Following footsteps

The Brat came back from school, pulled off his t-shirt, flung it on my bed and fell asleep. I smiled at the little man who is such a little man. Until it struck it me that the equally exhausted Bean has never considered it. I wondered why that was until I realised that he sees his father roaming around the house bare-chested. Clearly *koff koff* they never see their mother fling her clothes and cares to the world, so she takes her cue from me. How early you learn what you should and shouldn’t do. Even though no one would think twice about a 4-year-old girl throwing off her t-shirt, she’s never asked, I’ve never noticed (until today) and she probably wouldn’t ask because she already identifies so strongly with being female.

 

A mixed bag

This link via SupMM made me laugh. Apparently more men are happier about unplanned pregnancies, than women are. Well that’s a little obvious I’d say. They won’t be growing to mammoth proportions, puking their guts out, getting stretchmarks, walking around like a leaky dairy farm for a year or more and then sagging to their newly-gained-fat knees.

It took me back to a discussion on unplanned pregnancies we were having earlier. I’m glad women’s lib gave us more control over our choices and bodies but I do feel a little twinge for men having no choice over when they would like to have kids anymore. A fair enough price to pay for not having to go through pregnancy and breastfeeding and loss of figure, one might say! Still…. 

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This piece of news made me wonder where we’re headed. A student of Annamalai University, Chennai dies in hospital  – he was rushed there after an accident. Fellow students claimg that he was neglected because he was a north Indian (this isn’t in the link, I saw it on the news today). They riot/protest violently. The cops come and control the rioting. Fleeing students fall into a canal and drown. Bihar CM gives their family a compensation. 

How many things do you see wrong here?

First – why riot outside a hospital saying that you’ve been neglected because of the state you come from? Why do we do this all the time? Every few weeks I hear of hospital staff being beaten up by relatives of a patient they couldn’t save. No wonder the half way decent doctors move abroad. At which point do we trust a doctor’s judgment that they could do no more? I could be wrong in this case, but it happens all the darn time. 

Second – what is the chancellor supposed to do about it? He isn’t a medical professional and he can only believe it if the doctors tell him the boy couldn’t be saved. As a parent today, I’m a little less hard-hearted, but even I cant see the point in going to the Univ administration.

Third – the students who were running away from the police, accidentally fell into a canal and died. I don’t know what to say to this. Why exactly does the Bihar CM have to jump in with compensation?! Why politicise it?  Doesn’t it encourage the students to think on communally divided lines? Then the MNS and Shiv Sena may as well throw all the north Indians out of Bombay because you know, CMs of other states are acting all partisan and making compensations for students who lost their lives while causing trouble for another state and college. 

It’s such a vicious cycle, the politics is filthy, it is sad to see young guys getting dragged into this. My condolences for the lives lost but violent protests are not the answer. And compensations should be made if you’re dying for a cause, a natural calamity or due to state negligence. This hardly qualifies as state negligence. I’d say its your own negligence if you first riot and then fall into a canal while trying to make an escape. Hell.. I give up.

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Actually before I give up I must register my protest over this one. The ATC who allowed his kid to direct air traffic in the US. What right did he have to endanger so many lives? I’m okay with ‘take your kid to work day’ if you’re not doing something that involves other people’s lives and so long as your kids just watch. It’s particularly ironic that such highly trained professionals who are well aware of the seriousness of the job at hand fall in to the parent trap of thinking that its okay for their kid to fool around for a little while. How do they teach them to respect an education, the enormity of what they’re doing and other lives. 

I don’t know if any of my older readers remember but there was one idiot doctor couple who allowed their 15-year-old son to come into the OT and operate on a pregnant woman and deliver her son via Csec. The post is buried somewhere in my old blog. I think people like this should be tortured in the old-fashioned way – half hanged, slit from neck to crotch, guts pulled out and burned in front of them, and then taken to the block. Am I sounding blood thirsty? Sorry – just the after effects of reading Phillipa Gregory’s The Boleyn Inheritance.

Badges of honour?

The physical scars from pregnancy are double-edged. At times I wonder whether I’d be happier without them. At others I look down at my belly in wonder and can’t believe each of my kids lived in there for 9 months. It’s not just a belly that needs to be flat and look good – it has served another purpose and done a bloody good job of it.

Despite having lost the weight and having a decently flat stomach now, I don’t really show it off because the marks still remain. A far cry from my skinny days when low slung sarees were mandatory!

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I don’t wear short stuff for many reasons – I think only teeny boppers really need to be in navel baring tops and the rest of us can get by with the odd flash when we raise our arms, but to be in a top that ends above my navel, is not my idea of being fashionable.  The saree on the other hand, is meant to be worn with a bit of your waist left exposed.

I always knew I’d lose the baby weight. I didn’t think I’d get stretchmarks. I guess when you go from 24 inches to 48 in a matter of weeks and then back, it’s bound to happen. What no one told me is that they went from an angry purple to red, to now silvery marks, with the skin around them still darker than the rest of my skin tone. It took me days to get over the horror of what my belly looked like, just like most accident and trauma victims can’t get over scars and marks that tell a tale. They’re not ugly or embarassing. They say you’ve survived. That you experienced something and have a memento to show from it.

As my mom often tells me, stretchmarks are not a bad thing and it’s alright if they show because then people know that it’s more than just a slim waist, it’s a waist that produced kids and still got back in to shape – it’s commendable. She says women in her generation didn’t shy away from them, so why does our generation look to hide them? Fair point. A lot more emancipated then you’d imagine.

Which is all very well as far as pep talks go  – but I just missed my old smooth belly after I had the Brat.

And then over the last two years since I had the Bean I’ve gone back to wearing chiffon sarees for cocktails and stuff and I am no longer so particular to keep my stomach covered because the odd flash of stretchmarked waist doesn’t embarass me. I was just learning to be proud of my body as it is…

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And then I see this post where a fantastically fit Malaika is flaunting a belly that seems to be untouched by a scalpel, and showing off  her stretchmarks.. and there are a bunch of unreal people commenting – Oh look stretchmarks. Why can’t she cover them up?

And all I can think is Dude!! Some perspective. You’d be hardpressed to find young college girls in as good shape as Malaika. Hell – most days I realise I’m in better shape than the other non-mothers I know – and Malaika is miles ahead in the way she’s kept her figure. I love that she is showing off both her amazing body as well as motherhood with such pride and confidence…

The shocking part is that the comments seem to come from young girls  – I am only assuming since I found them on a fashion site, that they aren’t men. While I don’t expect all of them to be mothers, I suppose a percentage of them definitely will be. What makes stretchmarks such a terrible thing? Why do we need to cover them up? Who sets these standards of perfection? Why do all scars need to be disguised and covered up?

I’ve already posted my views on plastic surgery. And botox. So it’s sad and scary to read comments that require a woman to look perfect after having a baby. To have people behave like motherhood and pregnancy are meant to be dirty little secrets. To note that younger women (well they might be older than me too!) are unable to appreciate the natural and those who actually slog to look their best. That we expect every little scar to be concealed. That our idea of beauty is plastic perfection.

We’re okay with an old Big B and his grey beard, but not with a Malaika and her stretchmarks. No wonder it’s so hard for older actresses to come back in roles of substance. I know atleast four models who scheduled tummy tucks with their cesareans and then had boob jobs and came back after their babies looking spotless – which is so damn sad. Why can’t we accept what age and experiences do to our bodies? Why do models and actresses need to do it, and worse, why do us normal women need to look unscarred?

And what makes it alright or polite to say that they should be covered? Would it be acceptable in polite company to tell a person who bears a scar from an accident or other surgery to cover it up? Or to tell them that their scars are grossing you out? If that is the case, I’ll happily move to the jungles.

I attended a wedding a few days ago – glad to be back in the chiffon saree and teeny blouse that I fitted into long ago! Only to have some friends tell me rather rudely that I look like a mother. I didn’t take offence to the whole ‘looking like a mother’ bit. I took offence to the fact that it was said rather critically. Why is it bad to look like a mother? I want my kids to remember me as a mother and not as an elder sister. I’m fine with you aspiring to look young. I don’t. I am quite happy looking my age and my role. And I don’t chase youth. I might aspire to be as zen as Tara or Dot - but ‘looking young’ is not on my list of ‘Things I want to grow up to be.’

 Yes, I look like a mother. I am one. I’m proud of my kids, and the fact that I am back in rather decent shape.  I love being thirty. I love being a mother. I love my body. I love that time is moving on and taking me with it.

As for the stretch marks and the cheesy reference to them as badges of honour.  No thank you. And there’s no point calling them that. It seems like such a farce in the face of such reactions. They’re neither honourable nor dishonourable. They’re just a fact of life. One I accept with grace and embrace.

Scilla and Charybdis

So the world is up in arms because Hamid Karzai has legalized rape within marriage and made it illegal for a woman to leave the house without her husband’s permission. (Hey! We should send Manyata to Afghanistan, she admits to asking her husband for permissing before going out for coffee. She’d fit right in.) What kind of people are willing to accept such laws? What can they do about it? Do they fight it? I have no idea.

And we can get off our high horses because things here in India aren’t much better. Our laws mght be better but some of our people are so regressive that it seems pointless. This woman who was raped, has urged the court to release the rapist because she is afraid nobody else will marry her. So she asked her rapist to marry her and he very benevolently agreed, saying his family wouldn’t mind so long as she converted to Islam. Right. I wonder if he checked with his family before raping her. As for the woman – I wonder how bad life for her must be if the best option she has is to marry her rapist. I feel really really bad for her….

The mind does not boggle. It is simply exhausted by the state of affairs.

Fortunately the DCW has objected, saying that the woman is under pressure from her family. Imagine having to live with that sort of support or lack thereof, from your family. We do afterall, live in a country where you have honour killings and revenge rapes and victims committing suicide because of the shame of it….

So is there still hope? I mean okay, DCW objects and then where does this poor woman go?

What do you guys think?

Mutually exclusive?

A few days ago I was talking to this annoyingly loud woman who insisted on dominating every conversation and flatly telling people to shut up or pretty much over ruling what they said. One of the things she said that really annoyed me, was that she some day wanted to start a magazine which was something between the Economist and a leading women’s magazine, you know, an Economist for women.

Err… an Economist, specially for women? Only for women? The only economist I met, I married! Awright, bad joke.

But it’s the only way to deal with my annoyance. What is one to imagine? That The Economist needs to be dumbed down or chick-ified in some way to be suitable for women? That women don’t read it? And most annoying to find a woman saying something so ridiculous. Would be so much easier to deal with the annoyance if it were a man. You just blame it on his chauvinism. What do you say to a woman who comes up with something like that?!

I recently saw some magazine called IT for Women or something similar. What do they imagine? That women interested in IT won’t pick up a regular IT magazine? And what does it talk about? How to programme your hair dryer? Well maybe I’d find out if I picked up a copy – but it’s the kind of patronising bullshit that is sure to piss me off and ensure I don’t touch it with a barge pole.