Thursday, 28 July 2016

I am scared of sympathizers

Yes, I am !!! I’d rather have fair-weather friends than friends who sympathize only because you are in a deeper rut than them.

We i.e. my brother and I lost our father when we were 12 and 5 years old respectively. My mother, a homemaker and a woman who was loved and protected by her family and later, her husband, was ill-equipped to handle the situation that had suddenly befallen her. Other than the really close family, some of whom lent us 100% support and some of who completely disappeared, some who appeared to sympathize with us were the sympathizers whom I have come to fear. Many of these were people who had been variously helped by my father to rise in their careers or otherwise and this was their chance to show that they were there for us. We took them at face value only to realize that they would sympathize only if we listened to them at every step of the way and if we were always at a lower social rung than them. And by help here I am not, never, not for once talking about financial help.

Sadly for them, my brother and I were good students and since my father’s company paid for our education, we studied what we wanted to and fared reasonably well. Then came the time of getting jobs. We were living in West Bengal where jobs were difficult to get and my engineering college didn’t have many campus opportunities. So, I was struggling to land my first job and out came the helping hand of one Mr. B who had been helped to further his career by my father. We readily accepted his helping hand for we believed that he had our best interests in mind. He took me to meet a gentleman who owned a company in Delhi and was ready to pay me a paltry sum to join his company there. Given that I had to manage my food and accommodation in a strange city in that money, I decided to refuse his offer after discussing it with my mother. I also truly believed that I was capable of landing a better job. When we told Mr. B that I wouldn’t be joining there, instead of understanding the reason behind my refusal, he barked at my mother, “What does she expect? She’s not going to get a better offer than this!!!” Thankfully I could prove him wrong soon enough by acquiring a job which paid me more than double of what Mr. B’s acquaintance had offered me, along with accommodation in a foreign city. We haven’t heard much from Mr. B since then though he was invited to my wedding which happened some years later.

Then there’s the case of Mrs. A. Maybe she thought that we would always be her poor cousins. When my brother and later, I started doing reasonably well in our professional lives, she started behaving more and more rudely with us, especially my mother who, despite all that she had seen in life, still remained a simpleton at heart. Finally we decided that it was better for us to ignore her and stay away from her negative energy.

My mother, a young widow, has been variously propositioned by some sympathizers. Many of our fair-weather friends came back once we started to fare better. However, we were lucky to have some empathizers in our lives, who always stayed by our sides in our times of difficulty and in happy times. They rejoiced with us when we did well and still do. I am thankful for the empathizers in my life and wish them the best, always, just as they do us.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The "fallen" woman

The Indrani Mukherjea saga has once again brought to the fore our obsession with the "fallen" woman. And, as usual, more women than men are crying foul and discussing in gory detail how bad a mother she was or what a social climber she has been and how she deserves exactly what she got. Well, maybe all this is true in her case or maybe not. Haven’t we all heard the adage “innocent till proven guilty”? We are ready to believe that she has committed this crime even though there were no eye witnesses to this act other than those also equally guilty but there are many who still don’t believe that Salman Khan ran over innocent poor people sleeping on the footpath while in a drunken state, though eye witnesses confirm the fact. See what I mean?

Yes, we are sometimes too ready to tag a woman as “fallen” and find excuses for the men.

Even though divorce is a common thing today, even in India, a successful divorcee woman is regarded rather warily by many other “happily married women” in the society. They fear that these women might lure their own husbands into some kind of a honey trap. Please !!! Give it a rest women …your husbands - paunchy, balding, miserly et al - are attractive only to yourselves. Nobody, especially not these successful, gone-through-the-wringer women, is interested in your husbands. And the same goes for those smart, successful women who choose to remain single. They are not interested in your husbands. Now, whether your husbands are interested in these women is something you have to ask yourself.

Woe be to those divorced (or widowed) women who found love and are either, married a second time or living in with their partner. People around start commenting about how soon they could move on when the ex-husband couldn’t, though these same people wouldn’t bother to comment if the ex-husband went around with a thousand girls & the woman remained single and maybe, miserable. If the woman has children then there will be those who’ll comment on what a bad mother this woman is and how unsettling it’s for the kids when the mother remarries or lives-in with another man. Never mind that the kids are well-behaved, well-balanced & happy!!! And startlingly, these comments come not from enemies but from some of the closest friends, also women.

Why are we still like this? Why haven’t education and a broader world-view been able to change this woman-hate-woman attitude? I don’t know. But it angers me every time I see it. It makes me cringe and I am neither divorced, widowed nor single. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Are India's daughters really safe ?

Yesterday there was an incident in Bengaluru where a police officer from Madurai beat up his adult daughter brutally in broad daylight for allegedly having an affair with a person who the parents didn’t deem fit for the daughter. Bystanders, among who was the girl’s mother, a school teacher herself, looked on. The girl was finally saved by two women who were passing by and the incident reported to the police. Today the papers reported that the police let the father go because the girl did not file a complaint against her father. The fact that there were so many witnesses to the incident doesn’t matter, I guess.

A few days ago, a woman in one of the groups on a popular social networking site mentioned that whenever she comes to India (she lives in the US), she is pitied on by all her relatives & neighbours because she has two daughters. Recently one of her mom’s friends, a school Principal, told her that since she had her child in the US & there you get to know the sex of the foetus in advance, she should’ve aborted the second child when she came to know that it was a girl.

These are just two incidents that show that India’s daughters are indeed not safe !!!

It is not just the poverty stricken, uneducated, angry youth whom she should be scared of. She should be very scared of her own parents and neighbours too, both men and women, who see her as nothing but a liability.

All the furore on the documentary by Leslee Udwin titled India’s daughter got me thinking. All those who condemned the documentary were saying things like, “why name it as India’s daughter ? Rape is not a problem unique to India. It is a global phenomenon” or “this documentary is a ploy to shame India” or “not all men in India are like these men who were accused of the rape”.

I agree, rape is not a phenomenon unique to India, it happens all over the World. But in which other civilized society have we heard politicians and general public find fault with the victim because of the way she dressed or because she was alone at a nightclub? One may not approve of a way a woman/girl has dressed or the way she behaves but that DOES NOT give anyone the right to physically violate her. Rape is RAPE. PERIOD.

I got online to see if it (blaming the victim) happens in the Western world too. Yes, it sometimes does especially by the lawyers who are defending the accused. But I also found that in the US and Canada there are “rape shield laws” that prohibit cross-examination of the accuser (alleged victim) with respect to certain issues, such as his or her prior sexual history, or the manner in which he or she was dressed at the time of the rape.

It is also true that all men in India are not brutal pigs but as the incident with which I begin here is anything to go by, many men are. I’m sure some will say, but there are such men in the Western world too. I agree, there must be but would he be spared by the authorities after beating up his daughter in public?
It is so unfortunate that instead of self-introspection, we turn to pointing fingers. Even when my 5 year old tells me, after doing something naughty, “s/he told me to do, so I did it” or “s/he did it too”…I tell him, that’s not an acceptable excuse for his bad behavior. So why does a country get away with saying, “they do too”?

It is with anguish that I say that more, a lot more needs to be done by Indians, by the people in power to make India a safer place for her daughters.