voices.

b) As citizens of this country their voices are valuable too. Remember it is one vote per person, so their voices count.

This case came into lime light coz’ the girl is brutalized and is struggling for her life in the national capital. Everyday numerous gang rapes take place in tribal belt, who talks about them? Soni Sori is beaten and then a staff is shoved up her genitals did you even hear about her? There are many Sonis out there. She hails from middle class thus showing middle classes how vulnerable they are as women and families of women. No body cares what happens to tribals and dalits, middle class speaks only when it is about them.

I humbly beg to submit that I care, but since the media did not cover it and since I am an ordinary middle class person who is not a social activist, there was no way I could have known or raised my voice about it.

And does my not raising voice against what happened to Soni Sori make my raising my voice on this case any less effective? Is this a *&^%$* competition?

And dear readers, is my raising my voice in protest not important? How in this crazy skewed climate that I find on social network have I deserved to be termed as

arm chair debaters who want a change without actually doing anything about the change it self.

A girl is struggling for her life and if one feels outraged others try to act superior and shut our voices!

Weird!

An open letter to social activists, law makers and law enforcers

Dear Social Activists,

We know you have the interests of the rights of the downtrodden. We have watched with interest your vociferous speeches on the crimes supposedly committed by Mr. Narender Modi.

We have also watched your spirited defense of Mohammad Afsal, the bloke who master-minded the storming of the citadel of our vibrant democracy, the Parliament.

Your heart bleeds for the downtrodden, you have given sufficient evidence of that. Why, you even thought that Kasab and Mohammad Afsal deserved to have their sorry arses protected.

I would like to draw your attention to the actual downtrodden of our country, our women. Why has the plight of our women escaped your notice? Why cant you froth in the mouth for them? The most public figures among you are women, and they freak about something that happened in 2002!

Rapes and crimes of violence happen every day and women bear the brunt of it. Oh yes we hear everyone condemning it. Oh no, we don’t expect you to cheer it on. We know its bad and deserves condemnation. What I want to say is that this crime happens here and now. It is not something that happened in 2001 and 2002 etc etc.

And yes, we know the system is at fault. So don’t bother telling us that!

What freaks us out is that not one of you came on TV and condemned the rape that happened today in Delhi. Why? Is it because women don’t take a gun and lay siege on a five star hotel? Or because women don’t storm the Parliament?

Do we have to resort to violence in order to deserve human rights to swing into action?

May be we should. It will draw your attention to our plight.

Women are humans too. We have rights. We would like some help in protecting our rights to travel by bus, to walk on roads.

Will you help us?

Or do you think it won’t give you political mileage?

I hope you don’t dismiss this as words of a “mere woman”

Yours,
Waiting for you to react to this plea

A WOMAN

Dear Law Makers

I remember watching the Lokpal Bill debate with interest. I heard Laloo Ji say, with a lot of arrogance or may be I got it wrong, I should say conviction

KANOON HUM BANATE HAIN

I request you most humbly to make laws that will protect women

I request you to cast a glance at your Z security cover and ask yourself if you really need it? Spare the police force. Let it do actual policing.

MAANA KANOON AAP BANATE HO, BANAO NA!

A WOMAN

Dear Law Enforcers

Are you there? Or am I addressing an extinct species?

A WOMAN

Outsider

Have you ever had the feeling of being an outsider?

I prefer not to write introspective posts, not on my blog at least. I save them for my register, where I write agonized speeches, heart rending verses or bitchy spiels. In long hand, no less. It makes it more personal and helps me vent!

Oh boy, can I be a bitch or what?

Rest assured I am not going to inflict them upon you guys. No, it’s not out of consideration for you, but for me. I need you people.

And I am a firm believer in the age old adage

Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.

For the past few weeks, I have been living in “the winter of discontent” so to say. I feel like an outsider, so alone. It’s not a new feeling for me. I have always been the outsider. It started from my childhood, this feeling. As a kid, my father was posted in various far flung outreaches of the country. My first living memory has been of living in a Brahmin colony in Bangalore. Kids spoke Kannada, so did I. I tried my utmost to fit in. But then my skin gave me away. I wanted the nut brown skin of my fellow playmates, just to fit in.

Then we lived in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Guwahati, Manipur, … and I was the Punjabi kid in a foreign land. It possibly aggravated the feeling of being an outsider

When we came back for vacations or even when I joined Delhi Univ, I was the outsider. You see, in my urge to fit in, I had imbibed certain ways of thinking or attitudes that were foreign to the north Indians.

The image I have of myself is that of a person peeping in through the window at close knit groups of people sitting and talking.

alien

This feeling really intensifies when I attend family functions where there are cliques. I kid you not, there really are cliques of people who grew up together while I did my own thing in the far flung outreaches of India.

Mostly it does not bother me. Living away imparted a certain individuality to my psyche which has served me fine. I am in tune with my own self, since I was the only constant factor in my life. But then, just sometimes, I do get this urge to belong … not be an outsider.

What triggered this, I haven’t a clue. Why I am inflicting this upon you, my dear reader, I haven’t a clue either.

Perhaps I am just feeling lonely.

I think I just need to go pick a fight, just to feel better.

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