Thursday, December 15, 2016

A game of rewind and forward

Roughly twenty years ago, we got a basic Philips tape recorder model. Many of my ticklishly wonderful childhood memories are somehow arrested within this black box, that still sits atop my nostalgic sister's fridge. My sisters and my favorite past time was to repeatedly rewind and forward the music cassettes until we landed on one of our favorite songs. Just to beat the nostalgia I am going to play the game but only imaginarily.

Let us rewind about a 100 years back in time. Right then in a not so well known small town center called Narsipura, I met a girl called Bhagyavathi. Bhagya (for I love to shorten names) was a firecracker in the sense that she had quick wit, a sharp tongue and a insatiable curiosity about the world. She was a natural at reading people's behavior and the underlying intentions. Needless to say she carried a vista of local knowledge about plants. Icing to the cake was that she was highly logical and compassionate! Now you might be wondering how she looked right? Well sorry that I can't help you much out there since her beauty doesn't matter to my story and neither should it matter to you. I often wondered how successful she would be as the main adviser to the ruler of the territory that she lived in. But wait! She couldn't have been that right. Bhagya and many other girls like her were restricted to the domestic affairs, rightly so. What would a curious mind like her do with politics and social welfare? She learnt very early on at the age of 5 that she shouldn't be talking at volumes equal to that of the male members of her family let alone ask questions to them or around them. By the age of 9 all her outings to the nearby woods and hills were abruptly stopped because she was beginning to resemble the adult version of her species. But her parents being highly liberal and fore-thinkers allowed her to read stories from her books until she was 10 after which they all knew that  before she hit puberty she would have to be whisked away to another owner who could decide for her. Thus ended my dreams of her becoming the chief adviser to the ruler. Now I know that you would blame me of irrational imaginations but can you please allow me to narrate another story of a girl in the future, whom also I met only in my imagination.

When I fast forward to 100 years from now, I meet Spashta. She is an epitome of tenderness and kindness. Spashta is one person who people go to for solace. With her rightly measured words she always knows what's the right thing to say or hold back. Her inclination towards caring has bestowed indeterminable courage on her. She works as a bio-conservationist and right now tending to the preservation of an endangered weed species that adds valuable phosphate content to farm lands due to its presence. Spashta's work requires her to visit farmlands at night time when the phosphate generation activity is the highest among these plants and they run the risk of being poached by chemical industry laborers. Her job role involves scientific monitoring and data collection along with manually guarding (and fighting for) the crops. So naturally she needs to be out in the open at night and has claimed all possible public spaces (like all the other girls of her time) at all times of the day irrespective of who is with her or not.

Now back to where I am today in 2016. Unlike Bhagya for whom having a voice and education was next to impossible, I enjoy a certain degree of intellectual and political freedom through which I can claim my rights to study as much as I want. However I am still not as free as Spashta in pursuing job roles that are gender-unbiased, roaming wherever I want at whatever time I want with whoever I want doing whatsoever that I want. I feel fortunate that I live in times where there is so much progress that women have already made and the fruits of which I already taste. These times are also tempered with a restive feeling of injustice where I know there is so much that women still cannot do.

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