Thursday, December 20, 2012

Those Stupid Men

Oh what fun! The intestine of a 23 year old girl has been dug out of her abdomen with a metal rod. It has been thrust in and out of her vagina so many times in a feat of sexual excitement and delight that a ‘rope like thing’ had come out from her insides, one of the gang-members said. Well, it was absurdly enough, her intestines. Now the girl is dying and even if she is made to survive somehow, she would never be able to eat again except through intra-venous means. And the stupid girl still went on to say, as her brother had told a daily, “Mother, I want to live!” Ah, the comedy of it all, the sheer fun!

Now masculinity can cheer again. The rod has done what the phallus could not.

Sometimes I really do not know whom to feel sorry for— the women, or the unfinished and unrealized project of patriarchy. The project started off quite well, actually. For generations, patriarchy was successful in carving out a niche for its invincible power-status in all possible spheres of life. It was a skilled process of inculcating patriarchal values inside humankind in order to control and regulate any opposition that might come in the way. That is why husbands would carry on marital rape at ease, mother-in-laws would find satisfaction in harassing their daughter-in-laws, and even mothers would feel it natural to inflict upon their daughters, the same shackles that she had inherited from history. But then slowly, the times changed. Female foeticide was prohibited. Marrying off daughters before eighteen was made illegal. Property laws were reformed. Education increased. Women went to work. Women got money. Women were given a voice and taught to use it. It was a terrible time. Men felt wronged. They had expected much, much more from patriarchy. It was as if the son has been disinherited from his ancestral home. With patriarchy failing to guard its power motives anymore, men decided to come into the open and establish their position of the penis-holder themselves. So they decided to perform exemplary violence in order to scare women. Unlike the beautifully shrewd system of patriarchy which had realized the effectiveness of manipulation and diplomacy in this changed social scenario, the stupid men got impatient and bloody. Biting of flesh, cutting off of breasts, scooping out insides of women through their vaginal opening etc. became their ridiculous modus operandi.

But really, dear men, it’s okay to be a man. Even in this world! Please do realize that you are not lagging behind in every sphere of life! Girls wearing mini-skirts, or the women you call Feminists, wearing ethnic kurtis and big bindis and arguing all the time are still not as threatening and powerful as you imagine them to be. They are almost as much objectified and kind of helpless right now as they were before, only in a different garb. The female reservations, the divorce laws, the emancipation of women, they are all meant for you guys, stupid! Don’t you see what patriarchy is doing? It’s increasing complicity in your fellow women so that they feel satiated and pacified enough to stop resistance. So please try to realize that you are still being kept in a dominating position by patriarchy. Don’t feel so scared of women as to attack, rape and kill them. Always remember, that complicity of these women is your greatest weapon, not their violation and death. You shouldn’t be giving that up in exchange for some silly fear-libido-animosity induced vagina-digging violence. Help patriarchy in maintaining its updated strategies, don’t be a spoilsport and demand the blatant power-exhibition enjoyed by your fore-fathers. They are outdated and useless in the current socio-political situation.

Stop affirming and re-affirming your sense of masculinity like this, men! We anyway believe that you do have the magic wand called The Penis.  And still, when you try to prove that repeatedly by violating and destroying a woman’s being, it just goes on to show how utterly unsure you are of your masculinity to yourself. Don’t make the people laugh at your insecurity and beat you to death at the same time. Have some faith in the project of patriarchy. It is unfinished but still on. Cooperate and help to move it forward. Take off your profile photos from Facebook for a while. Join protest marches. Write fierce Twitter messages and blogposts asking for death penalty and castration. You might be mentally undressing and having sex with every woman you see. You might be vigorously supporting the decency-indecency dichotomy associated with women. You might even be hurling obscene comments on passing women for fun. But please take care to show your outrage at this rape incident. Take care to sensitize people around you through social networking websites, adda sessions and candle-light vigils. Do all what you possibly can till this news, like every other, finally loses its importance and is cast into oblivion by the media. This is what happens. This is what will always happen.

All you have to do is be a little patient. Society has already started hating and laughing at your impatience. If you don’t try hard enough, why, you might as well risk being looked upon as that poor, virtually castrated, emasculated sex that uses violence as weapon for the lack of a real phallus.

