Note: This is a work of fiction
Writhing in agony and holding back flames that threaten to barge in through my eyes any time, I write this letter to you, sincerely hoping that you will not consign yourself to the same fate as mine. I will be no more after I usher you into this world and so this letter will have to be your mother’s voice once you’re grown up enough to understand, and obey. I never tried to understand; never tried to obey, and this is what life has come to. Being my daughter, I’m almost sure that you will not listen to me and would rather prefer taking the path of your own calling. Yet being also almost sure that the path of my daughter would be the same as mine, I will make this valiant attempt to show you that mine was a lost cause.
Equality is a myth. There’s nothing called equality. All those talks of male-female equality sounded very good on paper and in the feminist discussion panels I was an audience of, but how unrealistic they were, I came to realize when I was raped. I came to realize that when I was raped by the one who is now your father now.
It is cruel on my part to let you in on this part of the story that I’m sure everyone will hide from you, but your father is the least cruel of all whom your mother had to negotiate. The police officers who suggested the marriage, my own parents who sanctioned it without even asking me and the society which pushed me into it through ways explicit and implicit, are but subtle notes of the cruelty humanity has for half of its milieu.
I’m sure I’ll be giving birth to a daughter and I’m sure it’s my daughter who is reading it, and if I have to say just one line to you, dear daughter, it will be this- for a woman, liberty to be a human being is an illusion, and your mother is finally disillusioned. I spent all my life chasing an impossible dream and I beg you to never embark on that path. This realization of the futility of my endeavours didn’t come when I was penetrated against my will by the man who has now told the doctor that he wants the child and not me, rather, when I was made to marry the man I didn’t do the honour of considering a human being.
You will be safe, I’m sure, in the hands of that beast, only if you don’t refuse to dance to the tunes of the society, the way society expects you to. I beg of you to give up before you even start thinking of equality. Society will take good care of you. Only, don’t ask for the right to be a human being. Stay content being a woman. Find the right man and the right balance, and stay happy. That ‘Y’ chromosome nature didn’t endow you with will make sure you’re never equal to those of the ‘XY’ chromosome species. This liberty that they flaunt is not for us women, or else a country free for more than half a century yet not allowing freedom to its women to lead normal lives would have been a farce. Only, it is so. But we must live with this banished parade of liberty. All of us have to. You have to.
Don’t strangle yourself to despair by trying to change anything. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Your dead mother
I know not whether I was right in choosing to go through your letter when clearly it wasn’t meant for me. And it’s not the nurse’s fault to have entrusted it into the wrong hands. The poor lady only wanted to have completed her job before dying. I’m as old now as your daughter would have been today and you were correct in your instincts telling you that your message would not be heeded.
I’m going to fight for equality, till my last breath, and not the least because I’m a man. Mother, I’m not ashamed of being a man; I have never been, and I want to be able to say this in my dying moments. I’m proud of you mother, for not understanding and not obeying till the last few moments of your life and disappointed with you I am for what you call your disillusionment. I’ll excuse you though, for those weak moments you had. And you’re going to have to excuse me, rather try and be proud of me, for taking the same path as yours. Equality is not a myth. It might have been so till now but I’m sureÂ to see it come alive, if not in this birth, then at least in some birth eons down the cosmic lane, before which my soul will refuse to be at peace. Male-female equality is not an impossible dream.
Trust your son, mother, when he says he will chase it all his life, and in the world beyond, and this world you left a better place to live in. I’ll be the man to show the earth that liberty to be a human being first, is as much a woman’s as a man’s. And your endeavors, mother, were not futile. Every pore of my body oozes with the enthusiasm of being the ‘right man’ you wanted your unborn daughter to find, and to ensure that at least a few women in this country don’t have to go looking for the ‘right balance.’ I’ll be the husband and the father who will not have to be ashamed of being a man, for having to subjugate women to reassure himself of his manhood. I’m not that man you asked your unborn daughter to dance to the tunes of; neither am I a part of that society. The son of a beast I am, I admit, as much as I’m your son, but that blood only makes me a fanatic for creating the kind of world where beasts are no longer able to roam about in human cloaks.