Saturday, 29 December 2012

M Sick, and I am feeling lost

I didn't want to write this blog. I have done a lot of FB activism, on you know what. Being in media, you really can't escape unpleasant truths.
So, Damini, Nirbhaya (whatever your name is...my girl) I am shocked about what happened to you.
When the first news came in, I dismissed it of as another rape case. It's only when I read about the mutilation of your genitals, that I felt helpless anger rising within me. And, sadness too. I have been crying silent tears every day since then. I could have been in your place, you know.
Eight years ago, my friend (girl) and I, had hopped into a DTC bus. Only two of us. It was 7 in the evening. I had rejoiced; only someone using public transport in Mumbai and Pune can understand my joy at having bagged a vacant seat. In this case we had the bus to ourselves - empty. We could have sat wherever we wanted.
My friend, smarter than I, quickly caught on what the empty bus meant. Her fear was infectious. We stood near the door, ready to jump, if the situation showed signs of turning ugly.
Delhi instills fear in you; dread and constantly watching your back.
I remember for days after I was groped on a winter evening, I began carrying a stone in my hand bag. The biggest I could find. I may not carry my wallet, but I wouldn't step out of the hostel without carrying the stone. It had saved me from groping fingers and chilling laughter. The chap, who slipped his dirty hands over me, was barely out of teen. I was older and I could fight him off, thanks to a stone lying on the footpath. And, police who were guarding an IPS officer's bungalow. The chap escaped. I was asked not to file a police complaint, by a well-meaning colleague.
Being alone in the city, and with no connections whatsoever, I agreed.
But after that incident, I have lived in perpetual fear. Even today in a new, strange city, I sense a cold hand gripping my heart, while my eyes scan the road for the biggest stone I can find.
--
I was lucky. But, you were not.
--
After my personal experience, I should probably be able to offer some solutions. Sadly, I can't.
I have been reading several blogs and what I thought were possible solutions, aren't.
I was quite okay travelling in ladies special, living in ladies special hotel or being driven by a lady chauffeur. Till someone said, "Aren't all these an attempt to take us back to the Zenana era? Women in 'Women's Only' world.
 Do I want 'Women's Only' world? Frankly, no.
Are men ready to accept us? I hope so.
--
Another blogwriter said she wasn't going to ask her daughters to dress down or carry a chilly/pepper spray.
Or live in perpetual fear.
I haven't carried a chilly/pepper spray. But they could come in handy, you know.
About dressing up/dressing down, I was in salwar kameez on both occasions.
I can shut up people who say that mini skirts excite men to carry out their fantasies on unwilling females in buses, cars, parks, alleys and even house.
--
Is the "izzat" and "sharam" if the "izzat" of the girl is violated, responsible for killing of the girl foetus? This thought crystallised when I was watching Pinjar and then Gangajal.
Both the films had a common point, the girls were carried away by goons. In one film, to settle previous score and in the second one because the man had set his eyes on the girl. And, wanted her.
So, jab ladki ko uthwa lete hain, toh woh  gharwalon ke liye mar jaati hai. Knowing how tough it is to rear girls, why bring her into this world then? She, better be happy, with God and his own world.
Shame and stigma. Being a woman means...shame and stigma. And, happiness for a few. May the few increase their tribe.
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M Sick and I am feeling lost.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Mothers, all over the world, are the same

Watched English Vinglish the other day on TV. As with everyone else (mothers and daughters in particular), I was reminded of couple of incidents from my childhood, when I didn't accord my mother any particular importance.
I thought her to be very dowdy, very controlling, very intrusive, never letting me "grow up". It was only after her outburst, which did us both good, did I realise that okay, Mataji isn't some limbu-timbu. I can't remember what triggered it, but I had made some disparaging remark over her education and grades.
Never one to take audacity lying down, least of all, her half-baked daughter's, Mataji brought out carefully rolled sheets of her degree and convocation.
"When I appeared for MA exam, your elder sister was sitting in the corridor, of the college, waiting for me to finish my paper and come out. A sweepress was taking care of my girl...your elder brother was at home, with your father....."
Hearing all that I was chastened and quietly withdrew.
Now when I look back, I think I can put two and two together. A year or two later, Mataji decided to enroll for her PhD; when I decided to learn Japanese, she followed suit. And, then when I was in Delhi, she did a Diploma in Urdu writing. Got a first class.
Did her daughter's words hurt Mataji and that pushed her to study more, something she always wanted to? Quit possible.
Her PhD dream remains unfulfilled. And, much as she wanted me to go in for PhD studies, I refused. I am not academic material at all.
--
What is it about mothers and long nose? It's there, everywhere, sniffing out secrets, smelling pain and agony. Before I got my mobile phone at the age of 24, all the calls that came for me, were well listened in my Mataji. All the letters that I got too...She had numbers and addresses of my friends, particularly boys.
She knew exactly who was going out with whom. You know, she might as well have been in college with me or shared my hostel room. Mataji knew every secret that I wished to hide/keep safe from her. I don't know how.
----
She didn't change when she became a grandmother too. My nephew, who is younger to me, found that out soon. She knew the parents of his friends, she knew where they stayed, what they ate and where they holidayed. And, although his teenage years coincided with her illness, she kept a close tab on him.
I have a couple of her diaries and notes with me. I managed to leaf through a few pages which mentioned my nephew's antics in great detail. Quite an embarassment material!
--
Had she lived for a few more years, then she would have taken to Facebook quite easily. Her nose would be stuck to the computer screen!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Too many voices

