Friday, 31 May 2013

The Old Woman and the Sea: The Butterfly Flutters Its Wings

Most of us are aware of the Butterfly Effect or the Chaos Theory. That the fluttering of a tiny butterfly's wings can cause a tornado has been proven beyond doubt by mathematicians and the world at large has understood it well.

What we have not understood as Indians is that women, the much-abused and pushed-down minority (yes, I call them minority because they are in every respect and I'm speaking of the 99%) who have been killed, raped and aborted for ages are already fluttering their dainty wings and the world is taking notice.

Suddenly, India is not the land of Yogis and snake charmers nor of IT geeks but, a country of women haters! It is a trend that should not be ignored because it is the truth to a large extend. There are many reasons, patriarchal society, women's dependency on men for food and shelter as many highly educated women are still not allowed to work and live in joint-matrimonial-families where their husbands work in the family-businesses that allow very little personal freedom of thought or action to the women or even the men.

Yesterday a friend was fuming. The man who had dumped her after several years of steady relationship was getting married to a fellow professional and had invited all their mutual friends. He had known my friend since elementary school because they are also neighbors and had been a couple from seventh grade. Then, he let go of her two years back because she was not approved of by his mother. The reason, she was not a doctor like his entire family!

It is not a unique story but, every time it happens, it causes what I believe to be a domino effect. A women scorned is not a kind and happy person she is supposed to be. She seeks justice, she wants revenge for the years lost in a relationship where she had invested so much of her life and time.

My friend said that she'd only be happy if she got revenge. I of course, told her that feelings of revenge only give rise to anger and therefore effect the revenge seeker more than anyone else. I also told her that she should be glad that she had not married the guy since he was obviously spineless etc. I'm sure she was not convinced because I did not sound very convincing to my own ears.

Later in the evening though, I felt bad having given her an advice that actually did not ring true even to my ears. Why would she sit and take calls from a hundred "friends" who were ringing up to tell her how "sorry" they were? Why could she not do something truly wacky like, gut the wedding reception by flooding the venue or add surreptitiously, extra hot chilies to all the food? But then, will that suffice as a revenge? Will it make her feel any less cheated?

A man, we have often read or heard, goes after a women who has rejected their indecent or stupid proposal with a bottle of acid and defaces her... Should women only take consolation in tears and curses?

When a woman is scorned and left high and dry then, she has only two ways to console herself, tears or revenge. And even tears are no longer politically correct.

Another recently-divorced friend had updated her Facebook status describing a visit to a psychiatrist earlier that day, that had floored her. The good doctor insisted on putting her on prescription anti-depressants because after a short discussion where she was pointedly asked, "do you cry?" and "do you cry often?" she accepted and said, "yes".

What woman does not cry or would not if she has no husband and two kids to take care of and no job because she home schools them for a long time?

India I feel will be crushed by women's tears or tears that have been suppressed by force. Or maybe it will be felled by the joint force of the impotent curses of a suppressed anger.

Women have been scorned and left crying from times immemorial. Every great master or spiritual Guru (and I do not mean the spurt of the new-fangled money-makers and sex advisers) who have been born on Indian soil and preached the path of Nirvana have instructed that women need to be taken seriously as a part of the society and given proper respect and place in all important decision-making processes. But, was anyone listening - ever?

It has been six months that an innocent student returning home after a late night movie show with a friend was brutally raped and left to die on the road in Delhi. Women had then, taken to the streets, braved police assault and  made the politicians sweat at 2 degree Celsius Delhi winter. Yet, nothing happened, nothing concrete that is. One of the rapists committed suicide in his cell that housed five others and another kept asking for fruits and milk and private tuition because he was short-listed for a small-time Air Force job! The others are chilling, cooling their heels in the dank prison but, certainly not looking at death row. The government had promised a fast-track verdict within six weeks but, nothing even after six months!

