I wouldn’t have written this if it were not for those newspaper ads on the Mother’s Day. From apparel manufacturer to jewelry designers, everyone is keen on ‘celebrating motherhood’, or so their words suggested. Don’t shoot me for being a cynic, but the hullabaloo doesn’t fit into the present social fabric. It seemed that mothers have got only one day in a year to themselves. They have just a single date to lead life their way, have their say on literally anything and get everything they couldn’t get the other 364 days.
In a country such as India, which happens to be the ‘Motherland’ of some 1.2 billion folks, women have been covering much space in social discourse since forever. Every god fearing Indian dreads the awe of Feminine power as mentioned in our ancient texts and religious parchments. Every marital joke is centered on dictatorial wives seeking only the best in their husbands. Indian film industry has penchant for portraying viragoes and quarrelsome monster-in-laws.
But, real women in ‘hard times’ are light years away from myth and reel. They don’t really find themselves on the altar of power and dominance. Forget dominance, which is hateful hegemony in the eyes of some, basic rights of Indian women are being minced into crumbs and distributed among the lusty landlords of Indian law and order. For every Mary Kom you see in India, there are hundreds of Irom Sharmilas. India may be quick to recognize women’s triumphs but proves to be a laggard when it comes to empowering them with ideas and initiatives.
Indian media turns euphoric at every title Saina/ Sania wins, when girls surpass boys in competitive exams, and when Indian origin American woman is called good looking by Obama himself. This ‘attempt’ at showing women on the same pedestal as men actually betrays a sense that perhaps it is still a falsity. There’s always this sense of being ‘other’ in the way their milestones are morphed into articles, stories and interviews. The questions asked to the women achievers reflect the “how-did-you-dare-to-do” curiosity.
And then there is selective empathy. The same doctor who refuses to operate an ailing woman for few pennies less gets into ‘concerned’ mode when her mother complains of heavy breathing. How did India master this art of being selectively concerned? You may buy apparels for your mom on that dedicated day but don’t think of offering your seat to a woman who desperately needs it. The latter costs nothing. My armchair ire is not directed against any particular section of people, because hot-headed arrogance is all-pervading. Like Derozio, I just narrated to my fellow countrymen, “the sad story of thy misery!”