Friday, December 16, 2011


One of my friends, Sneha, called me up today and related to me how she and her boyfriend had a narrow escape while passing by the Birla Mandir area in Kolkata yesterday evening. There were a couple of guys, she said, who passed some comments on Sneha’s body hugging sweater and even tried to grope her up in front of her boyfriend. They had to run to prevent further molestation. The problem of eve-teasing is growing day by day in Kolkata, Sneha said, and I couldn’t agree more. A glimpse at any regular newspaper, and cases of eve-teasing and physical harassment of women are sure to appear at some corner or the other. It’s a little strange I feel, since people nowadays have greater access to all kinds of pornography which accounts for the release of much of their pent up sexual energy. Logically, this should lead to a decrease in the rate of sexual abuse of women by men in the streets. But reality tells us otherwise. In this age of open sexuality and independence, women still encounter unwanted trespassing on their bodies. But why?

This question reminded me of one such incident that I myself had faced about a year ago near the Jadavpur Police Station area, Kolkata. It was about five in the evening but already quite dark as winter was about to step into the city. Most of my friends had already left the University, but I was late since I had some library work to do for an upcoming exam. After collecting the necessary study material, I packed my bag and started walking towards the bus-stop which was just five minutes away. And then it happened. A group of young men, sitting on parts of a broken wall started approaching me. I was taken aback. They weren’t familiar faces and their motive seemed sinister. They exchanged dirty smiles among each other and stared at my bosom like wild dogs lusting for meat. I wore a normal kurti and jeans. So the crap that women ‘provoke’ men to launch into animalistic behavior was out of the question. I bent my head pretending to ignore them and walked a pace or two again. They followed. I began to feel helpless now. It was quite dark and very few people were around. Moreover, we were so well guarded by random trees that it was very difficult for me to draw attention to any passing vehicle from there. So there was no point shouting for help, I realized. The men had realized that too, I guess, because they gradually started cornering me. They were no longer quiet. Frequent references to my breasts and hips were being made in the crudest possible language.
“Maal tar mai dekhechhis? Puro dairy farm, mairi!”
(“Just look at her boobies! A whole dairy farm, eh?”)

Suddenly, anger struck me. A surge of rage engulfed my fear, my anxiety. For a moment, I became oblivious of the danger of it all and shouted back,
“Haramkhor shuorer bachha! Baray ato gorom to baap ke katiye nijer ma ke chod na giye!”
(“Bloody bastards, sons of a bitch! If your dick is so big, why don’t you dodge your father and then fuck your own mother instead?”)

I had barely realized what I had just said when the men started staring at me again, no not at my ‘assets’ this time, but at my face. I didn’t know what they thought or felt. They just kept standing dumbstruck, as if each of them had been actually rooted to that particular spot. I didn’t wait any more and walked straight away from the place with long steps.
When I had reached the bus-stop, I was still fuming. My throat felt dry and soar with all that unexpected shouting coming forth from within without a warning. But a sense of satisfaction slowly calmed me down. I did it!! My tongue did the trick. It was not merely an escape, but also a victory! It was the best feeling in this whole world. It was as if I had answered back the trespassers on behalf of the entire womankind. I felt proud of myself for being able to protect my own body without any external help. In fact, that experience taught me that it doesn’t take a phenomenal woman to raise a voice of protest, any Mina, Sneha or Rachita can do it. Those filthy eve teasers are so used to associating women with fear, helplessness and fleeing that it never occurs to them that we are as much alive as they are and can bite back if needed. I believe it’s high time that we make such sick men realize that any form of sexual abuse, be it raping or eve teasing, would no longer be shushed. We can, and we will pay them back in their own coins. No social role-playing can hold us back. It is sad but true that there are still some people, many of them women themselves, who claim that the responsibility for sexual violation ultimately rests with the woman herself. She must have provoked the men with her titillating mannerisms and revealing outfits. This double standard must be stopped. What nonsense is this? Do we women jump at men who walk around in shorts? Do we try to gang-rape men who swim in a one piece swim-suit?

When I told Sneha about that incident today, she was shocked as well. “Oh god! How could you use such language! It’s incredible!” she said. I didn’t answer her but in my heart I knew that if ever I be dragged to the moral court for using indecent language, I would plead “PROVOKED”.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Malati is back on her feet again.

