March 28, 2011

The Real Skin

I have been seeing true-blue feminists worldwide go out in the open against Delhi, which is soon transforming into the rape capital of India. Or it already is, as you read this, may be a woman is at the moment being molested or gang raped.

And I have been hearing women protest, scream, report and take action against this behaviour. I have been hearing that it is not right that women ask for it. It is not true that we want the lecherous male attention undressing us mentally everywhere we go, regardless of what we wear.

I have been thinking just one thing all this while - the lessons I have learnt as I grew up about what's under the visible feminine skin that may point to why these things are happening to you, women. And yes, you are right when you say you do not ask for it. It is true that Delhi needs a shift in attitude, the male mind needs to be educated to respect the new freedoms we women enjoy. All of it is true.

But enforcing this empowerment by wearing anything you want to, isn't exactly the solution or even an outcry. No, this is not a social message. This is not a psychological unravelling of our sexual needs and loves and hates. This is about dressing up your mind, woman, over and above dressing up your body.

Remind yourself, repeatedly, how precious you are. How important you are. How you are the focal point, the pivot on which this universe turns. Have no fear, because fear draws events to you like gravity draws objects downwards. If you are going to fear it, it's going to come spinning at you.

So look men and women in the eye, be bold, be loud, never have an inkling of a doubt that you are safe, you are being watched over, you are powerful, you are woman, you have every right and privilege to live the life you want to and be who you want to, and may you dress in what you like, be it a salwar-kameez or an A-line skirt, be it sheer or opaque cotton or whatever.

But do not become who you are not in the process. Flaunt who you truly are to yourself, not to the world, for your beauty is for privileged eyes and for yourself. Put it not to test for people who do not deserve to set eyes on you. Be real, do the things you want to do, but do not become what you are not so you can prove some point.

I have a friend who proudly flaunts her Burqha - I am special, she says, I feel protected and privileged that nobody can see me unless I want them to. The real me.

I have a friend that flaunts her backless numbers and Gothic dressing sense. I am armed, she says, with sprays and the right phone numbers and a Swiss knife that is very handy in kitchens and on roads. I know self-defense and I would like to see a man make a pass at me.

These women have never been molested or raped. They may have been teased or commented upon but their reactions are the same. Ignoring. Because they are not worthy of attention. Each is true to who she is, each wears their natural, comfortable second-skin. Because under these skins, each is so rooted in her real skin.

So, above everything, remember, if you know that you can walk through a lonely alleyway in the middle of the night and stay safe, you will stay safe. This way or that. For doubt is lethal and plants the seed of fear into your heart, where it may grow big and strong enough to strangle you. Like attracts like - it's not chemistry; it's reality. Protect yourself. Always.

March 25, 2011

New Leaves

The leaves have fallen and will be replaced soon by greener ones. Newer ones. Fresher ones. If it's the end of autumn for you too, doing these things will add to how much you believe in getting a new bark :)

- Get a new hair cut. A style you have never done before. It will make you bounce on your feet.

- Rearrange the furniture in your house. It can really add perspective.

- Clean out your shoe cabinet.

- Stack clothes in your wardrobe in order of apparel type: skirts, denims, tees, Indian and so on.

- Give yourself a pedicure. Yes men, y'all too.

- Send a pizza to your friend in another city. It's possible yes, they now do online orders for India.

- Gift a vada pav to a child that's begging. Or a Dabeli. Or a burger. Whatever you can afford. Watch that little face light up with the innocence it really is supposed to live.

- If you don't follow / watch cricket, do. Try just one match. And something seriously wild, like India-Pak or India-Aus.

- Smell a flower.

- Hug a tree, tell it you care. Mean it.

- Tickle a baby.

- Go for a heritage walk.

- Read old chats - it gives you seriously new perspective on how much you have changed and how far you have come.

- Sit alone in a restaurant, order your favourite ice-cream and lick the bowl clean - you would be surprised if I told you how many of us, with company, crave doing that but cannot.

- Go for a movie alone. You will learn a lot more than if you went with a friend.

- Order something you have never eaten or tried before in a restaurant.

- Leave a large tip.

- Bake a cake.

- Plant a plant. Name it.

- Write a poem. Even if you have never written one before.

- Stay happy - when all the things you are not die away, then you realise that there is no death.

March 10, 2011

The Now

I was once walking by a promenade. Which was, as happens in every fairytale, flanked by green trees swaying madly and raining leaves on me.

It was perfect you know. The breeze, the sounds of the birds, the whooshing of the wind in my ears, the way a dog scampered away across the walk, the cycle that went by, the playground, then empty and brown with matches long played and lost and won.

There was no thought of what had gone by. There was no anxiety at what would be coming. There was this one thought-less, stretched out minute of bizarre happiness.

It felt beautiful. I wanted to record the time. i wanted to etch it in my mind. I had to remember this long minute when I had been in perfect harmony with the world and myself. I asked the banyan tree I was passing, "What time is it?"

It looked amused. "Time?! Why, its Now! It's always the Now!"

And so it always is.And its still happening.