On India’s Daughter, Women’s Day, and being disillusioned

It has been 3 days since India’s Daughter. The ocean of tears out of anger, distress, and sheer helplessness flowed through the hour. Three days, and the gut-wrenching pain refuses to go away. As is the norm these days with “related videos” and what not, it obviously didn’t stop at the documentary. The interviews, the debates, the wall posts, the tweets. And this feeling of falling into an endless abyss of despair just gets stronger. Women, strong, smart women have come up with all kinds of solutions. I nod my head in agreement every time I hear one but in my heart, all I feel is helplessness. I want to make a change, I want to do something, but I don’t know what it is and where to start. I see the uselessness of mob lynching and capital punishment, I know changing mindset of millions will take longer than we think. Police reforms? I’d like to think they should do the trick but hopelessness reigns supreme when it’s anything that the government needs to do. In a little bit of hope that’s still left in the authorities, I lose no time in reading what AAP and Modi have to say about what is going on. As the single most important topic of discussion across every platform, surely they have an opinion, a word of assurance? No, one is busy resigning in the middle of his team playing out an unentertaining political drama. And the other? He is jetting off on a Sri Lankan vacation. I know, I know. The resignation wasn’t drama and Sri Lanka isn’t a vacation. But it’s hard for me to accept that in the middle of what truly seems like the end of the world, in the middle of women having to listen to and suffer the lack of remorse from those defence lawyers who just don’t want to admit that their daughters are as protected by the constitution of India as the rest of us, how can something else actually be important? I am not thinking like a “feminist” here, no. But as a thinking, feeling human being, how can everyone not be consumed by what is happening to women, not just in India but pretty much everywhere.

I didn’t think I had it in me to feel the way I have been these last few days. Probably the lowest I have ever been about an issue that doesn’t directly concern me. But it does, this one does! Right now, the inordinate amount of time I spend complaining about things at work and in life just seems so huge. My issues are far too petty. Because where I come from, I should just thank my stars that my dad didn’t think he should burn me alive if I made friends with a boy and my husband doesn’t think my “place” is in the kitchen, and I am “allowed” to work, live, breathe, be.

In my exasperation, I looked up the Women’s Aid Organisation here in Malaysia to see what volunteering opportunities they have. I can choose to write and edit among other things, or I can get trained to be a para-counsellor. I will probably start with the writing and editing because I don’t feel emotionally stable to be a counsellor right now. I might end every session in tears or become a mob lynch myself. Not proud.

It probably is a good thing that we are argumentative Indians. In the middle of heated debates and misogynistic men, there is that one aunty who raises her voice and feels the same anger that I do, a well-spoken gentleman who asks everyone to maintain parliamentary language, a young boy who pretty much screams at the lawyer because he can’t take it anymore, and a young woman who just says “We don’t need to be respected or worshipped. We just need to be treated as human beings. Just fallible human beings.”

And I want to be believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t but I want to. Probably I will eventually get over this mind-numbing depression of sorts that is making me unfit to cook, talk, watch TV, or do anything that might help me snap out of it. Maybe feeling like this was important for a half-baked feminist like me. Maybe now, I will do something to make a change when I am done feeling sorry for myself and my fellow women. Maybe they will do something about it too.

We will see.

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