She came to us this evening to ask if she could still be of any help, if not as a cook, in any other matter that needs paid service. Maa asked her about her health, as I had already dreaded before and she told us the somewhat-known-before story, yet again. She had to undergo thirty-six stitches, five of which have not yet healed. The doctor has prescribed an expensive painkiller that she cannot afford everyday. Her two-month old little daughter is being starved to death because she herself is too sore to be able to suckle her and too poor to buy milk. Her elder daughter who incidentally happens to be seven years old is carrying out most of the regular work. She is taking cheap iron capsules but the weakness still persists.

We had no work to offer. Another cook has already been appointed in her place, because frankly speaking, we did not expect her alive again. In fact, it still seems pretty unreal that a 32 year old poor woman would survive violent attacks of two able, armed men, one of them her husband himself and stand before us once again, asking for a job. But we had nothing, nothing but charity to help her, and charity she vehemently refused.

“Haramjada jotoi kop maruk go Boudi, meyegulor mukh cheye amar ei gotorer jor ami thik khatate parbo.”
[“How much ever blows the bastard showers upon me, I will still be able to work thinking about my daughters.”]

Her husband carried the daa (chopper), she said, and the other man one ansh-bonti (knief). She felt very scared, Malati confessed, but she could not allow herself to die if she had to prevent her daughters from being sold. So she resisted. She shouted and fought. One of her breasts was chopped away. With repeated blows, her stomach bled and bled and bled. Later the doctor commented that her spleen had come out and had she not been hospitalized exactly on time by her neighbours, she must’ve died.

She did not cry as she spoke. But yes, she seemed a little tired. I was thankful that it is winter and that the remnants of Malati were wrapped safely behind her sweater and shawl. I felt for her, but not enough to be able to accept her half-torn, ghastly self. It gave me a strange comfort to see her more or less the same, without the scars of survival. I thanked winter, again.

Malati returned disheartened. All her works were gone in this period of two and half months of hospitalization and she was not yet fit enough to work as a daily labourer in case she failed to find domestic appointments. Maa promised her that she would try to find her work, but Malati was hardly convinced. She had been attacked so that she transfers her own little plot-property in the village to her husband which he can spend in drinking and buying sarees for his kept woman. She simply refused to believe that she might need to sell that plot for livelihood. It was for the future of her daughters, she claimed. An employment… a domestic one, is all that can give her crusade a meaning.

She left with an incomplete sigh, miles to go, I guessed, before she sleeps. After all this struggle, she must not lose. She had resisted the attack of two armed men with her dark, thick, bare hands. She had shouted both her lungs out not giving in to death-pain. She had clang on to life in the face of the thirty-six consecutive blows. And finally…

Malati is back on her feet again.
But where will she go now?

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Question

Have I always been a fallen woman, or could one even rise in love?

Friday, July 10, 2009


I will stand in the rain someday. Drenched more than the pigeons crouching down for shelter. My hair, wet like wriggly snakes. The rain will dance along my naked arms and sliding through my fingers, will wash my feet. My dust-worn choti. My nails chapped with everyday monotony.

I will feel the rain along my body, tender like a lover’s touch. Let it soak into my T-shirt. Let hints of underwear appear starker than hidden tortures. Let my blue skirt fly in the wind making unwanted, forbidden, obscene revelations. Let all tears flood away into the puddle-pools. With water. With sweat. With phlegm. With menstrual blood. Let all bonds liquefy… flow away… evaporate…

I will dance in the rain someday. Wilder than frogs. Stranger than dreams. I will let my chunri go.
I will sing in the rain someday.

Let the rain please my darkish skin
Don’t bring me home to hide
Let all manacles now melt in pain
To move with time and tide.
Let rainfall wash my oozing tears
My strangled breasts, my intense rear
Let passions burst like summer clouds
Cleansing, draining all my fear.

Lull me full, oh mother,
That no longer
I may fear those ties
That no longer
I may think my body
Obscene, forbidden, a vice.

