Tag Archives: women’s safety

The Hell In Our Mind

The Hell In Our Mind
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Did you look at her ****? Asked my classmate.
We were in college. I felt blood rushing to my ears. What if my mother or father heard this? I thought.
“No, I didn’t. Why?” and there followed unnecessary volumes of gyaan.
This girl from a rich business class minority in India was one of the most meritorious in our college. She was also supposed to be very beautiful, and (now that my classmates had too much talk about it, I couldn’t ignore), also had a nice figure. There were fan clubs after her. Some were also jealous of me as she often talked to me and my friend Shafi after the college. She had a heart more beautiful than her smile!
Everything changed one day. She had a bad accident. Without helmet, she suffered many injuries to her face and had multiple fractures. She recovered well, but had a totally scarred face, a twisted arm and a limp as remaining deficit.
Like magic, all the fans disappeared. Her worth as a female in their eyes was suddenly reduced, thanks to her exterior. The attention shifted elsewhere.
Once, while walking back after college under a wet evening, she asked me “Do you think I am beautiful? Answer the truth, what you feel”.
Just as I paused for a second for the right words to say “Yes” without sounding artificial, she added : “Say no. Because I hate the word ‘beautiful’ now”.
From books to scriptures, from Hollywood to Bollywood, from cultures to parents, men and women have insisted that the only woman worthy of being a woman, the only woman worthy of living a life full of love, attention and praise is the beautiful, young woman with a great body who can bear children. Women who are not physically endowed, who cannot bear children or compensate for it by different methods, who are not earning for the family are considered equivalent of ‘useless’ in our so called civilised world. Rarely do marital ads desire “Honest, Truthful and Caring” people, we know what they all demand.
Where do others go, those who are not physically attractive? How do they accommodate to men or even women drooling over physically attractive bodies?
A lot of Zen taught me: “Everyone is beautiful but still think they are not”. 
But it did not answer why the humans evolved to love only the exterior. By no means that is any sign of intelligent evolution. A beautiful young lady gets a lift faster, a phenomenon amplified in movies, with her showing off more skin to stop traffic. Aren’t we missing the obvious?
Recently, in my OPD.
“Doctor, I am not considered to be alive. My being is useless. I have stopped eating now. Suicide is my only relief” she said, amidst unending sobs. “This world is made only for useful women, I am supposed to be useless”.
Very intelligent. Elegantly dressed, sharp in her grasp of the situation. Well behaved.
Last week she had had a blackout.
Her examination being normal, I had asked her carefully if she had any stress. The answer came out in the form of an ocean of tears as she choked, she still wanted to defend the secret that hurt her.
After a cup of water, she made up her mind. “Doctor, please never tell anyone, that I told this to you. I cannot have children. The doctors who treat for fertility are trying their best. There are issues on both sides, but my husband does not want to talk about it to his parents. They presume it is all my fault. Although my hubby is well educated, his parents are quite orthodox. It is four years since marriage, and now I have become the target in my own home. When my husband is out, I am left to bear innumerable taunts.. I tried telling my mother in law in confidence, but she declined to believe that her son had any fault. Now they want me to leave, but they cannot openly say so. Where will I go now?”
“My husband talks to me now as if I am some unwanted burden. He just snaps or shouts and prefers to stay away from me even when at home. We have a purely mechanical relationship now, where I serve as his robot. I never imagined such a loveless life”. She paused till another bout of humiliating thoughts were swallowed. “I was working when I married. I quit my job in anticipation of pregnancy. Now he says I should not join till I have at least one child. Work will increase stress, the doctor says it may affect my becoming pregnant”.
“You need to meet a counsellor together” I advised her.
“We did. My husband refused to see her again. My in laws use many bad words from different socio-religious contexts, so humiliating! My self esteem is all gone. Is a woman useless if she can’t have a child, Doctor? Do I become a lesser human if I don’t become a mother? I desperately want to have a child, I had so many dreams of motherhood, I am suffering this myself, but now I feel like an orphan with no one in the whole universe”.
I reassured her and sent her to a fertility specialist who was also an excellent counsellor herself.
With so many excellent facilities and experts now available for assisting fertility, treating infertility and aiding child bearing in every possible way, India is at the forefront in this field. Add to this the cheapest treatments compared to the developed world, and best trained doctors. Still, there are cases where couples cannot have children. All the blame is automatically placed upon the woman. Leave aside the inability to have children, the woman suffers “denial of human being” status with this fault of nature.
There are so many laws against discrimination. Yet, one of the worst open discrimination in the world is against people who are physically unattractive, especially women, more so if they cannot have children. The change has to start from within each of us. How we think, what we say and how we behave must all change to eliminate this discrimination, worse than racism, because it comes from one’s own!
Yo mama cannot be ugly, hence no other woman can be.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

New Indian Culture?

