Another Woman’s day.
We know how the times have changed in last 25 years when we are already telling our military stories. Looking back I am glad to be born in 70s as we had a reasonably healthy childhood and college days to remember. MACE was a big part in my life where I can still go back and meet my younger self.
Being a woman’s day I was thinking if we faced some limitations because of being a girl. What comes first is the traditional dress code for professional college girls at that time. Sari was the norm for girls while boys could wear their jeans and T shirts. It was a tough task to switch to Sari from our normal teenage clothes. We envy the other friends at Arts College who could wear whatever they wish. For most of us it was quite an effort to wear sari and walk to college or travel in a busy bus; especially with T-square, bag and umbrella in the monsoon season. But thankfully in our time itself, it slowly changed to churidar and jeans/shirt. May be the society also was embracing the arrival of a comfortable alternative to Sari at that time. Now I don’t think any professional college in Kerala insist on wearing Sari. No doubt it is beautiful attire that enhances the natural look of a girl. But it was not suitable as a college dress for our busy days. I still remember the first day of one of our friends. She was completely at dark that we need to wear Sari and hadn’t prepared at all. Since she was afraid of ragging, last minute she borrowed her auntie’s blouse and reduced the size using a line of safety pins. When she walked into the class, it was just like school child entering a fancy dress competition. Everytime she had to move, she was so scared that one of the pins may come off and undo all her hard work.
Apart from the demands of wearing Sari, I don’t think we faced much discrimination in MACE. Sorry there is one more war story, but it will take time to elaborate and unlike any other story, it will need some consultation from lawyers.
May be another lighter incident which reminds us how lucky and free we were at that time. During our South India tour once we went for a second show. Our friends Joy and Ravi asked if we would like to watch a new Tamil movie and we ( four of us who worked hard for the porotas we ate ) readily agreed . I think there wasn’t enough time to check with teachers as we expected they were tired and didnt want to trouble them. Plus when we are on holidays we should make the most it, don’t we? So coolly we went for some Tamil movie. It finished around 11:45 or so. When we came out there were no auto rickshaws to go back. We started walking back to the place we stayed. It was around 2-3 kilometres away from where we stayed. Unknown place and late night, only relief was Ravi could speak Tamil and we trusted it will keep us safe. There were not many people on the road. After we walked about half a kilometre , we caught sight of some cycle rickshaws parked on the opposite side of the road and the drivers were not to be seen. We walked around the rikshaws and picked up some snoring sound and the source of it . We woke them up and asked if they can help. They were quite annoyed to loose their sleep, and asked us to go away. Thank God! Ravi then spoke to them in Tamil and offered more money. Slowly they opened the eyes and came with us. Once we started off in the rickshaw we were guessing the scene at the hotel and were slightly worried if our teachers will say anything , but seeing the time, we thought they must also be fast asleep. About 12:40 am we reached hotel and we literally fainted. To our biggest surprise and shock, our Asha miss was waiting at the entrance for us. She quickly assessed the situation, probably she went back to her teenage days and let us go with warning look. We were a bit embarrassed and sheepishly went and slept in our room. With no mobiles and other communication devices those days, we could easily ask for forgiveness than permission!
Recently when we were back home in Kerala one night we wanted to go for a second show at a local Cinema in ALuva. It is a new theatre and there are plenty of people. Also considering our age and that we are going as a family with kids, it should be pretty safe. But our parents were so worried as they read all the news about some incidents happening everyday. They were literally paranoid about our plan. Although we went the next day, I called them from the theatre saying it is full of people. But still they were awake until we came back. It was a clear indication of how common people are affected by all the recent incidents.
Comparing the two occasions , we still feel so lucky to have spent our teenage years in its full glory. It is also sad that we may not feel comfortable if our daughters are going out for a second show with their friends. We are not giving equality to girls because we are hypocrites, but because we want them to be safe them from the prying eyes. Wherever they go – in a bus, train ,shopping ,movies, church, temple, office etc etc, we are not sure who is watching them and how those people think. There may be only a minority of perverted people out there, but when one incident happens the punishment is for the whole society.
But for every problem there would be a solution somewhere. So far we might have only advised and trained our girls to be more careful, vigilant and smart. May be it is time we teach our boys to be more respectful to the women in their life and check what they are doing when they are out of sight.