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Women are taught for long by ‘men’ gendered society, the rules and codes of conduct a woman should follow in life. It has been decoded rigidly from the religious norms which had always been framed for men dominated society. There have been innumerous instances where women are denied the human rights. Recent incidents reveal the contradictory approach by the male chauvinist society denying the human rights of women.
In July 2017, Husna C., a student of Teacher Training College, Jamia Nadwiya, Malappuram decided not to continue her studies as the college management did not allow her to wear purdah. On 18th July, famous cricketer Irfan Pathan was attacked by hundreds in social media for posting a selfie with his wife.
The management of Jamia Nadwiya run by Kerala Nadavathul Mujahideen claims that students are expected to wear saree three days a week. Jamia Nadwiya is run by Kerala Nadavathul Mujahideen. As Husna is not comfortable to wear anything other than purdah outside as it is contrary to her beliefs, she requested to consider her submission to spare her from the uniform saree.
The authorities at Jamia Nadwiyya insisted on the dress code in the institution. “It cannot be relaxed for one individual. We have pre-school to BEd colleges under the trust and each institution has a particular uniform,” says assistant registrar of Jamia Nadwiyya, Adil Atheef.
“We told the girl that if she is so particular in wearing purdah, she can join the Arabic College where the uniform is purdah,” said Adil.
Irfan Pathan’s selfie with his wife Safa Baig on facebook was a normal one like any other couples photo. What prompted these ‘religious orthodoxy’ is the visibility of Safa’s hands, face and nail polish. According to them Muslim woman is not expected to expose her hands and face and also not supposed to put nail polish; Also, they argue, putting photo of a woman publicly is not allowed in Islam!
In these two instances, men dictate women how to dress. In a democratic country like India, an adult have the whole freedom to chose her life. If the viewers are allowed to dictate the suitability of a dress, then no one can wear comfortably anything anywhere anytime. It is not about freedom to wear according to personal likes; it is definitely about right to choose. The contradictory incidents mentioned above happen simultaneously in the same society. In both cases it is others trying to dictate what adults need to wear.
Uniforms are introduced in order to make all students feel equal in front of each other as schools have students from different economic levels. In school level where students are not able to distinguish things it is understandable but it is not applicable in colleges. The students of Teacher Training Colleges are not children; they are the adults who are aware about the existing social and economic diversities in the society. Whether Safa know how to wear or not and the choice of Purdah by Hasna is immaterial in front of the men dominance attitudes. They dictate rules. We saw the same attitude when moralists shouted on Priyanka Chopra for wearing a skirt in front of Prime Minister of India.
Respecting someone’s private space is part of progressiveness and civilization. Who can decide a suitable dress code for an occasion other than the person itself? Why someone need to fear that women are not capable of deciding suitable dress? The justifications like dressing of women attracts rapists etc are hollow inside. ‘Don’t teach women how to wear, ask your sons to respect woman’. This is applicable to all irrespective of their religion and other identities.
picture courtesy – India times
Unlike other days, the sun had gone too early to its bed. The dark clouds massed above seemed in a snit to rain. Clouds in the mid-summer sound strange, but in the running year everything happening around was not more than a nightmare; Hindus were killing Muslims and Muslims were being beheaded by Hindus. Nobody was Muslim or Hindu with their religions left behind only in holy Kuraan and Bhagavad Gita. She was still seated behind the window. It was her daily routine, with the dawning of the day she would reach to the window and would place her eyes on the filthy street till the sleep didn’t make her eyelids too heavy to be carried their weight anymore. She had been waiting for her father for more than a year. Some said he had been killed by Hindus. Some said he had already left for Pakistan. But nobody knew where Pakistan was. It was merely an imagination, a vampire, which was sucking blood from the bodies of people daily. If Muslims were Pakistan then Pakistan was scattered over whole India, like peas in her favourite biryani. She hated Pakistan, the one which snatched her Abu, Ammi, Bhaijaan and Aapa. She had seen her Bhaijaan and Ammi, being swallowed by the flames, on the very street, she was gazing at. Her watery eyes kept searching for her Ammi and Bhaijaan in the months’ old blood clots scattered over there. Her fate was sealed but when her aapa went missing she had gone mad. After two months, the dead body of her aapa was found floating over the waters of Hooghly.
And as at last Pakistan had abducted her Abu too, so she wanted to make Pakistan appear in criminal court. But where was Pakistan?
“Abujaan, Where is Pakistan?” She had asked a day.
“In Jahanum, Heena Jaanu,” Her Abu would reply. From that very day, she had grown grudge towards Pakistan. She knew his Abu could live in the hell, but never would die in fictitious Pakistan.
Nevertheless, it was a busy street but today like every other street in India, the only silence seemed to murmur there. Whole India had come to a halt. Everybody was stuck to the radio, transistor, and wireless set. Today the loudspeakers placed above the dome of the nearby mosque hadn’t babbled the Azaan. People had crowded over there to listen to the fate of their dreamland Pakistan. From Travancore to Peshawar, Karachi to Shillong, Islamabad to Chittagong India seemed merely just an ear, listening to its fate with intense concentration.
Viceroy Mountbatten, Nehru, Jinnah and Baldev Singh, came one after other on the radio. She too could hear their voice, coming from the mosque. And when loudspeakers got silenced, it was too late. Pakistan, for the first time after the Lahore resolution of Muslim League, 23rd March 1940, had got the assent of all four. But still, she was waiting if Gandhi ji would appear over the dome of mosque and would say, the very previous minute whatever was announced was wrong. But there was no Bappu. She averted her gaze towards the doors of her house. She was in tears as she knew what it meant, the Pakistan. Seventeen years of age is enough to understand what a country means. No?
“Pakistan Zindabad,” written over there, provoked an outburst of anger inside her. The green flag, with crescent moon and star, flapping in the breeze added to her fury.
“Pakistan Zindabad…Pakistan Zindabad,”
“Pakistan Mubarak ho,”
“Naare-e-Takbir….Allah Ho Akbar,” chants replaced all India radio’s voice. The sounds of crackers were not enough to show their happiness. A crowd of hundreds of Muslims trampled the silence of street. They were returning from the mosque, carrying the joy of Pakistan with them; finally, difficult birth of Pakistan had been announced. She closed her window and reached to aangaan.
“Taijaan, I want to wait for my Abbu. I won’t go to Pakistan,” She said. Seated on ground, her Taijaan was searching for stones in the rice filled tray. Before her Taijaan could reply, her Taujaan entered into doors.
“Pakistan Mubarak ho Begaam,” He greeted with a smile. She being disappointed returned to her room.
“Heena is not willing to come with us,” she listened to her Taijaan. Both, her Taijaan and Taujaan were discussing fictitious Pakistan and she was crying lying in her bed. She knew she had been left to die by her Abu.
“Hindus are sure to get violent now. It is risky to live here. Dacca is sure to be part of Pakistan. Why not move to Heena’s Khala? We would settle there afterwards?”
“And what about Heena?”
“What Heena? Does she wish to be raped here by Hindus? She must have to come with us,” Her Taujaan blazed with anger. Listening to her Taujaan she went numb. She wished if she could commit suicide but she was still left with some hope that her Abu was sure to return. She wished if she could avoid Pakistan anyhow. But how helpless she was?
Anyways, a month passed but her Abu didn’t return. Her locality had turned to a graveyard. Houses of the locality were getting vacant day by day. Most of the Muslims of her locality had already marched towards fictitious Pakistan. And today a horse cart halted at her doors. Yes, she too was supposed to leave today with her Taujaan
Her Taujaan had already sold the property to a local Hindu.
“Heena,” Her Taujaan screamed. He loaded the cart with another box.
“Heena,” she kept screaming.
Finally, her Taijaan and she appeared in Burkhah. Behind her burkhah she was giving her best to hide her tears. She sat on the cart next to her Taijaan.
“Move,” her Taujaan ordered the driver. And their cart left. Slowly and slowly Heena had been getting unconscious. The poison she ate had started its work. She saw the mosque, the banyan tree, her Madrasa, street dogs, Salim’s house everything passing before her eyes in a blur. She was dying.
“Khuda Hafiz,” it was all she could murmur
The strapless rubber slipper was simply floating carelessly above the lake; also becoming the object that captivated my leisure time whilst I sat near the drenched lake, my legs dipped inside the cool fresh monsoon water which nourished this parched lake after four months of scorching heat.
