Category Archives: Women

Open Up The Spaces.

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There I was, sitting on the topmost stair of the spectators’ gallery of a playground, writing, when a soccer ball landed with a thud right on my foot. I was taken by surprise and flooded with a flurry of apologies. I wasn’t hurt, no. But I roused concern among the boys. But why only the boys? Because there were no other girls around.

Why do men have a monopoly over open spaces? Why, if you look at the massive green stretches of open spaces in our cities and possibly even towns, do you find scores and scores of men playing all sorts of sports but no women? Why are we women still found standing by the entrance watching them play from afar, waiting for the men to return to us? Why can’t we swing the bat hard? Why can’t we kick a soccer ball away? Why can’t we dribble in sweat and exhilarate with ten others at a game played well? Why can’t we grab and hold in kabaddi? Why are we at the edges? Why are we scared of injuring ourselves?

Why do I see girls play badminton? Or cycle? Or skip? Or just choose to go for a walk? Why not put them together in teams too? Why not teach them to be a leader, a team player, bond with each other over match strategies and get that competitive spirit going? Why not teach our women to pull up other women and not push them down? Why not familiarize them with the touch of men so that they know the difference between the touch of love and lust? Why don’t our brothers teach us to toughen up? Why are our cuts and bruises scolded for and theirs disregarded? Well, that actually shows women are more careful about first aid, but you get the point, right?

What are we so scared of?

That our women will get hurt? Or they might disagree to sit inside homes any longer?

That our women will bring the team down? Or that they’ll become strong enough to form their own teams?

That they might overexert? Or that they will learn to embrace their bodies as they are?

What in the world are we afraid of?
Are we more fearful of our insecure men?
Or are we fearful of making our women secure?

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The author is well aware of the countless women who have made a superlative mark in the world of professional sports and is in no way trying to belittle the spectacular magnitude of their efforts. The author is well aware of women who are pushing all limits exceedingly well and breaking glass barriers every day. This post is not intended for those women. Instead, it is intended to bring out the other ladies, young and old, strong and weak, into the open so that they find out for themselves what wonders their graceful, lithe bodies can do, if only they allowed it to!

Graciously Yours!

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Of Darker Alleys (Part 2)


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She started walking faster. She had to get to the house early to make use of all the time she could get. She wanted to get away from them. She was desperate.

She reached the house. She could see the men standing outside impatiently. Bowing her head, lowering her eyes, she walked past them silently. She felt their eyes piercing her back. An involuntary shudder passed through her as she walked in through the wooden door. It was the last time she was going to do it.

It was a beautiful house. Much better than what she had been brought up in. The elders of the house had built it with much love and money. Latticed windows, carved doors, floral designs adorning the middle of the courtyard; she fell in love with the place when she saw it. She used to imagine how she would one day take care of it. Little had she imagined anyone could be as unhappy here as she had become.

Her mother-in-law was walking towards her. She muttered instructions to her. All she caught was the confirmation that they would be back in some time. Possibly half an hour. She didn’t listen to anything else. Not anymore.

The minute they left the compound to attend the neighborhood wedding, she ran to her room. She didn’t want to attend the wedding. It was a trade. The girl was being sold and she wouldn’t know it for a while. That is how the village was surviving. The current generation had almost no girls. Who would the boys marry? They killed their own daughters and bought daughters of other parents only to sell them off as commodities once their utility was over. Higher the demand, higher the price. She preferred the dried grasslands over such fake lushness. At least back at her place, they treated humans as humans.

She had put together a few of her clothes. She was still in two minds if she should run away with her baby or alone. She knew if they found the baby missing, they would not leave any stone unturned to get to her. But if she alone went missing, they might not even bother. With a heavy heart, she picked up her little cloth bag and crossed the length of the house to leave.

She stopped right at the main door. Her son was wailing. Her only son was wailing! She opened the door. She tried ignoring his cries. She could see her freedom waiting down the road. She could hear a hungry heart and an impatient stomach calling out to her.

The mother in her had decided. She had decided to remain human. She closed the doors on herself again. Clutching her bag to her chest, she ran up to his room. Her baby wanted her. Her freedom would have to wait today.

