When Women Speak Up…

When women speak up revolutions happen...! - Nasreen Hussain
When women speak up ‘Just shut up & listen to them! – Brajesh Kumar
When women speak up the clothes are broken and freedom is achieved from shackles of bigotry and stereotypic. It's a revolution that changes mindsets and society, long awaited. – Tarun Vashishtha
When women speak up it is the beginning of the change. – Aruna Kompalli
When women speak up, even the Tsunami opts for an indefinite sabbatical. – Nikhil Iyer
When women speak up the equation is balanced & that is all that we are seeking. – Dhruv Marya
When women speak up, the universe listens. – Keeran Singh
When women speak up, matriarchy brushes a soft feathery touch on patriarchy’s head and she whispers, “Watch and learn, love. Watch and learn what equality looks like.” – Fatima Tuz Zohra
When women speak up the thinking begins – Monica Riat
When women speak up, it makes sense to listen – Nidhi Shukla
When women speak up the world becomes a better place to live in. – Kumkum Kumar
When women speak up, patriarchy shakes up.

We might make you uncomfortable, but we are unstoppable.

Together we will bring about a revolution some day, our voice is here to stay – Anupama Dalmia
When women speak up, their education is not stopped for marriage. When women speak up, they do not have to give up their jobs for family. When women speak up, they can break free from unhealthy and toxic relationships. When women speak up, everyone in the house contributed to household chores! When women speak up, they inspire their children to never accept anything they feel is wrong! When women speak up men know that she is here to stay – Ankita Sinha
When women speak up, men will find no place to hide, no mirror to face, no words to apologise, no escape from guilts, but only shame, regret, guilt and tears rolling down once and for all the unheard voices of that women... – Sakshi Tyagi
When women speak up, her son will be the positive messenger of the new bright future of our world and her daughter will never face any difficulties faced by women so far. When women speak up, she will be sowing the seed for a fresh new generation! – Divya Anvekar
When Women Speaks Up There Ignites A Thought to change – Anjali Anugraha

Hey Darling! Hey Gorgeous! Why not replying?

Okay.

All women probably received messages from unknown men on Facebook.  I usually block the ones who send inappropriate messages.  But off late I have noticed young boys sending messages.  When I click on their pictures, they look so innocent. They look like they are easily 10 years younger than me! Maybe even more. Some of them are probably in school or college. Minors!  They send the following kind of messages:

Hey darling!

Hey gorgeous!

Why you are not replying!

I really like you!

What happened?

Reply please!

Did I do something wrong!

One young man had sent a poem also. It was accompanied by a picture of a man literally taking out his heart on his hand. Jaan hatheli par le aaye? Please note that it was not a cute red heart shaped emoticon that we send on whatsapp. It was a picture of a heart – the organ oozing out of a body with blood!! The poem had rhymes. I thought at least I should give him credit for that. Until one of my friends who read it said it was copied from a regional movie.

Had they been older, I would have ignored and blocked.  It is too late to educate the older ones! But I don’t think it is right to give up on the younger boys.  Boys who probably do not even have the guts to talk to me in person, look me in the eye, or would probably call me Didi if at all they did talk to me in person, think it is okay to address me as darling!

I had a discussion with few male friends on this. They said that these boys are trying their luck. They probably send these messages to so many women every day and they may get a response too. They also said that these boys are perfectly aware that they should not be behaving this way. But they don’t care. They do it anyway.

One of the thoughts that stayed with me was ‘Did I do something wrong? Tell me please.’

The 17-18 year old probably does not know that it is NOT okay to address an unknown woman on the internet as ‘gorgeous’. He thinks it is a compliment. Something I would like. I would appreciate. Be flattered. He has not chosen a term like ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’. He has gone far in his vocabulary  to choose a respectful term.

Can we blame him for asking me if he has done anything wrong?

I want to ask him had I approached me in person? Would he come to me in a public place or on the street and tried to talk to me with an opening line of ‘Hi beautiful’. I want to tell him that he should not speak to women on the internet in a way any different from how he would speak to them in person. But we all know that does not happen. Every one has a voice on the internet. Every one hides behind anonymity. And what do we teach this boy about approaching women in person anyway? It is not like he would be used to ‘asking women’ out. Dating is not part of our culture. His only benchmark would be Bollywood which would have taught him:

Hasi to phasi

Ladki ki naa mein haa hai

Lover boy will always win. As long as he keeps trying. The means do not matter. The end does. Whether he stalks. Or threatens. Or tries to commit suicide. At the end the woman will realize his ‘true love’.

I remember talking to a man who from the US. He must be around 55. His son who was about 15 had started dating. He was telling me that the son is very much ‘in love’ with his girlfriend. He used to invite her over to his place along with other school friends. He said he talks to his son about how to treat his girlfriend. That he should respect her. He said his son had written a poem for the girl. This man never knew his son was interested in writing. He was proud of his son.  Father would tell his son about his girlfriend when he was that age and how he used to ask women out by inviting them to events that they were interested in so that they could not resist!

‘I have taught my boy right!’ he said proudly.

We have not taught our boys right. We have to accept it. Rather, this is something we have not taught at all!. No mature adult – teacher, parents, etc will talk to them about dating, approaching women etc. It is not because people don’t date in our country. They are on their own. At the mercy of Bollywoord and other immature friends. We don’t think it is appropriate to talk about it. We think if we talk about it we would encourage it. We don’t realize that they would do it anyway.  As much as we would like to deny.

Coming back to the boy who sent me the message this one is for you:

A woman who you don’t know may choose not to speak to you. It does not mean she is arrogant. It does not mean you are ugly. She doesn’t even know you.  You messaged. She ignored. Move on.

Even though it is a compliment addressing unknown women as ‘gorgeous’ may not be the best way to start a conversation.  If you know her, and you are already friends with her you can probably compliment her. ‘Darling’ again should not be used for unknown women. Ever!

What you say, how much you say, depends on the response you receive. It is not rocket science to figure it out.  No response. Stop. She responds in a friendly way. Continue. She doesn’t like something you say. Stop. Apologize.

There are women who have public profiles on social media. But it is mainly for their work to have a connect with their target audience. It does not necessarily mean that she has put her pictures for attention, and then when you give her that attention, she is being all arrogant!

Lastly, most importantly. Don’t keep trying. If someone is not responding to your messages, it means they are not interested. Respect the choice. She does not even owe you an explanation. It does not mean that you should feel insulted. Women have brains too. And thinking and decision-making capabilities.  They have their own likes. It does not make you a loser.  Please do not associate your self-worth with the responses you get from women – in the virtual world or in the real world! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year! A Time Of Gratefulness And New Beginnings

Wish you all a very Happy New Year!!

I feel New Year’s eve is the most overrated time of the year. We feel that we MUST do something. If we don’t, we feel we are missing out on all the fun.  When we plan a party, or vacation everything is overpriced, and may not even be worth it! Then there are safety concerns with people going crazy on alcohol.

For single people, the holidays and New Year’s eve is quite a downer! Torturous may be. It is depressing to see so many lights, love, brightness, buzz, life around which only further brings out the emptiness in your own lives, or memories of better days that are now over. No matter what you do – quiet, house party or loud pub party the connection that you long for with another human being is still missing!  Been single for long, became single recently, not single last year but found yourself single this year? I don’t know which time of the year is toughest for singles – birthdays, valentine’s day or new year’s. I would say, Christmas holidays till New years.

I know some of you were feeling very low during this time. I received messages.  Hope you are feeling better now. I was also feeling low little after Christmas. It was mainly because I was missing my niece who was visiting the week before.

I was not at home around the New Year’s time. I was out and my grandmother (who is very old and forgets a lot) kept asking my parents for me every time she heard any sound. Even when someone moved a chair. She did not realize how long I was gone or whether I had been out for a day or two. Whether it was a holiday or I was at work or sleeping or just locked up inside my room. She just knew she had not seen me for what seemed to her like a while (she does not have much track of time) and was asking for me again and again.

I remember showing one of my childhood photos with my grandmother to my best friend, a few years ago who lived in the US.. She had lived there all her life. She was not in touch with her father’s side of the family who lived in her home country. And her grandmother from her mother’s side had passed away. In the picture, I had just started walking, and my grandmother was pointing towards me and beaming.

“Wow,” she said. “She has loved you for so long!” I was about 20 at that time. When she said this, I had realized how lucky I was to be loved by my grandmother. It is one of those things we take for granted.

Coming back to the present, when I finally came home after New Year’s I gave a big hug to my grandmother. Her face lit up. Looking at her, and her eagerness to meet me, an image flashed before my eyes. Of a grandfather who lost his 28-year-old granddaughter in the fire in Mumbai. She was celebrating her birthday.  I could not read the article and had put the paper away. But the picture I could not forget. God can be so cruel?