I was hanging out with my friends near the lakeside, well rather saying, taking candid selfies in the pleasant climate when you passed us unnoticing me and my friends who were stunned and blown away by your amazing charm. You were seated behind the girl on the scooter who was a junior to me in my high school, and you were dressed in a peach colored loose t-shirt and ripped jeans, incessantly admiring the natural habitat and enjoying the pleasant weather which contrived of the cool misty breeze and the dark heavy clouds swelled up with water, planning to nurture us anytime with its might. My friends, who by now had dug up your history and your bio-data, were trying hard to search you on the social world, attempting to befriend you before you left.
I didn’t send you a request on the social media, neither did I try to ogle you from far away, but this evening something really struck me. I don’t know why, but you weren’t getting out of my head. I wasn’t like the rest, who would love talking to strangers on phone, or posing for photos like a celebrity, constantly updating their profile pictures, boasting about the number likes and shares they get along with the false appraisals written in the comments…. No I was different. I had always loved to make new friends, not because you were someone new in my small town, but because there was something really special about you. So somewhere in my mind, had I, decided this evening to meet you personally.
I knew my friends were complete assholes, and wouldn’t allow me to meet you alone, so the only possible way was if your Vespa had a breakdown or if the Poseidon listened to me. I peered at you earnestly, sitting far away alone with your hands crossed, your protract black hair brushing against the cool gentle breeze, deeply engrossed in your own thoughts on one of the grey colored stone rock, exploring yourself as to who you were in this vast universe, passionately relishing the beauty of the lake, while your group alike mine, were engaged in their photo shoots.
My friend Aayush, who was trying to lit a cigarette to look a stud, saw me staring at you, who came and sat beside and apprised me serenely, “Bro, don’t even try, she is completely out of your league, daughter of a filthy rich Pune based businessman and studies English at Cambridge.” My heart sank, not because you were richer and more qualified than me but because, my heart, for the first time had skipped a beat after seeing someone.
“Anyways, her name is Ahana, first cousin of Riya and is here for the weekend, #quiten_Aahu if you want her on instagram,” Aayush said perceiving the disappointment on my face.
The next, I looked at my friends who were still stuck on their screens discovering some new faces with fake smiles and happiness while I kept counting the number of bounces my stone made which I threw in water.
As the gloomy dusk befell upon us, we all got up to leave. I looked one last time towards you and discerned that your group too was gearing up to leave. I intentionally let my friends ride ahead of me while I kept pace with your group, stealthily capturing glances of you from my sideglass. I obviously, had crushes before you but never had the guts to express myself, but today someone inside me was burning to get out and unconsciously it had transformed me into a stalker.
I took it as a sign from Venus (Love God) when the squall started, luckily forcing you and Riya to stop and refuge underneath one of the apartments. While my friends enjoyed the downpour and rode off, I thanked my gods and garnered confidence to come near you with some nervousness still clinging onto me, excitability surging high up my belly making me falter and numb at the same time. When I stopped near you, my brain captured the most beautiful sight my eyes ever saw, the untied hair with your brown enchanting eyes and a black mole near your lower lip was simply charming. But nothing stunned me more than your chin, yes… Your chin, you had a cleft chin which was adorably the cutest thing about you.
“Hey, you must be Riya, right?” I acted.
“Hey, Nikhil, How are you?” Riya replied.
“Am good, just cursing my friends who left me alone,” I lied.
“They are all morons to ride in this stormy rain, I know just trying to show off.”
“You, I think are the one sensible among them to wait here.” Riya tried to flirt with me.
I smiled involuntarily, not expressing my desire how I yearned to bath in the rains while riding my Activa. I somehow smilingly, accepted the fact that goes on something like this, ‘To want something, you need to lose something.’
“Oh, I forgot to introduce you to my cousin, Ahana.” Riya spoke up realizing she was with someone.
A ray of electric shock passed through me when I greeted hands with you.
The rain had transformed itself into a drizzle when I had just taken the initiative to talk to you. Seeing everybody get into their routine again gave me a bad feeling about seeing you leave. I needed to do something; it was need of the hour, but sadly nothing, which could make us closer originated in my mind.
I didn’t pray to any of the gods this time, but luckily Riya’s scooter didn’t start. Even after knowing nothing was wrong, just a few kicks would make it start, I pretended that there was some malfunction in scooter.
“I have my tuitions in twenty minutes. I need to leave now.” Riya said.
“I think I will have to call my dad.” Riya said wanting to make me do something.
“Wait… Don’t upset your parents. I have a plan; you take my scooter right now. There is a garage nearby, Ahana and I will show your scooter there and then I will drop it at your place. You can call afterwards and I will pick my moped from your place.” I said not making her realize how I made you stay with me.
