When my landlord came up to me and said, ‘Mere saath cigarette piyogi? Daru bhi mangwa dunga peena hai toh?’ (Would you like to smoke a cigarette with me? I can get us alcohol as well, if you want?)
Because of the process I am going through, I live in one of the rural parts of Gujarat. Sometimes, I buy cigarettes for myself from the local shops nearby. I could see those hateful eyes judging me each time I asked for a packet of cigarette. The neighbours next door can’t digest the fact that three girls can live on their own and smoke cigarettes. So, the uncles started hitting on us.
One day at 10pm at the night, I heard someone knocking at the door. I went downstairs and opened the door, and to my surprise it was my landlord. The first question he asked me, ‘Do you smoke?’ I reluctantly said yes. His next request was the least expected one. He said, ‘We can smoke together and have some fun. If you want me to get you some drink in the dry state, I can arrange alcohol for us as well and party together’.
That day, I thought how much we have ascribed gender to everything, including cigarettes as well. Cigarette, which is available in every next local shop, is acceptable when males go buy and use it, but for a girl, your character is judged. It’s sad how we have gendered every thing.