My Grammar teacher tells me of these mysterious boys, Ram and Rahul, who do everything! They read, they walk, they play, they eat and they go to office too. But Priya, Pooja and Sita keep singing, dancing and cooking. Why doesn’t Priya play? Or Pooja go to office? Or Rahul cook food? Even after all these years, I fail to understand the logic. But is it the logic of all Rams and Rahuls, or all Priyas, Poojas and Sitas, or is it the notion of all Grammar teachers?
One thing I forgot to tell you.
Hi! I am a girl.
I work all night long. I am lazy. I spend my days studying or watching sitcoms and movies. I don’t cook food. I can hardly even identify different utensils. I don’t like to clean. I don’t like to serve food to guests when they come home. My career ranks way above my family and friends.
Hey! Don’t doubt me yet. I am certainly a girl.
I travel via a DTC bus to the nearest metro station and then take an auto to my college. I tend to always get late these days. So, I run to board the bus on time.
Conductor: “Hey! You are a girl. Ask that man sitting on the ladies seat to get up.”
Me: “No, thank you. I have enough courage to stand.”
My defence goes in vain, as the man, either humiliated or frustrated, gives up the seat himself.
Two ladies board the bus.
Ladies: “Hey you! You are sitting on our seats. We are girls.”
They sit down ahead of me. I overhear them talking of equal rights for women. They talk of women being as brave as men, as smart as men, and thus, as deserving as them. And I wonder, we fight for the rights we desire and refuse to accept the rights we acquire. If there is a right to sit, why isn’t there a right to stand? And if there is such a right, why is it only for men? Amused by these self-contradicting fellows, I start reading my book, The Diary of a Young girl.
In a few minutes, I get down at my stop to board the metro. I like how the women’s queue is never as long as the men’s. But, should I appreciate it? Doesn’t it reinforce our unfavourably skewed sex ratio?
I am not much of a fan of the ladies seat in buses, as you might have guessed, but I travel in the ladies coach in metro. I marvel at the ladies in the ladies coach! There are those who tie up their hair in front of the glass doors, those who are reading books, those who are gossiping about their boyfriends and those who are so forgetful of their fat bellies that they try to adjust whenever and wherever they can! Then, the voice in the metro announces, “Please vacate the seats for the physically challenged, senior citizens and ladies.” I wonder why sitting down is so important for women?
The college is a happy place, till my body says, Hi you are a girl!
I need a sanitary napkin. I rush to my girls, whispering to them to enquire if they have it. Oh how dreadful it must be if a boy overhears! I wear it and spend the entire day smiling while pangs of stomach pains and awful body aches torture me inside. But, I just bend down to pick a big sack of papers to carry it nearby, and a boy comes and says, Hey! You are a girl! He doesn’t let me carry it and takes the sack with himself.
My friends have planned a farewell party after college. There is food, dance and a photo-clicking spree. The girls and I, who were discussing in college about the equality and empowerment of women, enjoy the new hit song, ‘Baby doll main sone di’ and that one too ‘Bomb ladgi mainu’. These are just words of appreciation of womanhood, aren’t these? Just peppy tunes. We can debate over objectification of women later. I am dancing now.
I go back home. My mother is watching this serial, in which ladies keep crying. One keeps thinking of ways to keep her husband happy and the other is perpetually distressed with her mother-in-law’s behaviour. I, on the other hand, have a project to finish. But, a slave of sitcom addiction, I sit down to watch an episode of Game of Thrones. No matter how much I like the show, I have always wondered why women take off their clothes oftener than do men. If modernization means a higher revelation of skin, lesser clothes and provocative songs, why aren’t men the subjects of it? Does it mean women are more modern than men? Or that my gender will always spend its life either wooing men, planning for the same or drawing pleasure from its own objectification?
Revered as pious goddesses and yet, abused in every sentence. For I have never been able to grasp the obsession with ‘incest abuse’ of both men and women. Incest abuse? Yes. What else will you call your language that is decorated with abuses pertaining to mothers and sisters?
I don’t want any special rights. I do not want any reservations. Does a ladies’ seat or a ladies’ coach prevent rapes? I want my right to stand. I want my right to pick up anything heavy that I want to. I want to go to parties without dressing up. I don’t even want to get waxed. I don’t want men and women to abuse me in every sentence. I want to live the way I want to. I’d like to be the Priya, Pooja or Sita who goes to office. I do not want to be constantly reminded of the gender I belong to and be restrained to societal ways and government ‘rights’.
I am a girl. But there is so much more to me than just my gender.