A watered-down version of the controversial "Rape Law" was passed after much hawing and humming about a month or so back. The strongest voice against the Bill was that if was passed as it is, it will be misused by "pretenders". Many who opposed the Bill and stopped it from being passed as a law were women Parliamentarians! One, an erstwhile new wave cinema actress and the daughter of a very famous journalist and daughter-in-law of a Left-Wing poet, said that women who giggle and discuss among themselves about  men and label strangers as handsome or sexy should be considered equally loose and criminal-minded as the men who stalk and rape them after passing lurid comments!

Here I'd like to say that the premise when a girl files a dowry-harassment case is exactly same. The girl has to "prove" her case which is often impossible since the crime takes place inside a home, till she gives up and takes the case back. For those who disagree, I'd ask them to check the records. According to the judges, taking the case back is the best way to provide "relief" to the girl! The law here is too slow to mete out justice. We should never forget that justice delayed is justice denied.

I will not speak here of Sita and Darupadi. After much reading and rereading and head-banging on the  Ramayana and the Mahabharata I have realized that every character in those epics are allegories and represent some or the other human vice or virtue. It would be stupid to discuss them as characters in a book that reflected the times they were written in. Most feminists these days find pleasure in decrying Rama and Krishna as much as the debauched patriarchal society finds a safe haven in them.

I feel stupid even to open my mouth and at times even fear of persecution by friends and family if I said otherwise so I make my excuses and walk away. Therefore, I'll steer clear of the epics that are being misinterpreted increasingly to support most of the negative acts against women. And why just the Hindu epics? The patriarchal society that boasts of a huge number of women followers also uses the Holy texts of every religion to establish its authority.

Women are bound by invisible laws of 'responsibility' since birth. Their every action is directly responsible for the family's izzat or honor. Happily then, a girl can be easily killed or excommunicated in the name of a misplaced sense of honor while the men and their women accomplices go scott free.

Name any crime, rape, dowry death, honor killing, unwed pregnancy, a broken hymen, kissing, nose-rubbing, hand-holding in public you name anything and the girl is responsible and thus, in need of punishment.

This regressive mentality of course gives a clean chit to the men with a shrug, "boys will be boys!"

Recently, when Mallika Sherawat a mostly non-entity starlet and a well-known exhibitionist, told the international, Variety magazine in a false twang that she thought India was a 'regressive country' all Hell broke loose. Everyone got together, shoulder to shoulder, creating a patriotic human wall, to jointly condemn her and call her all kinds of un-classy names. Another actress, an A-lister in Bollywood, Priyanka Chopra officially and openly condemned Mallika and said India is NOT regressive! Talk of the see-saw effect!

What I saw was two women who sell womanhood as item numbers in ill-fitting dresses on huge celluloid screens that makes it impossible for a girl living in north India to wear shorts because that makes her an item too. They obviously had no business making any comments on regressed womanhood in India. But, between the two of them, they opened a can of worms that made everyone take sides with or against one!

I think it is time we wake up from our self-induced lotus-eating spell and look around. I hardly know a woman who has escaped abuse at home or at work and yes, I know that 90% of them deny even if it is common knowledge. Why 90? I should say 98% live in denial. This is because, the fear of discussing her dishonor could mean loss of job or made the butt of family ridicule.

Then last week, India saw a serial sex-offender hit every headline. He is also a very highly-rated professional and has headed several high-profile IT companies as a CEO in India and the US. He has also been kicked out of three of them, for the same offense. I was stuck by the fact that all the three complainants were from the US while, Mr Phanesh Murthy was very much at large in India as well. It also set me thinking that behind these three women from the US who slapped Murthy on his wrist may be many more nearer home, who never summoned up enough courage to move court. Did any of them go to the HR to be scoffed at and then fired? Perhaps we'll never know but, something tells me we'll hear of many other such cases in the coming years.

Brace-up for the storm Mr Murthy and his ilk, because the butterfly has fluttered it's wings...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading the post and commenting. Please come back for more.