I was truly surprised how you also didn’t object staying with me. Anyways, happiness erupted through me when I handed my keys to Riya and she left off. We both started walking towards the main road with me manually handling the scooter, while you walked in silence.
This awkward silence that prevailed between us lasted for more than five minutes which wasn’t uncool, although I wanted to know so much about you. None of us took the initiative to speak up, which also exhibited how both of us were shy in our own hemispheres. It rather turned out that through silence, I think, I got to know more about you.
Just as I was about to open my mouth, you spoke up asking me what I studied. It didn’t take me much time to open up and tell her how I hated studies and my teachers, and how nobody taught us properly the subject I loved the most. Also, I didn’t comprehend how the subject slowly shifted to the character and types of girls and boys of my school, which was the most interesting and enjoying talk between us.
As we reached the garage, I once again falsified that the scooter wasn’t starting. Just a small choke made its engines toil and the worker laughed at me for being so illiterate about vehicles.
You seated behind me comfortably as I enjoyed the best ride of my life taking the longest route possible to Riya’s house. I asked you about your life in Cambridge and immediately you responded how you reveled there, but in spite of living the life how the world sees it as an enjoyable merrier life, you revealed to me how you drew pleasure from the natural and the pure abode of this world and also how you longed to come to India and get enraptured in its heavenly nature. Just like this evening when you were relishing the ambience of the lake and felt one with nature, you stated how you don’t get time for these things there. You opened up to me like I was your long-lost friend, your voice being the most appealing thing my ears ever encountered which also enjoyed every bit of it. You also mentioned how comfortable and contended you felt when someone like me who had similar leisure activities get in touch with you.
Well, nothing but the refreshing essence of the climate and you with me was the best thing that had ever happened to me. It is truly miraculous how two people when they discover that they aren’t the lone ones on the planet who have similar fancy desires stumble across each other and pour out their hearts towards each other, yet, still remain contended even after knowing they both might not be able to meet each other again. Yes, leaving you at your doorstep and not exchanging numbers was not a stupid thing as this is how we both were. We knew that mere chatting and friend-zoning each other was not the-our-kind of thing. We all pass through this stage of our life, but that isn’t the only stage to live on, yet I got a wholesome memory of you imprinted on my heart.
There is beauty in pain
I was told
when the clothes I stained
with an impure red
found their way from the bottom of the laundry basket
into my mother’s hands
you’ll understand someday
why women are stronger
even though we stay quiet
and seem weak
that day I resolved
to be loud and strong
the winds that carvedme
took time to build
they carved and eroded hollow in a way I understood
many years later
when the blood wouldn’t stop flowing
in dark, wet places
my hair wouldn’t stop growing in public spaces
didn’t those follicles understand
that their kind of genes
weren’t allowed to loiter
in unseemly ways
I wanted to be loud
but the introvert inside
refused to convert
it hid behind books and words and listening to the sounds
and stories of others
because that was home
and I felt alone with people around
I wanted to be strong
but it wasn’t long before arm wrestling
became less enjoyable
because I always lost
it’s good only, the women reminded me,
that you’re thin
if you gain weight
who’ll marry you then
and in that moment
the only thing I wanted
was to be fat.
was what I did,
I ate until my gut rebelled
and then I ate some more
but the bones shone through thin skin
and the blood flew shamelessly
onto odour absorbing napkins
that claimed to be sanitary
I wasn’t loud, I wasn’t strong
I was hairy and my periods were long and I hated it all
I hated the idea that my blood, the song that sang red so boldly
something so inherently me
could be wrong
and there came a day
when the idea of a noble pain
started to seem insane
when the idea that I had to be loud
why was quiet disallowed
if I liked to listen instead of talk
if I refused to run through life and walked instead
the colour red didn’t seem so wrong anymore
the song that bounced around my bones
was my song
assuring me that my womanhood
there was nothing good in the pain
because the dictionary defines pain
as physical suffering
and I don’t enjoy suffering
but the pain is just a footnote
in my ability to produce life
there is so much more
that the red echoes have to offer
my body is more than protruding bones
and quiet strength
with a width that spans the rooting branches of a banyan tree
and a length that touches the first rays of sunrise
I have fire in my eyes
and power in my legs
and a mind that tries to live like clouds
a place where shapes shift and form
where everything is allowed
and nothing is forbidden
the colour red is not meant to be hidden
in the oomph of lipstick or the beauty of a bindi
in a leaking vagina or the pattern of a rangoli
in the sonnet of a sunset or the quiet strength of a fire
in the richness of an oil painting or the cheesiness of a valentine
the colour red is as much yours as it is mine
more than seduction
more than desire, more than a vessel of reproduction
a reminder of the time
we heard that there is beauty in pain
and it occurred to us that that kind of insane
is the kind of crazy
we didn’t want to be.