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : I do not know about other countries but I do know that such practices are rampant in India. How rampant, where, since when ~ I wish I could answer those questions with surety, but I cannot.

Picture Credits : Ishita Shah.

Of Darker Alleys (Part 1)

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She squinted her eyes to block the Sun out. She counted the coins she had and kept them in a hidden pocket, of her money bag, she had sewn in. Today was the last day she had to do this. Not anymore.

She picked up her bags of vegetables. She saw the vendor stare at her mammary glands. Shuddering at the thought of what he may be thinking, she walked away. Today was the last day she would walk away silently. Not anymore.

She walked down to her home, no, her husband’s home. The men of the village knew what she was. The women of the village were silent watchers. There were many like her here. No one said anything aloud. But the way they stared at her, spoke to her, spoke about her, gave it all away. They were all hand in glove.

Two years ago, she’d set foot in the village. She was happy at the turn of events in her life. From dried grasslands into lush green living. She thanked her fortunes every day and showered love on her fortune changer. At the back of her mind, however she always found something amiss. She ignored it again and again. Her husband’s abject lack of affection, her in-laws’ desire for an early child, the villagers eyeing her with a look that could make fathers drive back daughters into the houses forever, the pity in the eyes of some women for her; it all kept prodding at that feeling of danger lurking around nearby.

Three months ago, she gave birth to her husband’s son. Everyone at the house was overjoyed. She wanted to die. She was a vessel for them. That is all she was. She may be sparsely educated but she was perceptive. She read people’s behavior, heard them talk, noticed things around. She didn’t want to believe her fate. Her husband had married her for a child. Like the other men in the village, he would sell her off after that. The first time her mother in law hugged her was after the test confirmed she was bearing a boy. She sobbed all night.

Once her son was born, she was rarely allowed to be with him. She was to only feed him and take care of him after the others were tired of playing with him. All she became was a nanny to her own son. She had hoped things would change after her child’s birth. They did. The people of the house showered affection. On her son.

(to be continued…)

Graciously Yours!

Seeing me in you.

Looking into your eyes,

I lose myself in their depths,

My hands in yours,

Seem to melt all my troubles away.

Fingers entwined, feet in sync,

I can take the world head on,

Your faith in me,

Is much more than my trust in myself.

Taking you up in my arms,

Kissing your cheeks as I hear you giggle,

My dear little daughter,

It’s the sweetest sound to my ears.

When I look back into the past,

To not have heeded to your father,

I feel absolutely blessed,

You’re nothing less than God’s gift to me.

 

Sketched by - Graciously Yours!
Sketched by – Graciously Yours!

All those mothers who fought to keep their girl child alive whether as single mothers or fighting against their families — You rock!

Graciously Yours!

Accept India’s Daughter.

On 16 December, 2012, the Nirbhaya rape case rocked the whole of India. For a long time, we protested, came out on the streets, demanded change in laws, wanted the rapists hanged, shouted slogans of women’s empowerment, wanted safety for women. The fire is still seen, the flames are still being fanned, the coals are still red and we’re still waiting…

 

 

 

BBC released a documentary on all of this titled “India’s Daughter”. And they’re being taken to task now.

 

Times Now, a prime time English News Channel, of the Times group flashes :

 

“Is it ethical to reveal the identity of Nirbhaya?” 

 

“Is BBC being sensitive by showing the pictures of the victim?”

 

“Should a rapist be given a platform?”

 

“Voyeurism or journalism?”

 

Times of India, a leading English daily in India, from the same Times group, reports with full sensationalism :

 

“Nirbhaya gang rape convict blames victim for full assault.”

 

They went on to report that the rapist says if the Government changes the punishment under the law to death row, the rapists will not make an attempt to leave the raped girl alive. These are words spoken by one of the rapists who even after two and a half years of jail, has the audacity to say it all. From inside the jail when on death row.

 

Most of our media is happily making the BBC journo a scapegoat. The video has been banned. They found someone to blame. They found a new story to sell. They raised burning questions and shouted their lungs out, all in the wrong direction! I am sorry but that is how I feel about things! Wait. I am not even sorry. Thanks to my irritation at the media, I chose to watch the documentary myself to judge!

 

India’s Daughter.