The fire tragedy in Mumbai was unbelievable and cruel. My office used to be in Kamala Mills about seven – eight years ago.  I don’t know why nothing changes in our country. The families of the victims of Uphaar tragedy, and the Carlton Towers fire have dedicated their lives to working for fire safety. I have been following their work. Still, human life is not precious here. One preventable accident after another.. There were other horrible incidents around the country too around which I would not get into..

With so many negative feelings and mixed thoughts, I was pretty sure I will have a crappy new year’s. But to my biggest surprise, I ended up having a great time. Probably one of the best in recent times. Something I had not expected in the days before. It was like a roller coaster ride from very low to very high.  If I can sum up my thoughts, I would say this:

Be grateful for everything.  Cherish what you have. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Life can change any moment.

Keep hope.  Good things will happen. Bad days will not go on forever. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Life can change any moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth About Grief And Tragedy

A woman I know through blogging had lost her daughter who must be about 20. People were commenting on her post:

It is all destiny.

She is in a better place.

It is karma.

It is karma?? Whose karma? The young girl got hit by a speeding car who did not care to stop. He is roaming free. She is dead. She or her family has not done anything to deserve this. I guess the lady who commented meant that this had something to do with past life sins…

I hear some funny things about divorce too. A friend of mine is 28. She is in a relationship. She is not some child who cannot understand that sometimes things don’t work out. Whenever she hears about anyone’s divorce, she says:

Why did they get married if they wanted a divorce.

No, but what was the main reason?

Reason. Logic. Meaning. As humans we find it very difficult to comprehend tragedy and even more difficult to understand grief. We would like to think that there should be some reason. Haven’t we heard, Everything happens for a reason. We have also heard , Shit happens. But we do not like to believe it (for others). Because it defies our faith in the universe.

Another friend of mine and her boyfriend who is from another religion want to get married. They are facing objections from the boy’s family. She had asked the boy in the initial dating days if he intends to marry her. He had said yes. If some other woman gets dumped by a guy, she likes to say, ‘Told you so. You never asked him if he was serious.’ But when she is told that ‘You knew this was coming’, she says that since she had asked the man in the beginning, she was totally right about her choice.

Yes. Everybody’s grief is unique. It is therefore a painful and lonely journey. We refuse to accept that bad things simply happen… To people who did not deserve it!

A perfect couple who was together since college split.

We refuse to believe that one person outgrew the other. We put on our detective hats and try to analyze. Something else must have happened…. We do not want to lose our faith in ‘true love’

A nice caring girlfriend gets dumped without a warning.

We become therapists. She knew the signs coming. She should have known his intentions. She ignored. She was too foolish.

A young woman loses her life on the road.

We would like to think that there was some hidden meaning in it. We do not like to believe that something so cruel could happen just life that.  If it could happen to them, it could happen to us.

And that is scary.

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays!

The holidays are a time of celebration.

But it is also the time that hurts…

For not everybody is with their family.

For some may have lost someone this year.

Someone may be alone.

Someone is learning to live without someone.

Someone’s family is incomplete today.

Someone’s landscape of life has changed.

But the holidays are also a time for hope.

Of happiness, prosperity and peace

For we are all so brave,

Through our struggles and fears.

 Another year is coming.

I hope this year that awaits you,

Is better than the year that was.

Merry Christmas to you,

And to everyone you care for.

 

 

 

I’ve Done My Time…No Thank You, I Don’t Want My Grandchild To Live With Me

I’ve Done My Time…No Thank You, I Don’t Want My Grandchild To Live With Me

She Could Have Been So Much More

At seven

She was hardly seven years old. The audition for the school play was on. She wanted to be the princess. She rehearsed the lines again and again. She practiced. She spoke well. She was waiting for the results, praying hard to God.

A fair, slim, tall, girl with chiseled features who forgot the lines got selected.

“The princess should be beautiful. We will make her work hard and learn the lines.” Said the teacher. “That short girl, who recited the lines well , she could be the maid. In fact, another girl from section C also looks like her. Short and chubby. Those two could be the maids. Where did she go?”

The short girl had left….. She did not want to be the maid. She wanted to be the princess.

If only she knew, that it did not matter. She could have still participated and showed her talent…..

At ten

“What happened? This time seems you have played too much in the sun!! You have become so dark! Now stay indoors till you gain back some colour! Otherwise no one will marry you!”

It was a random comment by a random stranger. It should not have mattered. But that is the day she stopped playing volleyball.

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have played.

At thirteen

“Eww! Your face looks so messed-up” said the class bully.

Everybody smiled for the year-book picture. She did not. She had braces. People had started saying she had an attitude. She was not able to make friends. She was arrogant! But she was not!  She was just a girl very conscious of her smile!

