Behind closed doors.

Behind closed doors.

Metanoia

I have been on a reading spree, of late; just finished reading my second book from among the trio I bought last Sunday –  ‘I let you go‘, by Clare Mackintosh. A psychological thriller, it was the kind of unputdownable books I prefer to read. I finished it in about two days; it could have taken me even less time had there not been any other work needing my attention!

The book begins with a hit and run case, but gradually emerges to be the tragic story of the heroine fleeing her miserable life as a victim of domestic violence. The writing is bold, in that  the scenes depicting the violence inflicted by the husband are graphic. It does need a lot of strength and willpower to  read about the acts of violence endured by the poor woman at the hands of her beastly  husband. I shuddered as…

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You are The Man!

You are The Man!

On this Women’s Day (2018) sharing this post from last year. Saluting Woman Power!

Metanoia

I admit, I am late in discussing this event, but did you watch the controversial ‘Koffee with Karan’ episode, two weeks ago? The one where the uber-talented Kangana Ranaut and Saif Ali Khan were Karan Johar’s guests on his famous couch, sipping coffee along with him? Did you notice Kangana’s confidence and her sassiness?   Do you remember her repartees, her jibes, her ripostes that were well-aimed at Mr. Johar? How fearlessly she spoke her mind without mincing words! And, she was in conversation with one of the Big Daddies of Bollywood!

I am an admirer of Ms. Ranaut, and I was blown away by her candour. The fact that she gave two hoots about diplomacy, and about the men in power in the hindi film industry,  shows how self-assured she is. She wasn’t born into the industry, with a silver spoon; she entered the industry as an “outsider”, who…

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You are The Man!

You are The Man!

 

I admit, I am late in discussing this event, but did you watch the controversial ‘Koffee with Karan’ episode, two weeks ago? The one where the uber-talented Kangana Ranaut and Saif Ali Khan were Karan Johar’s guests on his famous couch, sipping coffee along with him? Did you notice Kangana’s confidence and her sassiness?   Do you remember her repartees, her jibes, her ripostes that were well-aimed at Mr. Johar? How fearlessly she spoke her mind without mincing words! And, she was in conversation with one of the Big Daddies of Bollywood!

I am an admirer of Ms. Ranaut, and I was blown away by her candour. The fact that she gave two hoots about diplomacy, and about the men in power in the hindi film industry,  shows how self-assured she is. She wasn’t born into the industry, with a silver spoon; she entered the industry as an “outsider”, who, despite being written off by the industry bigwigs, worked her way up the very competitive ladder, right to the top, and proved to one and all what nerves she is made of!

And, as I watched her, awestruck at the strength she displayed, I wished I was cut from the same cloth. I wished I had the ability to hold my own when faced with dilemmas that rendered me helpless, and submit to the whims of fate. I wished I had it in me to care a damn about people and their judgemental ways, and live life as I please. I wished I had the guts to face life’s tough times as bravely as she has and make myself proud of the way I handled things.

The thoughts dwelled on in my mind for quite a long time after the show ended. I did beat myself up for being a ninny and not building courage to face the upheavals in life. However, as this mental storm subsided and as the dark clouds of self-doubt and self-loathing cleared, I realised I hadn’t been less of a fighter myself! Agreed, I am not like Kangana, or any other Superwoman out there, but then, neither are my battles like those of the others!  I may not have shown the conventional bravado we are used to seeing celebrated all around us, but, I did show presence of mind,  patience and tact when the situations asked for it.

I went for a walk down memory lane, reliving all the tough times I have been through and saw how well I had dealt with whatever destiny handed me. I felt proud of myself and gave myself a pat on my back for having made it through every storm I faced, without thinking of quitting, ever. I honoured  The Hero within me for all those times I know others in my place would have given up. I applauded myself and my graceful performance  and came back feeling good!

Today, as I write this post, I feel that every woman out there who has fought a hundred battles in her life is, indeed, a hero. If she were to recognise her mettle,  discover her forbearance and proudly show off the scars her wounds give her, she would realise what a hero she is! Our battles are different and so is our fighting technique. We fight the way we were built to, but, the bottom line is,  we fight.

