I’m a feminist. No, I don’t think that all men are anti-women, or that all the problems faced by women of the world are caused by men. In fact, living with three of the species through all these years has convinced me that men have the capacity to be perfectly reasonable human beings, and at most times are more generous than I can ever be. My men have, on more than one occasion, exhibited signs of real intelligence, despite being victims of directional and numerical challenges. All in all, I think they are as admirable or otherwise as their more evolved counterparts are – despite their appalling lack of multitasking capabilities.
Nor do I believe that issues faced by women can be solved by burning a few pieces of incriminating lingerie, like they did in the 60s and 70s, or by waving placards and shouting out slogans in public squares. At the risk of enraging a majority of the population, let me say this: if I indulgently shake my head at the bra-burning and slogan shouting, what I feel about their modern version is pure loathing – yes, I smirk and sneer at those tell-all reality shows. As if washing your dirty linen in front of a blood thirsty audience (akin to those in the Roman past that watched Christians getting eaten by lions) will ensure you a happily-ever-after! And I don’t even want to talk about the so-called panelists who sit on their thrones and pass judgment.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not even remotely suggesting that all’s well with our world. In fact, I’m the first one to admit that life is grossly unfair to the fairer sex – nature, society, man and woman (yes, woman) have joined hands in a devious conspiracy to punish the sacred feminine for being just that – feminine. What I mean is, no amount of noise is loud enough to drown out the cries of victims of rape, abuse, molestation, domestic violence and everything in between. No amount public demonstrations can burn away the stigma attached to being a woman in the society. For, these travails we face as women stem from causes that run deep, like those parasitic roots that suck out the life force from a living tree until it dies.
Right here, I choose to stray from the topic to tell you this: in case you are wondering what caused this sudden outburst, I’ll tell you about it in detail later. Let me just say this for now:
Growing up in a dysfunctional family has taught me the value of harmony and adjustment, maybe to a fault. Adapting and accommodating by suppressing my innate rebellion and aggression had started somewhere in my troubled teens. Since then, my life has been one long struggle to tone down my words and deeds to cause minimum damage to my environment. Though I confess that I have not come close to succeeding, ever, I have never stopped trying.
Becoming a language teacher made me ultra-cautious about what I communicate, and I tried harder than ever to not offend sensibilities in any way. It made me weigh my words carefully, looking at each one from all points of view – my students, my family, my friends, my acquaintances. Entering the communication business served to entrench the caution deeper, and added the onus of thinking in terms of polysyllabic words and complex sentences to my existing troubles.
I am now at that phase in life where my hormones are rioting in preparation for the dreaded yet inevitable pause, that age when a certain level of recklessness sets in. Age brings with it a lot of good things, and one of them happens to be a sense of urgency. You begin to get the feeling that there’s so much to say and do, now that time’s running out. It’s like you have stepped off the peak and on to the track that runs down the slope – and you don’t know when it might run out! If at almost 46 I don’t start speaking my mind, when do I get to do that? So here I am, with a cup that runneth over with stuff to spill out.
P.S. Can you believe it – this was just the introduction! Phew!!