Unsuccessful, is a pain
First step to success, is the gain
Broken heart, is a pain
Makes you to move on, is the gain
Giving birth is a mother’s pain
Start of a new life, is the gain
Separated from friends, is a pain
Makes strong staying alone, is the gain
Not everyone’s dream come true, is a pain
Still we don’t stop dreaming a new dream, is the gain
Fight with the loved ones, is a pain
But love between them doubles, is the gain
It take a lot of courage to survive during your pain
Since if there is pain there is gain
Ups and downs are repeated again and again
And that’s why without pain there is no gain
Here’s my brother, Tom
He’s sometimes a bomb
He loves to drink milk
He gulps it like silk
He is very sweet
His love is always neat
His intentions are clean
He is sharp and keen
He plays with me long
However wrangles with me strong
Hover over the bed
He falls tedded
He watches Tom ’n Jerry
Hold the remote in merry
Holt, he is to Granny
He prevents her viewing ‘Rani Maharani*’
He is my sweet little boy
His naughtiness I enjoy
His absence makes me gloomy
He will come back and I feel bloomy
Misty the eve was,
As you walked into the room,
They called you snowy wind,
But I called you friend.
Misted thy hands were,
As you touched my hands,
They called you rains,
But I called you lust.
Minted your taste was,
As you kissed my lips,
They called you down pour,
But I called you love.
We stood together,
Beside the lanes of emptiness,
Immersed and Involved,
Alas, you disappeared
Waving a bye to me.
But I remained there,
Waiting for you to return,
You made arrivals,
Invisibly and emotionally.
Unknown I stood there,
Waiting for you to return
They said you came,
But I said, never.
Slowly I saw you,
Embracing me in all delight,
I felt you within me,
And I woke up.
It was a dream!!
The rainy afternoon trance,
O’ Rains, Pour on,
As I fall into thy arms!!
(A short, contemplative piece about a journey within.)
My eyes look
Searching for something.
The utter emptiness.
I try to hold on to
All that remains is
As I tread
To hold on to the slipping sand …
… Searching for myself.
The first and only female to win the prestigious Fields medal dies at the age of 40. The Iranian mathematician was honored the top most award in mathematics in the year 2014 by the International Congress of Mathematicians for her contributions to the field of geometry and dynamical systems. Maryam Mirzakhani died of breast cancer at a hospital in United States. Her works are seen with great importance in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces like spheres, doughnut, and even amoebas.
“A light was turned off today…. far too soon. Breaks my heart.” Former NASA scientist Firouz Naderi tweeted.“A genious? Yes. But also a daughter, a mother and a wife” he tweeted later.
From 2004-2008 Mirzakhani worked as assistant professor at Princeton University, since 2008 she worked as a faculty at Stanford University, she continued to work there till her death. She is survived by her husband and daughter.
Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans- Evo Morale
World’s numero uno polluter, the great America has just pulled out of the all important environmental commitment proposed to be signed by almost all countries of the world. This is just an epitome of utmost arrogance of capitalism. What one can expect from the corporate business man, Donald Trump than this. It is an irony that the latest threat to our Mother Earth happening around the time we observe the World Environment Day, which falls on 5th June every year.
No commitment is too much and no action is too late, the only thing is it is urgent, urgent, and urgent. Things have to be done sooner in a sustained way and it has to be a life style ever after. Because we have one earth, one life and there are natural laws and principles which must not be broken to have a lasting earth and lasting life.
There are good signs around the corner: the failure of the LPG (Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization) formula which has helped crony capitalism to exploit the world and to encourage a meager 1% of billionaires owning almost 50% of the world’s wealth is naked and visible in front of the ordinary man. Sooner than later there will be revolutions around the world against mass production, exploitation of natural resources by corporate, consumerism and finally the wealth will be redistributed in some formula. We hope in the new world order the earth will have its own rights and its own say.
Sandhya SN & JT Jayasingh
Chief Editors, Indian Ruminations