Disclaimer: The names and professions of characters in this autobiographical series have been changed in order to protect identity of the people involved.
For a person who has always claimed that she hates fiction, I read a lot of it in my growing years, especially Hindu mythology. Amongst all the characters that I have read about and watched on television, Sita, a human incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, particularly caught my imagination, more than attention.
The Ramayana, which has ‘Sita’, is as familiar to the Indians as the Bible to the West and is retold time and again in different fashions. These days it is being told as a love story through the eyes of Sita on a popular GEC by the name of ‘Siya Ke Ram’.
Never has any version of Ramayana tried to portray the intricacies of Sita’s character so well as this show. The strength that she exudes and the love that she has have been the innate traits of a woman since time immemorial and perhaps, Sita symbolises them.
I am a doctor by profession, and am pursuing masters in gynaecology and being so connected with a woman’s physicality and psychology, I have a habit of plunging uninvited into any matters that cater to women.
I remember once I and my friends were having a discussion on Nirbhaya and I was a stark contrast to what a girl in India would feel. “You’re sure you’re a girl?” I was asked this when I said that the victim’s real name should not be hid and that her identity should be disclosed. Yes, I truly believe in this. A rape is an accident and like how we treat a road accident victim, a girl who has been unfortunate to be raped by an animal-in-guise-of-a-man should be treated with respect. She shouldn’t be given names like ‘Braveheart’ or ‘Nirbhaya’, for if we do this, we are telling her that it was her fault to get raped. It was not.
She is a human being, not the torch-bearer of a family’s dignity. But that’s my opinion and had the country functioned according to my free-bird opinions, the world would have been a better place, at least for the women. And I don’t, by this, aim to be a social worker or an activist. I am a full-time doctor, a part-time writer and a free-time dreamer. For the first two, I make some money. For the last, I don’t and I am quite happy about it.
It’s the dreams that make me come out of the monotony that I live in. Probably that’s why when my mother, an SDM (administrative) by profession, told me on phone that she and my father will begin looking for a prospective groom for me actively now, I remained quiet. I had to. I have no other choice.
As much as I like to talk about women liberation and their rights, I hate to admit that it’s all but a farce. I am just 25 and yet I am constantly reminded of the fact that my time is running out.
The other day, my bua (father’s sister) came to our place, and though she is a gem of a person, she didn’t take a second to remind me that I am 25. It’s a big deal because a girl is considered most beautiful and most fertile at 25. The beauty, the only factor for which a guy is supposed to marry you, declines after 25. So yeah, it’s a big deal. I have to get married for my parents, who I love, are constantly being bothered by the society to get me married. ‘Beti badi ho gayi hai,’ they say. And like every other girl, I am the torch-bearer of my family’s name.
“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.” Sylvia Plath, I feel, was living my life when she wrote these lines.
But then, on a second thought, nobody can live my life; nobody can think as much as I do and nobody can stay befuddled to the limits that I can manage to reach. I think I have been wired like that – to think too much and feel too much. It hurts me sometimes, but feeling more than the others is sometimes a boon too. I’m more sensitive than others; more sensible too. At least that’s what I feel.
So I decided to go with a flow, without letting my mother know that I am still waiting for a guy to think and decide. He is a year younger to me and guys don’t get married at 24 in India. And if you thought only “love” was necessary for a marriage, welcome to the Indian society. Love is the last requisite.
My mother is different though. She understands. Everything. And makes me understand too. What if we remain in a relationship for two three years and then break up? Will anybody marry me when I am 30? No way. Society!
Sachin Tendulkar got married at 22. Why can’t he? – Her second logic. I almost worship my mom and hence, I don’t have any arguments to go against her. She is right. Well! Almost.
I see myself shaking my head in disappointment many years down the lane recalling how I wasted my life in trivialities, such as love. But had Sita, my fictional guiding light, thought the same way, would I have been named ‘Jahnvee’? Simple answer. No.
I am Jahnvee, Sita’s associate, an anti-nemesis – a feminist and a huge believer in equality. But I believe in Karwa Chauth, in sacrificing for my loved ones. I am not weak. Sacrifice needs strength, a strength of a different kind, a nerve that only a Sita can possess. I am emotional, but strong. I stand for my beliefs, choose my own career, but I bow down in front of people I love.
Maybe there’s a whole assortment of impossibilities waiting to happen with me – never finding love, or actually finding one that’s truer than this one. But as strength is what I live by, and grace is what I swear of, I wait my destiny to unfold; bit by bit, shock by shock.