Mass Molestation

I am miles away from Bangalore. I don’t know these women who have had to put up with the horrifying incident of mass molestation on NYE.
But I know how horrifying it must have been for these women- to be in the know that these men will get way because other men will stand up to the perpetrators and shove #notallmen down their throats; that politicians will speak nonsense implying it was somehow the woman’s fault and cry murder when asked to explain.
They’ll say they have been quoted out of context and that will be all that we’ll hear about it. Everyone will go back to their bloody business while the sale of pepper sprays goes up.
With every step that goes forward in empowering women, we jump back disproportionately.
If every woman started telling others the numerous incidents that make her uncomfortable throughout the day, we’ll call them whiners.
But we already do that, nai?
And somehow, men will get to joke that, ‘you’re not even that pretty’.
Do you know what is the foundation of that comment?
A beautiful woman. A rowdy young man.
He stalks her. But the woman does not mind. She smiles coyly.
He blocks her path. She blushes, and her friends giggle. Now her friends, have you noticed, are average looking women. Average in the sense of the prevalent definition of what is pretty. Since they are not that appealing to the eyes, they are not bothered.
Now he sings around her, tries to touch her and grope her while she swoons.
He gets to fight the bad guys and the prize you see, is the lady.
She is equivalent to a trophy.
Because, she is an object.
So when a woman complains about blatant sexual abuse, she is given the ‘youre not even that pretty’ treatment.
Our movies are bullshit.
They normalize stalking,objectify women and trivialize sexism.
Young boys are never taught ONCE, neither at home nor at educational institutions what consent means. No government puts the safety of women as a priority in their manifestos because no government thinks it is necessary. Our politicians protect the perpetrators by saying that our imitation of the west is to be blamed. We don’t imitate the west in making our movies and television series. I wish we did. We could learn a thing or two. We dont imitate the west in enforcing inalienable human rights. We dont imitate the west in technological and scientific progress.
And when it comes to clothing, suddenly women do. And only women do.Men dont do that.The shirt and the trouser and the jeans and jackets are all Indian heritage.
Why dont we simply declare rape to be the fundamental right of each and every man? That will end all the confusion. You have the right to rape a woman if she is sane or unconscious, if she has clothes on her body or not, if she is a 5 or a 50 year old, if she is someone you know but for the absence of a vagina or breasts or both.
Because gradually, she is going to be held responsible. What was she doing travelling with a male companion in a bus at night?
What was a single mother doing in a bar if not being promiscuous?
It is an insult to women to throw #notallmen in their face.
Have you never been groped in a crowded public place?
Have you never had your ass pinched?
Have you never felt fingers sliding down you t shirt?
Have you never been whistled at or eve teased?
Have you never been scared that it is getting dark and its a ling way home?
Congratulations!
For you are a man.

Being a Man

Men keep looking over their shoulders when they are walking alone down a road at night. And so, as a rule of sorts, they tag someone along. They choose to stick to the routes that may take longer only because they are well lit and have more people around.
The pepper spray or safetypin usually precedes everything else in their wallets so that it is easily accessible. Now most men, dress conservatively if they can help it. They want to avoid getting raped. But I have talked to some men who confirm that the type of clothing one wears has nothing to do with someone’s intention of molesting or assault.
Surprising isn’t it?
In spite of these precautions, almost every other day men are groped in crowded public places. Hands feel for their man breasts from behind as if their body is everyone’s business but theirs. Once in a while, an elbow sticks out and to dodge that they have to literally swerve from the pavement onto the road. Gradually, they become accustomed to the cat calling, the obscene gestures and lewd remarks, the occasional flashing of genitalia.
Men have to be wary of casual conversations because they don’t want their politeness to sound like an invitation to have sex. Also, they shrink themselves as if their whole existence is a delusion. Sometimes, in order to protect themselves from sexual predators, men have to assert that they are someone else’s property: that they are taken.
Yet what is thrown in their faces when inspite of all of that, they don’t manage to avoid getting raped, assaulted or molested?
They had it coming.
But men will deny all of this.
‘What?
This is bullshit. We don’t have to do any of that.’
Yes. YOU don’t have to.
So why do you insult women with #notallmen ? It doesn’t even matter if 99 out of 100 men are feminists. If that ONE man sexually abuses me, I don’t see how it becomes a lesser vice.

Culpable

A drunk woman is raped because you do not need verbal consent when the woman is unconscious.
A drunk woman saying ‘no’ is raped because she has no idea what she is saying. She is wasted, anyways.
A woman wearing a shirt is ogled at because when she is out in the world trying to reclaim it, that is just collateral damage.
A girl is molested inside her home because,
Well because the objectification of women is complete. It has reached an absolute conclusion. A woman, is a pair of breasts and a vagina and for a man to prove his superiority over her, the ultimate act is to rape her. To have her in the knowledge that she has been entered into, that her dignity has been shredded and fed to the lust of men and that it was more about coercing her into submission than the false pretence of ‘craving’ for her. We have come a long way through film, media, television,internet and print to create the image of the woman as we know today: Culpable.
And not only that, we went ahead and let the perpetrators roam scot free. We gathered up the honour that a woman’s kin have and place it between her legs. There. Perfect.
Now we can go about explaining why she deserves the blame. How can one vouch for the character of a woman who goes to a nightclub? How characterless must a 4 year old be? Give me a number; a threshold beyond which it is okay to rape, assault, attempt to molest a woman. 2 points for the lipstick. Another 2 for the shade. 5 for a short skirt, 1 for a saree. 3 for heels, 6 for make up.
Imagine this, every minute, somewhere in this world a woman is being assaulted. Someone is trying to molest her, someone else is trying to beat her into submission. Every minute of every day. And for crying out loud, we call the bluff on these women. What does the world do? Slut shame them.
You were out alone. You deserve it.
You were out with a man. You deserve it.
You, are culpable.

Sky

I stared,
At a vast echo of the sky above me,
At the infinite expanse of blue
And I became a spot on the face of the planet;
The means and the ends in one body.
While the wide canopy overhead,
Shifted in space,
And shape,
In hues of crimson and grey,
In patches of intermittent white.
And I watched the birds thinking they were free,
When they were tied to the land and the sky,

And I ceased to be a prisoner of the earth.

Aparajita Kumari

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Clothes

I’ve got,
Memories amongst my clothes.
And a strong smell of napthalene:
Hidden amongst the folds by my mother.
I have,
Around the corners of my favourite sweaters,
Some warm days to live by.
Days when I waited for the sun to rise on my twenties,

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And never set.
I keep holding on to old faded shirts,
Signed in part by friends that disappeared,
And time which flew.
I have the rusty iron creaking at the hinges,
Of our almirah,
Where we have plenty of clothes,
Waiting to be touched again,
With the regretful feeling of nostalgia.
Outgrown, abundant.
Aparajita Kumari

A new year

Time flies like never before. I was a child and I suddenly am a woman today. It feels like it happened in the blink of an eye but yet the milestones were excruciatingly slow.
I couldn’t wait to grow up. And being an adult is okay. But we want to stauly here- young, with money in our pockets and stamina in our bodies. Yet it is time that we lack.

And I ask myself, what difference have I made by existing?
And every year becomes a struggle to add something to that difference.
Even then, the days shall become weeks and the seconds become years- a miniscule microscopic dot on the canvas called time.

Let me cheer you up though, with happy tidings. Let us hope that this timeline of 365 days shall see us on the other side- young and vivacious- so full of energy and ideas.

The Journey Chapter 2

Aparna jumped down on the floor of the compartment when the rattling became noisier and the her knees wobbly. Her brothers Ravi and Aman woke up too, startled by the unusual swinging of the compartment.
Aparna pressed her eyes to the window pane, it being the middle of nowhere on a cold January night.
More people were up, roused by the commotion now reaching them.
Aparna squinted her eyes to get a clearer view but was unable to. It was dark outside and her eyes were taking too much time in adjusting to it.
Her eyes fell down and she noticed that the train was not moving straight ahead.
It was also moving too close to the wilderness.
She stood transfixed there, crouched over the window  when she realised that the train was no longer on the tracks!
‘We are going to die.’ She shuddered and her heart beat so fast as if it would burst out of her body.

Ravi tugged at the emergency brake trigger to no avail.
Aman held her by the shoulders and pulled her away from the window.
‘Its dangerous! Stay here,’ He made her stand right in the middle of the space between the berths and started pulling bags and other objects from the top berths to avoid getting hit by falling objects if the compartment overturned.
‘Don’t panic. Can you hear me, Didi? DON’T PANIC!’
He knew she was in a shock.
A thunder was heard from some distance away and Aparna looked at Ravi, dismayed.
‘THE TRAIN HAS DERAILED!’
An elderly passenger shrieked in horror.