Let me laugh, let me dance, let me scream,
If not in truth, perhaps in a waking dream.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Letter

Mon Amie,

I can’t take it anymore. I can’t. How can one tolerate denial of breath for three years in a row? I know I still exist and there might be many millions of people who are in a worse condition than mine. But I’ll still cry. I’ll still shout until I’m hoarse. I’ll still bite the tail of my ball-pen while writing to you. I need a yell, believe me. I badly do. Everybody is a stranger here and I am stranded among a lost world. Did I dream for this day? Did 'we' dream for this day? It’s not disillusionment. It’s death. I die every moment among these people… these people who are the elite femme intellectuals of our city. They talk Neruda. They eat bhutta. They drink anything from unending cups of tea to gin with lime or vodka. They dream in nostalgic fumes of Charminar. Yet I can feel their realities. Unfortunate, but true, I easily can. Very precisely. Do want to know?

They are dolls. Highly fashionable and somewhat pretty dolls. They care more for manicure than for poetry. They might talk about Neruda, but in sleep, all dream of Eric Segal. They prefer McDonald’s hot-dogs much more to bhutta only if they had been cheaper and more in vogue!!! They like to fret over extremely silly and at times irritatingly nyaka love affairs, not to mention the teenage crap about ‘crushes’. They go through the T2 page of The Telegraph with better attention than class notes. They merely need an excuse to switch on from discussing poetics to bitching about friends, relatives and neighbors, a topic they feel more at ease with, of course. No matter how much bangali their PNPC is, they regard Bengali culture as shit and consider people singing Bengali polli-geeti or the likes (and not MLTR or Backstreet Boys) as uncultured and illiterate tribals. They adore anything Western as sophistication and shun anything Bengali as crudeness. No, I don’t have any objection. I adore different kinds. They add spice to the boredom called life. The problem lies in the fact that they cannot tolerate or accommodate people who admire things that they don’t and not those that they do. Nor are they prepared to accept their true selves, their realities. They love to suffer from the voluntary illusion that they are superior in all possible ways from those who do not accept this idea to be true or those who don't not follow their ways. From the very first week in college, I’ve been marginalized as the girl who is darkly mysterious. Why? Because I dare to live life my way. I don’t go to a parlor except for haircuts. I have a close-cropped and extremely short hairstyle in order to allow my neck proper ventilation. I prefer T-Shirts to balloon-tops. I believe looking beautiful in my mirror instead of in the mirror of their eyes. I don’t have a boyfriend. And my best friend without whom life would have been hell is another girl.

It amazes me. It thrills me. It sends a shiver down my spine. Is this the elite? Is this the intelligentsia? Is this the cream? If this is it, I admit, I feel nauseated. There was a time when I used to laugh at them in the same way we all laugh at Belinda as she mourns the loss of her lock. I felt pity and mirth and blinked with mercy towards their fetish for ‘normality’… their crazy desire to be appreciated by the male gaze and vehement denial of its appropriating side-effects… their whispers about attraction and sex under the common name of 'love'… their binary world of the good and the bad… their extreme yet unquenched curiosity about my ‘world’ to which I straightly denied them any access… their taboo of homosexuality… their water-tight definitions of relationships… everything…

But no. Not still. I’ve had enough. I need a break. I need a holiday- a holiday from which I will no longer need to return. I want some sleep. A college filled with falsities and biases repels me to no extent. I refuse to respect an institution that cannot trust its students with maintaining decency and following proper discipline. Is there any other college in this city that subjects its female students to a ‘dressing-code’? Are we kids, rowdy and untamable, waiting for any moment of slackness from the authority in order to bring out our inherent animosity and ruin the name of the college? If the authority believes so, let me announce, it cannot control it with a thousand dress codes and disciplinary measures. We all will break out as far as we can. And when time for release from this Foucaultan space will come, when fear of expulsion or punishment that now constantly hovers around us will subside, I’ll ensure that people henceforth give a second thought before admitting themselves to a college where most of the colleagues are intolerant, silly, lacking any substance and where the authorities leave no opportunity of exercising dictatorial anarchy in the name of order and discipline.

All I did all these years is pray. I prayed desperately. And regularly. Otherwise I would have lost my sanity from this constant attempt to maintain minimum society in college. And of course, the teaching helped. Teachers of our department are the only positive light that saved me from falling into the bottomless pit of acute depression. And there was my family. My not-so-intolerant friends, who can accept, understand and appreciate me in the way I am. And you. If there is still life, it’s because you people still exist. Thank you for being with me. Thank you for being the way you are.

