The Note from a Woman

  I-am-a-Woman-so-I-am-..

 

Before I begin with the article I wish to draw your attention towards the disclaimer:

The present article isn’t inspired from the Uber’s Case, any Open Letter or the sensitive video on ‘Indian Women Deserve to Get Raped’ and not even the recent acid attack on a woman doctor by another fellow doctor who was her best friend, huh! The article is an expression of my thought that has been haunting me for a long time now, in a local bus, crowded street, Jogger’s Park, railway coaches, while some emotional and agonizing read on women assault, leisure walk and during encounters with real incidents. I had wanted to find a space and some time to pour out my heart on how it feels to be an Indian Woman and finally I could make some time for it. Therefore, the article mustn’t be considered as a ‘Season’s Post’.

I am a woman and I am not really proud to be one. I don’t find anything about me that I should take pride in. Well, yes I may consider myself to be a little lucky for I came into the world, though being a woman, because many of my girlfriends were denied this  basic right too. They were strangled before they could even know they were to grow into a woman. Many of my kin, in the other sex, were refused the grace of a protective sister, amorous girlfriend, compassionate wife and an affectionate mother to their kids, for only one reason, the genital difference. However, at times I feel they met a better fate. At least, they didn’t suffer bad ogles, awful croaks, malicious remarks and unkind judgment like I have and will continue to.

From a very young age I was treated a little different, good or bad, but different. The do’s and don’ts for my brother and me were like chalk and cheese. He could climb up anybody’s lap, I couldn’t. He could sleep with anyone, from a distant relative to a close family member; I don’t remember I ever did. He even enjoyed night stays at his friend’s home, I dared not even think of it. My formative years were not too good of an experience because it left me with a feeling that I am not akin to my brother, but yes, now I have the realization for I have known the ways of the world. My parents and immediate family put in their best to give me an unperturbed childhood, free from embarrassment, disgust and enduring scares. Unfortunately, many of my play mates did experience that I was saved from, for they were cursed to be a woman in making. And countless of others were also devoid of a happy childhood. Why? Obviously, because they were to grow with curves. They befittingly served as a ‘tool, device or apparatus’ to the young and the old Adams alike, for their satanic passions. I really don’t know how much courage would they have needed to gulp in the fact that they were mishandled. I feel ashamed because my womanhood had, has and will continue to be a curse for my sort and me.

I grew a little older only to feel blameworthy of my body. My curves had started to show, though I was not full grown, but I could sense the sharp eyes, trying to find an opening to get a glimpse of how I looked on the inner side. The restrictions upon me grew severe, almost making me feel discarded. I couldn’t wear my old favorite dress that my mom had herself bought for me. My evening walks to the nearby park were almost on the verge of getting banned. I had to be accompanied by my brother while stepping out of home. Ironically, my brother was younger to me. I failed to understand back then how could a younger brother be the knight in shining armour. I so damn hated him for trying to become my shadow but as I now believe, being a boy, the future man, was enough to keep me safe and away from the wicked wolves. In spite of the wide awake eyes of my kindred, that bearded jiggling belly in the neighborhood always asked me to stand close to him, I could never decipher why? But now I have the answer. It was so cheap of him. I couldn’t take pleasure in being a reason of concern for my family and especially my brother because some other brothers, uncles and even grandfathers had not-so-holy intentions towards me.

In time I attained the awkward age, the puberty. I had my first period. I remember the minute details of the day so perfectly. I thought I was diseased and my days were numbered. I had never heard anyone, boy or girl, to suffer the illness I was experiencing. It was painful but my mother seemed more pained than I did, I thought she was mournful because she had accepted that I wouldn’t last for long. She gave me something to keep on the top of my bottom under clothing so that I’ll be well. She didn’t explain about that medication to me then.  The very evening, she sent for me, patted my back and asked me to get seated for an important discussion. I felt honored; a discussion with my mom was no joke. This was the first time she expressed her desire to discuss something essential with me. She started with saying, “You have turned into a big girl now”. I couldn’t figure out what she meant by ‘turned into’. I examined my exterior thoroughly. I had not increased in any dimension, horizontal or vertical. My nails, hair and everything remained precisely the same it was a day before. She came closer and said my bleeding was nothing abnormal. Every girl faces it after a certain age and this would happen every month for many, many years. She briefed me on how I should take care of myself but most importantly, she asked me not to share this with anyone, relatives or friends and especially the boys. I was sworn into keeping it a ‘hush-hush’ affair. I did as I was told but I was still not explained how I had turned into a big girl. I am shamed not because of my periods but because my ability to bring life to the world was to become a real-time threat for me. Keeping myself within and indoors for most of the time was a return gift to my potential procreation. This by no means can be the happy ‘periods’ of my life. It was during this time that one of my distant relatives eyed on me. I even remember that school teacher who’d not miss out on any opportunity to touch me and my girlfriends at the wrong places. Shivers ran through our bodies when he asked us to go near him, praying he would not make any kind of contact with the vulnerable parts and feeling shameful to discuss it with our families. We still haven’t!

I grew a little older than before, a youthful college goer, only to make things bitter for me. I had no free will, no individual choice or a fair say in my own matters. I went to a girls’ college while some of my friends to co-ed. Things were relatively easy for me within the college campus but beyond the college gate, it was all the same. Packs of starving hounds frequented the way, eagerly waiting to tear us apart with their nasty glances. I was stopped from being myself; barred from walking into the streets with hair let loose. I had to wear ‘decent clothes’ (as it was termed to me), not laugh too loud or speak with theatrical facial gestures because all these attracted attention of the people. Honestly, back then and even now no guy seem to exert a pull on me due to their vigorous laugh or bodily gestures on some street of the town or anywhere else. Well, as far as clothes are concerned no man in his minimal clothes, has ever had a captivating effect on me. They never seduced me with their varying sets of packs or biceps. Yes, I did look at them with a token of appreciation, making them least uncomfortable. Every day seemed a battle for me with the roadside Romeos of my neighborhood waiting to make filthy remarks. My complaints to parents only gave me once answer, “IGNORE”. I heard the word ignore countless number of times, from my parents to friends, from friends’ family to that unfamiliar lady on the road, from my immediate relatives to my sister’s mother-in-law. The word IGNORE became a solution to every wrong thing that traumatized me, emotionally and mentally, at least not physically for me. I desired to become a Super Woman and wage a war against the men, those pigs who had given me a tough time, that rickshaw puller, the vegetable vendor, the salesman in the colony, the patrolling police officer and his repulsive associates, the other college students, elderly people on the road. I have a very clear memory of that old man, really old, may be in his last few years of life, on an unsteady scooter, asking me whether he could give me a lift. His uncanny looks and immoral grin was quite an indication that he had atrocious motives. Nevertheless, I wondered whether he could do any physical harm to me or not because a tight slap on his face could have sent him to the heaven, with a bit of exaggeration. But then how could I forget the six lettered golden word IGNORE. I had qualified in accepting every profane and sinful act of the boys and the men and just IGNORE. Tell me, why should I take a pride in myself when I had to bear everything with an IGNORE.

Soon after college I took to work; wanting to step out of my hometown; in search of freedom and glamour. I thought the men of my town were sick and those outside would be a personification of Lord Ram. I was so wrong. Yes of course, the men within the office gate were no harm, may be because they were primarily good or maybe they were afraid of consequence mechanism set up to take care of such issues, be it anything, it was the first time I felt safe and secure in my life. However, the world that awaited outside the office gate was no less than my home town. The awareness hit me, men will always be men! I am sorry to say this but this is what I have seen, faced and thereby believed. The general compartment of a local train was a fierce journey for me. I remember missing so many local trains for I hated the touch of the men, not that they couldn’t have avoided, but it was like ‘dance in the rain’ obsession. I felt safe in the overcrowded women compartment, replace ‘overcrowded’ with its square (Mathematics). The ride of the local bus when all the seats reserved for women were occupied was no less a nightmare. Each second like a lifetime but I had no choice. Nonetheless, this was the time when I felt myself, self reliant. I was enjoying life with all odds around. I will like to mention that this phase of my life gave me some best men in my life, as friends, brothers, colleagues and even a combo pack of all the three. I knew then that men apart my family can be good and compassionate too. They reassured my faith in humankind. I had started liking men, not all but a few, selective ones. But then there was this incident encountered by a known face. Her willingness to be with her love was framed. Her emotional moments were taped, well I don’t know the entire inside story, but I just felt ashamed of being a woman, yet again. The vicious circle never seemed to end. I made peace with a thought; my primal form does catch the fancy of the onlookers, unquestionably men.

