Friday, March 27, 2015

Leftover Panchali!

I am no follower of any melodramatic, meaningless soap operas where the frail heroine is always the target of an ostentatious villain who has incomprehensible reasons to hate the female protogonist. If anything I enjoy a good laugh from Thateem Muteem, Bing Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men ( Charlie Sheen was way better Ashton Kutcher, Sigh!). They satisfy my nocturnal craving for humour and make my sleepless nights a little less tedious. But the days when my TV keeps running while I cook, clean ( let's say I do all that) or just browse through my phone, I passively watch some episodes of Malayalam tele-serials. One particular scene and a conversation between two characters from the serial  "Ente Pennu" caught my particular interest. Again, NO, I do not watch that series or any soap operas. Goes something like the following,

So I guess the hero, a married man, cohabitated with several women, one of whom marries his best friend to get revenge on him for abandoning her. Don't ask me, I have no clue how that works. Anyway, following this, a remorseful hero cries, stating... " Avan engane avalde koode jeevikyum, endhokke aayalum AVAL ENDE ECHIL ALLAE"??? (and I burst out laughing). The translation is, "how could he live with her. She is like my discarded left over food" ( the word Echil stands more abhorrent and repulsive!!!) So he thinks the girl is despicable and not marriageable because she has slept with him. I take his aversion to polyandry. But I don't see why there are no tears for his own wife who inadvertently lives with a polygamist. I am not sure what this represents -- A patriarchal India or a society which imbibes anything that is fed in the name of tradition.

Anyway this highly entertaining and offensive dialogue from the series (I hardly care about) invigorated me to do some background research. That's how I came up with the title of this post. We base our "right to morally judge" every ant to elephant around us, on our tradition. What better than digging into our own antiquity  and who better than the dusky, astoundingly beautiful princess Draupadi from Mahabharatha to illustrate our history of polyandry. She had 5 husbands and bore a child from each one of them. Needless to say, none of them was a miracle child like many characters from the epic, like Draupadi herself who was born out of fire. There are several tales of ancient women being in multiple sexual relationships mostly to procreate and sustain the bloodline.  I realize that epics like Mahabharatha and Ramayana are believed to be fictional, written to promote "Dharma".  Many believe Puranas are just a pathway to spirituality and every character represents our senses, vices or qualities. For me they do teach us a lot about Dharma which can have several interpretations. But I like to believe that these characters really existed and they were just human beings with hormones and emotions just like any of us.  Even in case these epics aren't real, they still represent the rational of an era which typify our culture. So atleast we can confirm that it wasn't ever a patriarchal society that preceded us.

Draupadi (Panchali) is only one of the many historical women who practiced polyandry. Panchali was doled out among the 5 Pandavas by Kunti who herself bore Karna from Surya , Yudishtira from Yama, Bhima from Vayu and Arjuna from Indra. Draupadi wasn't a compliant, fragile woman who took orders without resentment. During her swayomvara she voiced her reluctance in marrying Karna proving that her diffidence wasn't what kept her from denying to be the wife of five highly competent men. She either wanted it or did not find it unreasonable.I  know there are stories about her regaining her virginity every morning. Come on, its not her earring or a sock that she misplaces one day and finds later. Its her Virginity, more like Time (but not nearly as important) and once its gone, its gone.. like forever!!!. But our protectors and preachers of "Dharma" did not tag Panchali or these other women promiscuous. They fought the war for Panchali's dignity and she is worshipped even today.

Polyandry is believed to have existed in several Indian communities until recently, like among the Todas tribes of Nilgiris, Nairs of Travancore and Ezhavas of Malabar. Polyandrous relationships have traditionally disappeared from India, but it is still practiced by some Indo-Aryan ethnic groups in Northern India. There are stories of decked up women from august, reputed ancestry waiting along the paths of royal commute, to seduce the king and be one of his several wives. I wonder how the moral police would respond to that.

While I am not suggesting that women should sleep around with several men, I believe that virginity is worshipped beyond common sense in our society. A rape victim for no mistake or hers is denigrated for she lost her "Virginity" or for having sexual intercourse with a man she wasn't married to. I happened to come across a news report about a girl in rural India who was married to her rapist because he was the one who plundered her purity.Yeah, exactly the kind of man you want to spend the rest of your life with. Phew!!! Do I need to say more?   A girl who made a poor choice in life, or a widow or a divorcee are all belittled in the name of tradition and culture . Surprisingly or not so surprisingly, men aren't equally chastised for the same. Ten thousand years from now, we could be the epic. Let's live good stories for them. Our stories will be their Dharma and we will all be aptly rewarded for our Karma. What gives us the right to judge each other anyway. Like Jesus said, "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone". 

Again, my point isn't that women or men should have multiple relationships. In my opinion, a sexual relationship with our partner is sacred  and divine, made meaningful only when shared  for love and love is eternal. But no one has the right to flag another woman as his "Echil" or used. It does not make us traditional, but only hypocrites, because many Indian traditional women have a history of polyandry to brag about. we can't even blame the western culture or social media for it. I can assure you that Kunti and Panchali had highly limited facebook access. So our hero from Ente Pennu (or anyone who think like him), let me ask you, according to you, which Pandava is Panchali a left over of ?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Black Creeper

The black creeper, creeps, creeps, creeps
The heart covets love, evade, elude
The music from the loud speakers,
The  perfumes of stranger men,
The sweet dreams I dismay,
The ephemeral reminiscence when the eyes respite
They nurse the black creeper I'm fearful of
The love for an inept man
Who left me emaciated
The black creeper, creeps, creeps, creeps
I live and live and live.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Indian Men -- Rapists from birth

