None Like A Mother….

“Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach hard lessons, to do right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong”

So what does my daughter see when sees a ‘Mom’….Find out more on my article written for Women’s Web at http://www.womensweb.in/2016/04/mothers-day-ferns-n-petals/

I Haven’t Told You But I Have Noticed….

I haven’t told you,
But I noticed….
To find my mojo, anew
How you persisted…
You stood by my side…
Insisting I decide…
You pushed me through the door,
Fly solo you said, go explore…
I notice your efforts umpteen…
To make me know my greens!
For the dreams that I care,
I’ve seen you say a silent prayer….
When my eyes threaten,
To spill that tiny little tear…
I have noticed how you despair…
At times I whine and brood,
You cook and clean…just to lift my mood…
Yes, I have noticed…but haven’t told you
I can see the weak protests that you do….
But then you go and splurge…
My little whims you do indulge…
For my triumphs and each new stride,
I’ve seen you swell up with pride….
I haven’t told; but I noticed your eyes twinkle,
Your face light up in smile…
I haven’t told you but I gloat and soar…
And I notice your passion and ardour…
O honey! You definitely are
My knight in shining armour…!!

Prank That Sealed Our Love

There is a popular saying among the men in armed forces the ‘faujis‘…. “We work hard, we party harder”. What the others might not be aware of is that these men in uniform are big pranksters too!

One such prank not only showed me the lighter side of my husband but also reiterated that he meant the world to me.

Married to an Indian Air Force Officer, I was welcomed in ‘fauji style‘ into the folds of unit posted in Srinagar in 1999. Kargil war was fresh in my ‘civilian’ mind. The terrorist activity was also at a high in Kashmir Valley…. Jhelum flowed with her waters red..

The day I landed in Jammu as a new bride, there had been a fresh attack on the military base in Srinagar and there was a high alert. Men in olive-green army fatigues armed to their teeth could be seen keeping eye on every nook and corner. Deserted roads and closed shopping areas all were reeling under a pall of gloom. The tense atmosphere had already registered in my mind…and I was quite visibly disturbed.

After an overnight stay at the army transit camp, we flew to Srinagar. We were received by two officers who were the part of a prank that awaited me in the Air Force Station. Those two officers appeared very sad and quiet. Later in the evening one of them arrived at the door of the room we were putting up in…The prank was taking up its form. What I did not know was that my dear husband was also a party to the larger prank…!!

We were informed about a terrorist attack and that all hands on deck needed to report back to duty. Aby, my husband played along and psyched me further. He went away leaving me fretting in the room of Officer’s Mess. Late night I sat at the residence of Commanding Officer of the unit still worried. And then one officer walked in ….heavily bandaged, blood on his clothes, dishevelled, limping…. He told us that due to a landmine blast all in the vehicle were seriously injured particularly Aby and he was fighting for his life in the station medical centre.

I was totally shocked…. The other ladies were also a part of prank but they showed a concern causing me to panic. We all rushed to the hospital where the doctors scared me even more… I saw Aby lying on the table with blood over his chest, hands and eyes. As I sat near him shaking like a leaf, the doctor tampered with the wires of ECG machine. Soon enough the machine started showing a flat line denoting that there was no heartbeat !!

I had totally lost my cool and screamed for the doctor. The doctor did come and played the last cards of the prank. He very seriously informed me that I would have to resuscitate my dying husband by administering a mouth-to-mouth respiration!!

Without giving any thought to the doctor’s suggestion and not wanting to waste a single second, I complied though I had no idea how to administer a mouth-to-mouth respiration. No sooner I bent and my lips touched my husband that everyone broke into claps and Aby woke up from his supposed serious condition laughing….he kissed me back right there with everyone shouting “welcome to the Air Force”

With relief flooding me, I too joined in the laughter. With a loud “I love you” he folded me in his arms sealing our love.

I remember the evening as if it happened yesterday though it has been sixteen years now. We still laugh about the whole episode and he teases me no end.

And that moment of love and laughter and the twinkle in his eyes still tugs at my heart.

“This post is a part of #LoveAndLaughter activity at BlogAdda in association with Caratlane.”

