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LET HER LIVE, BUT KILL HER SPIRIT

September 9, 2019

I can hear the roar of women’s silence”- Thomas Sankara

Whenever we hear about discriminations against women, we automatically assume that it must have taken place in a rural area in an impoverished family. It’s hard to believe but truth remains that education does little to no good in changing the patriarchal mindset of people.

Such mindless people move to urban areas, get used to the lavish lifestyle but still on the birth of a daughter in the family, slip into deep mourning, taunts are showered on the mother and the new born baby girl. And God forbid if a woman failed to bear any son, she is subjected to humiliation of all kinds. The father in most cases remains a silent spectator or he too joins in the drama started by the evil family to add to the trauma of the innocent woman.

Most of the girls who are subjected to discriminations in the urban setting are compelled to carry a brave face when socialising but their hearts remain scarred and all through their life they continue to crave the love and acceptance that they never got.

Statements like “daughters are inauspicious”, “they bring bad omen”, “God gives daughters only to those with whom HE is unhappy” is quite common, and are usually spewed to embarrass the mother and her daughters.

As soon as a daughter is born in families with patriarchal mindset, they start worrying about the dowry that they will have to arrange for her, as if a woman is destined just to become someone’s wife and not something more. As if she has no identity of her own, and no say in deciding the course of her own life. If she has a brother, her role will be limited to being a care giver to him. She will be served the leftovers after he has eaten. While his success and achievements will be celebrated, hers will not even be acknowledged.

Such people use the shield of religion while subjecting their own women to such injustices. Unfortunately all they do is mix culture with religion. While studying Islamic law in college I learnt that such practices of discrimination against a girl child was prevalent in the pre-Islamic Arabia. People of those times would practice female infanticide by burying their daughters alive. Little girls were treated poorly and deprived of the affection of their family. But Islam raised the status of women, and made it obligatory for men to take care of their women.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

“The one who has three daughters born to him, and he is patient over them, and clothes them well according to his means, they will become a means of rescue for him from Hell. ” (Bukhari, Al-Adab al-Mufrad, Ibn Majah)”

Despite the strong evidence against such practices, some Muslims continue to torture women in the name of religion.

Women in fact are highly revered in every faith. But people believe in following their own despotic rules .

It’s also to be noted that Mothers hold a seat of respect across religions.

And the truth is that in today’s world, a female child does as much for her family as a male child, the argument that a girl is a burden on her family is no longer valid, earlier too, she was regarded as a burden just because she was forbidden from proving her intellect and capabilities. Her only role was to cook, look good so that she could find a suitable mate, and prepare for her impending marriage.

“Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him — or so they used to say. It would be interesting to know how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them.” – Dorothy L. Sayers

Recently I posted a Times of India article on my Instagram story highlighting the discrimination against girls in Rural Haryana, and I got some heart-wrenching replies from girls and that too from urban settings, belonging to well-to do families and across religious inclinations, dislodging the notion that such activities are limited only to rural areas and among uneducated families.

Here are some of the conversations:

“When I was born, being the second daughter, my dadi cursed me in the hospital, yelled at the nurse for asking for shagun etc. I still don’t see acceptance in her eyes. My whole life I’ve seen my mother getting taunts and being treated badly for giving birth to only two daughters. For a long time, until recently, I lived with the burden of “proving” myself. Of being “extra” good, as a daughter and in everything just to prove the world and my own self that I’m “better” than a son. To get acceptance. Until recently, when due to some circumstances, I stopped trying and started thinking about my rights as a daughter and not only my duties. Life is a little easier now.” – A

“I am typing this with a lump in my throat. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You are the God’s gift to your parents, and no one can take that away from you. Why are people still following the pre-Islamic Arabia traditions? We too are three sisters. And I am the second one. We are extremely fortunate that we didn’t have to go through anything like that.”– Me

“You’re such a pure soul.

I know, right? I grew up in Delhi, in a Muslim locality, and all I ever heard growing up was the importance attached to daughters, how Prophet PBUH loved them. At that moments, I realised and still do, the importance of having religion in your life. It gets more important if you’re not educated. Religion becomes the only source of insaaniyat then.” – A

“You’ve Masha Allah have a great family. Humara khaandan to Pakistani dramon wala hai hahah”- A

“But not everyone in my extended fam is like that. One of my relatives treated his daughters like shit. Now since he is no more in this world. I won’t go into details. But it was gory”– Me

“I understand. Living in Delhi, it’s privilege all around but once I’m in my hometown (which is in UP), I really count my privileges. There women are still not allowed to go after Maghrib even in emergencies. I remember my mother having a major breathing problem and nobody cared. Nor they were allowing me to go and since I don’t have a brother or a very social father I’ve done work of my home from a very young age and I obviously find these things very hypocritical and chauvinistic. Things are changing now but not for good. Now it’s just copying Bollywood.” – A

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People

MY SISTER, MY INSPIRATION

June 7, 2018

Whenever I feel I can no longer persevere, or am on the verge of giving up, instead of seeking strength from others, I seek strength from my own family, particularly from my elder sister, who achieved whatever she achieved because she just went for her goals without paying heed to the negative advices and early setbacks.