An episode that hurt me a lot and left me reclusive was a night when I was sleeping with my mother along with few of my aunts after a marriage bash and yes that cousin, I feel sickened to address him like with that label, brother. I was fast asleep when I felt some insect crawling over my face and neck, finding a way to reach deeper. I was worn-out to even feel it initially but was in all consciousness when the creepy crawly bug was trying to reach in. At once I caught hold of it. It felt so humiliating to think that the bug was my cousin, the one whom I adored. I slapped, boxed, kicked, abused and uttered damning words. Neither did I regret it then nor shall ever. This was my first retaliation and it makes me feel good that I did that. As expected I was told by my people not to share this horrifying incident with anyone because that sinner will never be questioned but I would be seen in a bad light. I nodded and obeyed. Should this confrontation with the world ‘of men, by men and for men’ make me feel proud? I let you answer that. There was one more not as off-colour as the preceding one but still it was not a welcome chapter of time. An early day, on my way back home after the refreshing morning walk I heard a rickshaw puller saying, “Madam, where shall you go?” I nodded in negation. His next move was a whistle. I was brisk walking then. The fury conquered me. I turned back and before he could flee, caught hold of him by the collar and punched his back with all the force. This act didn’t catch attention but it left me with great satisfaction because I could RETALIATE, again. Since then I have never allowed anyone to treat me as piece of meat and I shan’t, ever. Here, I will also like to mention that not every man falls into the distressing category. Plenty of them are good, respectful, understanding, kind and generous but several more are not.

I have matured into a woman now. Few things have changed and some have not. I am in my ‘zero tolerance zone’ and will not bear the brunt of patriarchy. I go out with friends, party and make merry. But still few things have still not changed like I have a fixed time to go out and report back, unlike the men I know. I can party with soft drinks but can’t enjoy the drinks meant for men, publically, else I’ll be branded a bad woman. Above all, I am expected to save myself for the marriage but men can have their practical lessons, either when in love or no love at all. Losing virginity is manliness. Men’s intimacy with women is an indication of their bodily needs and a trophy of their calibre but for women, it’s different. For a woman staying virgin until marriage is her righteousness. She can’t lose her ‘virtue’ so what if she feels it that way, not lust but love, true love. Worst being, even if she vows to break the sacrosanct patriarchal code she can’t go talking about it while the men can undeniably boast of it. To me virginity is a state of mind and a matter of choice.  Alas, the hypocrite society that I am a part of. What amuses me the most is the so called arranged marriage tradition of my country, where a girl is not allowed to speak to too many men beyond the family however is expected to sleep with the one she barely knows, soon after she wears the vermilion or has the sacred rites performed. I believe most of the arranged marriages in India are no less a social certificate to rape. I seek forgiveness for my biting statement but yes I feel it that way, and for love marriages, it must be painful. The reports and analysis on forceful sex, no less than a rape, within the institution of marriage makes me hate myself, leaving me only to think that I too may only serve as a sex tool to someone. It’s so excruciating of a feeling. The awe-inspiring stature of pretence of the societal norms can be estimated by the fact that rape within the marital relationship is no offence here. Frankly, I can’t expect it to get better in the light of the innumerable rape victims and survivors still struggling to get well deserved justice. Shall I take pride in displaying the pending FIR files of rape cases, eve teasing charges, acid attack occurrences that my country has?

