Wings and Chirps

Wanderings of an Itchy Feet

Category: Reflections

It’s a Girl!

The three deadliest words in the world…they say. To me, these are the most beautiful words that I heard twice in my life.

The three deadliest words in the world, ‘It’s a Girl.’

The recent murder of Pune Techie, Rasila Raju, has shocked me beyond words. She was with an IT giant that most of the people of my generation respected when it came to employee welfare. I hear that this is also history now. Sad.

I am a woman. A girl who grew up in the National Capital Territory. A girl who has spent a significant part of her life in her hometown in Kerala as a school going girl during summer vacations. A woman who has travelled to some of the major cities (including Metros) of this country as part of her corporate job requirement. And I regret the fact that I never felt safe in any of these places.

At home, there were men (read close relatives) who harassed and molested an eleven-year-old and there were women (read mothers) who refused to accept that they did so, let alone pacify the child for what he/she experienced. On the road, there were boys and men of all age group who left no chance of passing crude and vulgar remarks, pressing their bodies against ours, groping and molesting. The newspapers were always full of stories of child abuse and rapes. Bollywood movies that almost always showcased stalking, domestic violence, molestation and rape of women. Even in women-centric movies, it was almost always necessary for the lead to go through such episodes before she became stronger and achieved her dreams.

Why? Why can’t we as parents protect our children from people at home? Why can’t we stand up for the life that we are responsible for? Why do we always put family relations first and children last? Why can’t we teach our boys to respect a girl for who she is, another human being? Why can’t we stop waiting for the last minute? Why can’t we as a society stand up for someone getting harassed in the middle of the road, or on a bus or in a conference room?

No. We won’t. We will never. Because we are a bunch of shameless armchair activists. Even when we witness any such incident, instead of catching the abusers, we will still be whispering amongst ourselves as to how it must be the girl’s fault, it must be her clothes, it must be the time and it must be the place. I have myself been the subject of criticism many a times because I intervened. Be it on a bus, be it on the road or at a function. “Why do you have to react?”, “Why do you need to get into it?”, “It’s not happening to you.” These are some of what is told to me.

After all these years and after Nirbhaya, Soumya, Jisha, Swathi and hundreds and thousands like them, we have still done nothing to keep these rapists at bay. In fact, the slow pace of these cases has just increased their fearlessness.

We are ready to protest as a united force for protecting a certain traditional ritual but we don’t find crime against women and children important enough to stand up as a nation.

I don’t blame men. I blame women. Yes. Women who are the first to blame the victim on the basis of her dressing, choice of career, choice of staying alone, choice of being single, choice of the time of the day, choice of the place. We leave no leaf unturned to make her life hell. So much that we almost often drag them to the edge of committing suicide.

If you haven’t yet, you must read this interview of former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan, presently with the Tata Consultancy Services as Corporate Security adviser.

We cannot root out crime, only reduce its intensity, says Raghavan

I don’t blame the law and order alone. I blame everyone. I blame everyone including myself. Why haven’t we found this issue important enough to protest as a society? Why are our traditional rituals given much more importance than a living human being? Why are these few monsters able to repeat such offences again and again? Why are we giving birth to more and more of them through our silence and apathy?

As I was thinking of this, I had an epiphany. A brilliant one!

Allow gender determination tests across the country. Also, legalise female foeticide. That’ll put an end to all this crap. 

What do you say?

I am serious. We must fight for this. It will help control most of the crimes. You must have heard of that Hindi phrase, Na rahega baans na bajegi baansuri which vaguely means ‘No root, No fruit’. Every problem must be tackled at source. Jad se mita do. No girl. No women. No children. No molesting. No rape. No blame. Jhamela hi khatam! Neither to the government nor to the law and order officials nor to anyone else. Think over it. It’s a fool proof proposal.

If we cannot protect our daughters (and sons) we should rather not give them birth at all. I wish I hadn’t. My heart aches at the mere thought of letting my children live in this rot. And I know that as women this is all that they can expect in pretty much any part of the world. Sigh!

What an idea to share on an auspicious day like Basant Panchami when we worship and pray Goddess Sarawati (read a woman), the goddess of learning, wisdom, knowledge, fine arts, refinement, science and technology, to attain enlightenment through knowledge and to rid ourselves of lethargy, sluggishness and ignorance. The one who educates. A big bunch of moral hypocrites we are!

End Gendercide Manifesto (Picture Courtesy Pinterest)

The Crossing

The door bell rang just when I was about to step out. It was the courier guy. Scribbled my name in running script on the device and then on the list that he was carrying. The man’s credit card statement.

Locked the metal latch and rushed down the stairs. I was late by five minutes.

Underneath the banyan tree adjacent to the Hanuman temple, a rickshaw-puller was enjoying his afternoon siesta. On any other day I would have let him enjoy his nap, but not today. The girl will fire me from mommy-hood. Woke him up and he was more than happy to give me a ride.

Red light at the crossing. The incessant honking just puts me off and the best way I deal with it is by getting zoned out. While the ears were on ‘off’ mode, the eyes observed more sharply.

Sitting on the pavement was this bearded man in his early forties. Dressed in saffron. Fake rudrakshas around his neck. A wooden kamandal (water pot), a staff (a long walking stick) and a potli (cloth bundle) lay beside him. He was adjusting the sandalwood pulp on his forehead using a pocket mirror. The beard sweeping his hairy chest ran down till his potbelly. I wondered what would be the amount that leaves a healthy man with no choice but to bare his body in this cold winter afternoon.

She ran past the rickshaw. In a hurry. Her woollen shawl was trying to catch up to her feet while her torn handbag was sliding down her shoulders. Running for life? I thought. But that smile… The incomplete smile on her face meant something else. She was running non-stop. Not even bothered about the running traffic or the abuses hurled at her by the riders. The light turned green. As we crossed the roads I noticed that she had stopped running. The Metro Feeder bus on the bus stand on the opposite road had left by then. For some reason I looked back again at her. This time our eyes met and we smiled at each other.

A school bus overtook us from the right. Just before it left out of sight I saw her. A cute little girl with two ponytails waving at me. I waved back. Her twinkling eyes and toothless smile. Precious! May they stay forever. I prayed silently.

The school gate approached. As I kept the tenner and the five rupee coin on the palm of the rickshaw guy, he bowed and smiled. It was his rightful money. He had earned it. But grateful he was. Just as I was. For the day. For the ride. For the people. For the experiences. For the lessons.

So much in just ten minutes. And then I realized it. It was the ability to turn off what was not necessary, what was not worth my time, what was negatively impacting me. The honking.

Thankfully the daughter emerged only after two minutes. Her smile as she spotted me at the gate was another precious moment to add to the balance sheet of this life.

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