I read ‘The Life of Pi’ a few years ago and recommended the book to everyone I knew. So, one can imagine how I felt when I asked the husband to accompany me to watch the movie. Excited is the word. We drank tea, bought the nachos and the coke. All set for a good cry in other words. Before I proceed, I want to disclose that I am not the ideal audience for a tear-jerker rookie director. That is: if a director is testing to see whether he has appealed to the cry- factor enough, he would do really badly to use me as a test.I cried for Finding Nemo. That fish, Marlin, cried less at being reunited with his son Nemo, than I did.
So, when I say I was prepared for the movie, I mean the tea, nachos, coke and a small tissue packet with me for just this occasion. I was ready. What I did not know was that I am complete wuss! While I never imagined myself striding into a battlefield and bravely fighting the troops single-handedly, I did not think I would run from the theatre gasping for air in less than an hour. I lasted 45 minutes in the theatre.
Deep thinking afterward made me realise that it was the feeling of helplessness that crushed me. In the story, the protagonist is stuck on a boat with a vicious tiger for company. Not knowing when the tiger would pounce, not knowing whether sleep would overcome him, not being at peace for even a moment. The constant fear throbbing in the movie was too much for me. I had read the book, and yet the visual medium affected me very badly.
I thought of how people live in these circumstances. I thought of battered women whose life is about fear. Then, I read something that made my blood boil. That made me shout in outrage.
How is one supposed to change the fabric of society if women who have the capacity to influence and empower other women advocate this? This is coming from RSS women’s wing and I quote (I am cringing even while pasting this):
The reporter quotes twenty-something Sharda from Jabalpur:
I turn to Sharda from Jabalpur. In her late twenties, Sharda has been a whole timer for five years. She tells me that apart from the shakhas, the Samiti also counsels women in their respective areas. There is a manual that is followed. When I ask her, “What advice would you give to a victim of wife beating?” she answers, “Don’t parents admonish their children for misbehaviour? Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in mind her husband’s moods and must avoid irritating him. Only this can keep the family together.” Similarly, divorce is also a non option for women. She says, “Our task is to keep the family together, not break it. We tell the women to adjust. Sometimes, we try counsel the husband too.”
How does one stop this?
How do we empower girls to feel that this nonsense is unacceptable?
How do we educate the boys that equality leads to happiness?
How do we … ?