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.

 

 

 

 

Who Took Away My Confidence?

Dear Tanvi,

Would you be interested in moderating a panel discussion? We would be discussing how women are enjoying outdoor spaces.

Me?

Moderating?

I felt a slight fluttering in my stomach. I drank some water.

____________________________________________

At the age of 5 – Somewhere in a convent school in Patna

Mother looks at her daughter’s quiz answer sheet. 8/10. Match the following.

Question – Something to keep you dry in the rain

Answer written by the little girl: Ren cot.

It is marked wrong.

Mother: Beta, here you had to match the description in the left side with the options on the right side. Rain coat was not in the options. It was umbrella.

Little girl: Ma’am forgot to put ren cot. That is why I wrote it.

Mother: This was not Fill in the blanks. This was matching. Read the question properly.

Little girl: Maybe Ma’am does not have ren cot. Now she knows.

At the age of 9 – Same school in Patna

State level debate competition

And the winner is Tanvi Sinha….

The mother and the father are beaming, clicking pictures.

At the age of 11 – Same school in Patna

Teacher: Tanvi, we are recommending your name for representing our school at the Interschool Quiz competition, Manthan. It will be aired on local television after two weeks.

Girl: Ma’am! On  TV! If I don’t do well, everyone will make fun of me!

Teacher: Opportunity is knocking at your door. And you are saying no? You think we are asking all the students? We are asking only the toppers. You must go Tanvi. Prepare well. Give it your best shot.

The girl was terrified at the thought of failing on television. She backed out.

At the age of 13 – Junior high school in New York City

The teenager raises her hand to answer a question. She has just started talking. There is a giggle. Someone mocks her accent.

Teacher: Let her talk. Than Vee, go ahead.

The teenager becomes quiet.

It was not worth going through this humiliation. She decided never to raise her hand again.

At the age of 15- PTA Meeting. Creative writing class. High school in New York city

The father is dressed in a black suit and tie. Mother is wearing trousers and a blazer. They are at their formal best. They enter with  their gawky teenage daughter.

Teacher: Oh Tanvi is a gift! She is awesome. She has great story telling skills. She is logical with her thoughts, and articulates her thoughts very well. Her grammar is perfect. I just have one area of improvement for her.

Teenager replies meekly with a smile: Class participation!

Teacher: Yes! I would like you to participate more in the class discussions. You never say a word! And when I read your assignments, I am mesmerized. Imagine if you would say all of that in class!

Teenager: Yes. I know. I can write very well. But when I talk I feel conscious.

Teacher: Don’t be. With your intelligence, you cannot say anything wrong.

At the age of 23 – Mumbai at home

Click here to see the CA Final Results. Enter Registration number.

FAIL

As tears streamed down her cheeks, she wondered.

I was never the beautiful one.

I was never the popular one.

All I was ever, was the intelligent one.

I am not even that anymore?

Who am I?

She passed the exam a year later.

At the age of 24.. At an official training. Banquet hall of a 5 star hotel

She is sitting in the last round table. She is not making any eye contact with the trainer, afraid he may ask a question.  At the same time she is nodding, pretending to listen.

This is so boring. He mugged up all this stuff! What if I had to be the trainer? Nah.. they would never ask me. Imagine if the training was about something I knew. Or something I was good at. Then I would be the star. But what am I  good at…… There has got to be something… Think…think. Yeah. Bollywood! If there was a Bollywood training I could totally take it… One session could be on songs. With a quiz. Guess the movie from the song. I could also do a session on Bollywood relationships. Guess – Who was Riya Sen’s grandmother…
Name three sister duos from Bollywood. Yeah… I would totally rock it.

Same age. A random office lunch

Someone made a joke. Everybody laughed. The woman barely listened. She is lost in her thoughts as always.

“Tanvi did not laugh.” – Guy 1.

“She did not understand the joke.” – Someone else

“Don’t talk like that. She will get angry.” – Someone else.

“Is she angry? I can’t tell! She is so expressionless!!! Tanvi make an angry face!”

He has a hearty laugh.

At the age of 26. She qualified as a CA 2 years ago. Working in a reputed firm. Year-end appraisal.

Four people are looking at her like hawks in a conference room. One by one they start talking. About how she has not achieved the goals. How she is good for nothing. How she is a big, miserable failure.

She listens. In the beginning she tries to defend herself. But then she gives up.  She wants them to stop talking. But no. They want to make sure it is CLEAR to her, point by point. Every word is a dagger. It pierces through her heart, her soul and her being.

