When we were young and out for a cause my parents called us and warned, ‘Come back home before it is dark.’ We hurried and returned sighing in silence when we shall grow up. But amazingly, its only my brother who has grown up after that, may be his prayer was stronger, my sister and I still remained kids, warned and protected and still reminded, ‘Come back home before it is dark.’
I do not know how others react, but it torments and tatters my ego violently. It keeps ringing and ringing in my ears scorning and mocking my individuality. So many times I replied, ‘You need not worry Ma, I am a better judge of my life,’ and the phone went abruptly cut, my mother hurt hearing such an answer. And so it was time to think who am I annoyed of.
As we grow up, nature gives us enough strength to take things for granted and we eventually end up happy and satisfied with whatever is around us. But for every individual it leaves a gap somewhere to make that person realize probably that how artfully it has covered rest of the part. For Newton, say, falling an apple from the tree couldn’t be digested…something as obvious as ever. Why do people grow old and sick…is that even a question to ask…but went over Siddhartha’s head and he had to struggle to unwrap.
I often feel my problem point is somewhere hovering around women and the darkness-warning has been building it like a furnace right from the time I was young. A simple eve-teasing was so simply taken by my sister always, but I always had to 'act smart' and ‘create scene’ as she often referred to it later.
And I tried all sorts of experiments to deal with it to find out which of these calms me down faster. ‘Ignoring is the best thing in such situation’ women who have seen more summers than I often answered, ‘Dogs can bite you, but you can’t bite the dog,’ that was the core logic this theory was based on.
When I tried this it was a disaster. That one minute of silence ripped me off with so many words later, written angrily across my diary-pages that I had to decide, something better must be done.
I still remember the day I was returning with my mom from the market buying a new pair of shoes packed in the box. I was in my early teens and sill unaware of the rules of this world. And it was a young lad following me through every lane and every turn. And then when the crowd got thinner and I could spot him for his good, I slung my hand with the shoe-box hanging in the polythene and struck him across his face right there.
That was my first time and the very first step towards experimentation.
But that was a beginning with a Beginner’s luck.
After that I never found it that easy to spontaneously raise my hand. Then the intermediates I worked on... how powerful could one be with words? Those days as I was still to see the world, I first tried with good words. How foolish was that day when to my coaching centre a man followed from the bus and pleaded me to be with him for sometime and assured me with safety and secret. I behaved like a fool and politely kept refusing his offer. He said he would still wait for the answer. I learnt nothing in the class that day. My exam was near. My legs shook everyday while I took another route, another bus and another long way planning my every action with caution…
And then as destiny took me to Delhi where nature is at its best to teach people to take things easy, I grew up. I learnt slowly the art of creating a recycling bin in my head where some things should directly be dumped off, people treated in the way they deserve…a fight won or lost should be forgotten about and counted as a step towards better solution. I learnt that this petty problem with girlhood isn’t all that big when I met women betrayed, fooled, tortured and still mastering the art of ignoring it all.
Being in Ahmedabad now, has almost made me forget that deep within me I was a warrior. Suddenly today my swords poked, my shields clamored as I walked along the road and a man in bike spoke near my ears and whizzed past. What could a word do? How after all could a glance or a chuckle harm? But as I had earlier mentioned, that’s where is my raw nerve…a slight poke there brings down all my anguish rattling in despair.
The invisible chain I have been building with all women in all state and form suddenly gets shaken up and swings to and fro like a pendulum. And in that hazy motion I see the woman in our neighborhood turned mad now with strict rules of not stepping out. At her tender young age she suffers a weak heart and amusingly blames her shampoo for all the cause. Everyday she tries new shampoo, new brand but her fate fails to coordinate with her.
An aunt of mine fondly showed her jewellery her husband had got, whenever we stepped to see her. Every week he got precious necklace and she would open the cases all around her, scatter the stones like the richest wife on earth and then sit back to share the grief of her husband’s extra affairs.
My teacher’s daughter whom they threw acid on, my friend’s aunt who died with abortion after abortion, my childhood friend whose outdoor games oneday suddenly stopped, as her parents said she has now 'grown-up'…I have each one of you in my mind glowing clear…I have you held as part of my identity somehow, as my own shame, my own guilt, my own anguish, agony and despair.
Believe me, I don’t mind shedding a tear or two to console your heart, I don’t mind if the strength allotted to my life is spent to bandage my wounded nerve. The mad woman who kept wondering the whole village with a rug was raped by her husband’s brothers. She had claimed her share in her husband’s wealth after he expired… I have unwillingly started breathing your breath and now everyday it gets warmer…