Monday, March 02, 2009

A Letter To Shivani

Wish I were a woman. I've been blogging for more than three years now, and none of my posts, even when featured on Desi Pundit, managed to attract more than 20 comments. But Shivani makes a guest appearance on my blog and I get 24 comments in just over 24 hours.

Thanks Shivani, do come more often. This time, you merely said that you see your inner self every time you stand naked in front of the mirror. Next time, maybe you can describe what exactly you see in the mirror. Not for my benefit: I've see you naked a million times, and you've seen me too, so no big deal. It's just that I want to see your descriptive powers. You've told your story well, but if you had described things with a little more clarity, maybe many of the commentators would not have admonished you -- asking you to get a life and all that. Clarity, my dear, clarity.

I know what you go through every single day. You belong to the population which is happy and yet not happy. I can relate to it because I too belong to that population. In fact, everybody belongs to that population. On the face of it, a millionaire who has breakfast at the Taj and then proceeds to play golf with his buddies before flying off to Mumbai or Delhi for lunch might seem to be the happiest person on earth. He has everything at his disposal that a human being can ever ask for. But ask him and he will tell you how worried he is all the time -- either about not losing his millions or how to make them grow into billions.

Your story is no different, Shivani. On the face of it, you have everything that a woman can aspire for -- a good husband who takes care of you, two kids who make you run around but still light up your day, you have a car and a driver at your disposal to take you where ever you want to, and I know for a fact that you recently placed an order for a Louis Vuitton handbag. Many women must be jealous of you, but I know for a fact that you are not happy. And that's because you've lost this precious thing called yourself. If you lose a diamond pendant, there can always be a replacement, but when you lose yourself, it often takes decades to find that self. By then you are a grandmother, and your job is to make the best rasam or mango pickle in the world.

What surprised me was that the men and women who admonished you -- a woman who is barely 40 -- actually compared you to their own mothers. The typical mother, the Nirupa Roy-type, who only makes sacrifices all her life. They hardly saw you as the present-day woman who might be feeling suffocated in the luxuries that life has to offer. If you go by most of the comments your post has attracted, you should be grateful to God for being provided with several square meals in a day and a bathtub to soak in (and also a mirror to admire yourself). Typical Indian mentality, I must say. A man, no matter how happily married, can fuck around and still get away with it, but a woman, if happily married, must mortgage her happiness to her husband and be grateful to him for having given her the good life.

Most people, surprisingly, have not spared a thought about the turmoil you must be going through. You never really wanted to marry the man you are married to, did you? You married him only because you wanted to be an obedient girl. If you had run away then, maybe with another man, the same set of people would have called you a slut. But you were a dutiful daughter, so you married the man they chose for you. And once you married the man, you became a dutiful wife. Once you had kids, you became a dutiful mother. But I know there are times when you wonder, "Why does the woman have to be dutiful all the time?"

That's how the world is, Shivani. That's how it is to women. Learn to live with it.

12 comments:

The Naked Mind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Naked Mind said...

Being a woman, i'm desperately trying to see her point of view, but honestly, I can't.. And i'm sticking to what I said earlier. I still believe that we are what we choose to be. And if i do see her, i would probably give her a hug and tell her that life's not so bad after all. It's what we choose in life that makes it so hard..

hems said...

I read Shivani's story, understood what she's going through (even though my life's in no way similar but very easily could have been or still could be!!), and decided not to comment. Why?
Perhaps there is too much to say and yet too little ... and for whose benefit anyway? ... maybe Shivani cares about the comments, and maybe not!! (hopefully not...)
Now I read BG's letter to Shivani (kinda voyeuristic na?) and I understand where he comes from. But the last line where he goes "Learn to live with it" is something I disagree with completely.
I would say 'Learn to LIVE' and leave it there ... either you get it or you don't ...

colourmewhite said...

If it were the 1970s I would've agreed with Hems above...learn to live. That was when women's liberation was at the helm and with a lot of promise. And a lot of hope. Now at 2009 now we all know the truth. There is no liberation for the woman.