Being a woman is no luxury in India, rich or poor, young or old, illiterate, literate or educated. Even a woman from early thirties to mid fifties suffers what I suffer at my age. I don’t intent to throw light on why is the society such, the causes behind such anomalous urge among the men folk, the aftermath and reprimands because if I start doing that I may end up writing a book. I am just humiliated being a woman in a country where men are no less automated engines, carrying out the commands of testosterone when women are supposed to keep their estrogens under control, two different rule books for probable counterparts. I know things will not change overnight; I don’t want that either, because if it does, it will only be a sham. Like every woman in India, I want a see a sea change in the thought processes of men and women alike. I want my next generation to breathe the free air and live the life on their terms and conditions; yes I am talking about girls. If I give birth to a girl, I will not train her in IGNORE THERAPY but will give her lessons in RETALIATE REMEDY. She will be born with ‘zero tolerance’ and will not waste years, like me, to build that anger within. She will not feel ashamed but will put others, the men kind to shame.

The alarm is ringing, either make changes for me or get prepared to change yourself! No other way but a WIN-WIN situation for me. I have replaced loathing for myself and my body with rage, wrath and temper. I will no longer be a sorry figure and you can absolutely not take me for granted. I am the face of changing times so if you play foul with me then watch out for yourself!!

 

 

30 thoughts on “The Note from a Woman

  1. Men are always men…but there are also many other men who really make this world a better place for women. Our aim is not hardcore feminism… we need both men and women to make this world a better place to live for all.
    loved this blog a lot….. good job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jency I agree to your point but my post was not against all MEN.. it was directed towards those who make it so uncomfortable for women that they begin to curl up themselves in a shell.
      thank you for reading 🙂

      Like

  2. An incredible post, one of the most deeply moving I have ever read. I am so sorry for the pain you’ve suffered over the years. Thank you for sharing your story. Your courage will make a difference. It is a small but vital step towards change. Never doubt your bravery or your contribution. Have courage, be yourself, and be justly proud of who you are and what you stand for. Again, extremely well done, both women and men will be better off for reading your extraordinary statement.

    Like

  3. Supriya…
    Hatts off……
    The way you found to reveal the untold feelings for lakh of women in our country…..is superb….We expect our society to change to change this scenario..in the coming future….
    Thank you for your effort….

    Like

  4. Awsum supriya….experiences and thoughts of every woman…..its like hearing your own voice…..i too have a daughter and i have started saving her from now…..since our society doesn’t give time for her prepare herself to retaliate…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks a ton Poonam ma’am. Your angel is too young to retaliate and therefore you need to take care of her but please make sure that you teach her to deal with the wrong doers and never feel shy or ashamed of anything that belongs to her, that makes her what she is. I don’t want my next generation to face what my previous generation had and the present generation is facing.

      The society will never give enough time and opportunity for anything… We have to snatch our right if not granted. It’s never too late!! Let’s not ignore the wrong and speak out for our right!!

      Like

  5. Supu its a good attempt. Frankly, there is nothing new. When we write something, it should be very simple and invoke our deep core. You should have dealt more with your feeling when your cousin misbehaved with you. It is good that you are expressing.it takes courage to share this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Farah for taking out time to read it. It’s really means a lot. I accept it’s nothing new but then again I couldn’t have afforded to throw light upon only one incident when there was so much to say and make the piece lengthier. Another fact being it was intentional, not to delve with that episode for too long because the other episodes and incidents have left a similar impact on the life of this woman.

      Well, I believe it’s just not me and the anecdotes dealt with are not just not mine.. That’s of a woman. If my article has failed to irk the strings of heart and move people then I guess I have a lot to learn and a long way to go. Once again, thank you for devoting your precious time.

      Like

  6. Too good!!!…”If I give birth to a girl, I will not train her in IGNORE THERAPY but will give her lessons in RETALIATE REMEDY”
    This is what i will do…Hope this is for a “POSITIVE CHANGE”…..Hats off to u…!!

    Liked by 1 person

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