Monday, February 27, 2006

Updated: Blog-a-thon 2006: Tainted?

Papa called her bahadur beta. Mummy called her sher.

But when she stepped out, where did her Mummy's sher beta run off to? For she no longer felt like she was brave.

How could she? They never let her- no, not since she had started to grow up.

Intelligent,sensitive,shy,- read her report cards. But when she walked past them she felt like the figures in her Biology textbook.

She felt she was the girl in those pictures. Naked. Exposed. Her privates labelled out with large arrows so no one would miss them.

Nothing else was brought into focus. No one labelled her smile as sweet. Or her eyes as twinkles in the amavas night. Or how her broad forehead certainly betrayed her quiet intelligence. They didn't want to know what she liked. Who she was. They didn't even want to know her name.

She was nameless, just a pair of breasts and ass and that was enough for them.Clearly labelled for all to see. By Them.

Like the girl in those pictures. Ch-13- Reproductive System.

She showered each day, twice, like good Brahmin children. She still felt filthy.

Their roving eyes cast black over body. No not like soot, which came off with a slight wipe off a wet finger. Like artificial colours of Holi, unnatural, impure- clinging to the skin , that a few hard scrubs couldn't take off.

Neither could Lux nor Dove. Nor Nirma nor Surf.

Industrial detergents only burnt that offensive skin. But it would grow back, fresh for countless coats of humiliation brushed on with fervour by those who unclothed her daily.

Their glances suffocated her in a sea of black ink- like the voter's dot on the index finger, hard to see and hard to clean.

Surely Eve must have lived even if Mummy had said no. She thought she must have, for she was Eve every day. Impure, unclean.Damned until her flesh withered away.

So she removed herself from that body. The body that brings in so much pain, humiliation and shame. The body that was brushed by 'accidently'. That was felt on crowded buses. That was smacked in throngs of people in the bazaar.

"No this body can't be mine", she thought, "Which is unclothed by their eyes everytime I pass by. Unclothed against my will. Unclothed when I thought these layers, metres of cloth, without form or attraction, could hide this body of mine. This body that becomes part of public, to be seen, felt, used to suit whosoever wishes to. Will this body ever be only mine?"

She was Papa's bahadur beta and Mumma's sher.

But if she was brave, then why did she die everytime they saw her?

But if she was a sher, why did she feel hunted,why was she the prey?

Men are individuals with free will. Excercise it- control your actions.
A woman's body is hers and only hers alone- not one to be treated as part of public property.
Street harassment is a crime.
Update: While I avoided writing a personal account /testimony of street harassment, for those memories come with their share of pain, humiliation and helplessness, Annie didn't and I think those who questioned the 'purpose' of this blog-a-thon might want to read it.
If nothing else you'd see how women are made to depend on men, why we cannot be alone, why we need separate lines and compartments. And if nothing else, you can remind yourself to not brush away our pain, our humiliation. To not brush us off as weak.
Lastly, I'd like to add, this isn't restricted to India. I experienced it first-hand in the Middle East.
Afterall, geography doesn't limit a man's ability to be an asshole.


vikRAM said...

~too good. I have been reading your posts for sometime. I really like them. I find them witty and very real. Thanks.

~about this post, i loved the repeated comparisons with the diagrams in science books. and also the arrogance!

Hiren said...

Right you are- very uniquely expressed I must say.

Anonymous said...

Hiren: Thank you. And I appreciate your support in this cause.

Re :Arrogance. ah yes the arrogance and self assured nature with which perpetrators harrass women is infuriating when encountered live. Someday distinctions between private and public property will hopefully be loud and clear.

Vikram: I am glad you found my posts to be of interest. I noticed your blog is off-limits. Regardless, hope to see you again.

Z said...

It's a scary world out there...n I still hv not learned how to cope with it...makes me think twice about having children in the future...

Anonymous said...

Z: I hear you.

HB said...

i know that feeling

Casablanca said...

Really good! I love the way you brought attention this movement. I am going to do a post about this soon too... its something I feel very strongly about.

vikRAM said...

I no longer have a profile. I blog rarely. if you are interested.

....R.A.J.A.... said...

I was thinking 'bout my options, Dee:
1. Mention your name as my fav writer
2. Get a crush on you
3. Don't praise you at all. It's getting repetitive
4. ....


Tushar Saxena said...

That's pretty profound. I like your style of juxtaposing contemporary language with sub-continental colloquials...provides it a distinct and rich flavor and enhances the description.
Great read :):)

LAK said...

Dee, very well written, all your posts. This one was particularly sensitive as well as harsh. Unfortunately, girls cannot retaliate in kind, because it would oly aggravate the problem.
Thanx for visiting my blog. Do drop by again some time.

Anonymous said...

HB: unfortunately, too many of us know this feeling.

Casablanca: Thank you and go for it!

Anonymous said...

Vikram: I noticed some poetry that I liked very much. Is it all your work??

Raja: hahaha! i didn't know one could develop crushes by one's own motivation :P not to mention it would further complicate the 'her's mentioned on Sojourn :P

Anonymous said...

Tushar: welcome. Thank you for the detailed compliment =D

LAK:Retaliation, it depends on what you're referring to. I think this attitude stems largely from viewing the female body as a commodity vs an individual.But it angers me even more when young girls are subjected to this- appalling really.

....R.A.J.A.... said...

i didn't know one could develop ........
yeah, that was my point :-p. I didn't know anyone can write so beautifully B-)

Anonymous said...

I was thinking 'bout my options, Dee:
1. Mention your name as my fav writer
2. Get a crush on you
3. Don't praise you at all. It's getting repetitive
4. ....

I didn't know anyone can write so beautifully B-)

4. or praise me so much that each time you'd see a different shade of red!

[which will be the third time in the past 6 hours]

[p.s. =D :$ thank you]

bilbo said...

Afterall, geography doesn't limit a man's ability to be an asshole.

You could not have said it better and I feel , you are bahadur and sher for saying so.

Anonymous said...

Bilbo: thank you- what a shame it is true isn't it?
Hope to see you again :)

m. said...

i must say, i like the last line immensely. has a ring to it :)

Anonymous said...

m.: =D yeah truth has that presence :P

blah_blah_blogger said...

Nice post...that it is well written needs no mention but what I particularly liked was the 'no holds barred' way of expression...came here through blank noise, hope to be here again...

Anonymous said...

blah blah blogger: thank you and hope to see you again soon :)