बार बार वही घाव……

बार बार वही घाव,

कभी शब्दों से किया आघात,

लबों को सी कर किये कभी वार…..

Do men really want to treat women as equal……?

These days there is so much hullabaloo about treating women as equals or special…. I did not honestly want to join in this conversation… Why? Because, it is such a farce…. Do men who consider themselves the rule makers and messiah of the society really want to treat women at par? 

Since ages, men have enjoyed the status of ‘Pati-Parameshwar'(Husband is God! Really…???). Did they ever consider it as ‘special treatment’? No Sir! They consider it perfectly normal and their birthright. But the moment you want them to call women their ‘Lakshmi’, ‘Saraswati , ‘Janani’….it is called ‘special treatment’ of women! How many actually even ask their wives before splurging? How many actually send daughters for higher education? How many acknowledge the role their wife plays in bringing up of child?

Men have had, in historical and mythological stories, unquestionable access to multiple partners for sexual gratification inside and outside of institution of marriage….I with whatever little knowledge of mine have not come across women having such freedom! Even ‘Ahilya‘ who was duped by none other than ‘Indra’ himself, into physical intimacy, had to spend ages as stone idol being cursed by ‘husband’ till Lord Rama’s ‘feet‘ touched the idol.  Meanwhile ‘Indra’ till date enjoys the status of ‘God of Gods’…Is that treating women equally? It sure looks like treating men specially!

Today when a woman climbs up the ladder of success, many a times her success is attributed to her physical appearance…. There are women, no doubt, who might have once in a while taken advantage of their sexuality to gain undeserving benefits….but then there are more such men who have indulged in ‘Yes-Sir’ attitude and greased the palms of people to reach higher echelons of their career….. Do they get discussed as often as those women who exploit their gender?

Working women, spend equal hours in office in similar stress situations….but once they are back home it is their problem if the food is not ready, laundry is not done, child’s school work is pending and so on. She comes back home and gets occupied in these house chores…. Honestly, all men please cross your heart and reply…How many have voluntarily assisted their wives in these chores…? Is that treating women equally? If women then demand help from their partners in these chores, why is it called ‘special treatment’? Isn’t it the other way round…aren’t men being treated specially?

Question isn’t whether men know the difference….it is whether they are willing to acknowledge that it is they, all these years, who have enjoyed “Special Treatment”? Question is whether men will now let women have same things which they assume as their rights? Whether they will honour her decisions?

The women, of course wish to have equal basic rights…. who to marry, when to marry, how to dress, what to study, where to spend, when to relax, when and where to work….

And unless the basics are in place…men have no right to gloat that they treat women ‘specially’.

“I’m blogging for the India Today Woman Summit 2015 #WomenPower activity at BlogAdda.”

Related Articles:

https://shomabhagwat.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/7-things-that-define-freedom-for-women-this-independence-day/

https://shomabhagwat.wordpress.com/?s=swayamvara

https://shomabhagwat.wordpress.com/?s=i+am+a+woman

A journey within…

sai baba“Aarti Sai baba, aarti Sainatha……. (Pray to Saint Saibaba…, pray to Lord Sainath).” I sang along with the monotone chant of the priest which resonated through the garbha-griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple of Saibaba at Shirdi.

Shirdi is a small town in Ahmednagar District in state of Maharashtra. Well connected by road and rail it is about 296 km from Mumbai and about 185 km from our city, Pune- a three to three and half hour journey by road if driving by own car. This place is known for the saint Shri Sai Baba, the only saint who is revered by both Hindus and Muslims. His origin is not known but the temple was built around 1922.

I have been visiting the temple as a child with my parents and have seen it grow to its present expanse. I remember the smaller temple of stone, the muddy roads, small shops selling the flower basket for offering in temple, the way-side vendors selling raisins from farms of Nasik, big guavas from Manmad and swarm of scantily dressed beggars pestering for a rupee coin. The temple has expanded to a large complex now with covered area for devotees to stand in a queue before entering the temple. The temple complex is paved and well laid out with water kiosks, donation and sweets’ (prasadam or the blessed food) counters and separate relaxing areas for the devotees.  The shops are bigger, brighter and arranged in a row just outside the temple complex. And the beggars are not to be seen at least near the temple. It is definitely more organised now.

