This is where my rattled brains shoot away at the world.. take a tour

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When femininity dies, a slave is born

When you are in the people-business, you meet scores of them everyday. People from various walks of life with varied experiences, lifestyles, cultures and faces. They have different stories to tell you and different paths to walk. You remember some faces, you forget more and some are etched at the back of your mind for long after you meet them.

It has been a week today since I met Balaji, an unassuming 29 year old engineer hailing from Chennai, earning a handsome 6-figure salary, now working in Pune. Married for 6 months now, Balaji wants to relocate to Chennai to be with his wife and family. With an earnest smile and a fresh face, he came across as a simpleton. Yet, something about him continues to gnaw at the back of my head.

Our conversation goes:

Me: So Balaji, is your wife working?

Balaji gently keeps the coffee mug down and looks at me with a startled and bewildered expression as though to suggest I asked more than I should have. I remained silent. After a pause he replied.....

Bala:  Ayyayyo illai Gautam. Enakku vanthu naan mattum sambaadicha pothum. Wife ella sambaadiakkarathu vanthu thevai illai. Antha condition-ile thaan kalyaanam pannittom. Aval engineer aavattum, aanaal samaalicha pothum (Translation: Oh no no! For me, it's enough that I earn. I do not want my wife to earn. I married her on that condition. She might be an engineer, but for me, it's enough if she cooks well).

Me: Oh okay!

Bala: Athu mattum illai (not just that), she is pregnant. 4 months now.

Me: Hmmmmm!!

He kept bantering about work but for me, the conversation had already ended. Another one had started in my mind. Throughout my walk back, a faceless figure kept popping up in my head. The figure of a young educated girl who aspired to pursue higher education, land a good job and make a place for herself in the race. In the end, she may have had to give in to parental pressure to get married on the strict condition of she being a housewife and never stepping out of the home to work. To tie her down further, the 22-year old became pregnant within no time after wedding.

What prompts us Indian men of the e-age to harbor such archaic thoughts? That women should be confined to the kitchen? That they are nothing but rice/roti making kid-raising machines to be kept under our financial, mental and physical control? What makes us the men of 21st century to still look down up on women as our slaves, our housemaids with a relation attached? What makes a cross-section among us insecure if our better-half is an earning member? Are we fearing that independence will enable them to fight back when we hurl abuses at them for making bad food? To tie them down early on life, we get them pregnant?

My questions may never be answered for it needs that paradigm shift that we always talk about, it needs a lot of un-learning and re-learning of the rules that we were taught as kids. It would need to start with small things: Like abolishing the culture of boys'/girls' school, the concept of separate seating for boys and girls right from class 1, like not shying away from talking about menstruation or the physiological conditions of women, to gender awareness. A lot.

While sitting in the bus back, I could see a 20-something boy ogling at a woman trying to feed her child under her the cover of her saree. And I realized, we have a long long way to go before we call ourselves the men of 21st century.

1 comment:

Red Handed said...

EGO, Superiority complex and sexual objectification of women....MEN NEED TO QUIT IT!!!!!
This makes me so angry!