No, they are not. That caption is just to grab your attention. Following the "Nirbhaya- India's daughter" documentary,my facebook page is flooded with statements (from Indians) that tag all Indian men as rapists and abusers of women. Most mention that the attacks against women in India are all due to the Indian culture and, except us (and our family), all the rest of Indian men, are miscreants. Trust me, I am offended and ready to fight. In fact next time you say it, I am ready to shove up a shovel up your throat. Ah! I would never do that (Yes, I will... you have no clue what this Indian woman is capable of.)
What the hell is wrong with you to think that our culture is so inferior? We have a rich culture and a tradition of strong capable women leading the country. You probably should have payed a little more attention when your teacher lectured on Rani Laxmi Bhai, Sarojini Naidu, Begum Hazrat Mahal and the many other highly competent Indian women leaders. We have had more female prime ministers and presidents than most other countries. Even the most liberal USA has never had a lady commander and chief.
How many other countries in this world worship women, be it Shakthi or Mother Mary? Indian women are assigned a high place in society from the Vedic age. The Nirbhaya documentary does not represent what is wrong with Indian culture. It shows how India condemn violence against women. It shows the valor of an Indian girl who held on long enough to point out her violators. It represents the thousands of Indian men and women who stood up for her.
Be it eve teasing or exhibitionism, I have had my share of bad experiences in the Indian roads. But I also grew up knowing my father, brother and several other men in the family who respected women. Later married a man who helped me get more independent in my thoughts and actions, than I ever knew I could be. They helped me shape me as who I am today. Rapists and abusers are criminals. So are people who support them. If you think they are the men who represent India and Indian culture, you are wrong. YOU and ME represent India and our culture. Adv L.M Sharma is not the voice of India. Nor is Nirbhaya's rapist. We are the voice of India. Every man and woman in our country is free to voice our beliefs and detest (or support) our leaders without having to fear for our lives. We are the biggest democracy in the world. That is our culture. Our culture is not marrying a stranger at 18 or sacrificing ourselves for the family. That is what THEY say our culture is.
I heard Nirbhaya's rapist's wife in tears questioning the media, "What do I do without my husband? What is a wife without a husband? Please kill my son and I too". She wants her husband back. Her statement annoyed me. But then I remembered she does not represent all the women in India. She represents illiteracy, in India and all over the world. She represents weak, ignorant women all over the world who needs a shadow to survive. They are all over the world. The annual rape rate in India is 1.2 per 100,000 as compared to 24 per 100,000 in the UK and 28.6 per 100,000 in the USA. Well, we all know how populated India is. Even a single rape is unjustified, be it in India or in Mars. But India DOES NOT TEACH ITS MEN TO RAPE AND HUMILIATE WOMEN. Stop publicizing such fallacies.
Dear us men and women, we are the change we need to be. Women let's believe in ourselves and let us believe that our dreams have no bounds. Whatever we want to be, a full time hard working mum, an entrepreneur, an artist, a doctor, an engineer, lets remember that we are only obstacle in our path. Men, Treat your girls (Mum, sister, girl friend,friends, one night stands etc etc...) the way you want to be treated yourself. We all - We are our country, not THEM!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Wanting

I cross my thighs, hold 'em tight
Wait for the kiss, yearn for a touch 
destitute and wanting 
Not to be wanted, not to be craved, 
not just once, but twice and again
Shh! They say
Not the way a righteous wife should speak
Not the way a virtuous woman should act
But I stay muddled
Do I procure Cleopatra's prowess to
hold my love or Kamala Das's valor 
to shred my cult?

Friday, March 13, 2015

New gen Laxmana

I hear several conversations on modern day relationships and how marriages are morally weak these days. I believe a lot of work need to be put into any relationship, but being and thinking differently don't make anyone any less scrupulous either. In my opinion, it all started way back in the Treta yuga. Laksman and Urmila from Ramayana are the embodiment of a modern day perfect "no strings attached" relationship. I think Laxman married Urmila because that was the most convenient alliance for him owing to his desire to serve Ram and Sita always. Who better than Sita'a own sister? Since Laxman was definitely a better brother than a husband, the relationship must have taken its toll on the couple gradually. Laxman's Vanavasa was probably the much desired break they both had from eachother. Why else would Laxman ask his wife to stay back to take care of his parents. Like the king and the queen didn't have enough help around the kingdom. Urmila never insisted on accompanying Laxman either. She instead advised him not to worry about her and he conveniently didn't. No matter what reasons we give to explain this, if Sita could accompany Rama, so could have Urmila. But the couple made a choice not to and the only cogent reasoning is that they wanted time away from eachother. I believe the same is the reason why there isn't much mention of Urmila in the Ramayana, because she probably digressed from the classic, flawless wife model. Laxman isn't the ideal husband either, but who really cares, he is the "Man"!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The bitter sweet

I gulp this bitter melon, stoic and still,
hopeful, the vitamins will kick in,
besides the magnesium, fiber and zinc.
B'cos the last time I savoured a chocolate
all it left me was a toothache!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Save my love,spare my soul!

Grueling is to guard this bond 
Warmth is the gadget to hoard
Prudence is the smiles, the hushed tears,    
the cosmos and the cogent pretense
They call some things love, for me it is a spur,
burning bliss between my breasts, my quick beating heart 
and my frail round knees.
Ah! I fear failing to recall it and I might,
And yet I go on, the phase is to pass
And I am to be in love, all over again.
Taxing is it to content this soul.