The temple at Shirdi, hosts thousands of devotees everyday throughout the year and though there are covered queue lanes but the number of devotees extend the lane well up to the parking lot. And when the long winding queue finally takes you inside the inner sanctum, you are full of sweat, tired due to the delay, ready to finish off the prayer and move out of the room filled with smoke of incense sticks. The priests also rush you out through the exit without bothering whether your flower basket has been offered on the idol’s feet. And the guard at the exit of inner sanctum forces everybody out shouting loudly in local language Marathi “chala…chala…o, tai…nigha laukar, thambu naka…” (Move…move…O sister! Move fast….Don’t stop!!)

It was August 2002 and we had just received the positive reports of my pregnancy. We were over the moon and I definitely wanted to visit Shirdi Sai Baba temple. On one of the week day we planned the temple visit. It was the monsoon season and weather was pleasant almost every day. The plants and trees all around seemed fresher and had turned a darker shade of emerald-green…. full of life, breathing and soothing the eyes.

Since the journey would take only three hours or so we were not in any particular hurry but still managed to leave home at around seven-thirty with a slight drizzle accompanying us along the route. The road shone black with its dirt all washed clean from the rain. Little puddles came alive as rain drops danced and splashed in them.

We were two young adventurous people, religious just enough to want to visit temple and thank Lord for the wonderful news but not so much as to sing and chant hymns and songs along the way. So, we listened to some catchy music which was in trend then and stopped en-route at the small shack like roadside shops to eat the local junk food, the freshly roasted corn-cob smeared with lemon juice, salt and red chilli powder and the sugary tea brewed then and there on demand. Beyond Ahmednagar, we passed many grape farms where the farmers sold the fresh produce in baskets and small cartons along the roadside. Some little girls dressed in long skirts and blouse also sold ‘gajras’ (flowers strung in thread to adorn hair) of fresh mogra flowers (jasmine).

“O…tai, o mausi…ghya na gajra…..don rupaya la ek… (O sister, o aunty… Please take these floral strings…for two rupees each only)”

I had promptly bought five which was all that she had. The little girl was overjoyed as she had managed to sell all of her merchandise. I still remember her wide grin and curious gaze as I clipped the bunch on my braid.

I had regretted not taking our camera along for this trip because we missed out on so many precious moments… sights that the nature offered and the unadulterated joy of achievement that lit up the faces of simple village folks. Since the devotees are not allowed to take cameras inside the temple precinct so the apprehension of a possible theft of expensive camera from an unattended car in the parking lot ruled our decision of leaving it at home.

I felt quite a satisfaction in making the day of the little villager and with a happy frame of mind we finally reached the temple area. Shirdi was hot as it had not rained there. As we manoeuvred our car into the parking lot, another smaller car with a middle-aged couple and a teenage son, rushed in the parking lot. The occupants were in a hurry it seemed.

The flowers and sweets selling shop vendors always vie for prospective customers at all such temple sites. They yell out the prices of their merchandise to seek attention and almost block the way to steer the customers to their own shop.

“Ya….ya….deva karta phoola ani prasad ghya…taji phoola…shevanti, jhendu, mogra,belpatra….changlya khavya chi barfi….O tai…fakt shambhar chi topli….bagha tar tai ek da..(Come…come…buy flowers and sweets for offering in temple…fresh flowers…marigolds, jasmines and chrysanthemums…milk sweets…O sister…its only for Hundred Rupees ….have a look at least!!)

Since we were not in any hurry so I took time choosing freshest flowers for offering from different shops. A few minutes in one of the shops and I noticed the hurried activity and some loud discontented grumbles from new customers in the shop. The occupants of the small car had landed in the same shop and seemed annoyed with shopkeeper who had allowed us to pick and choose. The woman glared at me so we let them be the first ones to make their purchase. The woman was triumphant on her success and smirked at us before leaving.

I forgot the little incident and proceeded with the flower basket, coconut and sweets to the temple. However we again met the same couple at the shoes’ deposit counter. And from that moment on an unofficial, unsaid race began……where the woman would give me a triumphant look whenever they did something before we could. I found it quite amusing because it really did not matter to us whether we were the first or the last in the temple but it seemed quite important to that woman.

The temple authorities maintain different queues for entry to the ‘garbha-griha’, one for defence personnel and other for civilians. Unawares of this special facility we awaited our turn at the token counter. Unknown to other people in the temple area, yet again at the two queues for token the silent competition was on. The couple hurried past us pushing and elbowing others to reach the token counter before us.

They managed to acquire the tokens before us and stood in the temple’s queue for civilians smirking at us as we still waited for tokens. It was a real long queue and extended well beyond the covered area. The weather was a bit hot and humid and people fanned themselves with stole, hand towels and token slips. There was hardly any breeze. The patience and tolerance level of the sweating crowd was very low. Even an unintended nudge made people break into an argument.

When it was our turn in the queue for the token we were politely asked by the woman at the counter whether we belonged to defense forces. It was then that we realised that there was a separate queue for defense people to enter the inner sanctum of the temple. I was hugely relieved to know that we would avoid the long queue and because the other queue had only ten others ahead of us. We promptly headed towards the queue meant for defense people which was next to the longer queue separated only by a six feet high iron grille.

As we entered our queue, the eyes of the competing couple followed us wondering how we had managed to move ahead of them. By that time, I also engaged in that absurd race. As soon as I realised that our progress was being tracked by the middle aged jealous couple, I too made it obvious that I enjoyed their discomfort and envy.

Ours was a quick entry in the sanctum. Once inside I sang the prayers along with the priest’s monotone……but my attention was divided and I kept searching for the face of that woman among the devotees inside the sanctum. I had hardly thanked the Lord for the wonderful news when we were ushered out.

Once outside the ‘garbha-griha’ we sat at a stepped platform to the left of the winding queues, eating the ‘prasadam’ of coconut and the sweets. The long queue had by then reduced in size. Coincidently however, our “competitors” were still outside and now stood opposite the platform where we sat. The envy and incredulousness was written all over their faces and they argued among themselves pointing at us in a very obvious way. We saw them too and I couldn’t control myself and burst out laughing much to their agitation. I had not intended to make the couple uneasy or jealous but it so happened that in that unsaid race we won!

In the car, on our way back, we discussed and laughed at the strange competition and the grumbling couple. But, then in a moment of self discovery, I realised that I had wasted away those few precious moments inside the temple at the feet of God when I could have prayed wholeheartedly, in such a useless activity. Indulging in unnecessary teasing, I had forgotten the real purpose of my visit to the temple!

Many people go on pilgrimages sometimes braving extreme cold or treacherous climb up the Himalayan slopes or even ill health with a thought that more difficult the obstacles of journey, more the emancipation from sins and yet there I was……. involved in the absurd and petty mocking game!! How good was it to travel from one city to other and indulge in such a conduct? What had I achieved……. sadistic satisfaction? Was that my aim? Had I not intended to seek His blessings and salvation from all deliberate or not so deliberate sins?

We often meet people during our travels some of whom we remember for years for their peculiarities or for what we learn about ourselves due to such encounters. We remembered the family as ‘pushy and impatient’. On retrospection, I realised that the occupants of the small car had brought out the mean side of me to fore!! They would have made some similar opinion about us too…..

My husband dislikes going to such overcrowded temples where one has to elbow one’s way in to seek blessing of God.  He always suggests that I should thank God and show my gratitude peacefully at any nearby temple. After this incident I understood how apt his opinion was…..

The temple trip also made me realise that though people are individually civilised and well behaved but their behaviour changes with circumstances they face, as did mine. I should give people some benefit of doubt before pointing fingers at them and at the same time I should keep myself in check before reacting to unfavourable circumstances.

I still go to a temple, wherever I see one but now I avoid a visit during the festivities when there are huge crowds and everyone’s emotions and patience levels are stressed thin. During such times I quietly worship the deity at my home where I can connect with HIM more personally, repent for my follies, beg for favours, air my annoyance and thank Him for the fulfilled wishes. It is more peaceful, satisfying and rewarding. My efforts to keep myself calmer always come out in the prayer:

“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference”

7 Things That Define Freedom For Women This Independence Day….

This article has been published at HuffingtonPost India titled “An Independence Day for Women”

I am one of those fortunate few who was born to loving and educated parents who did not find it a burden to raise two daughters when everybody around them was hoping they would plan another pregnancy to beget a male child; who sent their girls for higher education and made them engineers; who let their daughters choose their life-partners irrespective of religion or community; who taught them to stand up against any injustice; who did not believe in paying dowry for ensuring their daughter’s safety and respect….