We often associate heroism with masculinity, seldom realising that facing the battles of life also requires  gentleness and patience apart from determination and courage. It isn’t easy making it out there despite the threats to your life right since the time you are in your mother’s womb, or born a female in our male-dominated society. It isn’t easy dreaming of reaching for the skies of the competitive world where we are considered the “weaker sex”. Neither is it easy making it in life with all the expectations of society and the family foisted on us at every step of the way.

And, yet, we make it. We make it into this world, we make it past the hurdles strewn all along the way to fulfil our dreams; dreams of an education, a career and even dreams of bringing up a family singlehandedly. Caring for each and every soul in our life, we plough on to reach our goals, with minimum support and applause.

So, isn’t it time we applauded ourselves? Isn’t it time we doffed our hat to ourselves for all that we have achieved; for our bravery, for the wounds we carry so proudly, rarely giving the world a glimpse of these, and smiling despite the tears, and the fears?

I think we ought to. For if we don’t, who would?

So, to all the women out there,  pat your back, hug yourself and take a bow…YOU MADE IT! Despite everything, you made it. You are braving all odds, facing a million hurdles, striving to live your dreams, despite everything. And, even as you do it all, you are taking your loved ones along with you, fulfilling every duty, every promise you are expected to, by your family, by the society, by the world.

Kudos to you, girl!

You are, truly, a hero.

Wishing all the beautiful women out there, a very happy Women’s Day!

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

Attaching this note now, after reading a few comments of my blogger friends:

The title, ‘You are The Man’, is no attempt at trying to find ( and glorify) the Man within the Woman, but, it’s just a play on words.

Contradictory as it may sound –  the title and the post – I don’t have any intentions to prove that I am as strong and capable as a man. I am happy and proud with the woman in me who can deal with life and her weird ways much more competently than a man!

😇

Love,

Shilpa.

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

                 I had my first period at the age of 12, and today, as I sense  menopause peeping from round the corner, I remember a statement made by a professor way back in college:

Celebrate menstruation! It is what makes you a woman!”

Golden words, those, considering, we women hate this thing we would like to think of as  an affliction! When I first learnt about it, I wondered if only women in our country suffered from it! Hilarious, I know, but in my day and  age, innocence still existed.

With no Internet to enlighten us with information, we were too naive to understand life and its ways.  Discussing such taboo topics with elders was considered to be strict no-no. Mother did advice me on what I was supposed to do if something “went wrong” in her absence. But, Dad was not to be consulted as he had no knowledge about anything of the sort!

I would often wonder when I would be rid of this monthly trauma, and so once  badgered mother to tell me when I would become a free bird.  She muffled a laugh, wrapped me in her arms and enlightened me  that my periods would be my companion for more than half of my lifetime! I almost fainted.

Mother would recount tales of how  women from olden days were treated  during those few days  of the month. They would have to stay in an outhouse, or some dark and dingy room all by themselves and their plates of food would be pushed towards them through the door left ajar for such tasks, lest they “touched” someone and contaminated them.

They were forbidden from entering temples and kitchens, for they were impure. And if by mistake they did brush past someone, then that person had to have an immediate bath!  I was aghast at that piece of news!

I also found out how certain practices  existed when I was young. Maybe they do so now, too! Maybe the way it is considered a taboo and has laws pertaining to behaviour during those days,is the reason why it  is looked down upon as an exasperating issue  rather than just another bodily function.

Some years ago, mother had invited some guests at her place and some religious rituals also had to be performed. I was on my period precisely at that time, but I decided to keep mum about it and help mother, lest all the work fell on her shoulders. As I went about completing the chores, I wondered why God, who created us, would consider His children to be impure because of something He Himself had blessed them with!

How could our God be so petty?

I confessed to mother a few days later fearing the worst. But, mother was a lot more progressive in her views than I gave her credit for and accepted my views proudly! I wish every mother would be like mine.
I  know that I am hurting sentiments by saying such things; I am aware how strongly some people feel about it the issue.

I have also read about some “scientific reasons” behind these so called laws. However, treating periods as a natural physiological occurrence, like urinating or sweating, would be a lot more sensible, isn’t it?

Also, discussing it with girls, as well as boys, when they come of age, and making them aware of the various eco-friendly products that can be used during periods, would help create the awareness it so deserves. Doing away with age-old laws and  assuming a  more progressive outlook will help the  Naari lead a better and a happier life.

