“Tu ladki hai! You are a girl.”, they say, every single time I turn up home post eight, in the evening.
“Tu ladki hai ! ”, they say, everytime I step outside to buy a recharge coupon or an AloeVera gel from the neighbourhood store, after nine.
“ Tu ladki hai ! ”, they say, each time I put on a Whatsapp dp with one of my male friends.
Even before all this cliched rant of “Tu ladki hai! ”, begins to usurp most of my senses, I sense that something here does not make sense. At all.
Question 1 : Why do you keep reaffirming my gender to me, time and again, at each and every step of my daily routine?
Question 2: Why do you not reaffirm their respective gender to your sons and tell him,“Tu ladka hai. ”?
It is your goddamn duty to respect women.
Sounds legit, anyone?
A few months back, I was interning with a startup and had been added to a group on Whatsapp, where all my colleagues were also its members. So everyone had access to everyone’s phone number, but since it was a reputed company and the talk was mostly professional, it was okay. Later as the internship came to an end, I left the group. Makes sense.
A few days back, I got this text from an unknown number.
Now, whose mistake do you think it is really? A pervert feels it is okay to send borderline creepy texts to a random stranger( or worse, stalk them and text them intentionally).
But is it really okay?
To be honest, somewhere, it all boils down to our upbringing. The fault is not in her timings by when to get home, not in the dress she wears, not in the dp she flaunts, it is in the values you imbue in your sons. The problem germinates at home itself. Ever since birth, a weird thought is embedded in a boy’s mind. He is a boy, he will be unconditionally favoured. Literally everytime, everywhere. And I can totally claim that I have witnessed this happen within my own network of family and relatives. Sadly, I am not proud to claim that.
They : If you do not know how to cook, later when you get married, you will face a lot of problems. You will be considered a misfit, a terrible failure, a bad homemaker.
Me : But why? Why does not knowing how to cook make me look so terrible?
They : Because a woman is supposed to know how to cook.
Me : But why?
They : Because that’s what she does.
Isn’t it sad that we live in a society which is full of such bullshit preconceived notions, where the fate of a woman is determined by her culinary skills ?
Me : Oh. But why is it so that she does that? What if she doesn’t do that? Why is it not so that she should know how to cook because cooking is great, therapeutic, awesome. And even if she doesn’t find it that lucrative , it is still a useful skill anyway, worthy of acquiring in life.
They : Oh..yes.. That’s what I was trying to say. That’s why you need to master it.
Me : But if it such a wonderful skill, reeking of creativity and happiness and fulfilment ( think you could cook a pizza when you crave it :P… But then again you could just order anyway… :P) Never mind, the point is, why should it be a prerogative of women only? If the chef in a highly-acclaimed restaurant is a man, would you still say,“Oh, he’s doing it because he’s supposed to do it!”. Or would you be like,“ Wow, he’s following his passion and he’s sooo good at it! ”.
The latter, I guess.
And we are doomed with hypocrisy.
Let me tell you a story. My story. It happened to me a few months back. I and a few of my friends (read: boys ) got drunk at our college fest, and before we could even anticipate what could happen next, I passed out. Period.
They were TERRIFIED as none of our parents knew (read : would support ) that we had been drinking. We were on a scooty and a bike and we kept circling around Dwarka ( or as I was told the next morning) until they brought me home around 12. They left by 2. Or so. I admit, it was a terrible fuck-up and unfortunately they had to bear the brunt of my mom and my dad and my aunt and my sister and my brother and my neighbour…yeah…you got the point.
Still, they brought me HOME, SAFE . And that is the best worst-case scenario possible, isn’t it?
So what I want to say is, not all men can be viewed in the same light. Some are really good and caring and helpful and since I know this from my personal experience, I can vouch for it.(And if you are reading this, I want to tell you I am lucky to have you guys in my life.
But then, THIS happened.
Me : *woke up next morning*
*faced the agony of my family*
*got holed up inside my room to cool off*
*called up my boyfriend ( Yes, I had a boyfriend then. No, you are not supposed to share this confidential piece of information with my family or even “dooor-ke-rishtedaar” as they all are kind of conservative!*
*narrated the entire incident to him*
*expected he would be shocked, angry, upset, glad and thankful in the same order*
Turned out, he already knew about it ( how? That’s a tale for some other day!). So he was not shocked, not angry, but upset and kind of sweet too, “ Don’t you worry, I am WITH YOU.”
Surprisingly, he was not thankful. To them .
Me : But why?
He : “Tu ladki hai.”
Meanwhile, me in my mind : WTF
He : “They might be nice people but you can’t really trust anyone with such a situation.”
Me in my mind : *Gasps* followed by a ‘WTF’
Okay, so, seriously, how many times will I have to acknowledge the fact that I belong to the feminine gender? Does this imply that any friends I have, of the opposite sex, would not qualify to genuinely help me in such ugly situations? Is every other man just a demon, ready to devour women, at the first opportunity?
And I am not naive. I know the reality of our times. The rape and torture and murder cases victimizing women are all over the news, everyday, and I am not blind to not see them. But not every man you have in your life is a potential threat, is he? Some are simply real gems to have. And I am grateful to have them. And I wish you have them in your lives too.
And how shall we make that possible?
By propagating the right thinking. In the right direction.
I want both men and women to shine equally. To stand on the same podium, and lead the world from there.
I AM A GIRL. And I do not want to be a secondary homo sapien, I do not want to be a subset of the species lying at the highest rung of the ecological pyramid. We are all ‘humans’, not a GIRL, not a BOY, not a bisexual (and the list goes on..) but a ‘human’. And I only want us to be just that, a ‘human’.
Is it that hard?
I am not asking you to tilt the tables in the favour of women. I am not asking you to DO any favour. I am humbly requesting you to go back home, revisit your roots, and re-examine your values. Ask yourself, “ Is there anything wrong with the kind of society we have built for ourselves? Are we screwed up in our mentality towards a sex that is equally and proportionately wonderful as the one that we worship above it?”
You will get the answer.
It might be a long way before we can correct all the flaws embedded deep within our traditional societal institutions, but we can still hope.
This might be a man’s world, but I am definite of building my own universe.