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Suffrage Movement 1848 To Continued Women Empowerment 2019

Suffrage Movement 1848 To Continued Women Empowerment 2019

The Solitude And Shunning Of Slut Shaming

March 8, 2019

She could feel the first blood trickle down her legs. She was 11 years old and not even coherent enough to acknowledge that the fertility Goddess had bestowed her with the gift of procreation. The early evening at the sleepy little hill station when the lights would go down by 4.30 pm. The place had an unspoken tension of the once peace-loving tribals beginning to look harshly at the Bengali neighbourhood. They were called the Dokkhar, which meant the outsider. Her 11-year-old mind was fearless yet restrained because she knew someone may just touch her inappropriately. Because her mother told her to be careful of touch. She was a sight to my sore eyes. Hair was shiny as silk thread and straight falling just above her little rounded hips. Eyes that had coquettish confidence of being in charge and the effect it had on the little boys in her neighbourhood.

Every day there were letters thrown at her from boys who swore love and affection. Her 11-year-old mind was purer than the crystal dews settled on the shivering leaves of the winter of Shillong. I knew her like no other. Girls were at their first step of realising womanhood in its pristine best at that age. She loved reading and imagining those stories. Her father banned Nabakov’s Lolita for her touch or read. He said it’s for the later years. But her rebellious mind always peeked into that book with the enticing cover of a pair of red lips licking a lollipop. She didn’t understand why the forbidden enticed her so much. But quickly she kept that book away before Ma & Baba could catch her. Baba introduced her to Nissim Ezekiel’s poetry called Beauty. She remembered the poet’s introduction of the lizard. It was the protagonist of this poem. Most misunderstood and considered ugly, the lizard kept your home clean of insects by licking and eating the unwanted bugs inside the home. Few lines of the poem that never left her. “I turned a page silently and came upon a fine bird. In my bones, the marrow stirred. It held the lizard by the head, which was beautiful and dead”. Many evenings she sat pondered and thought of the lizard. It looked beautiful even when dead.

Slut Shaming

Slut Shaming

Her breasts were growing and so was her urge of being near the opposite gender. One evening she saw the 15-year-old Ashok. A young boy who seemed to have a massive crush on her. She wanted to know what a kiss would feel like. She showed him a photo from a magazine of a boy and a girl kissing. He hurriedly kissed her lips and ran. Next morning she got ready with a twinkle in her eyes for school. It was a sunny morning with her grey blazer protecting her from the harsh winter winds of the lull of the little town. On the ever busy hill road on her way to school, was a wall that screamed out loud with charcoal written “Manu Randy”. Her Hindi was weak and her virgin head was reeling but she knew it was wrong whatever that word was. Seniors in school scoffed and cousins who passed on the same street to school behaved as nothing had happened. Manu Randy was the virgin-whore in town because some people were jealous of her free spirit and her pretty rebellious eyes. In a few days, there was a pity in the eyes of some and disgust in others. But no one holding The Virgin Whore’s hand. That evening her aunt suggested her hair be chopped into an army cut and no lustrous hair ever for her. She hid from that fierce force. Her eyes were tired of crying and then she was forcibly grabbed by her little wrists, taken to the barber shop. She saw the long strands of silk fall lifelessly on the dirty floor at the barber’s shop.


Slut Shaming

Slut Shaming

She knew it was a crime to be free sexually or acknowledge your growing desire. She wore her scarf over her head waiting for her hair to grow again. It grew again. The natural long silky tresses grew, like her blood between the barrier of her growing uterus and her stunted femininity. Years have passed and just like the film Malena where Monica Belucci is shaved, kicked, stoned in public for being a beautiful single woman. The Virgin Whore remains untouched when someone calls her beautiful. That slut shaming won’t leave her ever till she reaches her grave.

That’s the thing with memory. Even today as she sits alone the sight of the black charcoal writing on the hill wall stays. For years she wished she was the lizard in that poem but alas she grew into a beautiful, melancholic woman. With desire, love and sense in good measure, but the charcoal stain stays forever.

Suffrage Movement 1848 To Continued Women Empowerment 2019

No Chains Can Chain Me No Cage Can Capture Me

March 7, 2019
Moody Mo

I just switched off the pause button inside my head. The unbridled thoughts of years came gushing out like river that been halted midway in its mad flow. The big wall that stopped the gushing of the clear stream was an unspoken need for acceptance and acknowledgement from sources outside my being.

Recognition of the being was the toughest part of this shift in my journey of knowing myself. The fear and the thoughts were numerous of others but myself. Forgetting self as a woman was easier than acknowledging my hunger of spiritual connections from my circle of life. The friends, the spouse, the child and each and everyone who tried to calm my tornado of emotions. They were unaware of how I was dying a slow death from inside. Walking the line and pleasing others everytime. They tried to tie my mouth, tie my hands but couldn’t tie my wild heart and soul. It was raging to break free from my rib cage. Suddenly it was this utmost hunger for freedom. I no longer wanted to ask for permission for my thoughts. Even your thoughts are conditioned. I struggle with this inner voice where success and productivity is measured with a monthly salary. It been years since I earned. And the truth is my sense of identity arises from what I do as a professional. All social gatherings I am asked the same stupid question by “so called” educated emancipated individuals, What do I do for a living?

I draw a blank there. I was nurturing a home and a child and feeling the stretch marks on my tummy. I knew I had a journey in that texture. I in a dim voice said. “I was looking after home and child.”

Fashion Blogger

Fashion Blogger

Most lost interest in speaking to me. Then to bring attention of myself. I spoke about the past.

Now when I tell them I write a blog. They ask but that’s just a hobby? Hey no! I write because I am hoping someday some artists get recognition. And my words touch your soul. It’s more than a hobby. This is my zen.

Most things I found at the dusk of my life. The people of the past ,connections and conversations were lifeless like the dead butterfly before it could turn into dust.

Have you seen a dead butterfly lying listless on the flower? It came searching for the nectar at its most toughest, slowest flight from life. And like the listless butterfly It was a mirage that I surged towards. Knowing well the fireflies would die in the lies of the flickering flame that was so inviting. It was forbidden and like the firefly I was just gravitating towards the death of the old me.

I just found my place under the sun, spreading my wings and not confined to the closet, where my emotions and speech is no longer measured with patriarchal society rules. I will break the stereotypes as I surge ahead. My place is not next to your shoes. It is in my boots that will march unhindered, unstoppable like the storm brewing in my heart and the untamed seas.

Suffrage Movement 1848 To Continued Women Empowerment 2019

Our Hearts Sings The Same Tune

March 6, 2019
Fashion Activist

Winter vacations meant travelling with Ma & Dadu to Delhi. The harsh winter months were the time when Ma would take leave to go into the familiarity of her childhood city. To me, it was an escape from the bullies in school. The bullying continued in more subtle ways over the years but it remains a harsh reality. And unfortunately we are always apologetic about weight, complexion, sexual drive and the list is endless.

Train journeys were my escape. I loved the window seat of the great Indian railways. It never ceased to amaze me the small villages, the paddy fields, the occasional man defecating near the tracks. I often thought why were there no women ever doing that. It was always the ugly sight of confident men never made aware or ashamed of nudity, to sit and sometimes even wave at the passing train.

women empowerment

women empowerment

My favorite time was the godhuli Lagan also called the magic hour when women dressed in bright saris and bangles, stood huddled together and the cows kicked dust into the horizon to return to its shed. The flock of birds too were flying towards their destination. I wanted to know where they lived, where they went.

The train window shut as the hours passed and all you could see was the silhouette of the landscape and the darkness. The motley group of people were friendly together for those few ephemeral moments. And when the destination came we again became strangers.I remember promising to keep in touch with some but it never was like that. The only thing that stayed was the dank smell of the toilets and the shared stale food stench.

Every time I hear a passing train or see the lights like a snake manoeuvring its way towards an unknown destination. I know in some little obscure village and in some little unlit home lives another woman just like you and me. She is waiting to be understood, loved, desired and not devoured. She has a faraway look in her moist eyes, it has dreams and hope for a better tomorrow

Gender, Suffrage Movement 1848 To Continued Women Empowerment 2019

Desire Has No Gender

March 5, 2019

She heard the car pull up. She heard his footsteps as he approached her room.  She hurriedly put on her bra and a worn out kurta. A dependable wife. A doting mother. That was her refuge from desire. She caught a glimpse of her delicate curves. Curves that once turned Murad to jelly. That was a different life. More so, very different people. She looked away from the mirror. No point in dwelling over the past.  After all, none of it mattered anymore.  It didn’t matter that she was a fading shadow of herself. That she had become a self-deprecating image of the Madonna, overlooked too often for she had given up her voice and her desire. She looked around her room. Yes this is enough. A home. A family!