But for the majority of women, the time stands still…. Honour-killings still happen, female-feticides still snuff out the innocent life, education is still denied, wife’s consent to sex is still disregarded, courts refuse to discuss marital rape issues, people in power still blame women for the crimes against them, forgetting that a nun or the five-year-olds do not behave in a way to entice or lure the rapists, lawyers defend the molesters to dodge punishments….

My daughter is growing up in today’s world. Soon she will be old enough, refusing to be chaperoned at all times… She would want to see the world and explore all opportunities before settling down in a career or selecting her partner. Even if I as a parent grant her all the liberty, will the so-called moral guardians of the society let her be?

After 68 years of Independence, shouldn’t women be free of the tyrannical male and his rules? What does it really mean for us, the women, on this 69th Independence Day of our country?

I believe true independence would be when all women have FREEDOM from:

  • Being aborted…when birth of a girl child is also considered a blessing and brings equal joy to parents…when people stop wishing for birth of their ‘heir’ …that would be freedom.
  • Being judged for clothes they wear…all girls in skirts or shorts are not ‘asking for it’. They are not immoral. If men looked in the eye when speaking to a woman and not stare at her chest or bare legs….that would be freedom!
  • Being attacked or punished for thwarting advances of a lusting perverted man… women are not sex toys…when a girl or a woman steps out of her home without the fear of being attacked by acid, being raped or beaten for refusing sex….that would be freedom!
  • Being killed for falling in love…. When caste, religion, language, community are no longer hindrances in choosing a life partner…when no woman is prescribed death for marrying outside community… that would mean  liberation for women.
  • Being banned from religious places for having periods. Puberty is a gift from the Gods to women to nurture future life…it is neither their shame, nor punishment and definitely not anything impure.
  • Being denied higher education. When every little girl can dream to become a teacher, a pilot, doctor, engineer…when people stop assigning kitchen and four walls of a house as the only domain of women…when women can opine about financial and other matters at every home… that would bring freedom.
  • Being punished for Dowry… When ‘Arranged Marriages’ will do away with dowry…when all that a marriage ceremony would mean blessings and love only…when the mother-in-law, being a woman herself, will stand by her daughter-in-law at every step in her new beginnings…when brides won’t be burned or forced to commit suicides…that day would be a free day.

When women will not be the birds with clipped wings, but kites soaring in sky with gay abandon into the winds of change….that would truly be the INDEPENDENCE DAY!!

 

Aaji….

“Shoma, meri zara bandook toh lana( Shoma, bring me my gun!)” 

I distinctly remember her words which sounded funny even then, back in 1984-85 when I was a 9 year-old who was witnessing violence among Hindus and Sikhs, in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Houses of Sikhs were being attacked and burned by Hindu youth and Hindus were being killed by young Sikhs who roamed with bare swords in their hands. One such Sikh man reached our door step while my parents were away on their duties as doctors in the government hospital at Ghaziabad. My grandmother stood near the door and shouted for me to bring her imaginary gun as me and my sister giggled inside the room hidden from the view. The perpetrator scooted off without getting a chance to harm us!!

Whatever little fearless spirit I have is passed on due to my strong Aaji. As far as I remember, this woman, my dear grandmother addressed as ‘Leela Aatya'(Leela Bua) by all and sundry even her own sons always had silver hair, wore white soft cotton saris, pearl ear-drops, two light gold bangles in her wrist with a small safety-pin hanging in one of the bangles and a thin gold chain. She had this coin sized depression on her forehead…a reminder of a childhood injury.

I never knew my grand father….he died when my father was a mere 14-year-old boy. All the responsibility of four young sons fell on his wife… my AAJI.