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have smiled…

At sixteen

She was a big girl now! She could now wear a proper suit with a dupatta. Short kurtas were in. She had selected her own style and got her suit stitched. She was all dressed up to visit the puja pandal.

“How do I look Maa!”

“Short! In Jeans, you don’t look so short. Wear heels!”

Few minutes later, the mother came back to check on her. The suit was wrapped and thrown in one corner. She was lying with her head down.

“What happened. We have to leave in 10 minutes!”

“I am having a stomach ache!”

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone…

At nineteen

Rohit really likes you. Yesterday also he was trying to invite you to his party after class.”

“Why would the most good-looking guy in college be interested in ME!!”

The next day she saw Rohit talking to the prettiest girl in college.

He is probably not interested in me. He just invited me because my friends are invited. She convinced herself and skipped the party.

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone….

At twenty-five

The team was planning a trip to Europe. She wanted to go. But she hardly had any friends. She would feel lonely. She would not fit in. There were all shopping. She did not want to buy so many clothes. Nothing would fit her well anyway. She would not look good in the pictures which they upload every few minutes. She decided to stay.

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone.

She is 33 now. She has finally become comfortable with herself. She does not care how she looks. She does not care what people say. She does not care who wants to be with her who does not. She does what SHE wants to do. She is living her life…But can she go back in time? She could have been so much more, in school, in college, at work, in her relationships, in her social circles!

Had she taken part in the play, her performance would have impressed so many. She would have participated in so many more…

Had she smiled more in the pictures, she could have probably appeared friendlier. She would have made so many friends…

She could have gone to the pandal. You don’t have to be tall to go to places…

She could have attended Rohit’s party. If only she had given him a chance, maybe he would have got to know what a caring, sensible person she was…

She could have travelled the world. And she could have conquered it!

The little things we say to people about their looks in their childhood and teenage years, scars them. It affects their self-esteem, and confidence. It weakens their growth. It prevents them from attaining their full potential. It stops them from becoming someone.

Before we tell someone, they are dark, short, fat, thin, tall, remember it is not kind, it is not necessary and it may not even be true. Even if it is true, we have no business making a shallow remark. Nobody’s appearance is our business. And if someone is growing fat, we are not doing them a favour by letting them know so they can reduce weight! We can keep the concern to ourselves!

I have a nine-year-old niece. My sister recently told me that she along with other parents from school take their kids to a pediatrician who counsels them on the kids’ diet and nutrition. This Delhi based doctor addresses the 9-13 year old girls who put on weight as “Auntyji” so that they lose weight.

I also remember a time,  when I was in school and I was leaving my house with my dad. I met a neighbor who greeted me as “Are badi kali ho gayi hai tu!” No hi, no hello, no how are you, what are you doing, simply kali ho gayi hai tu!!

We have such moronic people in our country. We may ignore them. But it will still hurt the child. Let us ask them to not make such remarks. Tell them it does not matter and that you would not like your child to hear such things. It is okay to say that. It is okay to react for the sake of your child.

If they are so keen to tell the “truth” you could too!

 

 

 

 

Shashikala – The Unknown Feminist

For the past few minutes the doorbell was incorporated as part of my dream. Finally, after it rang for some time, I realized it is not a dream and I need to get up and open the door.

Shashikala walked in.

“Goodmorning Didi.” She said in her usual chirpy voice.

“Hmm.” I replied coldly. She had not come to work the day before. I was giving her the silence treatment.

“Didi, I will make chicken for you today,” she said trying to lure me with my favourite food.

“No need! There is a lot of leftover from yesterday!” I gave a cold reply again.

“Ok Didi!”

The silent treatment did not seem to be working. She either did not understand I was mad or she did not care. I broke my cold war and blurted out:

“Look at all those dirty dishes! I had guests over yesterday! And you just ditched me! I had told you not to take an off for these two days! Your work is the last priority for you. You took an off to look after your friend!! She does not have anyone? You have to disrupt your work to attend to her?”

“No Didi.  She is not my friend.”

“Oh so what neighbor? Stranger! Even better! You come to work only after you have solved all of humanity’s problems.”

“She is his first wife….”

Shashikala was married off when she was about 18. Her husband was abusive. He used to take all her money for alcohol and beat her up.  In the next five years, she had two sons until one fine day he just left.  After a couple of years he showed up again, asking for his children.  Shashikala refused to give them up. He told her he is doing well in life and would be in a better position to support the kids. She said she does not want to live with him.  A compromise was made. The husband took her elder son. She kept the younger one.

