Six Reasons Why Women Block (Some) Men Sometimes

I have received a message from a male friend asking why women suddenly block men.   According to him, he had not done anything vulgar or indecent to deserve this treatment from a woman.  The woman was someone he has interacted with before, and met a few times. He is not someone she ‘met online’ so he is all the more upset.  His ego is very hurt.

I am not sure what happened in his case, and I would never know. Therefore, I have decided to write a general article.   I have also blocked men so I can share what I know with the hope that this gentleman can learn something. There is a possibility that it may not be the outcome, and I may get trolled. But it’s fine. Let me say it. I think a lot of people need to hear the following.

These are my top reasons for blocking (not all) men:

  • Messages late at night.

If you are not very close to a woman, please refrain from striking up a conversation at night.   If she doesn’t respond or responds in monosyllables please take the hint and stop.  If your excuse for texting at night is that it is the only time you are ‘free’ after office then it is very lame reason.

  • Hi… Good morning.. Goodnight.. Dear.. Had dinner?

These messages are totally unnecessary. There is no need to send a Goodnight message to someone who doesn’t even talk to you!  Also, the only people ‘dear’ to me are my family. Isn’t this one obvious?

  • Nice DP! Looking gorgeous!

Be careful of your choice of words and the frequency of such messages. Are you friends with this girl? Do you talk to her regularly? If not, then refrain from commenting on her looks, even if it is a compliment.

  • Don’t contact through all mediums

We live in tech savvy world. You know if someone has read your message. If there is still no response, there is a chance that they have missed it. There is also a possibility that they are busy.  Your worst fear may also be true – She is not interested in responding.  Let it go.  Please do not try to reach her on other platforms. You have nothing important to say anyway, so why get so needy! Special mention for texting ‘??’. There is no need to send ‘??’ if you are not getting a response.  It is very annoying!

  • No response? Let it go!!

You will know if a girl wants to talk to you or not through the magic of response!! If she is not responding, let it go. It happens to me sometimes, that I message someone and they don’t respond. It is okay.  Don’t send messages like ‘Why are you not replying,’ ‘What did I do wrong?’ .   You are not texting someone for work, and nobody owes you a response.   If you are confronting someone and forcing them to respond, then be prepared for a strong reaction from them (including blocking).

  • Double meaning jokes, memes,

This should be self-explanatory.

Finally, here is what it is.   Since society places the responsibility on women for ‘inviting’ and ‘encouraging’  men,  sometimes we block ahead of caution.  You may not have crossed the line yet or you may be on the borderline. Yet, we use better judgment. That is when we feel that blocking is better as we are scared about what may come up next. We want to save ourselves the embarrassment. There is no warning unfortunately. We are not going to give prior notice, ‘Hey I am planning to block you, but before that, let me give you some time to reverse the creepiness and discomfort you have put me through!’

It doesn’t work that way. We decide not to engage further as it would only make things worse.

Not fair? Don’t blame us.   Blame other men who have talked / sent rubbish to us because of whom we prefer to be careful. 

And lastly, if you have had a relationship or rapport with a woman in the past, then that is what it is. The past.  It does not give you a lifetime license of texting, joking, flirting and demanding replies.

Hope this answers my friend’s question! Please feel free to add to the list in the comments!

 

Hold On To Your Anger! Never Forget!

Two days ago, I read that a woman, Priyanka Reddy was gang-raped and burnt alive. I am scared of fire to the extent that I do not use a match-stick.  I thought I could not read more about it. It was too horrific.  I avoided thinking about it.  I had no words. We don’t like to think that something like this could happen to someone. It is too inhumane and too barbaric. We like to also believe that nothing can happen to us.

Finally, once I mustered up the courage to start reading about what happened to her in detail, I was so, so furious.  As I read more, I am full of anger and hatred.  From having no words, I now have a lot of words.  My words will not stop.  My rage will not stop.

What fails us again and again.