She was one hell of a brave woman. When whatever property she had inherited from her deceased husband was lost in gambling and to the money lenders by her brother-in-law, instead of crying and feeling helpless, she shifted to her brother’s house in Gwalior for providing better education to her four sons. But she did not burden her brother with expenses, instead she completed her high school and trained as health-worker and mid-wife. She shifted to Nagpur and taught as primary school teacher for few years but later shifted back to Gwalior and worked in hospitals as health worker. By then my father had joined a medical college and could support his brothers and mother by taking tuitions of small school children after college hours.

Once when she was travelling along with a six-year-old me in second class sleeper via Kalpi, a small town in Uttar-Pradesh, some one tried to snatch her only possession in the dark of the night…her gold chain. She held on to the chain and did not let the thief get away with it. The thief had to release the chain when the train started moving again and pulled away from the platform. Her palm had a deep gash from holding on to the chain and I realised of her injury only when she woke me up the next morning on reaching our destination!

In another incident in 1984, when we had recently shifted to a new house and new city Ghaziabad, three men attacked our home when my parents were on duty. The thieves hit her on head with pistol butt and stole whatever they could lay their hands on. The fearless woman, locked me and my sister in the house and with the bleeding head in a heavy rain, walked to the main road, reached another doctor’s family who had a telephone at their house and contacted my parents!

Years later, in 2003, when my daughter was born, in spite of poor eyesight and failing health, she stitched frocks for the baby fashioned out of her soft saris! She even massaged the baby, cradled her to sleep and sat near me telling all sorts of do’s and don’ts of upbringing a baby.

Love you Aaji....

Love you Aaji….

My grandmother died when my daughter was three years old. Her memory had failed her and she was bed-ridden with many body sores. It was painful to see her in last few days of her life because I felt helpless as she lay in bed unable to recognise me… But her sloppy smile and a faint recognition that lit up her eyes on seeing my three year old daughter is the most important memory that I cherish….I feel satisfied that during her last few days my daughter could bring a little smile on her face.

Memories of her time spent with me and my sister are many…times when she pampered us, scolded us, protected us, made sweets and her special treats, feigned her annoyance, let us do her hair, told us stories, scolded our parents for scolding us…..

Her continuous struggle in life is an inspiration to never give up…stand up against adverse situations and take troubles by the collar….

I wish I had half her courage, I might have been more successful in life I guess……..

A Better World!!

The day my little baby was born….I was reborn as a mother. And for the first time I started understanding my mother. With every little cry I would fret, spend sleepless hours and pray for her well being. Today my little girl is stepping into adolescence and I now understand why my mother frowned if I made some bizzare choice…

From a mother’s perspective the world is never a safe place for her child! She is worried someone may hurt her child physically… hurt them emotionally…. break their heart…. scar them for lifetime with all the ugliness of the world….

Every mother if given a chance would love to make a new world where her child is safe and happy…I dreamt of a new world too(read my World Remade here).

Being a mother, however, I can not just sit back and dream for a better world and do nothing to give towards it. It is us the mothers of today who have the onus of teaching their children the true way of dealing with life…

I would love to teach a thousand things to my daughter for her safety, her well-being, her mental peace. But a simple question from my daughter, made me realize, how important it was to teach her about work ethics.

A few days back, I was busy designing an invitation card for visiting senior Air Force officer and his wife. By the end of day, I was exhausted with household chores and day long meetings. The quilled design for the card was still in the making  and the card was required for the next morning. My daughter, showed her concern and asked me why I was making such an elaborate design? She told me to finish off quickly and slightly untidily…. so that next time, I would not be given the task and I would be free to rest after daily chores at home!!

I was surprised at her suggestion because I have never left whatever I was doing halfway be it cooking, painting, writing etc. I did not understand from where she got the idea of cutting corners for small benefits!

I sat her down and asked her why she said so and her reply was simple…” Nobody pays so much attention so how does it matter if your work is not perfect? It is you who is getting tired while others are enjoying  the evening!”

I decided that to make world better, first I had to teach my daughter to be a better person. This is what I told her:

“Sweetheart, never think whether the work is small or big…finish whatever responsibility comes your way with full dedication…it might not bring fame or acknowledgement from all quarters but in the end your heart will be at peace knowing that you did justice to the work. 

Do not take shortcuts like bribing  anybody to facilitate your work…because that leaves you in a vulnerable place to be exploited later. Even if you do the right thing, you may not be appreciated but then nobody will be able to point fingers at you either.