 

Yes, it reveals the identity of the victim. She has a name. And it isn’t Nirbhaya. It’s Jyoti Singh. Her name means “light”.

 

Yes, it shows pictures of the victim. And her parents chose to do that by free will. Who are we to question it?

 

Yes, it recounts the whole horror of what she had to go through. Of what all us women had to go through when we read those gruesome accounts of the rape that went viral all across the internet within days of December 16, 2012. I still feel nauseated when I think about the pain the lady must have lived through.

 

So what? Is that what we should really be worried about? What ethics and victim privacy are we talking about? The lady is no more. All her parents have are her memories. The least we could do is honour those. And let her parents get a platform to speak.

 

I have questions of my own to ask.

 

  • Why are the rapists still alive?
  • Why even after two and a half years in jail, the rapists seem to not have even a drop of remorse in their blood?
  • Why are we not afraid of the law and instead believ it is our birthright to circumvent the law?
  • What has been done to ensure that the juvenile rapist who will be released in December, 2015, has indeed been reformed or not?
  • Why do those rapists and many others like them believe that it is their right to tell off girls to where they apparently belong – the household, by raping them and shaming them?
  • Why does that rapist say that the girl should have endured it all and not fought back?
  • If on death row he can still say that, what would be the extent of vileness in his thoughts if he was out on the roads?
  • Why are we worrying more about giving these rapists a platform and less about all those endless rape victims who aren’t being given justice yet?
  • Will shoving the video out of sight help to shove the grim mindset aside too?
  • Will educated men still believe that women are to be inside the house to be safe, irrespective of our domestic violence data?
  • How long before we come out of denial and accept that our society needs to start treating women as fellow human beings?

 

Each person in India has a right to be defended in the court of law. I’m happy that we’re democratic enough to be giving a chance to these rapists as well. But trust me on this, that when you read what the defending lawyers had to say, your soul will shudder!

“The moment she came out from her house with a boy who was neither her husband nor her brother, she left her morality and reputation as a doctor as well as girl’s morality in the house and she came out just like a woman. A female is just like a flower, it gives a good looking, very softness, performance, pleasant. But on the other hand a man is just like a thorn, strong, tough enough. A flower always needs protection. If that flower is in a gutter, it is spoilt. If you put that flower in a temple it will be worshipped.”

 

Such crude and filthy thoughts from educated men with professional degrees makes me cringe in horror at how bloody patriarchal and backward the Indian society still is. I feel sorry for the women who live with them and bear with them.

 

She was a 23 year old bright medical student on her way to fulfil the dreams of her parents and get them out of poverty. What was her fault exactly? That she was a girl? That she tried to build a life for herself? That she had parents who trusted her? That she was independent and fierce? That she was confident? That she fought back?

 

Jyoti Singh (1989-2012).

 

Open your eyes, India. You’re half awake. Get out of bed. Whip those sheets off. Open the curtains. The light is out there. See it, embrace it and honour it.

 

Graciously Yours!

A Look Is All It Took.

“And up next is the hot favorite of the season — Nikhil with the slew of his latest songs!”

The crowd roared in welcome. He was her current favorite singer. She was in love with his voice. And his face, too. But voice more. And then he walked onto the stage. She wasn’t crazy enough to try and leap across the stage security but she was crazy enough to get up on the benches and cheer for him.

When he started singing, her friend pulled her down on the seat again and they started swaying to the voice. The rawness, love, passion in his voice that she heard sent her tumbling in a world of her own. Her friend jabbed her in the ribs. She tore her eyes from the stage and looked at her companion angrily! The friend just nicked a look towards a group of boys sitting a few feet away. Some of them randomly had their cell phone cameras focusing in their direction arbitrarily. Some randomness.

She caught one of them looking at her and when they caught eye contact, he looked away not losing the smile.

The smile seemed eerie.

The paranoia triggered.

She had countless incidents running through her head. Nikhil’s voice had been pushed to the background to the constant stream of chatter of safety, security, and self precautionary measures she had heard in the 24 years of life! She chided herself for having come without a male companion.

Any direction she looked, any smile she caught, any stray look she saw, made her heart sink lower.  She crossed her legs. Sat upright. Lost her smile.

A Look Is All It Took.

Why I am not safe among my own?