Where mother’s day doesn’t exist

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. And while we waste time doing silly little things like begging you to vote for our Motherhood posts (dang, but I hope you voted for me!) … there are women suffering indignity of the worst kind. Government funded health workers are refusing to touch pregnant Dalit women. Yes. Really. The tax I pay is being used to pay the scum of the earth who think their precious hands are too good to touch these poor pregnant women just because they are Dalits. It makes my blood boil. What’s more, the anganwadi centres are run out of the homes of the upper caste who don’t allow the Dalit women in, so that the health workers anyway don’t end up meeting them. Click here to read the kind of abuse they face.

Here we are, groaning through pregnancies where we’re pampered, eating healthy food, visiting the best hospitals, getting the best care, swaning around in maternity wear – while there are women at the other end of the spectrum going through the same discomfort and being treated like shit. Would we go through our pregnancies if we had to live their lives? I often wonder how much of my love for motherhood stems from the fact that I’ve got a much better life than that…. It’s a question that shakes me to the core.

Anu mailed me too, about my gender wishlist from the elections. I didn’t have any because right now my concerns are more of terrorism and religious intolerance. And maybe also because no damn doctor dare tell me that I am too lowly to be touched. Not if they don’t want their damn arm ripped off and shoved down their throat. But I see what gives me the confidence to fight that while the poverty-striken Dalit woman shrinks away in fear.

And this sort of discrimination sets in early. Teachers refused meals to some Dalit children, made them sit in separate lines in case they were being fed, made them wash the utensils after the children from the upper castes had eaten, and this one is priceless – children refused to eat  if the cooks were Dalits!!! What is it that makes us teach our children not to eat food cooked by people we deem to be lower than us?! What makes us higher or better? My children often beg a morsel off the driver, the cook, the maid, anyone they see sitting down to eat something interesting.

Speaking of discrimination – a bunch of hooligans burst in upon a church meeting in Mumbai and locking the room insisted that they should all chant Jai Shri Ram. Failing that, they beat them up. Is it just me, or is Mumbai reporting far too many instances of intolerance these days?

Although our neighbours aren’t behaving much better. Sikhs, Hindus and Christians are all fleeing their homes. Sad. Religious wars in this day and age. Makes me want to cry. Almost as bad as not touching pregnant women because they’re Dalits.

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20 thoughts on “Where mother’s day doesn’t exist

  1. Sigh, this sucks..I feel like religious intolerance is growing day by day instead of getting less.
    THe health workers/dalit woman issue jsut made my blood boil

  2. Thinking a bit,it seems like prejudice against poverty/caste combination.Would the same people care if it was a restaurant where they dont even know who cooks.While the mind wishes to correct these with the wave of a wand ,I guess at the ground level its going to take a long time to see a better state of affairs.A very appropriate input for Mothers Day.Thanks.

  3. Argh it’s like so much has changed and yet nothing has changed. I’m glad the press is at least highlighting the continuing ill-treatment of Dalits in India. The whole problem was mysteriously invisible for ages.

  4. Even I want to cry… Or go around shooting these people…

    See this is the effect they want 😦 either make us morose or bring us down to their level…

  5. I am shocked to comment.

    I thought being a health worker would mean you treat everyone with the sole aim to reduce pain and suffering. Or, maybe they feel they can do that without touching them. How do these women deliver in such a facility? What happens to the new born? 😦

    I pray something shall be done about this.

  6. Intolerance is surely on the rise these days. I don’t get it, normally intolerance is bully behaviour against minorities. Women make 50% population, so why women?

  7. I have no words for this. Unspeakably sad state of affairs. Quoting Yeats:

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhe
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction,
    while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

  8. Happy mother’s day to you! I think you would love being a mom, no wonder what the circumstances are…however you would strive to change your situation for activism is ingrained in you. I for one also cannot understand women who get female fetuses aborted year after year until they bear sons…and these are not uneducated poverty striken women but women like you and me living in delhi and the prosperous villages in Punjab and Haryana- how do these women live with this murder of their own children…how come in these long years there has not been a single case of rebellion against this by the mother concerned. There have been protests by battered women but no outcry by a woman whose womb was used as a boy producing machine!
    Speaking of intolerance- yes it has increased, the public have been convinced that those responsible for their condition is the ‘other’ in this case the ‘religious other’. How come there is no radical voice in favour of tolerance while intolerance has its poster boys thrown at us all the time???

    Me: Good question – why don’t you start? honestly.

  9. MM,
    Like you and the others its really hard for us to digest this. Like you am angry. Well, after that what?

    What are we doing after letting out our anger? What did we do when the there was one or other mind boggling or bothering thing happened Kashmiri Pandits, Orissa Nuns, Gujarat Riot Victims, Bombay Massacre Victims?

    We told our near and dear that we are angry. That it pains. After that we continued with our own life.

    In Lanka, the innocent Tamils dont have water to drink, food to eat. They apply sand on their bullet wounds or for any sharpnel wounds and slowly succumb to it.

    At one point of time, that we express our anger in comparison is equal to sitting in a petty tea shop and having Vetti Pechu. Am sorry if I sound rude. But, think hard. Isn’t this the truth?

    What was done to the Orissa Nuns is as horrible as what is happening to those pregnant women though they are 2 extreme issues.

    How many of us have taken some step to reach the needy? Honestly speaking\, bneing a Tamil, my blood boild to know that Tamilians are suffering just 36 nautical miles from the Indian Border. But have I done anything to make their life better.