*Linking this post to Write Tribe #Period Pride.

Let there be change.

Let there be change.

          Every morning, when I skim through the newspaper, my eyes  search for a particular piece of news, which I actually dread reading: a sexual assault here, a gruesome rape there, the lenient laws of our country which fail to offer hope to the victims, and the accusations that fly thick and fast, landing blows on the victims in the worst periods of their life.  Careless statements like, “it surely must be the woman’s fault”, or, “she must have been dressed inappropriately”, or even, “she behaved in such a way, she asked for it”, get thrown around so casually by the heartless public, it embarrasses me no end.  Seriously, do we ask for it?!
As much as I remember, I did NOT ask for it when I was just 14 years old, decently dressed in a salwar kameez, holding my mother’s hand, trying  to enter a crowded ladies compartment of a train, when a male hand, with long, sharp fingernails  groped me, pinched me and disappeared into the crowd, leaving me badly hurt and shaken. I also  did NOT ask for it, when I got spanked  in a crowded street  by a  boy, who was out to have fun with his rowdy friends, leaving me thunderstruck.  And, I certainly did NOT ask for it, when, as an 8 year old, I was violated by my tutor –  the teenaged son of our family friends, whom I looked up to  like an elder brother.
Each and every ‘incident’ (and some more)  happened  years ago, but I remember it so vividly, as if it were  yesterday! The disgust, the shame and the guilt attached to it came without an expiry date. Even now, it leaves me feeling nauseated. So, when I think about those unfortunate souls, who have been harassed and tortured in worse ways, I shudder to think, how long, before they breathe freely, sleep peacefully?
Such incidents rarely, if ever, get erased from our memory. The fear, the trauma that stays behind, breeds a  wariness of people, that refuses to die with time.  Each time I hear about little girls being tutored by   a male teacher, I pray the teacher doesn’t have a devil hidden somewhere within him. Every time I see young girls, lost in thoughts, or listening music on  their iPods while walking through a busy street, I pray for their safety. Not all are capable of fighting back. I wasn’t. I was too young and terrified when it happened.
I know, after reading about my experiences, people might wonder why I speak about such embarrassing incidents. There will also be others, who might say,”Such things keep happening. Why didn’t she slap the guy?”  Well, first of all, it wasn’t I, who  committed the sin. Therefore, I don’t feel ashamed speaking about it. In fact, I think we must voice our experiences, so that we know we aren’t alone. And, secondly, does ‘such things being quite common’  give permission to men to behave lecherously, and treat women as  objects meant to be pawed at?
However, the worst part of it is, when the victims get blamed for such crimes. I agree, that not every place is a safe haven for women to roam freely, dressed as per their likes. But, not every sexual assault takes place in a dark and dingy lane, where women are found loitering around in the skimpiest of outfits! These crimes take place in broad daylight, in the busiest of places, among known people, and with women covered from head to toe in traditional  outfits. Correct me if I am wrong.
It’s  time we pointed fingers at the culprit, instead of  finding faults in the victims of sexual harassment.  Let’s not forget there are daughters in every home.  Heaven forbid, if someday, some of those little girls fall prey to  such evil, won’t you hunt down those beasts for their blood?  Or, will you ask your girls, why they weren’t dressed appropriately, or reproach them for having asked for it? Or, ask them why they simply stood there, instead of retaliating?
Victims of sexual harassment deserve a sympathetic understanding of their ordeals, and not those  accusing fingers pointing at their ‘flawed characters’.  Just peep into those hearts, which thudded with horror, when their bodies were being attacked in such brutal ways; just feel those  wounds, which were inflicted on those innocent souls, and which are still raw and hurting. You will feel the pain they experience when inundated by scornful statements, which get sprinkled liberally at the first instance of an attack on their modesty.
Today, we strive to make our society a safer place for women. But, will we really be able to achieve it unless we  punish – and banish – the devil that resides in every mind? Shouldn’t we be making the laws stricter for the perpetrators, than ordering a decent dress code? Shouldn’t we be shaming the culprits, and bringing them out in the open, to be skinned alive in order to teach the rest of them a lesson?
A little change in our attitude, a lot of change in our laws, will definitely work towards ensuring  a safer world for every human being. Is that a lot to ask?