We bought a car last month. The Chevrolet Spark. (Cue for congratulations!) It was a crazy busy day with the kids coming back from G’Pa-Nana house and then rushing to office, then coming back, picking up the car and rushing off to drop Nana back on the train.
In all this, the car wasn’t celebrated as it was meant to be. No drive to temple or church, nothing. A friend asked me if we broke a coconut. No. Take it to church? No. But we got into the car and before starting, the OA and I closed our eyes almost on cue and said a little prayer… and then we were off. He dropped me home and rushed to a meeting in it. And that is how the new car was inaugurated. With love and hard work. Maybe this means the OA will do good business in this car. Fingers crossed. Do add your prayers to ours.
Don’t you want to teach your kids any customs and rituals and traditions, friends asked?
No. No, thank you. I don’t want to teach my kids anything that will become a cause for trouble later. I don’t want them to go through life believing that these are the important things. The things that must be done. That they must be done in a particular way. That a new car must have a coconut broken under a tire and driven to Church before any other place. Because what starts off as a mere happy tradition is soon set in stone and the cause of war. Do good, be good and the rest is all just frills, IMHO.
The Bean turned 23 months on the 15th and I was just too tired to do a post. In a couple of weeks my daughter will be two years old. My gorgeous, feisty, intelligent, fun loving daughter with laughter that is music to my ears. And what is my gift to her? Life in a country where its okay to pull women out of pubs by their hair because they’re mixing with men of another religion. She is a product of that sort of a mixture. Her mother and father belong to two different faiths. They have moved so much beyond it to find commonalities. Hell, they don’t even get time to argue over such trivialities because they are so busy arguing over whether the Chevrolet Spark should be bought or the Hyundai i10. Whether it’s better to use a locker at ICICI or SBI. Whether the Bean should start school in March or April.
I have never been part of any community and blogging was the first time I understood what it meant to be part of a gang of people. One of the other times I have understood what it means to be a community is when I meet other couples like ourselves. Who think like us, who have discarded man made barriers of caste and creed to follow their hearts. To marry people they really like – not just because they happen to be of the same community.
The other day the OA and I were waiting in a queue in the bank and in front of us a couple were opening a joint account. They stood ahead of us and like us were discussing their day. The itinerary. Like the OA and me they argued over who locked the door. Whether the TV was left on or not and much more that I really can’t remember. And then as is normal at a PSU bank – the guy at the counter went off for a tea break. The queue broke and we all scrambled around his desk. And as I stood there sticking pictures and signing forms in triplicate, I noticed their form. He was a Mohd something and she was something Sharma. They were filling up forms for a joint account. I nudged the OA and grinned. It might seem rather pathetic, but we’re in such a minority. People like us. And then to hear that it’s couples like us being targetted – just breaks my heart.
When the OA and I were getting married, another inter-religious couple, friends of ours, were getting married too. Within days of their marriage notice going up in the lower court, they got calls from the VHP threatening to throw acid on their faces if they didn’t call it off. The OA and I promptly took our notice down and got married in my hometown.
I wish I could explain how low the whole incident brought us. As it is marriage is a huge decision and you have a 101 doubts as to whether it will work out alright. And when you are marrying out of your community etc, you have so many more fears. When one or both sets of parents are against the union, it’s worse. And to then have someone totally unconnected – a political party – jump into the fray and tell you that you’re doing wrong – just takes the cake. It hits too close home, it adds to your fears and it totally ruins what should be the most beautiful moment of your life. You step out of your home fearful of acid being flung in your face and instead of shouting from the rooftops about your love, you skulk around corners, looking out for attackers. How is it any party’s business whether I date a man from my community or not? Even my parents cannot stop me, as an adult, so who else really counts?
People watcher that I am – a few days ago I was waiting on the roadside when I saw a young college -going couple walk up to each other. They came from two ends of the road and were walking towards each other. I saw them both and I just knew they were coming to meet each other. They smiled from across the road and as they neared each other you could see the sparks fly, stars come sparkling down and little flowers and hearts raining down on them. Well maybe not – but they may as well have been for all the love and chemistry you could see around them. To the exclusion of the rest of the road. They were in their own little bubble. And then as they met their bubbles merged and they went off together, without a word. And I could see why the Sri Ram Sene and the Shiv Sena want to break up happy couples. It’s good old plain jealousy. If you don’t have what these others do, you can’t let them enjoy it. With none of the charm or the finesse or youthful willingness to put your heart out there, with nothing to recommend them, these jobless, unloved, harsh young men and cranky old men, go around taking away from others, a pleasure they will never know. I see it, I understand where they are coming from, but I am damned if I will accept it.
