Thursday, 8 June 2017

I am India's Daughter


A cozy bed, newspaper ahead, and a nice cup of tea.
A perfect morning it was to be.
Flipping through pages of the paper and this photo is chanced upon.
This merry photo of little boys playing football in the beach.
Just another photograph of kids relishing the summer heat.
Just another game for the boys in the beach.
And yet this photo held something more; something that tingled my nerves.
This harmless picture rekindling the rebel soul itching to break out.
A gush of impulse springing from the shackled freedom within.

Neither the brimming tea nor the fine bed could tell me why,
Why I wasn't playing football like them.
Why I couldn't move around at my own will while they could.
Why I had to ask permission a week or so early, complete with a what, when, where and who
while all they had to do was say, "Ma, I'm going out!" And that's it.

So sick am I of explaining to them it isn't easy for us.
Them guy friends of ours who call us out and complain we make a fuss.
We're 'girls' you see, I tell them, with freedom only at a cost .
Never mind the lucky (or not?) exceptions, whose freedom invites my envy.
How wouldn't it? When our days are spent bitching over our hostel wardens for restrictions the guys don't get to enjoy.
But who am I to complain when their 'concerns of safety' for us are justified by the daily news reports?

I am India's daughter after all.  I am unsafe. Anywhere I go.

I wish I too had played football when I was little.
I wish I hadn't stopped playing at the age of twelve.
I wish we'd grown up a little more like them guys.
Maybe then I could've rushed out today to sweat over a match in the beach.
Maybe then travelling with my gal pals wouldn't be a terror to our family till we returned.
Maybe then we wouldn't have to argue and fight our way to make a significant place for ourselves in this world,
A world we all share.
Maybe then they would understand that there's really no 'they' or 'we' - just us human beings with a choice that shouldn't be denied.

I see gender equality crumble before my eyes every day of my life.
When boys are made to carry furniture and the girls to merely sit and paint charts.
When boys get to travel places and girls are to be escorted outdoors.
When boys play football in the beach and girls sigh at their photograph over the morning tea from their cozy bed.

It dawns on me that no matter how much we chant feminism with all the vigour we can muster,
We will remain to be tagged as the weaker sex.
The one that needs protection.
The one that needs empowerment.

Perhaps if we'd grown up playing football, I imagine,
Our muscles might've sharpened enough to smack off the guys from a secluded autorickshaw who dared to advance on us.
And maybe I could punch the sexists right on their faces so that their faces hurt rather than my fist.
And maybe guys would think twice before laying hands on another woman again.
And maybe when the army opened doors to combat roles for women, people wouldn't think national defense was at stake.

An eighteen year old girl sipping tea over a morning paper knows this idea is far fetched. A world where she can walk fearless and free.

She is India's daughter after all. She is unsafe. Anywhere she goes.


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