Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tujh Se Naraaz Nahi Zindagi...

I had planned that I would for this post..out of respect to the theme..drop the "reference to song" link. I think I picked up this whole, respect-music-frivolous songs-serious moments tamasha while listening to radio shows in Pindi. They would break for azaan, and it was just not DONE for RJs to nonchalantly resume their inane Urdu-English banter, so they would have a naat, an ad break and then let the party and prattle begin.

We did things differently back then. Still do.

Come school getting off, all of us would tumble out of the school gates and line up near the school wall. Congregate in the parking lot. Run up and down the foot path. Wait, wait, wait for someone to pick us up. You always waited outside the gates as a kid, even if you were the last one left, a forlorn figure next to a huge school bag.  Of course when you grew up to be a college student, you had to wait inside the compound , behind the gates, until the chowkidar  had identified your car, your "regular" driver, your guardian. For you know college girls are less mature than an eight year old, college girls are so trusting of any stranger who might offer them candy.

Just as we could go merrily to the shooting range, singing Bollywood songs no less, with nary a permission letter that we have joined the National Cadet Cor. Permission letters are for pleasure trips, Yes My Daughter May Go To The Museum of Natural History (where an exhibit may or may not fall on her. But its no live ammunition right?)

So your grandmother WOULD give you the talk (even though they were yet to come up with the lexicon of good touch bad touch) But grandmothers had their Good People Bad People right, so they would warn you about taxi drivers (when you had never taken taxis), and they might throw in the men loitering about on the streets (so ALWAYS take "someone" with you, where someone means anyone with a penis, which meant a 24 year old you has to take the eight year old son of a gardener along if you want to walk to the tailors. Now that we live in the time of Home Shopping Network I can refer to that whole episode as my own personal nazar suraksha kavach Elsewhere I referred to cars as portable seclusion,  you know "mobile purdahs". There is a whole business opportunity waiting for mobile penises. Dont Molest, We Too Have Penes At Home). So yes where was I? Grandmother wanted you to beware of taxi drivers, loiterers, shopkeepers, friend's brothers and their cousins. Men have bad intentions. And before you could cower away she would add a But Dont Fear Your Uncles, Cousins OK. Not Family.

But its 90% family Grandmother?

And I now think Grandmother sab jaanti hai.

We are such a " we will put it right" generation. Our mothers did it all wrong, we complain. They hushed it up.  Invited our molesters to our weddings. Our aunts hemmed and hawed and said I Dont Know Why This One Is Creating Such A Racket, We All Suffered It. So we make check lists now, exchange stories,share numbers of counselors, and we hover over our kids. But even then it happens. 

So you remove the TV sets so none of the outside noise gets into your house, I am an ostrich, look at me , my head under the sand, but the newspapers slip under the door until you to ask in trepidation Is It Safe To Look At The Headlines Today? I will never know what it is with the cities I live in. It cant just be popular music and lyrics (In '47 you raped women and carved Allah and Hey Ram on their breasts, sliced up their stomachs with nary a Yo Yo Honey Singh blaring from your houses. And you did it again in the coming years, and you will do it again tomorrow. With iron rods, with bottles, with...which makes all these suggestions for castration as deterrent oh so.. where do I begin? ). What is it about the female body you hate so? Or let me rephrase that, also the little boys, men from communities that are The Other. What is it? Why this anger? They say by reporting each and every act of violence might make for apathy in us, the reader.  Really? For I can recite you the hundred ways we are hated each day. And it is not about a failure of policing, whether it is the vigilant state, or a paranoid mother , and then again it is ALL about the police state at times. At times the wrong lies in compensation, (for I will scream do you know what compensation means "you are offsetting a deficiency", chalo chalo ab Dettol wali koi choutt nahi. We kissed it and made it betterwhether when you offer marriage as compensation (nothing to see here, matter resolved, the two parties have reconciled, now no need to get into that, panchayat, judge sahib knows best), or when it is  money (or even a flat) will this make the hurt go away? so I cant understand why we got in a huff about hush money? Was it the amount that scandalized us? Add a couple of zeroes and that might have changed the response?

At least our generation is angry.

Small mercies.

But still so many questions.