The Feminist Times
Society is High and our Bonds are Dizzy
Main tumhara acha chahta hun-Waqt ka koi ehsaas hai?-Ye job karne ki kya zarurat hai, main hun toh Aaj kal ka mahaul dekha hai?-Main tumharey bhaley kay liye hi toh bol raha hun na beta.
You bring love to the table and subtly serve it. I am to measure it with the never-ending concern you have for me. It’s a lot. I am to admire it. I try but then I start losing the energy to be myself. Not that I have known myself anyway. All my time is spent on surviving the wreck, over and over. It starts with your love, doused in honor and worry, somehow leading to cancelling some parts of me. Then my mind turns into this ugly place you would want to protect me from- Fire everywhere. Yet no light. Deafening storms. Suffocated and cursed inhabitants; in this case two, a person you ask me to be, another who I wish to be; driven to a point where they howl, swear, rip apart and then re-build each other just so they could do it all over again. There is no other way to make you proud than to do what you’ve been made to think is best for me. I want to live but I am almost addicted to your approval. To help you maintain your dignity and ‘save myself’ I had to miss that class, a purpose and a handful of dreams; this doesn’t seem to stop and now I am not sure I’d be able to save much, dad.
Khana dhang se kha liya na?-Log kya kahengey?-Padh likh kar independent bano-Tamasha banvaogi humara?-Tumhein duniya ki har khushi naseeb ho-Nahi, shaadi kay baad hi ghumna-Tum meri sab kuch ho.
You are ‘warm and scary’. You are a bundle of extremities. That’s how most women of your generation were brought up: with a promise which was still in its infancy. Like others you must have kept it inside you, letting it grow as much as you could afford to without anybody noticing. And then you must have waited for your daughters who would come into this world with their fists closed that you wouldn’t let anybody open. This, according to you, was supposed to be our secret. You decided to let me speak but with less passion, laugh out loud, louder but when no one was around, challenge people but without offending them. You ask me to taste the freedom like a woman. When I tell you I do not know what could it possibly mean, you tell me how you always fight for my space but sometimes somehow I always end up aiming high. I wish to tell you how I am still learning to live with half a sun, I am still trying to understand whether the twilight is still bright enough or too dark to stay out. I wish I could tell you that being on both sides feels like being nowhere. I wish we could talk about this and more but aren’t you calling me ungrateful for all the sacrifices you have made to make me who I am today, i.e. better off than most and shouldn’t I just shut up and stay within my limits?
Familial love operates in perpetually paradoxical ways in a society that condition parents to suppress their ‘ability to understand’ deep beneath the ground and fill the rest of the void to the surface with excessive worrying which although is often justified as the need of the hour but when you look at the process closely, it looks as unnatural as the terrible assumption that all is being done for the sake of their daughters. In other words, the cause of the concern was created and the fear was infused so nobody speaks and realize that the respective image assigned to them was not made for their convenience or comfort.
In the movie, ‘What will people say’, the director and writer Iram Haq shows her audience how, if provided the right context, all of us essentially occupy the grey spaces where the parents struggles as much as their daughters while punishing them for someone else’s faults. The movie focuses on father daughter relationship which takes both beautiful and several brutal turns before hitting a cul-de-sac. Iram carefully shows the father’s plight while taking tough and grave decisions with the intention of securing his daughter’s fate and the family’s honor that is now in question because of her actions. The helplessness reaches its zenith in the climax where both of them fail to control the events, making it unbearable for the daughter to stay and for the father to stop her. The open ending where they look at each other for the last time sums up the entire emotional and equally traumatic journey which could’ve been avoided, had it not been for the rules. Similarly, the Tamil anthology mini series, Paava Kadhaigal, specifically, Vaanmagal and Oor Iravu directed by Gautham Vasudeva Menon and Vetrimaaran explores the relationship between parents, their daughters and how the former set reacts differently when put in a dilemma to choose either their reputation in a highly conservative and patriarchal society or their daughters whom they love more than their divided selves.
Much of it shows us how when an attempt is made to normalize love being diluted with cruel decisions and destructive devotion, then the potentially beautiful relationships starts to carry an unnecessary burden that eventually introduces anxiety, self doubt, insecurity in the early lives of the girls. And of course, how all of this largely affects the personal choices they make in the future.
Please cover yourself. You belong to me. I have never loved anyone like I have loved you. Respect that? Cover yourself? I’m not asking much. You don’t know men. You should have asked my permission. I am supposed to protect you.
(To be continued..)
- Abeer Laiq