Rally Around Cleopatra

“I hope we can bestir ourselves to rally around an emergency/militant reconstruction of a secular democracy consecrated to the equality of each and every living one of us”

I spent 8th of March venting spleen at work for the first half and trying my hand at grocery shopping for the second half of the day. Anyhow the connotation of something so incredibly publicized and commercial as Woman’s day escapes me completely. I promised self to avoid any clammy/long/incoherent rambling on the blog about it. I was almost successful in my endeavor till yesterday. After a stretched-to-seams day, I was on way back home till a bike with two wiry men started to follow me. 10:30 p.m. is a crowded time on most Bombay streets and so this didn’t incite much frenzy in my mind. Slowly the randomness of the act dissipated and it started to enact infront me like a well-planned skit . They criss crossed in front of my cab and tried to pull other assorted stunts till I asked the cabbie to stop. I was either going to get even or get hurt. That, of course, didn’t happen as they disappeared the moment my vehicle halted. I was livid. At the city, with the citizens and with almost everyone around. I shouldn’t
have waited at work so long, I should have taken the car, I should have asked a friend to drop me back. Plethora of emotions streamed through my exploding head. I suddenly realized that my grouse was directed towards me and not towards the actual offenders. Why was I angry with myself? I had done no wrong. I didn’t deserve my own wrath. I deserved corrective action and after some much deserved cups of java and an hour spent drawing parallels between June Jordan’s essays and the current situation of street violence against women I decided to write.
Why don’t we talk about this often? Why don’t we hold the people who are responsible for our condition at task? Why is this still a matter so often condscended as frivolous and not worth a decisive legislation?
We need to realize our shared power. The power of almost 50% of the population coming together and taking a stance.The power to look beyond significant others and the ugly generalization of being referred to as the fairer sex. The progression from a state of self imposed stoicism to voiced dissent.. The powerful expression of collective voices against one perfectly destroyable mindset. The climate of oppression changes the same morning when you decide to wake up and do something about it. Till we talk about “Them” and “they”, the status quo will retain its serpentine grip and will always gnaw at our core, making us feel just a tad guilty about having breasts or bleeding at regular intervals. Its unfortunate that all great demarcations of nature- species, race or sex are restricted by their respective physical condition /design. It’s unfortunate that we can put people on moon, expand scientific horizons, stretch imaginations and reality with nano technology and yet every girl has to still live with the possibility of an assault as long as she lived. It’s not acceptable for you to whistle and laugh when I pass through the corridors. It’s not ok for you to assume that if you get a tiny glimpse of my midriff I am inviting to you my bedroom. It’s not appropriate to crack gratuitous sex jokes during a board meeting just because there are 10 cronies supporting your depraved sense of humor. I am not a criminal with restricted visiting hours pounding at my psyche like a scelpter. I should be able to come back from work at 10:30 in the night without that terrible trepidation of something untoward happening to me banging at my single mother’s chest like a heavy hammer. I will not tolerate you so much as passing a dirty grin my way, henceforth. Words or Actions, crudity of any sort is not tolerable.
The episode that stands out in my mind occurred 5years ago, ironically, post a Seminar on feminism at Sophiya’s Audi in Bombay. While climbing the never-ending flight of stairs that led to my apartment I felt a shadow snake across the cordon of an unattached iron grill lining the stairs. Before my half sleepy mind could place what was going on at that instance, two pairs of dark hands had grabbed me from behind and fraction of a second later I stood there numb and violated. My mind was defunct at that moment. I could not proceed  homewards nor did I go after the perpetrator. I stood there, a voiceless effigy. And then it struck me, I had to go after him. I dropped my bags and ran out. Blood was rushing to my head with such severity that I knew I would kill him if I found him. And then I did, find him not kill him. For the first time in my life I realized that violence on an emotion that resonated within me more than any other. I beat him up so bad that he was unrecognizable. Then I went home and cried, I hated what I had done or rather was forced to do. I felt like I was living in a savage tribe not a civilized city.
I still do. During my brisk morning walks or during my casual strolling across the beach the moment I see a man approach me I feel the slow burning rage flare its nostrils like a quiescent beast suddenly unchained. My fingers fold into a tight feast awaiting and almost anticipating something, anything, to happen. Every time I have been involved in any incident of street harassment it has inadvertently ended at a police station or hospital. I hate living with that anticipation of something that may or may not happen but more often than not seems like it will. The fears of a whistle, or a degrading comment morphing into a sadistic assault. The line is so blurred, its almost undetectable. I am redefining the line. I guess I am the line and you don’t cross me. Not this time.


~ by iconoplastic on March 10, 2006.

4 Responses to “Rally Around Cleopatra”

  1. Despite our philosphical differences, hats off to you for writing something so brilliant and hard hitting. The issue needed some perspective and am glad you dared to talk about it. Props for June Jordan too 🙂

  2. …wow. Thank you.

  3. sad state of affairs.

  4. damn, that was an outburst, hope it relieved u….u r stronger than u know.
    daffodils in bloom(wordsworth)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: