Forgive me, Ma

I donít have the strength or the dignity to respect your hypocrisy in this matter now

N.M Singh | January 2, 2013



My mother called up me the other day in Singapore to tell me that the doctors at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi had to remove the intestines of the girl who must remain unnamed

I was aware of the Delhi rape case. I was following the public protests happening at India Gate but I had deliberately avoided reading the gory details about the case itself. I did not wish to know every bit of what exactly happened inside that bus and how. And living in Singapore for the past eight months and away from India for the past eight years, it is possible for me to avoid the barrage of news reports that don’t spare a single detail of “were the hands on the thighs or the chest?” – so to speak in Damini language.

When I professed my ignorance to my mother as to why the girl’s intestines had to be removed, she told me of the rods. I asked her to stop immediately. “I don’t want to know,” I said. But she continued, “Why not? This is the monstrosity that’s happening in the world today. Why do you want to close your ears?”

It took me a few days of sleepless nights before I could collect my thoughts on why I had wanted my mother to stop.

Perhaps it was because all my life I had been shut out by my mother when I started giving out too many details about the assaults on my soul. “What can we do, beta?” she had said when I reported to her, as a teenager, that I had been molested by a close family member. “You need to be careful.”

“He’s our relative. We cannot say anything to him. It is a woman’s responsibility to protect herself. The world is full of such people. Whom all are you going to fight?”

And it hadn’t been just her. My father also laid out his own arguments: “When your mother first married me, every man in this family tried to test her. But it was her dignity and her strength that shut them all up.”

Oh yes, that dignity and strength. I didn’t have any strength, unfortunately, to make sense of my mother’s – let me think of the right word – voyeurism in this matter.

The fact that a 45-year-old man, my first cousin, my local guardian at the time in Delhi, punched me in my soul when I was 17 years old did not get my parents to treat that monstrosity as anything more than what already happens, and what must be tolerated for the sake of family relations, for the sake of sanity; forgive me, Ma, if I don’t have the strength or the dignity to respect your hypocrisy in this matter now.

This is a country where over 90 percent of reported rapes are perpetrated by people known to the victim, mostly family members. Yet, the chimeras of izzat, and family honour ensure that there is a complete blanket of denial over the little harassments that happen around us every day. It is precisely this kind of blind permissiveness that emboldens men, encourages them even, and creates the atmosphere that allows the more violent among them to think that they would get away with rape. And most of them do.

It is time to think how we are all culpable in our own little ways for creating the atmosphere that enables this kind of violence.

Important as the Delhi case is in getting people to talk about rape, I wonder whether a majority of people actually understand what it is that they should be understanding about respecting women.

It’s interesting how the girl’s “normality” seems to have shut out the usual detractors – she wasn’t drunk, she wasn’t wearing a skirt, she wasn’t tumbling out of a pub, she wasn’t partying with her boyfriend. Perhaps that’s why even people like my mother identify with her. She was a normal girl doing normal things. It could have been her own daughter.

But what if that normal had not been so? What if she had had a couple of drinks? What if she had been wearing a skirt? What if she was coming out of a pub? I wonder then if our reactions would have been the same. I wonder if India Gate would still have been flooded with candles.

In a milieu where a majority of us is not sure what entails respecting a woman, and which woman even deserves respect, I wonder if my mother will ever understand that talking about monstrosity will not end it, only acting against it in every form will.

Comments

 

Other News

Universal Basic Income: The way forward

9.44 The irresistible force of even as powerful an idea as UBI will run into the immovable object of a resistant, pesky reality. So, what is the way forward, always remembering that the yardstick for assessment is not whether UBI can be perfect or faultless but only whether it can impr

Should action be taken against hospitals which have hiked the heart surgery cost?

Should action be taken against hospitals which have hiked the heart surgery cost?

ONGC office wins sustainable building design award

 The state-of-the-art corporate office of oil and natural gas corporation (ONGC), Pandit Deen Dayal Uphadhayay Urja Bhawan,  in New Delhi has won leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) India ‘platinum’ award by US green building council (USGBC), the highest recognition f

Mumbaiís changing campaign colours

Demonetisation was a factor as candidates in the fray for the Mumbai civic polls wooed people. Though the election commission doubled the expenditure limits from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, some candidates found the going hard as there was a weekly withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000. Rs 10 lakh is way ab

Make Godseís statement public, but donít idolise him

Nathuram Godse, who was brought up by his parents as a girl in the first few years of his life, has been reviled for decades for fatally shooting the apostle of peace Mahatma Gandhi. What Godse said during the Gandhi assassination trial has not been made public, giving rise to considerable speculation.

First coal rake flagged off from NTPCís coal block in Hazaribagh

The first coal rake of NTPC’s Pakri-Barwadih coal mine at Hazaribagh was flagged-off by finance minister Arun Jaitley, Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das, union minister of state for power, coal, N&RE and mines Piyush Goyal, and minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, at Ranchi on

Video

सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने की समाजवादी पेंशन योजना की तारीफ
Digital Transformation Summit

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter