Women make BESTest Friends

Are you one of those women who has at one time with pride or exasperation or annoyance claimed any of these:

  • Women can never be true to you if you are a woman!
  • Women can never hold secrets!
  • I have never ever had a woman friend…

I am dedicating my life experiences (some 11 of them) – to YOU… you who don’t have women friends…

Continue reading Women make BESTest Friends

What is it like being a woman in India?

Some thoughts shared by women aged 18 to 40yrs – women who have lived out experiences – of their own and of other women around them.
These women are ALL from educated backgrounds and can easily be called “privileged”.
BUT their echoes of “What it is like to be a WOMAN in India?” are eerily similar.
(I have put in 10 broad themes out – and have tried to capture “as is” thoughts – I haven’t analyzed anything or tried to justify anything….)
  1.  Women aren’t safe outside their homes: You are never ever safe outside home as per what elders say… But what about sexual abuse within the house? As a child or an adult? We don’t speak of it…
  2. Wearing short clothes leads to rape??? Don’t wear short clothes? What will people say? What if you get raped? Why don’t people accept that rape and sexuality don’t go together – rape is about control and mental and physical dominance. The Nirbhaya kand proves it… She wasn’t wearing a mini skirt! (Rape is a simple non-consensual / forced act of having sex. It implies complete dominance of body and decision-making power to the rapist. The brutality is not just on the body but on the soul of the woman – she lives it each day – every day!)
  3. The Great Indian SLAP : Oh, why is it so ok to slap a woman if she is wrong? Face palm slap across the face? Just watch any serial or movie… Even if she is a villain – why a slap across the face? The sheer violence of it – and then the worst is the acceptance of this violence as “normal and acceptable”. If a halla is made around a slap – the prompt answer is it’s just a slap”. No one sees it as an act of authority and complete dominance – first to judge you and then to get physically violent with you! And off course the fact that “she was asking for it”…. something commonly told to us to explain away THE SLAP.
  4. Educated and well-placed women don’t want girl kids: Do you know women who are educated and working with a good salary want ONLY sons? They are fine with aborting a girl child – then it’s not about education and the money you earn – it’s about a DISGUSTING mindset! A mindset which says girls are inferior and a liability! Patriarchy and misogyny! An argument with such women leads to the defense that “don’t you know the status of women in society etc etc, also how unsafe it is…. etc etc” – and somehow they seem to forget that they too are women who were educated by their parents…
  5. WHY do horrible Patriarchal Marriage rituals still exist? Why do educated women allow for patriarchal marriage rituals like Bidai to happen? It gives complete control to the male of the house – where a father does “kanya-daan” to the husband – as if the girl/woman is an inanimate object. Are you aware that in some places the rituals are preposterous enough where the father of the bride goes down on his knees and washes the feet of the groom to be as a “mark of respect” (for God’s sake the guy is as old as his son – WHY this respect? Lets call a spade a spade – its NOT respect – its all about “DOMINANCE”)
  6. DOWRY is a CRIME – why do women allow it being given? Why don’t women refuse to marry men demanding dowry or mothers/fathers of the boy demanding dowry? If a man or his family has to be paid to marry your daughter – then why doesn’t he move into your home – after all you are buying him?If it’s about property rights of the girls etc etc – then let there be a property division where the girl gets what’s hers – and NOT the husband or in-laws! This shall ensure that no girl is killed! For if they kill the girl then the property would revert back to the father’s family in case of no heir or goto the child of the dead girl – the husband and in-laws would not be gaining… WHY don’t we push for this awareness?
  7. Why don’t we shame the rapists??? Why do we always shame the rape survivor? See any immediate hush hush reaction to a rape report! Do you know even the police try to hush up matters… So the moment any girls runs to you or anyone speaking of her rape – the immediate reaction is “Shhhh…. “WHY – shy should she Shhh? She hasnt dont anything wrong! She has been violated in the worst possible way… BTW – in cases of marital rape the Shhhhh is followed by “ye to hota hi hai, its his right” – so the woman has no control over her body?
  8. India has pedophiles! Why aren’t we acknowledging pedophiles? And creating strict laws and punishments around it? And why are we blaming western culture for everything? We never spoke about it earlier…. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen?
  9. Why do the women members of a rapist’s family never stand in favour of the victim? Why do they look the other way? Why do they justify the ACT as “boys will be boys”? And push for “mere ladke ki zindagi kharab ho jaayegi” – thus implying that the ACT itself didn’t ruin his life – and possibly that the girl’s life isn’t important enough…
  10. Domestic violence is an acceptable part of marriage: The family elders – on both sides tell the woman to “suck it up and brave it – it happens to everyone” and further add “You should try to please him and not annoy/anger him”. Adding to this is the fact that the police also tell the women that only…. and add “madam aap kaise thaane ke chakkar lagaogi…. ye sab to hota rahta hai”
Even lawyers discourage the woman from going to court unless she is rich! They simply see it as “normal occurance” and a matter of rights of the husband – and they claim that in any case the woman shall go back to the husband – so why bother…. (loads of arguements around fees for lawyers and paper work for police people)
These 10 thoughts are from women who have spent time in trying to change themselves and the society around them!
#changeByTalking 

O Womaniya … Bubbles

“Bubbles” they called her – for the day she opened her eyes, happiness and joy simply bubbled out of her.

Her pink face, her cherub smile, her goldenish hair which curled up just right, her twinkling eyes, her hyper active need to attract attention and make people smile – she simply “bubbled”!