Tell me why...tell me why do we need women to become martyrs before we consider them liberated? Why must Angelena Jolie grieve for her lost son or why must a kate winslet have to play a guard with a harrowing life at a nazi concentration camp for them to be nominated for the oscars? Werent we (as women) better off when Kath Hepburn waltzed her way through to the oscars portraying characters who ranged from being very ordinary,like most of us are to glitzy and glamorously entertaining, like most of us like to be?

I'll tell you why...liberation was just an idea. And it died. Like my neon lit comode.

Some of us are still dwell right in the centre of the state of denial though. Thats why we have glossy magazines telling women what to wear at the beach this summer and what coloured champagne to pop at their weddings, which clutch to hold and with what dress, what to do in bed to keep your man and how to avoid the mascara from forming a goop. These just tell the truth. A simple camoflaged truth: "These, my dear women are the only sources of content, fulfillment and happiness thou shalt ever hope to receive".

I am a 28 year old woman. I have had the opportunity to experiment with life. Now I am married. I have a family that has always believed in 'exploring'. My father pours me a drink at our monthly family gatherings, my husband shares a smoke with me, I am experimenting vocationally now and the only pressure to perfom is from inside of me. But I dont consider myself liberated when my sisters are still languishing in prisons. Their prisons of birth.

Anonymous said...

so vary true :-)
Shivani - a character from your beige covered book??

Anonymous said...

Smart!!! Very smart!!! Previous post was eclectic and the defense is more so. Swift would have appreciated! May not agree with all your povs ( specially, the one dealing with 'serious' and popular movies ) but you defnitely have a POV and the way you express it-rocks! Rock on!

hems said...

I don't say I fully understand all that colourmewhite said... or that I agreed with all that I understood... but I'm glad to meet her - here!!
As for me, liberation is not just an idea... it's something I strive for every single day ... and I believe its not just women who need to strive for it... I also firmly believe that the 70s did a lot for us as women - some good, some bad ... and I'm grateful for it ...
I know we have a long way to go - as women, as humans, as a community, as a whole ... and as long as we keep making those small achievements towards that goal (while not getting fazed by the huge roadblocks we face constantly...), I have hope ...

"To remember the woman I was --
with understanding.
To strive for the woman I will become --
with anticipation
To accept the woman I am --
with pride."
Sensei Bobbi Snyder

Anonymous said...

Could be shivani wanted someone/everyone to read between her lines...

colourmewhite said...

:) Right back at you HEMS...on all of the three things:
glad at meeting you :)
am still not sure i understand what i said :)
am not sure i agree with most of it either :)

Its just that i wish that everyday living and liberation were synonymous. It could be i am told. I am still figuring it all out. I am also wishing hard for an asexual world where gender would be just as incidental as it would be insignificant. And no, the wouldnt miss out on sex. We probably might be having more of it. For there is nothing as alluring than the undefined is there? What we'd be missing is perhaps the power struggle and the abuse we hurl at eachother. (And some of us actually think we think we are making a point indulging in the battle for supremacy!)

Meanwhile, all i can wish for is a lotta peace and a lotta understanding for all of us. And an occasional bowl of vada sambar.

colourmewhite said...

"And no, the wouldnt miss out on sex".*

Missed out the "world" there :)

I just hope I dont in the larger sense.

janani said...

Like actress Salma Hayek puts it-"A woman has to have the best job, best looks, best husband and the best of everything. Mediocrity is the biggest sin for a woman."

Anubhuti said...

You know it's quite funny how so many women jump to say that the woman of today is different, it's not the 70s & all that, read some of the comments. The reality is most of the womwn, whatever the reason might be, chose to be like this. I say chose because it's actully choosing, today they can very well choose not to do that. But living with the consequences is not as easy as leaving it all. Also after all everyone, even Shivanis of the world need peace and stability, well most of them. That is may be the reason along with conditioning that women are the ones who can bring up kids and home & their careers are never as importnat. And then as u say, they bake & cook and shop and look for happiness all their lives or fool themselves that they are happy.