~A lament from a woman trying to ‘break the wheel’.~

Maybe I should have just stayed back home. 
Maybe I should have just got over with school, sat at home, and learnt to make round rotis, to help with household chores, to wear a hijab & lower my voice. After all, this is what my ‘ultimate destination’ is going to be. My neighbour tells me that I will have to live like that. In a four walled house, bordered with laws that will give me rights over my kitchen, but not over my own wardrobe. She reminds me of my hopeless future at least thrice a week. And that the institution of marriage is ‘bound’ to send me that way.

Maybe I should start preparing for all that. Maybe I shouldn’t have scored a ninety percent after all, and gotten into one of the finest Universities. 

Maybe I shouldn’t have read about the plight of WOMEN, people of colour, the ‘untouchables’ and maybe I shouldn’t have read at all.
I would have been a woman who didn’t know enough about her subjugation to question it. I would have been a woman who did not see sexism, and opression in everything-from home to college, from the internet to the TV soaps & be constantly upset about it, tons of conditioned bias-even in closest of my people, and hurt every moment. I would’ve been a woman who would have defended her own opression and have been happy about guarding her beliefs at the end of the day. 

Maybe I shouldn’t have read Dr. Faustus, and become skeptical of religion. Maybe I shouldn’t have questioned polygamy, property rights and Hijab. Maybe I should have just read the Quran like a dummy without understanding or questioning it. 

Maybe, if I hadn’t learnt to question, I’d have been accepted as a woman, as a person and not be seen as a THREAT. A threat to fragile egos & inherent sexism. Maybe I wouldn’t have become an outcast in my own family. I am fond of wearing Bindis & sarees, which they see as Hindu influence, while I only wear it as a sign of resistance. Maybe I should have simply followed the authority of religion in everything that it tells me, and lived solely on the hope of God’s benevolent grace, in the distant future & hope of a just day of judgement.

Maybe if I hadn’t learnt to be a woman of self respect, a woman who is confident about herself, and aspiring to be independent, maybe it would have been easier to find a man for myself. A man who stayed. I choose the men in my life very wisely-but it doesn’t take more than six months, a few instances of not agreeing to their preset conditions-of me being their ‘ideal devi’- not smoking, drinking, wearing ‘revealing’ clothes, going out, having ‘guy’ friends, and sometimes just NOT GOING OUT AT ALL, it doesn’t take a lot for that CHARM TO WEAR out. If I hadn’t read, maybe I wouldn’t have had a paranoia about finding a man who understands, and accepts privilege. Maybe I would have been just fine, being with a man who deteriorated me in the guise of LOVE and possesiveness.

Maybe if I hadn’t read so much, maybe I wouldn’t have fought back the people who pass lewd comments every time I get down my building. That, I do simply by action-by going out fearlessly, dressing exactly the way I want, and not feeling guilty about it. Yes, there’s a certain kind of ‘guilt’ involved in the process of emancipation. It is a sad thing.

Maybe if I hadn’t read, I wouldn’t have had the courage to go out without a hijab. Maybe I would have had just given in & put it on to escape all the comments that seem to question my ‘character’.

Maybe I wouldn’t have had started going out, dressing up exactly as I wanted to, just to avoid these lewd comments. Maybe I just wouldn’t have noticed those unsolicited comments-that come in the rawest forms from the bystanders, but also sometimes beautifully disguised in the form of advice, suggestions & well wishes from people I know-and love. Maybe life would have been easier.