Jyothy Sreedhar

"Be the change you seek"- My Goodbye to 2012

“Be the change you seek”, said Gandhiji; and I have decided that I will be the change that I had dreamt of, atleast for myself. I cannot change India one fine day. But I will change my part of India, my part of the world- not a bit more, not a bit less. I saw a national news channel asking "what's the best tribute that can be given to the Delhi rape victim, when she gets called as the Braveheart or Nirbhaya?" My answer would be that I will change my part of the world first, as a woman, as a person and as a human being. The pathetic death of a twenty-three year old girl has ignited protest and awareness all across India, especially with the youth who are already frustrated with the conservative society, an impotent government and a stagnant system of law. Then the channels started airing reports about rapes which were getting repeated everywhere. Seeing all that, please excuse when I say that I had felt anger and contempt for the male sect for it, many times. But when I started thinking more about it, I felt that it is the family who is responsible for growing up a person to a beast or an angel. I have a mother who, in my childhood, used to block me of having fish fries which were my favourites then, just for the reason that I had an elder 'male' sibling, and that there were only few fishes which were fried. I still weep over that once lost dignity- not just because of the lost fish fries, but because of the way I along with my gender was ill treated by someone of the same gender. It is still a pain that my own mother had once prohibited me of having something that I like- Well! Even according to morals and law (!). To speak beyond, a girl’s educational interest, her job concepts, her marital status and even her motherhood are almost given for 'rent' literally as per 'social rules' and as per the bloody social concept codes, so that a girl is a mere machine for others including her mother to give satisfactory answers to the society's senseless questions. A woman is meant to shut up in public, not be alone anywhere without a 'male' hand of protection, to get educated with professional degrees for the pleasure of someone responsible to speak high of her (all but to sit at home after marriage), to marry when society asks her to do, to be a mother getting conditioned with the time limits of the society, and grow up children in the way society asks her to do, all with a metaphorical proud statement- “It is I who is her parent”. When her daughter becomes an adult, she should get the utmost pleasure by speaking high about her- “She is my daughter, she won't look up to any males around, she wears fully covering dresses, she is a sacrificial Sathi or Savithri, she has done her so and so degrees, and is offered so and so jobs, married to so and so degreed man” etc... The cycle just goes on... Parents forget often for convenience that she is also a wife, the parents-in-law forget that she also belongs to a family and a real home, a husband forgets that she is anything else than a mere wife of him, and interestingly and pathetically all of them forget that she is a person too- a human being whose soul gets killed with every suffocation of forceful belonging and adjustment. Well, she too tends to forget that identity with the pressures of getting ‘multi- belonged’. In the competition of these conditional blabbers, conditional belongings, where a womanhood gets crushed and murdered, society for me is not a bit more than an utter heap of nonsense! Where a woman’s soul is, society will not. And where the society is, a woman’s soul can’t be, but should be. I happened to see it getting reported that a rapist’s brother told something like, “my brother becomes a beast when drunk.” How does this drinking get so popular and limitless for this male sect? It is because that the habit is seen as fun among the young boys and the society too calls it so. I consider it as a ‘weakness’, where a man can’t resist the temptation of getting drunk. Also the bachelors are said to use vulgar words in their casual talks, which is also a matter of ‘fun’. The vulgar words are mostly with reference to sex, especially that of female. Don’t you think that it contributes towards the basis of all the violence and ill-attitude towards women? Of course it does. I often wonder how the very same act becomes differently addressed according to genders. Drinking, smoking, travelling in night, grouping up for long tours, being irresponsible, using abusive language as casual words, saying vulgar comments about women, romancing her, using her physically- all these are just a matter of 'fun' and so casual a thing for 'his' family and 'his' group. And these become shocking heinous crimes when attempted by a woman. I am not saying that a woman should drink or do all the above mentioned things. I am more expressing my shock at how these get justified for a particular gender and get 'immoral' for the other. Rapes are 'casual' even