New Indian Culture?
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

This boy in coffee shop made the regular tray: coffee and a paper napkin and served it on the counter to the youngish man in thirties. The customer asked for more napkins. The coffee-shop-boy gave him two more.

The shop was full, with ladies and kids, mostly visitors to the hospital.

“Tere ghar se derra kya too (Are you giving these from your home)?” shouted the bulky customer. “Lafda karneka kya tereko (Do you want a fight)?… Ek baar bola toh chupchap dus deneka (Told once, you must give me 10)… Meri marzi (it’s my wish).. I am coming here since before you were born.. Shut up and know who you are.. Saale do kaudi ka waiter (you’re just a cheap two penny waiter)”.

The whole silent coffee shop observed, sipped their coffees and ate their food.

The senior worker intervened “Let it be.. take as many tissues as you want.. He is new..” etc.
Turning around, this coffee shop boy from a faraway town wiped his eyes, not only of humiliation, but of the control he had to muster to prevent anger getting the better of him.

This family in a Small car stopped at the busy signal, in the rush hour. The elderly man in his sixties driving the car had his wife besides him and two ladies, probably his daughters, and two small kids in the back. As the signal turned green, the bike in front of their car started and suddenly braked. The screeching car just touched the bike, albeit slowly, the bike didn’t even sway. Embarrassed and half-smiling, the elderly man at the steering opened the window, said “Sorry, galati se hua..laga kya (sorry, it was by mistake.. are you hurt)?”..

The two men, probably just out of “Gym” for they had a typical posture (and also probably drunk), parked the bike in the middle of the road, opened the car door, held him by the shirt-collar, and started thrashing the elderly. One hit the man, now folding hands and begging pardon, with his shoes. They simultaneously called upon the traffic police to act upon this car driver who ‘hit their bike from behind’. The horror of the ladies and kids inside the car was multiplied, and anger peaked, when the cop asked license to the elderly first.

The elderly man’s terrified wife got down, argued that there was no damage, it was a small mistake, and the car driver had already apologized.. All this while, one of the bikers kept holding the shirt collar of the elderly man, jerking him and occasionally slapping him.

The traffic cop assured those two bikers that he will “Take Care of this uncle”, and requested the biker duo to leave. With further foul obscenities, they left.

The traffic cop returned the license to the car driver.
“They are a local politician’s kins.. not good people to fight with.. you are lucky that I was here.. Just let go and leave the area before they return”.

These are routine, daily, everywhere instances. Both above are true. We have no current solution to the extremely ill-behaved “body-builder” and “long-haired” types who go around exercising their “Manliness and Muscle” upon all and sundry, especially the labour and the “working middle” class. They do not care if there are women or children around. They are extremely eager for a “Lafda / Rada (fight)”, searching for the right target to establish their local supremacy. They walk in the middle of the road, looking into the eyes of oncoming traffic, then looking the other way, deliberately slowing their walking speed. They won’t budge from the crucial entrances / turns / stairs to give way to other people passing by. They will indecently peep into cars with women and girls, they will speak dirty aimed at passing women, and await a chance for anyone to argue with them, just to prove their might.

Even the Indian film hero has changed to adapt to this new breed. Now they are everywhere.

One can’t do anything to help when these things happen.
Leave aside the fact that they are mostly protected by the very people trusted by public to run the show. May be physico-financial strength rather than ideologies have become the prime necessities of most political parties. But the fact remains that this causes irreversible, severe mental trauma upon the kids, upon the person who suffers such abuse.

I am sure neither the coffee boy nor the car driver uncle will have slept peacefully for many days after that. I felt the cutting pain of this boy living alone far from his family to earn his bread, there was no call for anyone to insult him like that. I am tortured by the thought of what those grandchildren must have felt about the whole thing, and how their grandpa will face them now onwards. I am sure these things make permanent scars upon one’s mind.

We in India are evolving in many spheres, financial and others. But unless our “behavior and mentality” changes as a society, all other evolutions are meaningless, nay, dangerous.

When Darwin meant survival of the fittest, I am sure he didn’t imagine this Indian species namely “Privileged Goons”. If this is all the fitness required to survive in India, God help us!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande