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Yet another March 8th, in a day’s time. 2012 this time. Time to start wishing women one knows “Happy” Women’s Day. Time to preen and pride oneself on being the fairer/weaker/stronger/gentler sex. One whole day, and few days leading up to it, and a few days after, one ponders, and I use that word with the full weight it comes with, on what women do/want/mean/emote and how they survive/ exist/live/manage, most of the time awing/ inspiring/ demeaning (here I mean others who look down upon her ) other womanly traits, other women, and , but of course, Men. Capital Letter “M”, for the “proper” persons they are. Hmmmphfrrrrr !
This year, I choose to simply admire and comment on what I know, not think. Of women, of men, of humanity. The usual yada yada on why is it only on this day you talk / write / speak/ express argument, notwithstanding (phew whatta word ), I still choose to write.
I remember reading on Leenuka Reddy’s FB update a couple of months ago,
“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
~Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx.
It struck me then, each time I had a “down” day, only I could choose to make it better. And it became a sort of mantra “I not Events” I’d chant to myself. So onward to what I meant to write about (As usual, I’m digressing. Sigh. I can never be prosaic, that is for sure- giveme a Haiku to compose, and I’ll do it, but prose? Dear me!)
I know for a fact that this world has so many feminists, and I don’t mean women, who shriek violently piling curses on all men, because they are men. Nopes. I mean feminists who are women and men, for they are humane and sensitive, and open minded and culturally zombies, because they are so accepting of any and every human. For all the goodness they have within. For all the love shared, openly. For the respect given to each other, for who they are , not who they want others to be. For Acceptance. For Forbearance. For the Charity of their thoughts. And most of all for the Courage to show their true feelings, and wear their hearts on their sleeves. Practically all the women bloggers who come by here, I know for a fact are one And as for the men, I must mention Hitchy, Tito, and from comments that have touched me deeply on others’ posts, Bikram, GeeVee, Kislay, and ever so many many more. A feminist is humane. Just that. And no, one cannot be defined as humane, if one wants to “control” “judge” and “restrict” a particular sex because of tradition and convention. Bad idea, old idea, not my idea of humane. And therefore, by association, not my idea of a feminist.
I recently attended a book release function, where a cousin, Krishnakumari, Senior Sub-editor, Deshabhimani, in Thrissur, was releasing her book, in Malayalam, “Samarapaathayile Pennperuma” published by a Collective for Gender Justice called SAMATHA, a group of 29 women. (The title refers to the wonderful women who have been involved in rising against authority and against injustice, in society, not just of the Leftist Movement, but in general) Two of the invitees were persons she had interviewed. The entire book contained bio sketches of women who had undertaken such rebellions, revolts, strikes and mutinies against social injustice, successfully or otherwise. The proceeds of the book were to go to helping one of the women written about, whose name is Ittyaannum, (In The Hindu, dated 7 March 2012, read about her!)an illiterate common labourer, now elderly, 80+, to help build her house. She shared her experiences of being brutalized by the police who were hell bent on suppressing the revolt of the Left/proletariat workers on the farms, and paddy fields in Kerala. A simple woman, with the deep sense of injustice happening, and how she took it up, with no help from her husband or male relatives. The other invitee was Devaki Nilayangode, a woman of “higher” caste who also stepped out of domesticity to participate in the movements for justice in History (His story… there was much discussion on the chauvinism in the subject nomenclature too ) The book is in Malayalam, and it will take me a long time to finish it, being a slow reader in that language; but read it I will, and hopefully complete it soon enough. A positive this year, for Women’s Day.
This year I also want to remember and acknowledge someone I see daily, who I look up to, endlessly, for the sheer strength of her resolve and her determination to see that life works out, especially for her children. I write of Chandrika, my help at home, and how she has surmounted odds, against fate, an unhelpful family and husband, and society, to walk on, proud of having got both her kids to college, with one of them about to graduate as a Medical Lab. Technician, and the younger one as a Commerce Grad. She continues to make me feel that nothing can ever but ever get you down. Nothing. There is always a way, and it is always UP. I’d shared a bit about her on our other group blog, “No Gender Inequality” which is on hold at this moment
I think too, of the everyday hassles women have to face, and how they cheerfully, and without rancour go about their daily work, be it as an SAHM, a sweeper on the street, an executive in a Corporate Sector, a college student, a school girl, a teacher, a woman. Just that. Women, unfortunately, have that inbuilt mechanism to take it all. Sigh. If only we did not have such a high threshold of tolerance I sometimes feel. My take, that is all. And while men too may have all these attributes, they face less than a fraction of a percentage of the trouble women go through. Undoubtedly so, in mainstream life, in India, anyways. So, a salute to the ordinary Indian woman, for being able to survive a single day, each day. And to all the men who do help out. Salutes to you all too. Among them my brothers and Dad as well. And my sons And my two nephews They know better than to be otherwise Thanks to Mom and me And my wonderful and lovely sisters in law !
The other day, we had this discussion, among some of our colleagues, on how girls these days are probably the ones who are making all the trouble! How they Dress! And how they talk and touch the boys! And someone said, you see it’s the clothes. Perfect opportunity for me to get on my soapbox I spoke. Or rather ranted. And I also said, the only reason why it is happening, the violence, is that women no longer keep quiet. That, I feel is the one main reason. If we kept quiet and “listened” perhaps there would be less trouble? Maybe. And then again, Maybe not. What we needed was to be more accepting. Let go the deadweight of things said to be/ thought of as “proper”/”not right” for girls. Why only girls? Sigh. And we teachers can make that difference. I tend to get on the soapbox in class, when I get a chance, because of some prompt in a lesson, and egg on a discussion !
And yes, I want to dwell too, on a prayer for all of us, The Serenity Prayer, which has helped me many a time, and I hope will help anyone who faces a paucity of courage, who needs wisdom, and has to make the choice of who to be, and what to do.
May God grant me the Serenity
To Accept the things I cannot change
The Courage to change the things I can
And the Wisdom to know the difference!
I hope each day that dawns will bring home to each of us, the need to be more humane and accepting in our lives. Live, and let live Break down in-built prejudices and open our hearts and minds I hope women can walk in the land Tagore once beseeched the Lord to grant:
“Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into
The dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action
*In that Heaven of Freedom, …”
I hope we all can meet.
6 March, 2012
Edited to add:
Related post on a Feminism tag.
Also, the reference to Ittyennam… Ittennam… the 80+ lady whose biography has been included in the book I have spoken of up there, has been featured in The Hindu, Kochi edition.
Unable to get a copy of the e-paper to share here, but will do so, once I get it!
Got it! Sharing Thank you Sneha