I’ll have to end my letter here. Our end-semester exams are drawing close. I need to study a hell lot of things, not to mention the mugging up. It’s too lonely out here… this me and my books… but then, it is probably my ‘shadow line’ phase as Conrad calls it, eh?

Wish me luck and see you as soon as my exam ends.
[This Letter is a dedication to Poushali, my friend, philosopher and guide, who is indeed undergoing a 'twilight' phase in her life.]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Case Of Adultery

The apartment in which I live has this custom of holding meetings on the 1st Sundays of every month. This being a common holiday, no one can deny responsibility of attending those meetings on the excuse of being unavailable because of their office. But this month is special. An emergency meeting has been called today, in the 15th of March, all of a sudden. This meeting is to decide the fate of our apartment’s security and to assign certain minor responsibilities (such as switching on/off the water pump in turns etc) on the inmates.

What caused the emergency?

Our caretaker Chintoo has been caught red-handed sleeping with Mrs. Roy’s maidservant. The furtive glances of Chintoo and Shikha (as the maid is called) had caused suspicion long ago. But they couldn’t have been accused directly owing to the lack of clear-cut evidences. But a couple of days ago, my morning sleep was cut short at 8am by roars, growls and snarls of the inhabitants of the apartment. Before long I realized that those were supposed to be sounds of victory for their now proved suspicions that were previously ignored. By the time I went down, Shikha had fled and Chintoo was begging for mercy at the feet of his masters. He was refused, of course. Mr. Dasgupta dragged his baggage down the stairs from his attic room and flung them onto the streets. The whole para gathered to catch the fun with facades of paramount concern and passing judgments went on and on and on and on and on…

Too much noise and too much non-sense always send me into reveries of distraction. So I’m not pretty sure whether I heard every abuse that was used to adorn Chintoo and Shikha. But the reasons of the abuse were such attractive that I gained back my conscious self once again.

The primary catastrophe, of course, is that adultery had been going on for more than a month in our own apartment and that our own caretaker was its chief culprit. However this allegation soon shifted over from Chintoo to Shikha and you can well imagine what followed, yes, what follows all the time, that is. Shikha is a married woman of about 28-30 years of age. She has a 10-year-old son. It is known from certain god-knows-what sources that she left her husband, her child’s father soon after her son was born and went to live with her brother-in-law with whom she had been having an affair for long. So, she is an old horse, actually. Familiar with various kinds of meadows. Naturally, sympathy started gathering on Chintoo’s side and a few of the flat members even repented for throwing him out. The more pity showered for Chintoo, the more aggressive did the public become towards Shikha. She was accused of provoking 22-year-old innocent Chintoo into immoral sexual activities by her titillating dressing sense. She was accused of being attractive. She was accused of doing her eyebrows. She was accused of using pink lipstick. She was accused of showing her cleavage occasionally. She was accused of having taken advantage of Chintoo’s youthful slips. She was accused of seducing men at every chance. She was accused of being shrewd and manipulative. All this continued for about an hour or so at the end of which everybody came to decide that she was a whore and that it was impossible for young, unmarried Chintoo to resist the constant temptation.

In the whole process of abuse and decisions the fact that Chintoo was a drunkard, which could leave our apartment open to intrusions during his tipsy hours, escaped notice. Got drowned totally. May be because drinking is much less of a moral sin than adultery. Or may be, because everyone was too keen to get Chintoo back to run on their ever-going-on errands. He was cheap. And he was available. Finally it didn’t matter with whom he slept. All what mattered is whether he can take the responsibility that would be assigned to us otherwise. We are essentially responsibility shirkers. Even the moral police fall flat on this ground. Wonder!!

Today, the meeting has been called in order to decide whether Chintoo would be re-admitted to the job or whether his brother Rintoo would take his place. Let’s see what happens. I really never am able to judge anything complex properly… but then, all claim that this case is pretty easy.

As for Shikha, I have no idea where she has gone. But I guess, her search has begun again. She has reached such a point, where men did not matter without their bodies… be it her husband… her brother-in-law… Chintoo… or…

By the way, our flat is called Sneho Apartment.