Don’t start crying here. Be dignified. At least control yourself till you reach the washroom.

Present day.

Who took away her confidence?

Was it those bullying kids?

Was it failure in a professional exam which is known to be so difficult?

Was it people from work?

From a little girl who was confident even when she was wrong, she had grown up to be a nervous woman who felt she was wrong even when she was right. Who gave the right to every person to take away her confidence. Who trusted others’ belief of who she was, more than who she knew she was.

____________________________________________

She read the email again.

Dear Tanvi,

Would you be interested in moderating a panel discussion? We would be discussing how women are enjoying outdoor spaces

Opportunity is knocking at your door. She remembered her elementary school teacher’s words.

With your intelligence, you would never say anything wrong. She remembered her high school teacher’s words.

Yes. She typed. Send.

Beyond the doors. Bangalore. March 9th, 2018

I reached the venue. A little nervous. A little unsure of myself. But super excited.

A woman with the sweetest face and the most contagious smile was talking.  She was not trying to inspire anyone. She was talking logically. She was talking about herself and her experiences. Smooth, natural flow of thought. She was just being herself. But the audience was mesmerized. And so was I.

Somebody asked her how come she is so positive all the time? Does she think about dark clouds?

“Why should I think of the dark clouds when I can think about the light clouds. This is me!” – She said flashing that beautiful, confident, ravishing smile matter-of-factly.

She was Dhanya Ravi.

I was overwhelmed with emotion. That one line uplifted my spirits.

This is me…..

 I am Tanvi. I  get nervous when I have to speak in public. My stomach hurts. My palms get sweaty. I tremble. This is me!

I say Umm and You know after every word. This is me!

I will roll my tongue over my teeth, while I am still talking to you to check if my lipstick has spread over my teeth. This is me!

I may mess up this discussion. But it is okay. This is me!

I had a great session. Enjoyed every moment of it. Loved talking to such accomplished women. The smiles, the nods, and the claps from the audience gave me a high.

Who gave me back my confidence?

Dhanya Ma’am, you have written in your profile, ‘All good things come in a small package.”

But let me tell you this Ma’am. You are not small.

You are bigger that our insecurities and our egos.

You are bigger than our inner demons and inner battles that we struggle with every day.

You are bigger than our shallow concerns and problems which actually do not matter, but we are too full of ourselves to believe it.

You are bigger than all of us who love feeling like victims, the moment the smallest thing goes wrong in life.

You are bigger than the people who try to make others feel small just so that they can feel big.

You are bigger than any person I have ever met in my life.

I love you Ma’am. You have made me wiser. In one day!  I have gained my confidence back after years.  I promise myself that I will never let anybody take away my confidence again.

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOL: LAUGH OUT LOUD!

What is it about women laughing that makes men angry?

This was the headline of one of the many rubbish articles that propaganda driven publications could not refrain from publishing. This is what I understood:

A woman mocking, disrespecting someone with a loud, non-stop laughter, almost interrupting his speech, making him inaudible on an honourable platform is okay.

But God forbid, if a man asks her to behave, or makes a sarcastic comment in response he is a misogynist!

This was not about gender. This was about basic respect.

Every day I read articles on how feminism has gone too far. I always jump in defense. Feminism is needed.  Women do not get basic respect, I say.  Our society is chauvinistic, and misogynist,  I believe.

Some feminist writers have used this opportunity to write about how women are taught not to laugh and how the country in general is intolerant to women laughing! I found it quite ridiculous.  It reminded me of a comedy scene from the movie, ‘Tanu weds Manu returns’. Tanu says something like “500 saalon se auraton pe atyachar ho raha hai.” Manu says “To mujh akele se badla logi kya?”

I do not know on what planet that kind of a laughter was acceptable in the context. I am not supporting the remark made. I just don’t like it when the “woman card” is used in a way where it completely defeats the purpose of equality. A woman can be disrespectful because for centuries, we have been suppressed?? But a man should not because she is a woman!!

Yes, women have been taught that laughing out loud is unfeminine. Our laughter should be a little sweet, a little soft, a little cute.  A slight giggle probably.  Pleasing to the ears.  I agree it is sexist. It is unfair. However, this was not like that!!

If we cannot distinguish between laughing and laughing at someone with the intention of mocking and insulting, then I don’t think we should be talking about feminism. Maybe step 1 would be to talk about basic human behavior and interactions, and respect.