So it is that, and the little matter of being a woman. For all that we love to hate each other, women across the world need to stand together. Stay together. Which is why despite being a teetotaller and a non-smoker, I stand by the rights of women across the world to smoke, drink, date men of other faiths and women too, for all I care.
Friends who objected to the Pink Chaddi campaign wanted to know why women weren’t doing something bigger. Why not thrash those men. Because this is about more than violence. Its easy for these men to get violent. Heck – they are incapable of doing anything more than showing an animal like violent response. But how do I teach my child day after day, that violence is not the answer, if I myself take up arms and start beating people up everytime I disagree with the way they are going about something.
I was shocked to see women on other forums saying that while they disagree with the Sri Rama Sene’s violence – they believe that this is against Indian culture. Is culture not dynamic? Isn’t it made up of us? Are women not to decide what path they wish for their culture to take? Isn’t this just another form of violence against women that we so proudly say our country doesn’t experience? Someone left a comment a few days ago on my blog saying that they don’t want people to think that there are loads of young unmarried pregnant women in our villages. Well why not? It’s the truth. It may be a small percentage. But they do exist. As do sati, child marriage, female foeticide and infanticide. Violence has got to stop. Against people who choose to do thing differently to the way you do. Against people who are choosing to break away from something they don’t believe in.
Over the last couple of months the Taliban has been attacking school girls with acid. They’re lifting up their veils to disfigure their faces. Do their beliefs tell them its okay to unveil a young girl and attack her simply because she is getting an education?
A friend who sent me the link immediately after it happened, said – Thank God this doesn’t happen in India. No. It doesn’t. Maybe not the exact same thing – but the bottomline is the same. Five women have been attacked recently in Bangalore. Men attacking women for choices they are making. Men attacking women for walking out in jeans. Men attacking women for holding down jobs. Men attacking women for getting an education. Men attacking women simply because they’re women.
I want to catch all those sanctimonious auntyjis who believe they’re being very fair in saying – ‘Well, we don’t agree with the methods of the Sri Ram Sene/Taliban/VHP/ Shiv Sena, but do we really want our young women to sit around getting drunk at pubs?’ .. and shake them up.
Well, you know what auntyji? It’s none of your business what those young girls sit around doing on their own time and with their own money. And the day you tell some man that he has a right to dictate your choices (even non-violently), you’re walking down a slippery path. At your own peril. And he will attack you, even as you tuck your saree around your ample waist, get onto your scooty and head to your respectable administrative job after having made three meals for your family. Really. That day is not far.
Until that day…. I apologise my darling Beanie. You deserve so much more than this shitty state of affairs you’ve had the misfortune of being born into…
Edited to add: I watched Dilli 6 last night. And loved it. It is an ode to Delhi and it’s always nice to see an ode to the city that has become your home. Coincidentally I was in the Delhi 6 area yesterday and it’s still awe-inspiring to wander through those lanes. Such a contrast to South Delhi with it’s flyovers, metros, high end malls and such.
I liked the movie. I don’t care what others have to say. I loved the song Rehna Tu. I loved it anyway, thinking it was a love song. And when I saw that it was a love song to Delhi – I loved it even more! The words so apt – thoda sa resham, thoda sa khurdara. There are so many movies that show Bombay at it’s best and each time I watch a movie that has even a teeny bit of Delhi in it, I am totally thrilled and jumping around in my seat! Yeah – star struck villager :D
I don’t know where the movie went wrong, but it held my interest till the end and what brought it home is the times we live in. The frustrations of traffic stopping because of a cow crossing the road (if not giving birth)! The religious disharmony the country is seeing so much of… and most of all – the mixed Abhishek Bachchan. At some point, someone in the movie yells out ‘Aye 50-50. And I was like – that’s it. My children. 50-50. Someday some bigot with his head up his arse is going to say that to my children.
Some asshole is going to tell my kids that they can’t walk into this church or that temple because they don’t belong to either. Which is why we rarely visit either. No significant event in the house is given any religious connotation and their identity and celebrations are mostly just all about fun. Sigh. Lets see how it goes.