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Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Because You're a Woman

I am often surprised, if not dismayed, when I read those angry articles on women, and especially when it’s penned down by a woman.

A few days back I read a piece of article written by a renowned author quoting that the modern woman instead of seeking to be a man should regain her femininity.

Whenever it’s mentioned what a man or woman “should” do or be like, it disappoints me. Who decides who should behave like whom? Are these the rules written in ancient scriptures, which were written by no one else but men or women like us who happened to belong to a different era? Are these the rules mentioned by kings and queens who no longer reign? Or are these rules conveyed by the Almighty himself/herself whose existence is somehow dubious for some, if not all, of the people?
It must be amusing to look at the world through the tinted glasses one wears; and then whenever a color seems too bright or too pale, to quote it as a misfit.

Where lays the liberty of just being human? Is it really that impossible to breathe in air without judging one’s ways of life?

And then maybe it’s amusing to typecast someone into that one adjective you form in your head about him/her. It seems amusing to simply claim that a woman is “not feminine enough” when she does something that is not quite expected from her. And again she would be “too girlish” if she is obeying all the rules that a woman should obey according to some people. May be men feel the same way about being judged or typecasted.

“You seem to be a tomboy,” said a woman after I spent only around fifteen minutes conversing with her, a conversation in which I asked questions about her instead of talking about myself. She must have felt good to be able to judge a person in fifteen minutes.

“I am sure I am more than just that,” I replied.

It would be wrong to say I was hurt. When someone, who till that point of time was your source of inspiration to reach great heights in your life, calls you an adjective that you do not think defines you, it’s shattering. I had questions in my mind, I wanted to ask why she called me that.

You like the word “tomboy” only when you are ten years old, reading novels for children. When you’re twenty two, you know these words do not define who you really are. In every situation one behaves differently; so how can one person be limited to just one adjective no matter what that adjective is. And not just the word “tomboy”, I often not feel like calling someone simply “good” or “bad” or “girlish” or any adjective. There has to be some explanations. One has to be good in something while in another thing he/she can be bad, ugly, better or even good.

“Why did she call me a tomboy?” I asked one of my friends that evening.

“If you’re a tomboy, it means you’re unladylike.” He replied.

So if the word “tomboy” wasn’t enough, I was called “unladylike”. Not that I wanted to be ladylike but I did not want to be a tomboy either. A tomboy is a girl who behaves in a boyish manner. Why would I want to behave in a boyish manner? I would just behave like myself, right?

And this takes me back to where this post began: the author quoting that a woman should not seek to be equal with man and be feminine instead.

I am sure I will be a great disappointment to these words of hers. I do not seek to be equal with man. But I do not want my being a woman, be a limitation when I really want to do something. And here comes the misconception regarding feminism or the equality of men and women. People often think of the liberty of smoking, drinking and having sex, when it comes to the word feminism. And then they think a feminist doesn’t want to get married or bear kids.

In my opinion, feminism is not a race against men. It is more of accepting who you are. And it is what the motive of this article is, not judging people and not letting such judgments affect you or limit you.
It is not listening to pleas or orders that begin with “because you’re a woman you should…”.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Other Side of the Bed – A Book Review

Published in Fried Eye on Feb 15, 2014. Click Here to read it.

Author: Bhavya Kaushik
Published by: Parlance Publishers
Publication Year : 2013
Number of Pages: 260
Language: English

“The Other Side of the Bed” – When I first read the name of the book I thought it to be the story of a person who has lost his better half. Death, I didn’t think it was. I thought it was more of heartbreak in a relationship, the one that leaves you shattered and lonely as you look at the now-empty other side of the bed. As I went through the first few pages, I realized I was wrong; it was death, something that makes you hollow and hopeless from within, for you know the other person will never come back and you will never be the same again.

As I went through a few more pages of the book, I realized it is not just about crying for a dear one you have lost. It’s much more than that. It is about finding hope and learning to be happy even when there is no reason to smile. It’s about holding on to that only piece of floating wood when your ship has sunk in an endless ocean. It’s about trying to keep oneself afloat in the whirlpool of sorrows. It’s not about forgetting but about accepting your loss.

I went through a few more pages of the book; by now I was hooked to it and I was always imagining what might be next. And then I realized the book is not only about moving on; it’s also about the nine synchronized bomb blasts that took within fifteen minutes in the city of Jaipur in the year 2008. Hundreds of innocent lives were either lost or injured that day leaving behind homeless children, grieving parents and despair.

One of my favourite quotations from the novel - “When a husband loses his wife, they call him a widower. When a wife loses her husband, they call her a widow. And when somebody’s parents die, they call them an orphan. But there is no name for a parent, a grieving mother, or a devastated father who have lost their child. Because the pain behind the loss is so immeasurable and unbearable, that it cannot be described in a single word. It just cannot be described.”

The story begins with Nakul who recently lost his wife, after literally a lifetime of togetherness, due to the bomb blasts that took place. Broken and forlorn, he lives a dead life for a month until he meets Devyani who has a story sadder than his. She apart from losing her mother in those blasts and her father, of whom she remembers nothing, in her early childhood, had also lost her brother in an accident in which she was blamed to be the murderer.

Together the “grief-mates” take up a journey to help each other in living a normal life and, as it turned out later, to help sixteen other lives invigorating hope within them and in the end gifting the society with a unique book leaving behind an indirect social message about the morbid effects of terrorism.

A few hundred words can never do justice to the amazing journey I went through reading this book written by Bhavya Kaushik. One has to read it to find out the various emotions it contains and the messages it imprints on the reader’s mind. Neglecting the few grammatical errors it contains, this book promises to be a wonderful read containing everything a mature reader looks for. From a perky love story to a dark pit of grief and sorrow to a promising bright future, the writer brings forth every side of the story quite well. For me, it’s a must-read.