Category: Musings


So, you believe you are a liability?

I always thought that I was born in a liberated generation. The generation where it didn’t matter that I was a girl. I could study what I could, be what I wanted to be and do as I wish. It seems to be working well for a pretty long time, till I started working. That is when I first felt the real bias kick in. Not at my work place though. I worked at Times Now for over a year, where you did all sorts of shifts irrespective of your gender. Whether you were a girl or a boy, you still worked for a minimum of 12 hours every day. To be fair- when I did my first night shift I felt extremely liberated. I was in a very weird way proud of myself and of how hard I was working.

Then came the looks, followed by the questions.

Random person 1: Do you work at a call centre?

Me: No, I am a journalist.

Random person 2: So late? Why?

Me: (In my head I am abusing you) Yes. Long work hours

Random person 3: You don’t get weekends off? You have night shifts? I wouldn’t let my daughter do such a job.

Me: (In my head I’m thinking that if your daughter thinks getting my job is so easy, well then it is great that you won’t let her do it because reality would be too brutal for her) Well, this is what I want to do. I studied for this.

Random people continued saying random things honestly. But, what agitated me were questions like, ‘What would you do in future if you continue to have such timings?’. Well random person, it is fine you are asking me this question. Honestly, I too was struggling with establishing a work-life balance. What I had a problem with was that the same questions were not directed at men my age with similar timings. They could work long hours, but my timings were clearly giving you headaches?

Now my news feed seems to be full of wedding pictures. Some love marriages, some are arranged ones. I have nothing against either. Recently I attended the wedding reception of a school classmate, only to be told later that he had taken dowry. The question that reverberated in my head was, ‘What was the whole point of all our education anyway then?’ Male bashing would be easy to do, but more than that I am stunned at the girls. Remember, I believed we were of the liberated generation.

Most of the girls around my age, who I know, are very well educated. Then why are you Miss B Tech/M Tech/MBA/BDS agreeing to this arrangement? If not the dowry, then the common trend in many South Indian families is that the girl’s family will load her with jewelry and bear all the wedding expenses and some more. To my utter surprise, I don’t see anyone putting their foot down and willing to go against it. Women, what part of our free liberal education every taught us that we are liabilities? Why should your family bear all the expenses? Do you think despite being educated, despite holding down a successful job, despite your all achievements and despite the wonderful woman you have grown up to be, you really bring nothing to the table?

I always saw weddings as a direct indicator of where the girl stands in the community. I come from a community where dowry is very common, so is my disgust with every man who takes dowry. I find it very difficult not to snigger at a well educated man who has stooped so low as to put a price tag on himself. However, woman, you out there, I did not think despite all that you claimed to stand for, you would give in without a fight.

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Murder and some gossip

I was at work when I read the news package. A woman in her 30’s had been killed and her body chopped by her boyfriend. At 4 am in the morning, groggy eyed me had only one reaction to the story-Oh another murder story by a reporter in Mumbai. Half a year in the newsroom and all sensitivity was out of the window.

When I read the woman’s name I was sure I will get to know about her from my mom. The woman was a Shetty too and I was sure she would turn out to be either an acquaintance or some kind of a distant relative.

 

I wasn’t wrong. She was known to a lot of those I knew. Over the next few days I was privy to a lot of discussions about the murder because the man who killed her was also known to a few I knew. So I heard everyone give an opinion about the two individuals and discuss the love affair that had gone horribly wrong ending with the gruesome murder. I heard how he was a nice guy and she was pestering him to get married. I heard, ‘She must have fought with him or else he would never have been provoked this way’. ‘It was a moment of madness that led to this incident, otherwise he was a really nice man.’ I heard several versions of how he was a nice man and though the act was wrong it was a one-off incident. Some spoke about how with this one act he had jeopardized his entire life now.

To me all these conversations just hit home the point of how biased our society was. That a woman was chopped to death seemed to have been forgotten to easily. I even heard, ‘Fine he killed her, but why chop her to death?’ So murder was fine but the gruesome nature seemed to be the ‘only’ issue.

In college just at the beginning of this year I did my dissertation on matrilineal societies. My community, the Bunt community, is also a matrilineal one. A century ago that would have meant that only women had the right to inherit property and one’s lineage grew through daughters and not sons. Today with both sons and daughters being equal in the eyes of law, girls get no distinct advantage.

When it was time for my viva I was at a loss to explain my stand on my dissertation to my professor. I had come to the conclusion that my community was no different from any other in India. They were as biased if not more. There was dowry, there was the inherent bias against women, only the statistics did not back it up. Dowry deaths happen more in north India than south. Literacy rates are higher in the southern states for women. If I could go back in time, I would use this one practical incident to demonstrate how sometimes our past has no bearings on the attitudes we evolve. How sometimes no matter how high you claim to hold your women, the way you react to certain events says it all.

She was murdered. He was a murderer. To me the facts were plain and clear. It was a clear case of a wrong being done. Did it matter if she was stubborn or hot-headed? She was murdered. Period.

Screwed Nuts N Bolts

"An idle engineer's mind leads to a screwed up blog."- Anonymous