So Bubbles Mehta – it was!

She had spent 20 years studying harder than all of her cousins, friends and neighbours. And had been getting the best grades amongst all – her energy never waned for a minute… she was after all Bubbles.

She had her fair share of scrapes with the school and college authorities. She did end up in detention many many times.

Once she was almost thrown out of school. And that was the one scrape she was most proud of – she had climbed the school clock tower 22 feet off the ground to save 3 abandoned kittens. The Principal and Warden – both after having a near coronary attack on seeing Bubbles’ vertical climb; sent for her parents when she finally came down.

The next scene was simply 2 shouting women, a set of sheepish parents, an ever smiling Bubbles with 3 kittens who must surely be wondering why the decibel levels were so high. The end result was Bubbles simply dumping all 3 kittens in the screaming Principal’s lap. And the rest, as school legend had it – was history.

Bubbles seemingly lived from one mess to another – but nothing serious or earth shattering ever resulted from it. She bounced right back with the beatific smile on her face and more joy to spread.

Her worst critics – criticised her with a smile on their faces. It was as though a naughty angel had ‘struck lightening’ in their backyard, and they didn’t know whether to feel blessed or exasperated or annoyed!

Now this “Naughty Angel” did have her own Vice…

Her only vice was TRAVELLING!

 

She loved visiting new places and meeting new people. And as her Deeda (Granny) always joked – “making the lives of new people miserable was her hobby”.

 

It was this very VICE which changed Bubble Mehta’s life forever….


To read the full story, read my book:

A Normal Indian by Malavika Sharma

O Dulhaniya … Chand-ki-Chakor

Chand was 13 and Chakor was 11 when the talk around their marriage happened for the 1st time.

Both girls had seen many many girls get married from Katihar and claimed to know “many many things” and yet there were things which they never could quite understand.

(Katihar is a district of Bihar)

And they knew way too much…. (thats what their mothers laughingly complained)

 

Chand-ki-Chakor

Chand was named by her great grand mother on her dying bed as a last wish – and when Chakor came 2 years later in the neighboring house – she simply became Chand’s shadow….

Continue reading O Dulhaniya … Chand-ki-Chakor

O Dulhaniya … Heer

Heer of the Heer-Ranjha tale fame was declared Miss Patiala in 2014 – her preening mother emphasized this at her “marriage negotiations”.

Sattpal Singh Randhawa’s mother and grandmother only “hmmmpphedd” and smiled indulgently.

They had known of Heer’s beauty and thats what drew them to Patiala to ask for Heer’s hand for Sattpal.

She was going to be the “answer to their prayers”….

The Summer of Love and Life

She was the right kind of beauty with brains – and could speak English! To the Randhawa family that mattered as their son has studied in England for 3 years and then returned to join the family business…

Continue reading O Dulhaniya … Heer

Mein Sita

It has been 4 years and Sita is still a “Dulhaniya”.

She dresses each day in red and applies mehendi and alta – as if it were a daily ritual.

Her churis often break – and she rushes to replace them.

Her sindoor is deep red and always omni present… her smile a permanent fixture…

O Dulhaniya … Sita

BUT – sita does NOT tie her hair! She hasn’t tied them for the last 4 years…

Continue reading Mein Sita

Me Like Moment – women can retain their “OWN” names on their Passport … BUT

The PM in “a bold change from the past kind of move” announced women can retain their “OWN” names on their Passport.

Its a BOLD move – as the deeply entrenched patriarchal systems in India automatically assume that post marriage the woman becomes the property of the husband – hence needs to be “stamped” as such…

This move gives a woman her the right to “retain her old (own) identity”.

                                                                                        Freedom

A FREEDOM introduced……..indeed………..

BUT….

Continue reading Me Like Moment – women can retain their “OWN” names on their Passport … BUT

Radha Teri Chunari

Radha – lay quietly weeping on the floor, she had physically curled up like a fetus!

Her hair was a mess, her bangles broken, her clothes ripped, her face battered and bruised, her hands scratched…


Next morning she was woken up by a sound on the door – and she rushed to open it – to realize that she didn’t even have proper clothes on (hers were torn).

A woman and her MIL came in – and sniggered – “Looks like they had fun…”

 


FUN : This word echoed in Radha’s mind. How the F*** have fun when someone is beating you, cussing at you, tearing your clothes off, scratching you, forcibly entering you…

Continue reading Radha Teri Chunari

I stood up – to SHAME body SHAMERS…

8th April late night saw me “rant” on FB about Body-shaming! (the excerpt is below)

 

WHY did I write on FB ?

  • I meant to actually get things off my chest and tell each body shamer I know personally to “take a hike”
  • I meant to stand up for myself – and TEACH others around me who watch me – to stand up for herself/himself

I got some very lovely and empowering responses in terms of around 250 plus likes and 65 msgs (this number is still rising)

Sharing a few with you (there were 65 comments):

Continue reading I stood up – to SHAME body SHAMERS…

That Boy loved “SPICE”

Vivaan or “the Rock” as people called him – was the high school football caption and was up for National Selections in 1 month.

So was Ruhail…

Vivaan and Ruhail were the proverbial “Jai Veeru” jodi from Sholay and the whole school knew that! And yet they were the most aggressive competitors!

Be it girls or grades or the highest number of goals – they competed on absolutely everything!

And NO they had NO secrets! EVER!

The bro-code remained…. until it didn’t…

Vivaan – The Boy Who loved Spice

Continue reading That Boy loved “SPICE”