Yes. I know. Freedom of speech. Freedom of expression. Unfortunately, it is a double-edged sword.

 

 

 

Hey Darling! Hey Gorgeous! Why not replying?

Okay.

All women probably received messages from unknown men on Facebook.  I usually block the ones who send inappropriate messages.  But off late I have noticed young boys sending messages.  When I click on their pictures, they look so innocent. They look like they are easily 10 years younger than me! Maybe even more. Some of them are probably in school or college. Minors!  They send the following kind of messages:

Hey darling!

Hey gorgeous!

Why you are not replying!

I really like you!

What happened?

Reply please!

Did I do something wrong!

One young man had sent a poem also. It was accompanied by a picture of a man literally taking out his heart on his hand. Jaan hatheli par le aaye? Please note that it was not a cute red heart shaped emoticon that we send on whatsapp. It was a picture of a heart – the organ oozing out of a body with blood!! The poem had rhymes. I thought at least I should give him credit for that. Until one of my friends who read it said it was copied from a regional movie.

Had they been older, I would have ignored and blocked.  It is too late to educate the older ones! But I don’t think it is right to give up on the younger boys.  Boys who probably do not even have the guts to talk to me in person, look me in the eye, or would probably call me Didi if at all they did talk to me in person, think it is okay to address me as darling!

I had a discussion with few male friends on this. They said that these boys are trying their luck. They probably send these messages to so many women every day and they may get a response too. They also said that these boys are perfectly aware that they should not be behaving this way. But they don’t care. They do it anyway.

One of the thoughts that stayed with me was ‘Did I do something wrong? Tell me please.’

The 17-18 year old probably does not know that it is NOT okay to address an unknown woman on the internet as ‘gorgeous’. He thinks it is a compliment. Something I would like. I would appreciate. Be flattered. He has not chosen a term like ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’. He has gone far in his vocabulary  to choose a respectful term.

Can we blame him for asking me if he has done anything wrong?

I want to ask him had I approached me in person? Would he come to me in a public place or on the street and tried to talk to me with an opening line of ‘Hi beautiful’. I want to tell him that he should not speak to women on the internet in a way any different from how he would speak to them in person. But we all know that does not happen. Every one has a voice on the internet. Every one hides behind anonymity. And what do we teach this boy about approaching women in person anyway? It is not like he would be used to ‘asking women’ out. Dating is not part of our culture. His only benchmark would be Bollywood which would have taught him:

Hasi to phasi

Ladki ki naa mein haa hai

Lover boy will always win. As long as he keeps trying. The means do not matter. The end does. Whether he stalks. Or threatens. Or tries to commit suicide. At the end the woman will realize his ‘true love’.

I remember talking to a man who from the US. He must be around 55. His son who was about 15 had started dating. He was telling me that the son is very much ‘in love’ with his girlfriend. He used to invite her over to his place along with other school friends. He said he talks to his son about how to treat his girlfriend. That he should respect her. He said his son had written a poem for the girl. This man never knew his son was interested in writing. He was proud of his son.  Father would tell his son about his girlfriend when he was that age and how he used to ask women out by inviting them to events that they were interested in so that they could not resist!

‘I have taught my boy right!’ he said proudly.

We have not taught our boys right. We have to accept it. Rather, this is something we have not taught at all!. No mature adult – teacher, parents, etc will talk to them about dating, approaching women etc. It is not because people don’t date in our country. They are on their own. At the mercy of Bollywoord and other immature friends. We don’t think it is appropriate to talk about it. We think if we talk about it we would encourage it. We don’t realize that they would do it anyway.  As much as we would like to deny.

Coming back to the boy who sent me the message this one is for you:

A woman who you don’t know may choose not to speak to you. It does not mean she is arrogant. It does not mean you are ugly. She doesn’t even know you.  You messaged. She ignored. Move on.

Even though it is a compliment addressing unknown women as ‘gorgeous’ may not be the best way to start a conversation.  If you know her, and you are already friends with her you can probably compliment her. ‘Darling’ again should not be used for unknown women. Ever!

What you say, how much you say, depends on the response you receive. It is not rocket science to figure it out.  No response. Stop. She responds in a friendly way. Continue. She doesn’t like something you say. Stop. Apologize.

There are women who have public profiles on social media. But it is mainly for their work to have a connect with their target audience. It does not necessarily mean that she has put her pictures for attention, and then when you give her that attention, she is being all arrogant!

