[5 women chit-chatting about xyz things over lunch]
Time – anytime and every time
Location – anywhere and everywhere
Day – Yesterday, Today and hopefully NOT Tomorrow
They are almost done eating. Half a roti, daal-chawal , aloo gaobhi ki sabzi and pyaaz – the food in their plates is almost over but the chit-chat has taken an interesting yet very ‘normal’ turn, making it intense and slowing down their speed.
From somewhere this not so alien term landed in the chit-chat of these 5 women. The word is ‘Feminism’. Neither is the world so alien nor are the misconceptions associated with its meaning [read it as feeling] – ‘anti-men-pro-women feminism/ man-hater feminism? Equal rights feminism for man-woman? Or Equal rights for humans’ feminism?’ Having known these misconceptions and after stating them for once, personal narratives started pouring out with a tinge of truth. These lived realities brought in a flavor of contemporary tone to the narration and soon there were so many anecdotes of everyday challenges of women – trying to manage home, family, work. This further slowed down the pace of eating. Such management takes its toll when a woman does not feel comfortable at home or at office. But, being a strong, independent, ambitious, and passionate woman who has her own dreams and has chosen to step outside home and work, she cannot complain as she was already warned of these earlier! And complaining about it will make her weak, vulnerable, and responsible for this discomfort!
So, what do you think a woman will do? [or mostly does]
Isn’t it simple logic – SHE WILL NOT SHARE THE DISCOMFORT!
By now the chit-chat has entered into the discussion of a ‘normal’ act of sexual harassment. So, the next not so alien term for the day [read era] is ‘#MeToo’. As soon as it took a momentum, there came a point when 3 out of 5 women were simply stating what perhaps they had been trying to bury down…deep!!! Their eyes had been holding on to the lava of anger, despite that none of their voices were trembling. However, it certainly had keenness – a keenness to scream out to the world! The time is NOW!
Every word that came out of those women’s hearts was as deep and scarred as those undesired names embarked on the barks of those old trees – standing for years, giving us shade. A scar which had sustained itself for eight long years in the memory of one of these women is very ‘normal’. Perhaps it is not ‘loud’ enough to be called a scar!
In the month of July, a 17-year-old girl is going to her tution classes at 3:30 pm on a tri-cycle rickshaw, which is being cycled by an old man. The way to her tution goes through a posh colony of ‘civilized’ humans. It’s a usual stretch of 20 minutes on rickshaw, that she crosses three times a week. On this particular hot day there wasn’t a single living being except few tress on that street. Suddenly, she feels a hand on her waist moving down to her right butt. She turns around and gets numb by looking at a person – wearing a helmet, driving a bike next to the rickshaw. By the time she comes to her senses [after 10 seconds] that person has gone away with the speed of the wind.
She went to her tution and came back wanting to share this with her mother…
But she is a brave, strong, independent, ambitious, and passionate girl who can take care of herself…who can go to tution on her own…who does not need her father or brother to drop her off [not at least in the daylight]…who can move freely…who does not want to hear ‘maine tujhe pehle hi kaha tha aur bahar ja akele…jaha dekho chaudhari banana hai tujhe’
…but SHE COULDN’T and SHE DIDN’T!
They finished their food and are standing in a queue to clean the plates which had dry remains of subzi. While standing in that queue waiting for her turn, she was wondering if her story is ‘loud’ enough to be considered a ‘scar’!
Three out of these five women either had been sexually abused by someone within the family or know someone really close who has experienced it.
Five out of these five women had been sexually assaulted by strangers on the road/ in the park/ in public spaces.
I don’t need to put down any statistics here to substantiate what I am saying. All I want to say is provide your children with spaces where they feel comfortable in sharing with you and not trying to prove themselves to you!
Opening up your heart and being vulnerable at times is the strongest act one can do!