Do not indulge in unnecessary flattery to wriggle out of difficult situation, just put your efforts in completing the work to best of your ability …your work  will speak for itself and your ethics and integrity will garner respect for you… and may be inspire some to be like you.

Do what is right and slowly the world around you will become right…A better place to be!!”

Yes, I do believe that for a better world, we all need to work with full dedication and not sham, not cut corners, not bribe, not be dishonest, not be disloyal….. An honest person will be an asset and encourage others to follow suit making the world a little better place.

This post is in response to #MomsForBetterWorldProject

Marriage Woes!!

Published at Women’s Web

Marriage is a beautiful bond between two people who stick to each other through thick and thin even with no blood relation between them. Strongest of friendship cannot break the bond between married couples….this when the husband and wife are equally committed and consider the relation above all….when both of them uphold the vows of marriage to be a friend first and love, protect and cherish each other through all challenges life throws at them.

What if either one abuses the sanctity, the promise…physically, mentally or emotionally….?

Usually the abuse which comes to light is of physical violence, dowry harassment and forced abortions. What mostly does not come out as a marriage woe is the mental abuse, the belittling comments, the threats and not even the forced sexual activity because of the attached stigma of dishonoring the family.

It is no surprise then that the Supreme Court denied to deem the forced sex in marriage as crime….there excuse being “If marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress”….Do they mean that if such a matter is not raised and we all turn a blind eye towards the issue then the family will not be in stress? Really? Because I believe that a family, where the wife is being subjected to any form of abuse, will always be in a stress whether she reports it or not!

These issues are real and very common but we read and rant about them, discuss about  them for few days and till another such thing happens we forget about such news and carry on with our lives silently thanking our stars that something like that has not happened to us!

And what if there is no physical intimacy between a married couple?

Recently, in the capacity of an air force unit’s commanding officer’s wife, I had the misfortune of being privy to a diametrically opposite form of abuse in marriage. The husband, in fact, never even realized that his behavior was the cause of his wife’s distress!

This woman came to me with a unique problem, one that I had never heard of earlier ever. She wanted me and my husband as the head of unit, to intervene and persuade her husband to have physical intimacy with her. The couple had been married for good ten to twelve years but they had no physical intimacy due to which she had not conceived and was being taunted by her in-laws and neighbors in village as infertile. For years she put a lid on the matter, bearing the brunt herself. The reason that caused her final breakdown was that her in-laws had started planning a second marriage of the man in hope for a child!

This woman’s husband was involved with some religious group which practiced abstinence from sexual activities. For no fault of hers, she was being subjected to such mental agony. Her request was simple that her husband should be ‘ordered’ to spend just enough time with her to impregnate her. He would be then free to return to his way of life with the religious group. She reasoned that if she could bear his child no one would blame her of infertility and they could continue to live under same roof with same indifference as past twelve years of marriage.

This poor troubled woman wanted to be held in her husband’s arms, wanted to be caressed, kissed, and passionately made love too. But she had been denied, for all those years, of any conjugal bliss. Her mental state was such that she looked gaunt and much older than her 35 years of age.

I was stunned to come across such a situation and was little unsure of how to address the matter. Both of them were counseled privately and we wished them well.

But will this be considered a crime… a mental torture by society and court or not? Or is it best for all to look the other way and let the family deal with this issue on its own too? Who should a person going through such a situation turn to?

In the recently released movie ‘PIKU’, the protagonist subtly mentions the sexual gratification as the need of women. People refuse to recognize that a passionate love-making is as important in a woman’s life as it is for man (however that does not mean at all that a woman can be raped in or out of marriage at the will, whim and fancy of man!).

Is it not the time yet to discuss such issues instead of caste and religion? Have we not come a long way yet to let women speak out about their desires? Is it not right yet for a woman to demand physical satisfaction from her partner in a way she wants?

Let us grow up and talk freely about issues relevant to humans without making it into something gender related. Unless men understand that a woman’s body is not a toy for them to be used at their will….unless the women have autonomy on their bodies, thoughts and desires…there will never be any justice…..rapes will keep happening…and women will keep curbing their own freedom!