But, is it nothing to know when you are dying, when you are about to take leave of this world, of its joys and sorrows, when the past of your life is unfurled before you, when eternity opens wide its portals, is it nothing to know at that last awful,supreme moment of your lives, that you have not lived in vain, that you have lived for the benefit of others, that you have lived to help in the cause of your country's regeneration?

-Surendranath Banerjea

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wonder Woman

Feminism and politics is back with a bang in me. It's been 9 months since my wedding and more than a year since my engagement and 3.5yrs since my job. And every single event had an impact of it's own in me. I had almost stopped reading newspapers, stopped watching and ranting about barkha dutta (Yes, i still watch her programmes due to her charisma, and i still feel frustrated about her being opinionated), stopped worrying about the nation.. It was like i had better things to attend to at the moment than worry over things which i had no influence on.

It was when i started losing sleep over the plight of India that i realized that i am now settled in my life, in my new role. Fitting in the role perfectly, playing it dexterously.

2yrs back, that was before my parents started the groom hunt in all these matrimonial sites and in relatives' wedding, my view of employment was that of time pass. I had a view that when marital responsibilities gets on the head, employment steps out of the caravan, which is not the case anymore.The sole person responsible for such a change is this woman who i always considered stupid. An aunt of mine. And i do not know where i picked that opinion about her from. It might probably be because her parents kept flaunting her schooltime grades to us when we were kids. Months before my engagement, over a small talk, she picked up my frivolous attitude on job. The trail of advices that followed changed my complete mindset. About how job is absolutely necessary to be an independent and dignified woman.

Coming to think of it, she was right. A job renders an individuality to a woman. If i wanted to assert my individuality as a Hillary Rodham and not Hillary Clinton, I had to be self reliant. Wedlock shouldn't be a license to lean on the husband completely.

My job has taught me a lot of things. It has taught me how narrow and how broad people can be. It has shown me different ways of sham and hypocrisy in people. It has shown me how people struggle to get a job. It has shown me the ground realities of life. Of loans and EMIs. Of savings and investments. Of stinginess and extravaganza. It has changed my outlook in ways unimaginable. From religious conservatism to gay marriage. And i am forever grateful to my parents for allowing me to be a woman before marrying me off, when most of my friends got married when they were still girls.

There's this guy in my office who has amazed me in a totally unpleasant way with his chauvinism. He had strong views against working mothers. He never looked at job for a woman as a need for assertion but as a demonstration of greed. His point was that we must respect our culture and tradition, the one which urges the woman to stay indoors to raise the kids and bind the family together. Any deviation from it can be tolerated until she has a kid, after which she should own up the responsibility of the kid.Men are allowed to have passion and commitment for their work ... a woman is allowed that feeling for a man, but not her work.

For some reason, he never revealed all that to me, and instead encouraged me to seek an onsite. I am still unsure if that was genuine or if he was measuring me. But his general views made him a strong contender to be an MCP*. He encouraged every one of his married teammates to make their wives resign. His chauvinism drove him even to ask me if my in-laws don't mind me driving a vehicle!

There was this incident that this guy narrated. One of his friends went to meet a girl, arranged by their parents of course.
Guy : Do you want to work or leave the job after wedding?
Girl : I want to work
Guy : Why?
Girl : Why means? I want to work.
Guy : Explain why you would like to continue working. I am earning enough and i am financially well off. Why do you want to work then?
Girl : I would like to save something to buy my parents an apartment. As you see, i don't have siblings, and i am completely responsible in taking care of my parents.
Guy : Ok. So i would work. You would work. To facilitate both of ours employment and bringing up our kids, my parents would work at home. And the sole benefit of all these would be an apartment for your parents. I do not wish to marry you.

All these were happening among educated and civilised youth in south india. It was totally unbelievable. I specify south india because the south has been comparatively welcoming on the issue of a girl child. At least in Kerala i had not often heard of anyone yearning for a baby boy or bargaining over dowry whereas that is all i hear from the North. Even the most educated people, like this lady i know from the capital through a friend, who did her thesis on women empowerment, needs only grandsons ; she herself has only sons. People fail to link this fetish for boy children with the increased rape incidents in the NCR. People fail to link the dowry system with the obsession for boy children.

There's this movie, Mathrubhumi, a nation without women. It assumes more importance than ever when we consider the criminally and sexually charged atmosphere in Haryana and Delhi. A vast majority of people do not women except for sex. In spite of education and exposure and modernity, a lot of them are still not able to grapple with the fact that women are an asset and not a burden any more. A lot of them like my colleague still do not want an independent and assertive woman who would demolish his supremacy. Why don't they realize, that it's the daughters who light up a home! As the saying goes, a son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life.

*Male Chauvinistic Pig.

Khuda Hafiz

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