when it happens with force, and some relationships become 'immoral' and 'illegal' even when those relationships have some morals of a mutual consent. The reason may be that the latter gives some sort of pleasure and happiness for the women sect which is ‘evidently’ illegal. Society is busy with pushing the odd people out- from living relationships, from inter-caste love affairs, from extra-marital or pre-marital relationships, from lonely daring women, from professionally upgrading women etc... The society just wants people inside who give satisfactory answers to its every crap question. Sorry that I am not one in the gang! I don't want any hell of a society around me to peep into my privacy and my concepts. If you want to drive me out, dear society, tell me where you don’t exist, and I will happily be there all my life. I have a heaven in myself, which I am proud about and I am here to look after it. Kerala society is even worse for me, just because of its immense discriminations based on this and that, from small to big. The gender, the religion, the caste, the family dignity, the educational and career status, the marital and parenthood status etc become big things that define a person, more than the not-so-considered but the most important thing- personality. I hate seeing people's attitudes when they denigratingly refer to other caste people, while they stupidly compare them to 'their own people'. I hate when the traditional Keralites ask women to go to kitchen and be there, to consider husbands as god and to do all the traditional practices of ‘starvation’ like 'thiruvathira noyambu', 'thinkalazhcha noyambu', 'ekadashi', 'dwadashi' and to wear thaali, sindoor and red bindi for husband's long life and the ‘sense of protection’ ( wonder whether they are ‘belts’ acquired in karate). Why not ask her to die of hunger for her husband's even more long life! Atleast don’t let a body live after its soul dies right on the day of marriage. Also, I genuinely pity those males who let another one, (not even his mother, sister or wife) take his plates after he had even spit the waste on to it and wash his underwears which he himself gets shameful to touch; I love it when males learn to cook for themselves, learn to manage his part of home, learn to finish off things that he himself starts to do. I am not telling that a male should do all this all day, when females take rest. I rather say that he should practise sharing and respecting when he has chances. A Kitchener is one who doesn’t get salary or a holiday, not even an acknowledgement for her work; all that she does is caring for her man even in her suppressions, according to the wrong rules of society that built up walls around her. Have mutual respect for the genders, atleast the youth should start doing it. When I am a female, I know that I should not only respect the male gender, but also should respect the female gender that I am in, and should have my reasons to be proud of my own gender. There is something called personality that doesn’t get conditioned by the birth addresses. Learn to respect the 'other'- living and nonliving even. Learn to respect the self, or no one else will respect you. When this year fades out, I promise myself that I will never bring shame to my gender, my personality or to my parents who have grown me up. But within those prestigious bounds, I will discover my own world where I will stay happy without hurting anyone. I will ‘wish’ and I will try to make my wishes possible. I will cherish and carefully polish the beautiful things that I have started owning this year- persons and factors. I will make a generation or a breed start from me, being a woman, growing them up with not a bit of fear for the world or any ill-feeling towards the other gender. I will culture them not as ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’, but more as ‘persons’, or my ‘children’. I will try to make them proud of their genders and never feel shame for it for any reason. Advices, manners, language, habits and freedom will be common for them, in quantity and quality. They will not have any limit drawn by the society, which I have driven off myself. Their society would be the sect that they opt for. Their religion, caste and god will be their choice. Their identity will be theirs. They will not be machines for show-offs for anyone, including me or my parents in social gatherings. They will be set free. I am sure that they will uphold the kind of freedom they are gifted with. I will not celebrate or wish anyone on this New Year. I will do that once I get so sure that I proudly belong to an India that deserves to celebrate a 'new' year, with all levels of connotation. Until then, it is just another day, another month and another year, without any 'newness' for it. Good bye 2012, with all honours for giving us a human reason for changing ourselves. We shall carry that forward, with our heads and hearts, and the candles that are silently lighted for HER, forever. Thank you!