Growing up, Bushra too, like me was bad at math. But unlike me she never gave up on the subject. It’s possible that you can be bad at something and still like it. But what is more interesting is that her love was so strong that she beat all odds to build a career out of it.

Once she scored so poorly that had I been in her place I would have burnt my books, lol, but that event became a turning point in her life, from that time onwards, she became extremely strong headed and resilient, I would often see her struggling, but giving up was never an option for her, and her improvement was commendable. Even when she had an option to drop math and take up biology, she continued with it. There ensued a little tiff in the family because parents wanted her to become a doctor, but soon they too realised that she won’t budge. And the decision was locked. Her grip on the subject was still not very strong, but she would labour hard. Even if she had not done engineering she would have done Math (H.), (that was her back-up option) and ultimately she went on to do M.tech in electronics and telecommunication.

Her professional journey set off from the Faculty of Engg & Tech. Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, where she was appointed as a guest lecturer. Even though she was never interested in academia and knew that in a long run she wouldn’t like to build a career in it, she worked as a thorough professional and never compromised with the quality of her work, owing to which she always managed to earn positive feedback from the students. Her stint at the university lasted for about two years, soon after she got married, moved to the UK, took a break for a year, and in her very first attempt bagged a job at the prestigious Jaguar Land Rover, she works as an electronics Hardware engineer there. It all seems magical at times. When I see her progressing consistently, I feel so delighted. Because I have been a witness to her struggles too.

Hey Bushra, here’s a little gift from me to you. A poem by ToddMichael St. Pierre

Sister of mine, please know that I miss you,

As miles separate us in life as we roam.

I close my eyes and we’re still together…

Splashing in puddles as we skip toward home.

Picking wish-flowers and making mud-pies,

In fields of Summer, under apricot skies,

Oh it really does seem like yesterday,

And I’ll always remember us this way.

Sister of mine, please know that I love you,

No distance on earth, could alter this truth.

Not a day passes, that I don’t think of you,

And far-away playgrounds in dreams of youth.

People

COMPASSION AND INTEGRITY

June 2, 2018

There are some episodes that you remember more vividly than the other, what day it was I can’t recall, but I do remember that it ended in a much grander way than the rest of the days, I went home pumped up and enlightened that evening. Some people get fixed in your heart only to leave you completely baffled, transfixed. They make us think about things we generally avoid, making us question our own existence and purpose in life. They are the breathing lessons, sent our way so that we can mend our ways.

That day I was to meet my friend in Connaught Place for lunch, we had not already decided upon the place of meeting, so we spent some time in the summer heat coming up with a name, locating it and walking all the way from one corner to another. Let me tell you, the sun was particularly unkind that afternoon. And when we finally reached our destination we let out a sigh of relief, but no sooner did we sit, than the waiter broke the unfortunate news that because of some issues they were serving only starters that day, so no main course. It was a famous Chinese place and I wanted to gorge on the hot noodles and manchurian, like old times. Choosing that particular restaurant was a much thought out decision because we were tired of having pastas all the time. I don’t experiment much, so my orders are almost always the same. We blamed our fate, and since had no energy to shift to another cafe, we remained seated, and ordered some of the starters, and hungrily ate.

By the time we were finished, it was late afternoon, and the temperature had already started sinking like the sinking sun, so after wrapping up, we decided to sit on one of the benches outside. Little did I know that I was chosen to witness two magical moments and that too back to back, it was surreal, what played out first I don’t remember, all I know is that both of them made me think, and learn.

Incident one, (it can be the second too) involved three hungry street dogs and two kind ladies. I saw compassion dressed as humans lovingly feeding the canines, compassion is a word that’s not meant to be just written or read, it’s a word that should live in our eyes, in our hands, in our actions. The wagging tails of the joyous dogs was what they were getting in return. Compassion for compassion. It always pays off. The second incident, (it can be the first though) was equally magical, it started like any other ordinary encounter, a little boy walking up to us and requesting us to buy a few pens. Let me be honest I don’t always purchase from them, but more often than not I do. Pens are something that I keep buying and losing, the process is never-ending, so I am perpetually in need of new ones. On that particular day I didn’t want to buy and instead just support the child monetarily. So I gave him some money, and asked him to keep the pens with him, but no, this boy was not looking for charity, he insisted that I should take the pens, I agreed to keep one, but he wanted me to keep both. And that was not enough. When I accepted his plea, he started counting the money before my eyes. And after he had counted he found out I had paid him one extra rupee. And as soon as he discovered that, he made no delay in offering to return. I smiled and affectionately requested him to at least keep that with him, he smiled back and agreed. That child’s dedication and professionalism is what made me realise, that integrity is something that can neither be beaten by poverty nor be bought by wealth. It made me think how even some of the wealthy people think not twice before cheating others for their own benefit, or before looting the public who had put their trust in them. However, no matter how shrewd they are, in the end they always end up filling their insatiable bellies with fire, and losing their peace of mind.