Woman

The recent Tamil movie “Tharamani” is commended for a very honest take on contemporary gender relations. The Director has made an exceedingly good opening to this entire subject. Time and again, many many times in life, more as I grow, I have pondered on this- the power play between a man and a woman. I prided myself on not being shackled under the popular norms and ideas of being a woman. I was a non-conformist. My partner exuded liberalism so much that I forgot the fact that he was a man and that one person and some years of reading and thinking can’t undo or overcome the bindings of a million years of society.

“Tharamani” is a laudable effort against the objectification of women. It is more against men who possess women violently than about women who exist for themselves. But I wish to go one step further. All the women in the movie are made to live for the men in their life in some way or the other. But my question is why should a woman have to be a Mother Teresa giving her all for a man? Why can a woman not truly love a man while giving expression to the many other facets of herself? Why does love have to become single minded devotion?

Every friend, every person we meet and bond with gives life to one particular aspect of oneself. It’s unique to the two people. What one friend is, another can’t be. What first love was, none other can be. Every relationship has a unique irreplicable signature. When we say we miss people, we are actually missing that part of ourselves which that person evokes. Likewise, there are many bits and chunks of our self that we entrust to the people we love. Why can’t a woman not talk to a man who is not just a friend and absolutely not a brother but not a spouse/ sex partner either? Why is anything not tagged condemned, vehemently?

Trust is fundamental to any relationship and particularly so in love or marriage. But trust of what? What do we understand from the many many pronouns we use in such discussions? Once you no more genuinely love a person and fool around for any type of benefit, that’s cheating. When you say “I love you” and don’t mean it, that’s cheating. How’s it cheating when you haven’t said “I love you only” and happen to entertain romantic notions of another person? Unlike men, women are not driven by sex. Women look for many different joys, most of them small in measure. Even harmless coquetry could be extremely gratifying while functional sex could leave one bored. A conversation, a call, a glance, a smile, a message, a word, a gesture, anything could be magical. Pleasure is of the body while joy is of the mind. That twinkle to the eye is such a harmless little joy and an army is out there to deny you that. All because you are a woman and it’s everybody’s business to keep you on one track lest you go astray.

One is a liberal as long as a bird is caged or refuses to take wing. You can safely tell a bird that doesn’t fly to have all the freedom and space it wants.

A woman is property that has to be constantly guarded. Woman exists for the sexual gratification of men, be it in any form. She dresses so that she can have men gaping, she talks to men so that she can entice them, her parading about is an open invitation for male company. Thereby she is constantly made to feel ashamed of herself, the colour of her skin, the curve of her body, the lush of her hair, the titillation of her laugh, the contagion of her smile- everything should be burqa-ed. She should preserve her femininity for one man only and with all others she must put on the gauntlet of a fighter- stiff and severe. A man reprimanding you for other men staring is the same man who could one day throw acid on your face so that you will no more be looked at.

A river will but flow, tree will but sway, rain will but splash, and all these things of beauty need a woman to complete the picture. That’s why Nature is a She. A woman is but a woman, beautiful and enticing, not by choice but by make. A thing of beauty is a joy forever, to others! To oneself, it’s a condemnation or that’s what it is made to be!

PS: I hope this applies only to the conservative hegemonic societies which are but few in the world.

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Why should you have children

I am an educated, employed, independent woman not caught up much with social mores and compulsions but I married pretty early by today’s standards. I married earlier than I wanted to because my parents were itching and whether I like it or not, daughters are a liability. It’s like owning someone else’s property and being shit scared everyday lest any damage come to it. I may not agree with it or see any logic in the thinking but I care to let a burden off my father’s shoulder. And anyway there was this person I wanted to live with and so it happened on a bright sunny morning in a beautiful old temple built of stone which shone well on my wedding album.

We were two people deeply in love with one another, or at least that’s what we thought. Before marriage we would eagerly and hungrily wait for that one hour and travel a long distance only to meet and smile and our day would be made. We had elaborate discussions on how we would live delving into every small detail. Every possibly issue was ironed out, it appeared. But a week into marriage, after all the initial excitement, we were tearing at each other’s hair and calling names. Now we loved ourselves and our ego so much more than the person in front. Quarrel would spring from nowhere and not one day would go peaceably. A lot of it was just compatibility issues. The irritants of living with a messy guy for me and the suffocation of living with a prissy-missy for my husband. In between all this we would still go to beaches, movies, dinners, lunches and ice creams. We were lucky to be able to go on with this everyday paradox. Cuddle and kiss one moment and yell and scream the other.

Sometimes when things would soar up for days on end, we badly wanted a break. I went to visit friends and family, my husband was only too glad I did. If there was one reckless volley of words, we resolved to stay away and not come back, at least for some time. Every time we quarreled we tried to escape the situation, to prevent future possibilities by dismissing each other from our lives. But that’s stupid. Our rational mind knew it but that supreme ego would not accept, it just won’t bow down, even for love. In fact, we had forgotten how we loved each other, how much we wanted to live together. There was no “living” happening. It was plain bitter existence.

Then came our lovely boy. Now our day revolved almost entirely around him. If we spoke, it was about him, most of the times. He designed our day, anew every morning. We didn’t have the time or space to fight, so we gradually stopped fighting. So much that we don’t even argue with a loud voice anymore. At the maximum, it’s only a civil expression of displeasure. I grew more accommodative of chaos and my darling husband developed sensitivity to 50 of the 100 things that annoy me. Just in case we have a bad day and I wish we could stay away, I dismiss the thought even before it can take shape because I know I have to be home for my son. Two self indulgent adults are now entrusted with a critical project of Nourish-and-Nurture. It’s not about I anymore but We and Ours.

Marriage and Motherhood have made me a much better person. I    can now claim acquaintance with patience and tolerance. We laugh for no reason because our son enjoys it so much that he would laugh along making peculiar sounds of gurgles and giggles. Life is more difficult with a baby but it is immensely more joyful too. I didn’t plan my first child and I’m glad I did not. Otherwise I might not be enjoying this surprise discovery so much. How much time is enough time? Be it to make money, or build a career, or travel the world? The roller coaster is on no matter what choice you make but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s light and nice to just be and not think.