There are at least two angles to everything. This blog is for everyone who'd like to see the other angle of everything. The Other Angle is generally radical, explicit, hurtful and raw; and you need not agree with it. But more than anything else, to me, it's Beautiful.
We had already gotten a passive, aggressive wordless warning from Uncle; when he knocked into the room to check if everything was okay. We had our exams the next day and after two hours of play and endless chatter, when we finally sat to study, we were laughing about something like maniacs, curiously affected by some laughing gas in the room. Our laughter used to be very loud. I don’t remember what were we laughing about. Next, Pooja (my best friend) gets called downstairs for something and I see her walking towards the door. Some cartoon-like impulse, makes me get up and fake a kick at her. I wasn’t even thinking. Turns out, she wasn’t either. She pulls my raised leg in self-defense and in the next second, I fall flat on my back. “Dhaaaaaaaaaaad.”
“This man is a gem of a person. Imagine, he’s fifty and look at how he runs every day, greets everyone with his charm and throws his generous smile for everyone who can catch.”
“Ya. He’s nice. But do you know he’s a divorcee?”
It was not false. He was actually a divorcee but people made it sound as if that meant vampire. He had gotten himself into a fixed routine in order to avoid facing all the null and the void. He would begin his morning with a long walk at a park nearby. He was known for his greetings. He would greet everyone good morning- old, young, kids, aunties, their husbands, everyone. Small talk was no material to him. Why give yourself false hope? He would rather send across a tax-free smile. And it would work wonders for everyone.
He had known her since childhood. Their homes were quite near to each other since years. Now, they worked at the same place. He was 27. She was 26. Both of them were among the most good looking singles in their community. Now it had been months since she was trying to express her feelings to him since so many months. But he’d never ever pay attention.
As children, they had been very good friends. They would go to school together. Their school was a thirty-minute walk from home. As he was a neighbour and a year older, her parents had assigned him the responsibility of accompanying her. While returning back from school, she would wait at the school gate for him while he played with his friends. At times, even for an hour. By that time, she would pluck some flowers from the garden, pick up some stones from the road and make a small rangoli. It was a great pass time and she’d forget all the anger for him in her heart. When he’d be back, he would look at the piece of art and appreciate her with a smile. They would walk together to come home. It was a long route and they would talk all the way. There was so much to talk about!
As they grew up, an awkward distance grew. They had a strong sense of affection for each other but there was no scope for words in their society. Girls and boys grew up to be partitioned by a moral sense. But she never quit. She secretly nurtured her love for him. When they began working at the same place, she soon began giving hints. He would act like he had no idea what she meant. His childlike innocence was at times very attractive and extremely irritating at the other times. Even now, after so many years, he was making her wait.
In 2015-16, I travelled once a month for an entire year. To begin with, it was just a carefree vow. But it took a great amount of effort, from all fronts, while executing it. There are some things you learn only through travel. You get to see a lot of beauty, learn so much about new cultures, make friends for life and you learn to co-exist. Most importantly, when you outside the safety net of your parents, you have a chance to be more responsible and take your own decisions. Budget travelling on your own money- is that beautiful feeling that is essential in growing up and making of a confident personality.
In our society, travelling can be a comment on a girl’s character. It extends to our homes too. What you say no to, says a lot. For a lot of my friends, it is unthinkable to even propose to their parents to let them travel with friends, forget solo trips. You either think that your daughter is not mature enough to handle herself or you don’t trust her enough. And it adds up to your daughter’s low self-esteem. Wanting your daughter’s safety is not your fault. The world is becoming an ugly place, yes. But if you think your daughter is not fit/mature/strong/smart enough to make these decisions, it is not really her fault either. It is perhaps you who failed to make her strong, smart or confident enough.
Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of Freecharge, Kunal Shah wrote something about the prevalence of arranged marriages in India, which strangely holds true for travelling too:
Prevalence of arranged marriages in India can mean one of the two things for parents:
1. Not trust the judgement of kids if they choose someone and have “love marriage”. But then why not train them all of young life to take good decisions?
2. Not like kids to have the power to choose for themselves and stay obedient or kids are incompetent to find someone?
Some of us love to have birds at our homes. They are colourful, look beautiful in the cage and keep your house lively. You feed them on time and give them love. It is said that birds once caged for a long time, can’t survive outside the cage for too long. That’s true too. And then we like to believe that we are keeping the bird safe by not setting them free. Most of it is same for the daughters too. They should be freed before it is too late.
In a revealing essay by Abigail Matson Phippard called ‘Staring at the Ceiling’ from the book ‘I Call Myself a Feminist’, she talks about her experience of working with victims of sexual violence and how she linked them back to the violence of her past. She shares about how heartbreaking it would be for her to listen to some atrocious stories. What she interestingly points out is that it was a common thing in women to be confused about violence. Abigail says,
I didn’t always want to do it everytime he wanted it. I found it difficult to tell him because he would get angry and upset and take it on his ego. Instead, I would just lie there, stare at the ceiling, I would disengage, offering myself as a hole for them to use.
Women often wonder if it is okay to say ‘no’ when in bed with their partners. This confusion comes from the fact that we are never empowered to make sexual decisions. Whether it is seeking love or giving, we are to be the ones who are ‘shy’ and ‘can’t speak’ or ’emote’ our feelings about sex. It goes to such greater extent that we forget; that it’s our decision in the end. Cases are worse when it is with your husband because, in a patriarchal society, husbands own the wives, and she should be ready anytime she wants it. Continue reading “Is It Okay To Feel This Way?”→