#MeToo

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I tried writing this blog from the POV of a sexual predator but I gave up after a few attempts. I couldn’t get myself to think like an entitled imbecile who throws himself at women and believes that their gratitude for this attention should be paid by servility and sexual compliance.

This grey zone of sexual harassment is a judgmental space. It’s a zone of judgement and opinions. Men and women both get summarily dismissed by colleagues and observers for the ways they behaved or failed to behave at work.  From allowing a hand on the thigh to drinking with a male colleague to being someone’s favourite at work to consistently dipping into the office pool to hone their marksmanship… the list is nuanced and long. The enforced bonding on projects and long hours at work have made the workplace a hotbed (pun intended) of potential exploitation in this desire for power and possession.

However, what constitutes sexual harassment? In my considered opinion, it is anything that involves :

  • Stalking
  • Preying
  • Luring
  • Baiting
  • Using aggression, blackmail, power, promise of retribution, fear, undermining someone’s spirit … All for sexual dominance.

So, to clarify …. Gentlemen predators,

  • If you believe that you own the women who work for you or with you …
  • If you believe that women are basically dumb props and have made themselves available because they stepped out of their home to earn a living
  • If you believe that women exist for your pleasure
  • If you believe that women cannot achieve their goals without your proprietorial hand on their ass
  • If you believe that your female colleagues need sex education
  • If you believe that you are populating your personal harem while employing young, fresh ’talent’ then …

You are about to have your mask ripped off. And the world will see you for the self-entitled oaf you are. Because your Time is Up and you had it coming.

This applies to predators across the board, irrespective of gender or their leaning. 

The Unexpected

When life happens without warning … it sort of jolts you in to thinking about so many fundamentals. Bodies that we take for granted, people that we assume will always be there for us, health that will continue to keep us going in our ‘important’ assignments … inevitably, these realities change.

You decide. What is so important that if it disappears … you will be bereft/incomplete/inconsolable? You decide. And then focus on savouring it. Before it disappears … like every transient thing in this world. Including you.

Dear Akshaybhai,

Such a hullabaloo about me! Didn’t really expect it. I’ve been so used to being hidden, spoken of in hushed whispers, hurriedly passed from one hand to the other, tucked away under a shirt or in the pocket … god forbid someone sees me and puts two and two together.

And now suddenly, every one is flashing me around, taking selfies with me, openly flaunting me … men and women alike! Being waved around like a victory flag is so confusing. I mean. Aamir Khan was brandishing me a while ago! This sudden celebrityhood is very heady.

Hopefully, I will not get eclipsed a28595975086054a29f9da29ef58a273

once all this naach gaana is over.

In the meantime, thank you for bringing me out of the closet. For setting me free.

The ‘period’ic friend and companion,

The sanitary napkin fondly called ‘Pad’

Time travel

I was sitting at a coffee shop waiting for a friend. I had enough time to observe the people around me. I noticed a couple sitting in the extreme corner. The guy was clearly uncomfortable because the girl was sobbing and he seemed torn between wanting to reassure her and hoping that the people around wouldn’t hold him responsible for her tears. All of a sudden, while the guy seemed to be earnestly saying something, she threw the mug across the floor and ran out of the cafe. He appeared stunned. No, he did not get up and run after her. He placed his head in his hands and stayed that way while the waiter went across and cleared the mess. Soon enough, he got up and left for the exit without meeting anyone’s eye. Since this is real life and i’m not involved in this character’s story … i guess it will remain incomplete. It will come back to me from time to time in different ways … sometimes the boy’s expression, sometimes the girl getting up and flinging the cup across the floor with disappointment writ large on her face, sometimes the turning of several heads as they register the disturbance and look around, sometimes the defeated look on the boy’s face as he walked out the door … sometimes in slow motion and sometimes in sharp cuts.

Isn’t that what happens to our memories too? Over a period of time the interpretation is sweeter or not depending on how we want to see that moment.9d75c9ad3cd5dec88faa9f8ff1c5b0ba

The images don’t really alter but the way the light falls on them, the way the expressions remain, the selective bits we remember or those that we discard … decide how we look back on our past. Time is a great healer. It is also a great concealer.