    In a recent interview by Shri. Ravishankar to the press, after meeting tose victims, he said the condition of the Tamils living in the Srilankan Camps is horrible. But, the living conditions are better than that available for a Refugee in India.

    All the politicians here, like there at MP/Orissa/Kashmir/Bombay/MP play the Tamil Card for their victory.

    Even now, am letting out my anger. But I know not what to do? Where to go and approach? To be more honest, I have not even tried to find out if there are ways if I can help atleast one Srilankan Tamil Refugee.

    All we do is, Speak,Write,Cry, Shout show our anger and then go about with our own work.

    Isn’t it? Are we not equally guilty like those in the power. Just speak and do nothing. I am going to vote. But how many trolls that drop in here would have casted their vote? The basic duty of a citizen is this. Even for that we have so many limitations? But still we keep complaining.

    At some point MM, I fel GUILTY. For am doing nothing other than speaking or writing about it. I feel ashamed.

    Sorry for such a long post……… but couldn’t help it…

    Me: Uma – have you wondered why there are only 11 or 12 comments on this post? because there are plenty of people out there who still believe in certain people being untouchable. even if you just write about it – its something – because such matters need to be brought into the public space and spoken of. kudos to you if you can do more. i believe the first thing to do is change your own ways. I know i do the best I can with teaching my kids and telling my cook that she needs to stop giving upper caste attitude to the rest of the househelp!

  10. thats just so sad 😦 in this day and age.

    a few hours from you across the border, my country is suffering at the hands of this very intolerance too. i think its a way of the world right now because people dont know who else to understand differences- how to cope with them. they think the best way to be is exactly alike. the best thing we can do really- perhaps is to teach our own children how to live together- how to love and appreciate the HUMANITY in people above the colour, race caste creed religion. its not upto us to judge people on their religious choices- let God handle that and all we can do is do our own very best t make sure we dont add to this. And maybe if we are doing that- we are doing a lot more than we think we are. happy mothers day to you mm.

  11. Hi MM,

    Recently I went to a public meeting where Dalit women and men had gathered to discuss their concerns and rights.

    Some women leaders, ordinary Dalit village women, had so much grit and had gone through so much in life, untouchability, hunger, back breaking non stop work, husbands who had left, and yet their eyes shone with new found confidence and dignity. The capacity, the strength to fight back is there, they just need to collect, believe in their collective strength, and the fact that they have rights.

    These women I met in a small village in Andhra gave me a lot of hope. Their movement needs to gather more strength, and they need to get more and more awareness. It was an eyeopening experience for me.

  12. Pingback: It’s Mothers’ Day at Blogbharti

  13. I really cant believe this is true, it made me cry…

    I thought in India we are in a better condition than afgans but this is worst… i am referring to the scene in thousand splendid suns where she delivers a c-sect without medication atleast there they had no option… we are worst than them

  14. “have you wondered why there are only 11 or 12 comments on this post? because there are plenty of people out there who still believe in certain people being untouchable.”

    MM, I agree with you completely on this. Hence, even though I am usually a dormant reader of your blog (I rarely comment and also I do carry a few disagreements on some of your other posts), today I sensed the necessity to step forward and exhibit my agreement with you and the likes of you. I truly wish more people voice their support to this particular post, but that would first need them to acknowledge the truth written in the post.

    And Uma, I back MM even on the argument that just talking about it does its bit as a part of the assertive action required to fight a cause. After all, spreading information and awareness, and exchange of ideas is what that can actually initiate any change! Ofcourse if people take an extra mile and physically contribute to the cause, there’s nothing like it. But, in my opinion when people are open to giving and receiving of more and more awareness, when there happens a dialogue between the population and more and more people participate in it, that is when there emerges a scope of the success of democracy and the victory of human rights (read humanity)!

    Me: I appreciate your gesture Sakshi. I know a lot of people disagree with a lot of what I write – just as a lot of people agree with it. How can we expect everyone to agree with everything we say? But what is sad that they take the disagreement on a certain issue onto other posts and withold their support on issues where they agree with me. Ego issues, I’d call them.

  15. MM & Sakshi,
    Both of You are right – Creating awareness to the coming generation and expressing concern is also important. Blog space nowadays is a platform to express our views and concerns.

    The seed sown today will be reaped tomorrow. NO Doubt. I want this change, this awareness to happen in villages.

    But my concern is still about today. The discriminations they face today. Their Plight, their apathy – For which none of us have a solution.

    I only hope more and more meetings mentioned by Anjali happens across the country.

    MM, do u remember sometime back I wrote to you about a short film. We have done it. I had a sponsor from that belief to back us. A genuine person. For whom I have great respect. The fate of that film now is a big ? If I have to write about it, it will be longer than the longest post of yours…

  16. Hi,

    In the recent past, I have had occasion to witness a couple of incidents – both cases where a minor disagreement between two people was reported as brawls. The incidents which arose because of an innocuous parking problem (and I know this because I was there) suddenly got reported as a fight between two groups – MNS and North Indians, and Hindus and Muslims. It was not true. The people involved knew that it wasn’t true. Worse, the people reporting the same knew that it was not true.

    So, is intolerance in Mumbai on the rise? I don’t think so. I definitely don’t. After 26/11, in fact, I see a certain gentleness, a certain humility with which people treat each other. But whilst the civic sense of Mumbai might have improved, reporting about the city has certainly deteriorated.

    If the incident did occur, it is indeed illegal and unfortunate. But I can tell you this much – perhaps their motivations might not be what has been reported.

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