Lastly, most importantly. Don’t keep trying. If someone is not responding to your messages, it means they are not interested. Respect the choice. She does not even owe you an explanation. It does not mean that you should feel insulted. Women have brains too. And thinking and decision-making capabilities.  They have their own likes. It does not make you a loser.  Please do not associate your self-worth with the responses you get from women – in the virtual world or in the real world! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth About Grief And Tragedy

A woman I know through blogging had lost her daughter who must be about 20. People were commenting on her post:

It is all destiny.

She is in a better place.

It is karma.

It is karma?? Whose karma? The young girl got hit by a speeding car who did not care to stop. He is roaming free. She is dead. She or her family has not done anything to deserve this. I guess the lady who commented meant that this had something to do with past life sins…

I hear some funny things about divorce too. A friend of mine is 28. She is in a relationship. She is not some child who cannot understand that sometimes things don’t work out. Whenever she hears about anyone’s divorce, she says:

Why did they get married if they wanted a divorce.

No, but what was the main reason?

Reason. Logic. Meaning. As humans we find it very difficult to comprehend tragedy and even more difficult to understand grief. We would like to think that there should be some reason. Haven’t we heard, Everything happens for a reason. We have also heard , Shit happens. But we do not like to believe it (for others). Because it defies our faith in the universe.

Another friend of mine and her boyfriend who is from another religion want to get married. They are facing objections from the boy’s family. She had asked the boy in the initial dating days if he intends to marry her. He had said yes. If some other woman gets dumped by a guy, she likes to say, ‘Told you so. You never asked him if he was serious.’ But when she is told that ‘You knew this was coming’, she says that since she had asked the man in the beginning, she was totally right about her choice.

Yes. Everybody’s grief is unique. It is therefore a painful and lonely journey. We refuse to accept that bad things simply happen… To people who did not deserve it!

A perfect couple who was together since college split.

We refuse to believe that one person outgrew the other. We put on our detective hats and try to analyze. Something else must have happened…. We do not want to lose our faith in ‘true love’

A nice caring girlfriend gets dumped without a warning.

We become therapists. She knew the signs coming. She should have known his intentions. She ignored. She was too foolish.

A young woman loses her life on the road.

We would like to think that there was some hidden meaning in it. We do not like to believe that something so cruel could happen just life that.  If it could happen to them, it could happen to us.

And that is scary.

I’ve Done My Time…No Thank You, I Don’t Want My Grandchild To Live With Me

I’ve Done My Time…No Thank You, I Don’t Want My Grandchild To Live With Me

She Could Have Been So Much More

At seven

She was hardly seven years old. The audition for the school play was on. She wanted to be the princess. She rehearsed the lines again and again. She practiced. She spoke well. She was waiting for the results, praying hard to God.

A fair, slim, tall, girl with chiseled features who forgot the lines got selected.

“The princess should be beautiful. We will make her work hard and learn the lines.” Said the teacher. “That short girl, who recited the lines well , she could be the maid. In fact, another girl from section C also looks like her. Short and chubby. Those two could be the maids. Where did she go?”

The short girl had left….. She did not want to be the maid. She wanted to be the princess.

If only she knew, that it did not matter. She could have still participated and showed her talent…..

At ten

“What happened? This time seems you have played too much in the sun!! You have become so dark! Now stay indoors till you gain back some colour! Otherwise no one will marry you!”

It was a random comment by a random stranger. It should not have mattered. But that is the day she stopped playing volleyball.

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have played.

At thirteen

“Eww! Your face looks so messed-up” said the class bully.

Everybody smiled for the year-book picture. She did not. She had braces. People had started saying she had an attitude. She was not able to make friends. She was arrogant! But she was not!  She was just a girl very conscious of her smile!

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have smiled…

At sixteen

She was a big girl now! She could now wear a proper suit with a dupatta. Short kurtas were in. She had selected her own style and got her suit stitched. She was all dressed up to visit the puja pandal.

“How do I look Maa!”

“Short! In Jeans, you don’t look so short. Wear heels!”

Few minutes later, the mother came back to check on her. The suit was wrapped and thrown in one corner. She was lying with her head down.

“What happened. We have to leave in 10 minutes!”

“I am having a stomach ache!”

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone…

At nineteen

Rohit really likes you. Yesterday also he was trying to invite you to his party after class.”

“Why would the most good-looking guy in college be interested in ME!!”

The next day she saw Rohit talking to the prettiest girl in college.

He is probably not interested in me. He just invited me because my friends are invited. She convinced herself and skipped the party.