She greeted him with a placid smile. “Hey beautiful! It’s been a long day at work. Would you pour me a  drink? Did you see the email from school?”  He spoke in a tone that matched her smile.

Ranjana often felt alienated from her thoughts of playing the role of a wife, mother and all the glorified images that society has conjured for women over the years.

To be the wife cum mother which a woman is supposed to be, is an religious, media image of perfection. A perfect body, no hair on body and always with a smile. It is the image of the Madonna who is giving and never asking, the image of the householder who holds on to the façade of a home of equal opportunity. Ranjana thought, I must! I must not encourage these thoughts of wanting to see myself and admire my breasts or the side of my waist that once turned Murad to jelly.

Karan enters the home tired and everyone is on their feet. It is an unspoken rule since years. When the man comes home, you got to be all ears to his needs. I recall the day I came back after many tests from the hospital. No one even noticed that I needed a glass of water. But who am I to complain. At least I don’t have restrictions like many more women I know. I am allowed freedom. Maybe not thoughts but it’s all right to have the rest.

He says “hey beautiful, Did you  see the email from school? “ I am lost because I only saw myself in the mirror and saw an older woman stare back at me.

I smiled and said “The net connectivity you know is terrible and the damn crap keeps buffering”. I learnt that word from the millennial child. In reality, I am buffering between spaces of reality and desire. I used to read a lot as a young girl and I especially remember the theory of Freud where he says for most men they desire the whore and worship the Madonna. They marry Madonna but fuck the whore.

So as an intelligent woman I knew to act coy and scared was the best way for him to feel he is in a safe zone. He is anchored with the thought of being in control. To keep peace and harmony it is best to make them believe that truth. Sometimes, I also felt he indulged me sexually just out of mere obligation. But I stop my thoughts always. Its disturbing for the home environment.

My thoughts are broken by the  millennial child who says, “Come on you know mama, she barely ever checks mails or even tries to push for grades. She says that travelling is education, loving is celebration and sex is honesty”. I almost got  caught there. I say, “Yes baby, let’s not worry about all that. Let’s gets the grades going”.

I am always cognitive that I have to be the Madonna which you all have created for me and put me on a pedestal.
That evening, in his drunken stupor, he made out with me. Ok, I also learnt that word “ making out” from the millennial child. I was bored of the act but I sighed and hummed in between. Was worried maybe he heard my Yaman raag. Quickly, I stopped the notes in my mind and said oh my god! That feels great! I knew his mind was not there like mine too wasn’t.

I loved my friend Saida. Meeting her  is really the most deliciously evil thing to do, she keeps telling me how he never cared for her. So she cared for herself. Her words always make me smile and I feel calm in her company. There is no pretence of being another version of me. It’s always me. Everytime we speak,  I  feel I am not that much of a freak to feel desire and passion, because  it’s my natural state of being human. I feel greater to think that I am more in control than Saida and control makes me the Madonna of my home.

That evening, I sat by myself and asked myself the questions which I was scared even my conscience would hear. I asked why is it that desire is also patriarchal, why are orgasms reserved only for men, why is a man allowed to be fat yet desirable and a woman not?

I recalled Murad when we met so many moons back. He couldn’t keep his eyes off me. He couldn’t keep his smile concealed every time he met me. How his strong hands held me from breaking down the day I told him I was getting married to a businessman who Ma said would look after me. Murad was a musician and his earning was meagre. Murad let me go with pain in his voice and anguish in his soul. I still can, on lonely nights, see those honest eyes brimming with tears as he said goodbye.

Lord I will go into hell! And  be surrounded with sad virgins. What a shame would that be. So I decided I mustn’t indulge in these thoughts that are not for the Madonna of the home. You have to remain eternally beautiful without being wild, you have to remain happy without being hormonal and you just have to tow the line.  But, bastard desire is a real crook, it keeps coming in spurts and moments when the rain touches the wet earth and the flowers blossom with nipping the bud in its own force.

I quickly tie my hair and wear my lipstick to regain composure and be another beautiful thing that lies in the home. Dusted from time to time and forlorn  on a busy season of exams and duties. Just like the changing season, my breasts have grown softer and my belly fat gets thicker but Murad has a way of re-appearing when no one is watching me.

I don’t know if I am the Madonna or the whore. You can’t be the same person with so many versions of you. I am scared of discovering my sexuality, so I put my feet in the puddle of water in the garden and feel the wetness calm me down.

Someday, I know that society will accept that lust and love are twins of a separate identity in one being. One protects the other from destruction and separation.