Okay. Have to scribble something as there are too many voices in my brain, clamouring and drowning out the din of the outside world. So those sitting around me, will find me in hermit-like mood; remote and fidgety. Remote, as in, others cannot approach me. Fidgety because too many things happening in my brain. I can actually imagine the thought wires criss-crossing, and becoming one messy tangle.
What am I supposed to untangle and relax?
Here are my usual solutions: watch a movie. With no one for company. In my moods like this, I prefer to sit and watch the film alone. No popcorn either.
And, which movies would make it to my companion list? Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (no), Jodhaa Akbar (no), Yuva....(some bits, yes), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (maybe yes), Andaz Apna Apna (uhhh) Swades (YESSSSSSS).
I don't know why, but when I am down and out, and need to calm myself, I invariably reach out for Swades, which in some people's opinion is a perfect recipe for sad documentary. I don't agree. Ya, I mean it has been stretched quite a bit. But, still it's the best ever depiction of the confusion that India is. And, that we do know how to put things right, in perspective.
I also love it plainly for the village life, the uncomplicated stance, the unflinching acceptance of "this is it..."
My favourite bit of the movie is when SRK enters the village in his caravan, with the boy Chiku leading the way, and "ayo re" score in the background. My spirits lift.
There are other connections too.  Watching movie sitting on the road. Many a times in my childhood, I have often sat by the roadside with other townies/villagers watching movie on the "purdah" - hello, this was before TVs became common and electricity more regulated.
And, of course the temples. I loved the temple in this movie. The old stone temple, with the temple pond. Old village temples are soothing, charming and they have the ability to stop the clock. Time ticks by very slowly...until you are finally ready to step out and face the world.
I rarely ever visit a temple in the city. They somehow don't have the ability to draw you in like the old, cool temples of the village.
Yup, so I watch Swades for certain reasons.
---
If I can't watch a movie for some reason, then flipping through old letters and photo albums gives me back my sanity. On days like these, I hate the idea of logging into Picassa or flicker and clicking on pics. Hell, I would rather reach out to the photos under the plastic covering, pull them out and my fingers tracing the outlineof the figures in the images.
I quite like the idea of holding the past in my hands. I can't reverse it, but I can live it again through the photographic memory. Technology, go take a hike. On some days you are an untouchable.
--
Clarity peeping out through the tangled mesh of thought wires.
And, here's the first voice - Didn't much like Harivanshrai Bachchan's autobiography. This is the English translation of the Hindi original. Confession -I didn't read it from the start. I started forwards from the middle, which was the introduction of Teji Bachchan. It's a nice read, honest too. But it didn't appeal to me somehow, because there's the pettiness of the author and his shying away from the responsibility of clearing the air.
Second voice says: Reading Milind Bokil's Shala. Again and again. Soaking in the atmosphere of the 70s and early 80s.
Third voice: Have missed out on Talaash and earlier, Barfi. Not good.
Fourth voice: I don't know if this is going to reach the person, it's intended for, but I am saying it out loud, nevertheless. Please stay away. We never connected really, so don't intrude into my life.
Fifth voice: Don't bug me or I will explode.
Sixth voice: I am missing brownies.
Seventh voice: Heat boils, acidity and the swinging hormones - get in line and behave. Heat boils...just disappear okay. Outttttttttttt!
Eighth voice: No more medicines please.
Ninth voice: Did I really need that new leather bag (expensive)? I needed one, not the expensive one though.
Tenth voice: Can I just stow away the leather bag and not look at it again?
Eleventh voice: Well, every time you look, you will be reminded of the price. So look again...and don't buy anything in a hurry.
Twelfth voice: Exhausted. Go to sleep.
Thirteenth voice: Sleep. Watch Swades some other night.
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Good Night!