To Love or Not to Love,

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Bright curious eyes. Expectant. Childlike. Alight with dreams.

Reality. Insidious, unpredictable, dramatic, inexplicable.

Two parallel lines of dreams and reality rarely ever destined to meet.

Simi was forced to accept reality. To swallow the bitter pill. To learn anew the walkway between illusion and fact. To question her dreams. To doubt her gut.

She learnt that love can be a lie that trips smoothly off a tongue. That promises are made to be broken. That avowals of love can be made to more than one. That love can be a string of beautiful beads. That the string can snap in two and the beads scatter across the floor in different directions to never come together in the same magical way they once had. That love can mock. That love can be a facade. That hate can be love. That causing pain can be love. That love can hurt. That feeling is illogical. That, sometimes, you just don’t have the stomach for it. Or the heart for it. Because you dread the emptiness it may leave behind. That love can be a one way street. That words are not love. That retaliation can be love. That love cannot be hidden. That love can let you down. That you can let love down. That love makes you vulnerable and powerless.

Simi’s eyes remain bright. Curious. Expectant. Hopeful. But there is a wariness now. Doubt.

Till love comes along again. Wearing a different costume.

And she holds on fast for the ride but this time, she keeps her eyes open.

 

A conversation between God and Sudhir

Sudhir prayed everyday. Many a times it would be a quick, cursory recognition of God’s existence. At other times it would be an elaborate, indulgent ritual leaving Sudhir with a sense of satisfaction, benevolence and appreciation of a job well done.

One day, God asked him … “Why do you pray?” Sudhir found himself at a loss for words. God changed tack. “Do you bathe everyday?” “Yes,” said Sudhir. “What would happen if you were to skip bathing one day?” “Discomfort,” he replied. “One week?” “I’d feel dirty.” “A month?” “I’d stink and everyone would shun me.” “A year?” “My wife and child would leave me and I’d probably develop some awful skin diseases, feel like I was rotting and begin hating myself.”

God said to him, “When you clean yourself on the outside religiously, don’t you think you need to do the same on the inside? To look in, to inspect, to heal, to realise, to become aware, to atone, to make amends, to forgive yourself, to make peace … so that the lining of ignorance doesn’t continue to collect and form a hard shell. So that a time doesn’t come when you have a moment to pause and say ‘hello’ to yourself and you fail to recognise the person you see before you?

That’s why you pray, or whatever you choose to call it. You bow to the God within you.”

Dear Sexual Predator,

You stealthy, hungry, compulsive groper, you! ‘Kaate nahi katati yeh din yeh raat, jab tak nahin rakhta hoon tum pe haath…’

Running empires, having the world at your beck and call but unable to control your primal impulse. How does that make you feel?

When you reach out to grope someone’s ass or push someone into a corner using your position of authority, does it make you feel good?

Does it make you feel good to enter a party knowing that a room full of people dislike you for having ‘submitted’ but haven’t found the courage to kick you where it hurts, yet?

 

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Does it make you feel good to know that men and women alike talk about you in hushed whispers and no … it’s not about your sexual prowess.

When you fall from grace and people call you out for the creep you are … does that still make you feel good?

This ripple effect thing has really got the ‘house of cards’ in a free fall and its fascinating to watch the wide variety of so called respected leaders and influencers (as of now, the entertainment industry in LA plus one ex-president of the USA) being stripped naked. As more and more people realise that it’s safe to speak up, that their voices will not be dismissed with a chuckle, that they will not be made to feel smaller than they already do … the ripple effect will continue outwards … it may even infect the Indian sub-continent with this rampant virus of ‘Baja bajaana’.

Eventually, you may end up feeling not so good … but then you have it coming. You ‘asked’ for it and as is the norm … what goes around …. eventually, comes around.

Adios Amigo,

Contemptuously,

Mother of the woman who had the courage to stand up and speak before the world. Judgement be damned.