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone….

At twenty-five

The team was planning a trip to Europe. She wanted to go. But she hardly had any friends. She would feel lonely. She would not fit in. There were all shopping. She did not want to buy so many clothes. Nothing would fit her well anyway. She would not look good in the pictures which they upload every few minutes. She decided to stay.

If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone.

She is 33 now. She has finally become comfortable with herself. She does not care how she looks. She does not care what people say. She does not care who wants to be with her who does not. She does what SHE wants to do. She is living her life…But can she go back in time? She could have been so much more, in school, in college, at work, in her relationships, in her social circles!

Had she taken part in the play, her performance would have impressed so many. She would have participated in so many more…

Had she smiled more in the pictures, she could have probably appeared friendlier. She would have made so many friends…

She could have gone to the pandal. You don’t have to be tall to go to places…

She could have attended Rohit’s party. If only she had given him a chance, maybe he would have got to know what a caring, sensible person she was…

She could have travelled the world. And she could have conquered it!

The little things we say to people about their looks in their childhood and teenage years, scars them. It affects their self-esteem, and confidence. It weakens their growth. It prevents them from attaining their full potential. It stops them from becoming someone.

Before we tell someone, they are dark, short, fat, thin, tall, remember it is not kind, it is not necessary and it may not even be true. Even if it is true, we have no business making a shallow remark. Nobody’s appearance is our business. And if someone is growing fat, we are not doing them a favour by letting them know so they can reduce weight! We can keep the concern to ourselves!

I have a nine-year-old niece. My sister recently told me that she along with other parents from school take their kids to a pediatrician who counsels them on the kids’ diet and nutrition. This Delhi based doctor addresses the 9-13 year old girls who put on weight as “Auntyji” so that they lose weight.

I also remember a time,  when I was in school and I was leaving my house with my dad. I met a neighbor who greeted me as “Are badi kali ho gayi hai tu!” No hi, no hello, no how are you, what are you doing, simply kali ho gayi hai tu!!

We have such moronic people in our country. We may ignore them. But it will still hurt the child. Let us ask them to not make such remarks. Tell them it does not matter and that you would not like your child to hear such things. It is okay to say that. It is okay to react for the sake of your child.

If they are so keen to tell the “truth” you could too!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

You Don’t Make Money!!Chalo, Dil Behel Jata Hai!

“So, you get paid for writing blogs?”

“No,” I tried to respond with a polite smile.

“But bloggers get ads, no.”

“I don’t have advertisements on my blog. In fact, I have to pay for the hosting space and domain name.”

“Oh! So, it is just a hobby!”

“I have a full-time job. So yes. But not really. It is more of a passion.”

“Oh! Even I have a full-time job. But I am also into real estate broking. I make as much money through it as my job. Thankfully, my hobby pays! Some people have useless hobbies. My wife, she likes to apply mehendi designs for her friends during karwachauth, weddings etc. She does it for free!! I choose my hobbies wisely.” He said with a wink.

This arrogant gentleman undermined my work in seconds by referring to it as a “useless hobby”. I don’t blame him because for some people everything is measured in terms of money.

It reminds me of another conversation I had online with two of my blogger friends . One is a brilliant dancer and writer, who conducts dancing classes for children. A gentleman told her that she does “good time-pass”.  Another blogger friend writes wonderful articles on diverse topics. Someone told her, “Good, now that the kids are off from home, at least you have something to do!”

I am not angry. I know it is not a big deal. I just feel sorry for people who do not understand that something non-materialistic can also give happiness.

If money could give happiness, so many rich people would not be depressed.  I know a lot of creative people who do not make much money out of their pursuits be it – writing, dancing, painting, singing, acting, photography or even gardening, baking, nail art, mehendi design, make-up, cooking etc. But they still do it. With their heart. Because it feeds their soul. It provides meaning to their lives – something beyond jobs, money, things, and relationships.

So, Mr. Materialistic Moron, before you disregard my hobby or your wife’s hobby as “useless”, please  get out and meet more people. Learn more about human behavior, psychology and spirituality. Understand why people do the things they do. Maybe it gives them happiness, something money cannot buy.

My writing is what keeps me sane on days when I feel I will fall into pieces.

The little interactions that I have with my readers through likes, comments and shares is sometimes so much more comforting that my conversations with people I meet.

My writing has made me a better human being, because I try  to put myself in the characters I write about.

You my ignorant friend, have not even learnt to respect people.

 

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