A kind aunt of hers thought that it is time she remarried.  The prospective groom was okay with having her son around. So Shashikala agreed. Once the marriage was solemnized, she was in for another shock. This man was already married, something she had no idea about.  The first wife was still living there.  Shashikala left him and came back with her son.

Now, she lives with her younger son. The elder son (who is with his father) is in a hostel and he visits her sometimes. Both the husbands show up at her house once in a while to create some drama!

Her story came flashing back in my mind.

What happened to her!” I asked her. The anger was now replaced with curiosity.

“He came the night before to eat. He said that she has not been keeping well so there is no one to cook for him. You know he is very selfish Didi. He did not even take her to the doctor. She was in pain. So I went there. Took her to the hospital. Got her the medicines. Cleaned her house. And cooked some food.”

“Why do you care so much about her?”

“Unknowingly I did her wrong Didi! I married her husband and hurt her! This is the least I can do.”

I read a lot of articles online. The latest trend is romanticizing cheating. I have seen a lot of reputed publications publish articles on cheating and how it is all about “being in the moment”, “living your life”,  “love and sex are different things”, “it just happens” and other such excuses. When I express my disgust in the comments some cool people respond,“Why are being so judgmental”, “To each to his own”. It seems we have no idea how to be progressive.

Here is a woman who did not exactly have a smooth life. One bad marriage is enough to break a person. She had two! It could have been convenient for her to bitter. But she chose not to. She had self-respect. She did not take back her first husband when he came back. She left the second husband the moment she found out he is already married.

But these things did not change who she is as a person. It did not change the kindness within her. The kindness that made her feel the physical and emotional pain of another woman.

Yes, good women uplift other women. They hold their head high in times of turmoil. They do not let the unhappiness in their lives change their judgment, and conscience.

Shashikala, you are a feminist to me.  You may not get any recognition.  But you have taught me one thing:

We are who we are. No matter what happens in life, there is no excuse to cause someone pain. There is no reason to not live by our principles.

 

The Little Girl Who Won

“Mumma, when I receive the award, should I walk up the stage from the left or from the right? Both side has stairs.” Asked a very enthusiastic five-year-old girl dressed as a dhoban (washerwoman).

“Any side, beta”, reassured the mother, looking tensed.

She got a call from her husband. “How Is she doing? Competition over?” asked the father on the other line.

“Contest is over. She did well. But I am worried because she is so confident she will win! She is asking me which stairs she should go up from! I hope she wins something. She will be too disappointed otherwise!”

“It is okay. I have bought her that doll set anyway. If she wins, it is her prize. If she does not, it will cheer her up.”

Few minutes later, the little girl walked up from the right side to win the first prize award in the fancy competition. Her mother clapped proudly, relieved.

It has been 25 years since then. But the scene was pretty similar this Saturday at the Orange Flower Awards for which the girl who is now a grown-up woman had traveled with her mother. The woman’s father was texting, this time on the family whatsapp group.

“Any updates? Keeping fingers crossed.” The father texted with a folded hands emoticon.

“Programme has started.” replied the mother.

“Keep us updated.”

The grown up woman was sitting with two of her blogger friends. Her mother was sitting behind her with her friend’s mother (who is also a blogger). Her mother was initially sitting on the aisle seat. But as more crowd poured in, she had to move in. Now she was all the way in the corner.

If I win, she will not be able to take any decent pictures from that corner…. The woman thought to herself.

She turned around to look at her mother. She wanted to ask her to get up and click a picture in case she did win.

But she was not  that presumptuous five-year-old anymore!! The little girl who was so confident of herself was now a grown-up woman. A woman who was afraid she will jinx it if she says something. A woman who is scared of good things. A woman who feels that if something nice happens to her, something bad will happen to balance it out. A woman who struggles to fight off her inner demons and negative thoughts.

The woman won. The father was updated on whatsapp. He updated his entire contact book. Even people who do not know his daughter writes. The mother managed to take a video from her corner seat. Without any sound though! She had lowered her phone’s volume for the event (something she regrets) because in her own words, ‘Tumhare baare mein kitna achcha bola tha , woh record nahi hua.”

The woman was very happy. She will try to write better. But most importantly, she will try her best to be that free-spirited little girl again.

I won three awards this year. But this post is not just about me. I would like to dedicate this post to everyone reading this, please pursue your dreams. Don’t be afraid. Don’t think about 100 things that will stop you. Don’t expect any success. Just do it! When you do something you like, everything falls in place.