Feeling safe is not just a matter of security and legislation. It is inextricably about the freedom and independence one can freely exercise. In society, the patriarchy has inhibited certain groups from enjoying and realising their autonomy. This piece is an attempt to explore the same.
When I cycle around my neighbourhood, I feel a sense of normalcy, as if the world in front of me is mine to capture, possess, and love as it is meant to be. But soon, I realise that it is a sliver of my imagination, one that I have created out of independence granted by my parents. It is a world replete with the cold breeze gushing to remove the hair from my face, a world where pedaling fast is all that it takes. As the clock strikes 9 pm the pedaling stops. The street lights, threatening me to take another round reflect the puddles and manifest into ghastly amorphous creatures. It is as if the world has disowned me and the shadows have conspired to break my inability to conform.
I hear a wailing cry, that of a little girl in search of her own little freedom. She doesn’t know how her dependency is intrinsically tied to her existence. To be a girl is to strive for that dependent persistence.
There isn’t a sense of innate individuality bestowed upon us. We know how to see, empathise, but no one teaches how to be seen. Our mothers were married at a young age, their identities intrinsically tied to ours. A generation’s burden passed onto another, we live with a sense of dread, fighting for choice and some peaceful hours. Our struggles are different, some struggle to be loved, while others struggle to break the shackles of love. We are all woven around the same thread, steadily manifesting into this expansive tapestry of dichotomies.
“I want to study, leave my city-but what of the parents that have nurtured me so very kindly?”
“My partner is the most loving and caring individual-but why must the end and all of my life inevitably tied to another person?”
“There isn’t a day where I am not reminded of my bodily anatomy, completely devoid of its autonomy-why am I never separated from the way I look?”
We live to repay a debt. We live to do and not to be, our worths intertwined with how much we give.
The women in our lives, aware or oblivious are wrecked by their need to accept, to live with this stark and gloomy reality.
How is it that we all paint a comfortable picture and fulfil all societal roles? The ones which have clasped our expressions and bound us to our soles. The basic intricacies of life, the ability to walk in solitude, the freedom to wear pink when you’re a man who’s forced to live in a curtain of blues, to break the ravages of my suffocating sari, and overcome all oppression-all are realistically out of reach.
All these could be useless revelations marred by those who think we don’t need feminism. But what should I tell that little girl, weeping and whimpering-sitting on a piece of concrete that will indefinitely become her world? What about all those girls who choose to stay in a restricted environment because they have to look after their families? What of all those men who carry a load of a damaged self-esteem because they couldn’t fit a certain mould of masculinity?
When I cycle around my neighbourhood, these thoughts come to me in waves that turn to storms, in realisations that turn to guilt. Women are often deemed as helpless, and yes we are at most times, literally without help. There is, however, an everlasting sense of hope-visceral and unabashed in all its aspects. We live within the shadows of forced domesticity and repeated histories. We accept and let go. The clock strikes 9 and I have to stop. Stop and head back home. I hear my phone ringing-probably my mother concerned about my whereabouts. The street lights still look the same, the shadows that follow call out my name. But little do they kno, I’ve been taught to be indifferent-to its darkness and that of the world. To look ahead with a straight face and never to speak a word. The wordless world is perhaps way better, but a hopeless world will cease to exist. So, I head back home and decide to cycle again the next day, in the hope of pedaling fast and unapologetically till 9:15.
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Feature Image Credits : Rouge Reflections