Rape law

“To make sure something like the Nirbhaya case never happened again, the government wanted to amend the existing laws to cover ALL crimes against women and make punishments as harsh as possible. This led to the 2013 Criminal Law Amendment. Under this change, new offences such as stalking, acid attacks, and voyeurism were added into the definition of rape. Even the threat of rape is now a crime. The minimum sentence was changed from seven years to 10 years. In cases that led to the death of the victim or the victim being in a vegetative state, the minimum sentence was increased to 20 years. This was the first time the vegetative state was included since the landmark Aruna Shanbaug case.”

Source: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2018/08/indias-anti-rape-laws-the-evolution/

Long story short:

Minimum sentence for rape – 10 years.

If rape leads to death – minimum sentence 20 years.

Is it good enough?

NO!!!

Rape = Hang the rapist.

Gang rape = Hang the rapist.

Tried to kill her = Hang the rapist.

Whether she died or not = Does not matter. Hang! Hang! Hang!

Actually, hanging seems too merciful. The punishment should be same as the crime. Insert a rod in their private part. Burn them alive.  In fact, no punishment is enough for such crimes.  Any punishment possible under the sun seems less.

Violence against women – Acceptable!

I am sharing the link to the verdict of Pallavi Purukayastha’s murder. Her security guard had deliberately disconnected electricity of her apartment at night. When he came inside the house he took the keys without her knowledge.  He then broke into the house later at night with the intention of raping her.  She resisted.  He killed her.  The judge, let me reiterate, female judge held that “16 times stabbing is cruelty but not extreme cruelty…” (to merit death penalty)!

I have just one question for the respected people who are entrusted the responsibility of making decisions of life and death – How much cruelty is extreme had it been your daughter?

The verdict has words like ‘not planned for days’ (only planned that night), ‘got excited seeing her in scanty clothes’. It is embarrassing. It is infuriating. The young age of the murderer was also taken into consideration.  The fact that so much analysis was done to find reasons to not award capital punishment to the man when the woman is dead. Brutally snatched away from her family.

This murderer got life imprisonment because the cruelty was not extreme enough in the eyes of the judge! He jumped parole and was rearrested. Why did he deserve parole in the first place? Why should our tax money be used to feed these beasts? How had Pallavi’s parents felt during the time he jumped parole? How do they feel everyday?  Even if this man would have got capital punishment their daughter would not come back. This is the LEAST that could be done.

Change the law!

Every country has its own problems. In the United States, it is their gun laws. Any crazy person owns a gun and goes on a rampage to kill people.  Maybe mental illness is an issue.

In India, such people get the right to rape and kill because they know nothing bad will happen to them. They probably know their friends who boast of getting drunk and beating their wives. They may even have friends who have raped and got away with it.

People are talking about how the mindset needs to change.  Just change the law and see. Castrate one rapist. Hang one rapist in public.  Mindset will change automatically.

Dear not all men brigade, this is not the time to worry about your fragile egos. This is not the time for you to worry about what will happen if the colleague you slept with and dumped decides to falsely accuse you. If you see, the rapists in Jyoti Singh’s case and Priyanka Reddy’s case were caught with evidence, and they confessed.  So, unless you are planning to be a rapist, you have nothing to worry about. Moreover, I would like to focus on things that have actually happened, and women who are dead. Not about your hypothetical, superficial concern about what could happen. So please do not make this about you.

Are these humans in the first place? Why do they have rights?

Dear Human Right Activists,

I know you care a lot about criminals. You cared about Kasab. You care about the not so minor ‘juvenile’ man who inserted a rod inside a girl’s vagina and pulled her intestines out. That girl died in pain you cannot imagine. Her parents and brother have to live with that memory every day. Did she have any rights?

If you care so much about rapists, and murderers please strike a deal with the government. Please keep them in your house and care for them. Work on them. Give them another chance.  Let your children play with them.  Please confine your sympathy to your house.  Please do not let these beasts into society so that you can feel good about yourself.

Sob stories of rapist’s mother

Mothers of rapists do not have my sympathy if they are trying to give excuses for their sons.  Even if they are suffering, they are suffering because of what their son did. They better not give interviews about how the monster son was the only bread earner!  Get a job! We don’t need such monsters to roam freely so that their mothers can get do waqt ki roti!  I think about Priyanka’s mother and their feelings are nowhere in my thoughts.  No family can survive this.  I do not wish strength to Priyanka’s family because no family should have such strength.

Yes. I am very angry. Anger is all we have got right now.  We tried in 2012.  The law did change but it was not good enough.  Hold on to your anger. Cling to it.  Please share link of any petitions, or protests you are aware of.  We will never forget. We will never give up.

Tanushree Dutta: More Power To You

Attended an event by ‘We The Women’ yesterday where Tanushree Dutta spoke about what happened to her.  She was in conversation with Barkha Dutt and Sandhya Menon, the journalist who started a movement similar to MeToo in India where women are being encouraged to write about sexual harassment they have faced at workplace. Here is what Tanushree Dutta said:

  1. She was shooting for a movie wherein she had a solo song. Allegedly Nana Patekar manufactured a scene in that song where he was supposed to feel her. She refused. She was told she does not have a choice. She was bullied. We have all seen the view of her in the car getting attacked. She faced the consequences of saying ‘No’.
  2. Her other allegation was that Vivek Agnihotri said to her “Jao, Kapde utar kar nacho”  in the context of giving cues to Irrfan Khan for another song in another movie. Irrfan Khan supported her by saying, “Mujhe acting aati hai”. Sunil Shetty also added, “Main aaun kya cues dene?”

Some key points to note.

Was it sexual harassment?

Yes. In the first instance, at the workplace she was asked to do something without her consent and she faced consequences for refusing. The second remark was extremely demeaning and offensive. For women wondering if it was not a big deal, imagine how YOU would feel if someone told you “kapde utar ke nacho”.For men, if someone said that to your wife, would you like it? To all the people saying she did so much more in Aashiq Banaya Apne, well, that was consent! What people don’t understand is that just because a woman agrees for something one time, it does not grant a license to anyone to do it again. Consent is required each and every time. What happen to her is as bad as getting molested or raped? No. But does that mean it is not wrong? Should women only speak up when they get bruised and beaten? Why should we women continue to normalize obnoxious and crass behavior? Why can’t men start learning how to behave and talk instead? Is human decency really that difficult?

Why do you believe her?

Whatever she said sounded quite believable. For people who are saying she wanted publicity, Tanushree replied that she could have done the item song, made money, stayed in everyone’s good books and continued her career. Also, she is not coming back after 10 years. She had complained and raised her voice then too. But nobody really cared enough.

People in power dominate and abuse their power. It is the truth.  It is not even a woman vs man thing. But yes, men have been more powerful than women in most cultures.  A woman who may be very weak herself becomes a different person when she becomes a mother-in-law. Why? Power!

Another thing.  Most of the harassment happens alone between two people. There is not much proof. Unless you get raped and go to the hospital immediately. In cases of verbal harassment, groping, touching, feeling, rubbing, getting flashed in the face, there is no proof for the most part. It is the word of the victim against the perpetrator. Or the perpetrator’s word against the victim. I cannot convince anyone to believe her. Neither do I wish to.

But here is my two cents:

To all the women reading this:

Yesterday Barkha Dutt asked women from the audience to come up and share their me too story. One lady, with all due respect went on stage and narrated an incident with much conviction about bullying she faced at workplace.  It had NOTHING to do with sexual harassment. Please do not confuse the movement with getting back at employers who have not treated you right. Please go ahead and complain to your HR regarding your work-related issues.  The metoo movement is for sexual harassment at the workpace. Let us stay focused.

To all the men reading this:

Instead of reacting because of your inflated egos, and crying that not all men are bad, and that poor men are being humiliated in public, please channelize your energy to something constructive.  When your male friends crack sexist jokes, forward demeaning videos of women on that all boys group, comment on the legs of that new intern, do you even make any sound? If the answer is NO, then please continue that for our movement too. You do not speak up when you should so better keep silent now also. Not all men are rapists but many men cover up for each other, protect each other, adding to the damage.

