I will take you through an odyssey, the odyssey of my life.. as a woman. I’m endowed with the femininity by pure serendipity. My rendezvous with womanhood has taught me all about the beauty that dwells in every woman. But it becomes all the more very scary when someone tries to corrode that beauty. I used to seek haven in the surreal. I had big dreams gleaming in my eyes until when reality began coming apart at the seams and my dreams broke into shards right in front of my eyes. My heart fluttered like a trapped bird.
‘It’s sort of a dark night
everything’s dark to see.
Mamma hold me tight
and don’t let me flee.’
I loathe living in a world so much obsessed with perfection. I’m expected to have fair skin, perfect features, perfect curves and the list goes on. I get stale remarks when I walk around in short clothes. Why am I judged on the basis of my attire? Neither it is meant for immoral invitations nor am I characterless. I’m equally good at handling the steering as men and have held the command over the most lavish set of wheels yet, they say that I can’t drive well! I’ve learned to grease my hands with black. Who said technical stuff isn’t my cup of tea?? I’m trained to break even this monopoly of males. Even the worst vices of men would become the ‘traits of masculinity’. How easily they make women the butt of jokes and never leave a chance to one up women, I wonder! Evolving from the centuries that have elapsed, I thought that at least 21st century would bring some smooth sailing, but my heart twitches and grimace covers my face when I see that it’s no better. These hurdles are like never ending conundrum of a jigsaw puzzle.
It was a crushing sensation
when I forgot for a moment
that I’m a girl
and this world won’t
let me earn pearls.
In the dead of the night or in the broad daylight, I’m nowhere safe. I come in newspapers everyday in the guise of women who’re the victims of sexual harassment, molestation, rape, domestic violence, verbal abuse and believe me, the endless list goes on. Eventually, my freedom is stolen and I’m shut out on the grounds of safety. Sometimes, I’m killed even before entering into this world. The male tyranny has kept on choking every ounce of my courage since eons. The wounds of rapes and molestation faced during Haryana Jat protests were not healed and again the women were mass-molested in Bengaluru this New Year’s Eve. It disheartens me that those hooligans with their shenanigans are still wandering as freely as ever! The justice is deteriorated and inefficient in punishing the culprits of the heinous crimes and, it certainly has no concern and responsibility towards the victims in trauma. Women’s modesty is being fiercely outraged and the world keeps watching!!
I was prevented from worshipping at the holy shrine of the Sabarimala Temple. God never created such divisions. It is the dichotomy between male and female that considers women as the weaker sex. I’m being subjected to old stereotypes that signify a mindset which says that women are meant to perform the household chores and to be always at the beck and call of their families. A known personality was once quoted as saying, “Why don’t they stay in the kitchen where they belong?” I cannot live a life in hearth! My marriage is always the major concern of the whole society and in fact, I’m born and brought up just to get hitched one day. I’m taught to be reserved and not give opinions or dare to be bold. My freedom to work is being strangled. It is an undeniable fact that education is the greatest leveler of the society. Even the very basic right to education is also stolen away from many of the girls. I’m a prey of an outdated patriarchal worldview with flimsy roots which has absolutely no congeniality with the modern era.
I’m raising the standards of the huge film industry, taking it to the global level. Why ain’t I paid equally as men when I put in the same amount of hard work? I’ve gifted this world with Indira Nooyi, Tory Burch, as the most powerful ladies in the corporate world. Yet, I do not have the equal say in jobs. People think that I shouldn’t hold positions of power. Why have I been tied in shackles? They believe that I shouldn’t vote because buried under emotions and instincts, I can’t think or decide reasonably even though I have proved that I can play powerful and decisive roles.
Get out of Bastar! They threatened me when I took up the case of rape victims. Hurdles will keep their rattle and jolt alive but I’ll never stop being Bela Bhatia! I have faced the obstacles with utter female fortitude by decimating the great heights as fighter pilot, transcending the journey to the space (Sunita Williams), solving faster than a calculating machine(Shakuntala Devi), creating the history by leading the guard of honor for Barack Obama (as Wing Cmdr Pooja Thakur) and, smashing and hitting the stereotypes persisting against me. I need to further riddle every inch of this patriarchal mindset with gender equality. Only then would my dreams take wings. This mindset is not set in stone after all!
I’m known for frontline war reporting (Barkha Dutt), I’ve been setting milestones with my racket (Saina Nehwal), I’m The Iron Lady (Margaret Thatcher) and I’ve created umpteen such outstanding instances. But you know what the stark reality is? The success of a woman creates envy and insecurities in the narrow minds of men and soon, a thin line between trust and betrayal is carved. I feel my insides flip when I think of the stark reality I’m encumbered with. I looked for chivalry somewhere but the very drop of hope shattered. Hundreds and thousands of Nirbhayas suffer and die, so many Durga Shakti Nagpals dare to act boldly and are oppressed, many of the women succumb under the pressure of the society and the world keeps watching. Well, I’ve had enough of being written off. I’ve been suffering since eons and my skin is pretty thick now. For how long will I let the failure cloak me? I know how to follow my instincts and dreams and expand my horizons. For how long will I keep complaining? I can’t let the complacent attitude of ‘those in power’ decide my fate. I cannot let the hooligans ruin my life.
I’ll live seeking humanity,
winning over the vicissitude of gender,
rising from the morbid fear,
beholding the conspiracies as they bow down
The hope never will shatter
I love being at
‘the cusp of womanhood’.
(Aashi Singh is the student of Kamla Nehru College, Delhi University. She is the winner of essay writing competition organized by ‘The Origin’.)