“Galti ho gayi. Fir nahi karega. (It was a mistake. He won’t do it again.)” Such a simple statement! What could be wrong about it? In an ideal world? Probably nothing. In ours? Maybe a woman was eve-teased, maybe a wife was hit across her face, maybe a mother was disrespected, maybe Draupadi was disrobed, maybe Nirbhaya was raped, maybe bodies were butchered and burnt but galti ho gayi, fir nahi karega.
A male tourist walks through New York City, Chicago and even Cape Town, unarmed, with a wallet full of cash and probably a pint of beer warming his belly and not a care in the world but the sights the 2 am nightlife of those cities have to offer. A woman, a resident of maybe New York, Chicago and even Cape Town, out in the streets just before dusk, while the Sun is still shining, fully clothed, has to ignore the unwanted solicitation requests to smile or men just thinking out loud of what they think of her body. And God forbid if she must step out after the Sun sets, whose mistake do you think it is? Well, if it was India, our political leaders would tell you in press conferences whose mistake it is.
Where’s this anger coming from you ask? Nah, there’s no anger. Neither does it have to do anything with Women’s Day. I don’t give a damn what day it is when the world, or should I say, the men decide that they should celebrate women – loosely translated into another day when gifting companies have a ball, HR teams put up events, families treat their women with cards and probably a meal! I’m beyond anger now. I’m sad, sad that the state of affairs requires us to still walk a long, long way! Don’t give me shit about how women can now go to work, the White House or even space! If in the 21st century, after all the leaps science has made, and not an iota of proof that men are in some way superior to women, I still have to deal with men not wanting to talk about my period leave and doctors insisting that birth control pills are a necessity for women, you’re still letting women down. Aur galti hamaari hi hai! (It is us who are at fault!) Our internalised misogyny makes us so judgmental about other women, makes us body-shame, slut-shame, struggle shame and even success shame! Find a woman who uplifts other women and you’ll find a friend for life!
I got a barrage of texts over the past few days asking about a girl from Calcutta, a student of my alma mater. I didn’t know her personally but posts where people were demanding justice for her made me curious about what had happened. Academically accomplished, the girl was wedded to a respectable family in Calcutta and had just celebrated her first anniversary, when news of her death reached her parents. The husband cried suicide, parents are crying murder and also … justice! Her parents have admitted to knowing she was domestically abused by her husband, she was unhappy in her marriage and even sent her back to live with her husband because log kya kahenge (what will others say)! Justice for whom, I ask?
The parents are saying, “Galti ho gayi. Fir nahi karenge. Koi toh unhe bataao ki ab bahut der ho gayi!” (It was a mistake, it won’t happen again. Someone tell them, that it’s already too late.)
Her parents left her to die, societal pressures left her to die, even the man she’d chosen as her life partner left her to die. And those men and women who turn around and say, she always had a choice? You know what? She made the choice. And now you have to live with it.
P.S. This piece is based on a creative writing prompt from http://www.thinkwritten.com. The prompt was as follows: “Slip up – write about making mistakes.”