 

 

 

 

Is the Hallmark Card Dream Killing Women?

I cannot get the following headlines off my mind:

“I am going to kill myself today bcoz Mayank has driven me to it. He finally let me out but I can’t repair what he has done,her last words read.

“Delhi Air Hostess Learnt About Husband’s First Marriage Month Ago.”

Her family claimed that Mr Singhvi used to physically abuse her and they also accused his parents of harassing her for dowry.

I don’t want to specifically write about Anissia because it is still too early. We do not know if it is a murder or suicide. I don’t want to judge a woman I did not know. Especially a woman who was cremated two days ago.  I also do not wish to scrutinize the life of a woman who died. Still, writing this article in the hope that it may help someone.

I read an article this morning on about how parents should support their daughters and make them get out of abusive marriages and not give dowry. I also read comments (probably from Anissia’s friends) getting defensive saying that she was very strong, and had supportive parents. Her father was in the Army.   She was financially independent and it seems that money was no motivator was her to get stuck in the marriage.

 Then what happened? Why is she dead?

Why are so many intelligent, financially independent women in our society preferring to jump or hang themselves rather than being called the D word?

A friend of mine updates her whatsapp display picture every other day with a smiling photo of her husband and herself.  What you cannot see is the bruises on her body which are concealed in her DP.  Messages are sent to friends asking for helpline numbers. What is more regular? The injury or the status updates?

Friends try to convince her to get out. She says that there are happy times too. She is not willing to leave him.

Is it our fault that she is still with him? Are we not doing enough?

If you see Anissia’s social media profile, there are so many happy, couple photos. A good-looking couple posing and holidaying at beautiful locations.

This is common.  Friends posting pictures with their husbands. Beautiful, happy pictures. People commenting:

Lovely couple!

Hottest couple!

Stay blessed!

Smileys. Emojis. Likes. Comments. Social approval.

What lies beneath?

We love the life we wish to project to the world. We are in love. We are in a blissful marriage. We are happy. We try hard to make our lives close to what we like to portray. Sometimes we believe it too.

In contrast, I have friends who are divorced or never married. They are into their 30’s, 40’s. Some of them want to get married. Others are okay being single. To the world, they may be “unmarried.”

Poor girl. She must find someone soon. Time is running out.

Bechari divorce ke baad decide ki shadi nahi karegi dobara.

Some of these women are actually living quite peaceful and joyous lives. Marital bliss is not the only bliss the universe has to offer. They may not get to flaunt holiday, couple pictures. They may not have done pre-wedding, pregnancy photoshoots. They do not get to add statuses like ‘Aww! Feeling loved with so and so!’ or ‘Woke up to this surprise from my sweetheart’. But they are still leading good lives. Every day that they wake up they don’t have somebody who makes them feel like filth. Yes, occasionally they do feel left out at family functions and weddings. But it is still better than being treated badly every day.

What am I trying to prove?

We all fall for social pressure. We envy people who seem to have love and money. We create a lie and then spend the rest of our life miserable trying to live up to it.

Don’t fall for the trap. Nobody, nobody has everything in life.  You don’t have to have everything either. It is okay to not have a partner to flaunt. It is okay to not have a vacation in Europe. It is okay to be not earning a lot of money. It is okay to be not married. It is okay to not have children. It is okay to be divorced.

What is not okay is to be dead at 39 after jumping off the terrace. What is not okay is leaving behind old parents and a brother who will spend the rest of their life attending court hearings and running ‘Justice for Anissia’ campaigns wishing they were dead too.

And what justice will they get? Even if the husband and his family get punished (which I doubt) will this woman come back?

The society does not care about you. They don’t care if you are happy or sad or rich or poor or married or single.  At least not for long.  Please do not waste your life for the society. The only thing that matters is you. Please do what is right for yourself.  I have written about this so many times before.  Please, please be strong. Please do not commit suicide for such idiots. And please do not stay with them to test how much more you can suffer.

Yes, every marriage has good days and bad days.  But if for you the bad days means getting hit and thinking about hanging yourself then it is not worth it.

Image source

Related articles link:

The Intelligent, Young Woman – Wasted In Marriage

She saved her marriage. But what about her life?

 

 

 

 

 

Bollywood! False Masculinity And Abuse of Women

One of the most vibrant movies of Sridevi, Chaalbaaz was on Zee Classic over the weekend. Watching Sridevi on screen has always been a delight. But ever since her untimely death, it has been all the more hard to resist watching her movies, knowing that such magic cannot be recreated again.

I don’t know how many times I would have watched Chaalbaaz as a kid. I have it memorized. My mother and I were discussing how we like Seeta Aur Geeta more than Chaalbaz. Father disagreed. He said Sridevi’s acting was far beyond excellence.   I went to the kitchen and missed a scene. My father called out to me, “Did you just see that? He grabbed her hair!”

I quickly ran back to the living room. Here was an angry Sunny Deol grabbing Sridevi by her hair. Reason: He thought he had seen her (her twin) with Rajnikanth, walking together!

He said to her something like, “Main to tumse sharafat se baat kar raha hoon. Aisa karne se to yahaan qatal ho jate hain”.

What a shareef guy! He did not kill her! Just abused her verbally and physically!

He said it so matter-of-factly as if killing a woman for cheating was a rule and not killing her was nice of him! Sharing the link. Scroll to 2:04.

All these movies I loved as a kid have been completely ruined for me now. Violence against women was so normalized! The recent killing of a woman who was stabbed multiple times, and its coverage in media brings us back to the stone age.

I was reading through some of the comments of how some men believed that when a guy cares and loves a woman so much, spends all his money on her, yet she leaves him or cheats on him what is he supposed to do! Some men even wrote that there is no place for “nice guys” in this world that has been taken over by “faminists”!

Unfortunately, relationships don’t come with a guarantee card. As unfair as it may be, people can leave. At any time. Men. Or women. If a woman cheats on you, please feel free to leave her. But her life is not yours to take.

I remember having a conversation with two of my male colleagues about an article I had written on “honour killing”. These two educated, modern-looking men who I interacted with daily, had lunch with argued that “in that situation any man would feel so angry that he would want to kill the woman!”  One of the the guys said that if his long – term girlfriend  cheats on him, his first reaction would be to kill her too! Obviously, the women were shocked. So these guys ended up changing their statements later. They said we misunderstood. They were just trying to speak from the killer’s perspective, what goes in his head!!!

Bollywood has created so much crap during my childhood that took so long to unlearn. It did much damage to our mindsets. The fact that I do not remember this scene as something objectionable means I probably found it okay. I remember another movie in which Aamir Khan had slapped Madhuri Dixit and he now truly regrets being part of such show of false sense of masculinity. Not only this, women like me also grew up believing we deserve abuse!

Mindsets take time to change. But  some people love to be stuck in the 13th century even today.

Image source

 

 

 

Dear Parents, Your Child’s Divorce Is Not About You

Women’s Web shared this article again yesterday.  You can read it here. I had written it more than two years ago.

This article has been very popular. I receive messages from women who may be going through something similar. Yesterday, also I received a message from a woman who is in a horrible marriage.  Let’s call her Riya. Her husband and in-laws treat her very badly. She is extremely unhappy.

“I am always angry”, she said.

I know what that anger feels like….

To constantly hear ill from someone who you live with and his entire family… When all of them gang up against you. The abuses. The taunts. The disrespect. The humiliation. It is never worth it…

I asked her if she is financially independent. She is. I asked her then what is the problem. She said her parents are not letting her get out. It has been just a year. They believe she should make it work because anyway she will be miserable as a “divorcee”. Plus, everyone has “problems” in their marriage. It reminds me of the movie, Dil Dhadakne Do in which Shefali Chaya’s character tells her daughter, played by Priyanka Chopra , “Todna aasan hai. Nibhana mushkil hai,”. Or something like that. I do not have the patience to go through the movie on Youtube and find the exact dialogue.

Just like Riya, I am also very angry. Every time the conversation of divorce comes up in Riya’s family, her mother emotionally blackmails her by giving example of a lady who had a heart attack because her daughter got divorced. Riya asked me what if something happens to her mother if she takes such a step.

I do not have an answer for her.

Why are her parents behaving like this? Isn’t she going through enough? Is it fair that one of the considerations in this already complicated decision would be her mother’s possible heart attack? No. She is not even a heart patient!!

Riya is earning well. If she separates from her husband, she can afford to live on her own. She will not go back to her parents’ house. She already lives in a different city.  Why is her divorce so much about her parents, and not about her?

Probably because the marriage was also about her parents. We know how most arranged marriages work. The parents (girl’s side mostly) pay for the expenses. The jewelry. The functions. The photographer. The makeup. The grand venue.

I also remember a relative telling me four years ago, “Your parents have more stake in the marriage than you. They are the ones who spent their savings. You are so lucky they are okay to forego all of it because you don’t want to be with that guy anymore. “

I heard variations of this again and again:

Parents spend so much money on the daughter’s wedding. They would not want to lose it.

Second time around also they would have to bear! (if you are lucky to have a second time).

I am not even worried about you. I know you are a strong girl. I am worried about your parents who have to see this in old age.

You are not the victim here. It is your poor parents. They must be going through so much stress! Oh God.

Don’t be so selfish! Can’t you just make it work for your parents’ happiness? Do they not deserve peace in old age?

I don’t know how many of you know about the “Ring Theory”. It is a theory that helps you understand where you stand in a crisis situation and what you should do. Psychologist Susan Silk and her friend Barry Goldman wrote a piece about it.  Quoting,

“If the crisis is happening to you, you are in the center of the ring. If the crisis is not happening to you, you’re in one of the outer circles.

Here are the basic rules from Silk and Goodman’s article:Draw a circle. In this circle, write the name of the person at the center of the crisis.Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In this ring, put the name of the person next closest to the crisis. In each larger ring, put the next closest people. As Silk and Goodman state, “Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones.. Here are the rules: The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, ‘Life is unfair’ and ‘Why me?’ That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring. Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.” 

The concept is ‘comfort in, dump out”. The person in the center is suffering the most. That person can say anything they want. The persons in the outer circle may also be very upset. They can share what they feel. But to people in outer circles.

So, in case of a divorce, the person in the center is the person getting a divorce. The parents would probably be in the very next circle. Followed by siblings, grandparents, bua mausi, chacha, mama, cousins etc. But they are not in the center.  The center is for Riya.

But it does not work that way in India. In the center are parents, grandparents, family, honour,  father’s pride, mother’s dream, grandparents’ last wish, sister’s chances in the marriage market, neighborhood aunty’ s uncomfortable questions. I do not even know where to find Riya in this. Somewhere under the dump. Lost.

Yes. I know. Any parent would not want their child to go through a divorce. Everybody wants their children to be happy. In any part of the world. But sometimes things don’t work out.

I will again come back to the movie ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, where Ranveer Singh’s character tells his mother that she did not get out knowing about her husband’s philandering ways because she had nowhere to go.  Yes, it is the harsh reality. Earlier, also marriages may have been bad but women had nowhere to go.  So please it is not about our “family values”, or low divorce rate or the fact that so many people adjusted.

I am sorry parents, but your children’s divorce is not about you.  Even if you paid 30 lakhs on the wedding and jewelry, it is not about you. (You should not have done that in the first place).

This is about their life. Your daughter need not suffer every day, be miserable and angry so that the wedding you attend once a year is free from uncomfortable questions. It is not about you. Or about your neighbor who asks, “Where is her husband”. Her marriage is not about you having peace in your old age. It is about the years and decades ahead of her  that she has to live through.

Dear sundries,

You may know of someone who is going through a divorce. Her divorce is not about you. You do not get to be disappointed in her life and then tell her about it. Please don’t tell her how shocked you are to hear about it. And how you cannot sleep at night. .  Remember comfort in, dump out. You should give her strength. You should try to help her. She is dealing with enough. It does not mean your feelings don’t count. Please feel free to tell other people, in outer circles who are not as vested as her.  But she cannot deal with your disappointments, your pain, your shock, and your horror. She has enough on her plate. 

I am sorry Riya. I am sorry you have to go through this. I feel for you. I am also feeling angry.

 

 

 

 

Shashikala – The Unknown Feminist

For the past few minutes the doorbell was incorporated as part of my dream. Finally, after it rang for some time, I realized it is not a dream and I need to get up and open the door.

Shashikala walked in.

“Goodmorning Didi.” She said in her usual chirpy voice.

“Hmm.” I replied coldly. She had not come to work the day before. I was giving her the silence treatment.

“Didi, I will make chicken for you today,” she said trying to lure me with my favourite food.

“No need! There is a lot of leftover from yesterday!” I gave a cold reply again.

“Ok Didi!”

The silent treatment did not seem to be working. She either did not understand I was mad or she did not care. I broke my cold war and blurted out:

“Look at all those dirty dishes! I had guests over yesterday! And you just ditched me! I had told you not to take an off for these two days! Your work is the last priority for you. You took an off to look after your friend!! She does not have anyone? You have to disrupt your work to attend to her?”

“No Didi.  She is not my friend.”

“Oh so what neighbor? Stranger! Even better! You come to work only after you have solved all of humanity’s problems.”

“She is his first wife….”

Shashikala was married off when she was about 18. Her husband was abusive. He used to take all her money for alcohol and beat her up.  In the next five years, she had two sons until one fine day he just left.  After a couple of years he showed up again, asking for his children.  Shashikala refused to give them up. He told her he is doing well in life and would be in a better position to support the kids. She said she does not want to live with him.  A compromise was made. The husband took her elder son. She kept the younger one.

A kind aunt of hers thought that it is time she remarried.  The prospective groom was okay with having her son around. So Shashikala agreed. Once the marriage was solemnized, she was in for another shock. This man was already married, something she had no idea about.  The first wife was still living there.  Shashikala left him and came back with her son.

Now, she lives with her younger son. The elder son (who is with his father) is in a hostel and he visits her sometimes. Both the husbands show up at her house once in a while to create some drama!

Her story came flashing back in my mind.

What happened to her!” I asked her. The anger was now replaced with curiosity.

“He came the night before to eat. He said that she has not been keeping well so there is no one to cook for him. You know he is very selfish Didi. He did not even take her to the doctor. She was in pain. So I went there. Took her to the hospital. Got her the medicines. Cleaned her house. And cooked some food.”

“Why do you care so much about her?”

“Unknowingly I did her wrong Didi! I married her husband and hurt her! This is the least I can do.”

I read a lot of articles online. The latest trend is romanticizing cheating. I have seen a lot of reputed publications publish articles on cheating and how it is all about “being in the moment”, “living your life”,  “love and sex are different things”, “it just happens” and other such excuses. When I express my disgust in the comments some cool people respond,“Why are being so judgmental”, “To each to his own”. It seems we have no idea how to be progressive.

Here is a woman who did not exactly have a smooth life. One bad marriage is enough to break a person. She had two! It could have been convenient for her to bitter. But she chose not to. She had self-respect. She did not take back her first husband when he came back. She left the second husband the moment she found out he is already married.

But these things did not change who she is as a person. It did not change the kindness within her. The kindness that made her feel the physical and emotional pain of another woman.

Yes, good women uplift other women. They hold their head high in times of turmoil. They do not let the unhappiness in their lives change their judgment, and conscience.

Shashikala, you are a feminist to me.  You may not get any recognition.  But you have taught me one thing:

We are who we are. No matter what happens in life, there is no excuse to cause someone pain. There is no reason to not live by our principles.