Saturday, 27 August 2016

I AM DIRTY AND UNCLEAN!

Do you know I menstruate...so unclean and embarrassing, isn't it (that’s how the Trust of the Haji Ali Dargah described it)! What will God say? This dirty contaminated impure woman …how dare she even think about coming into my house, tainting it with her filthy blood, even her shadow soils my pure house. 

Seriously? Let’s here for a moment assume hypothetically that the power above or God as we like to term him or her is in fact a male. Is that how God actually would feel about his own creation, his daughters, his wives, his mothers, his sisters…dirty, impure, and contaminated? Isn’t it because of this biological truism that, please don’t forget women have no control over, that the marvel of creation and birth in reality happens. 

But all you get to hear about from the same sons and husbands you have given birth to and carried in your womb for 9 months that you are unclean and impure. Who are these so called protectors of God and religion to pass a judgement such as this?  Over centuries women have lived in seclusion during menstruation, similar taboos related to touching food, not entering religious place, etc. have been documented world over.

With all the hullabulloo over this I decided to research this topic. Why does the “superstition”, “taboo” actually exist? I realised that the subject is not what it really seems on the surface. The cultural practices surrounding menstruation have their roots in science and shockingly in the fact that they were originally never meant to suppress or demean women.  There is a positive side of the story and it is obvious that none of the menstrual practices came into being because women are impure or unholy. Do visit the below given links to read up more about this.

  

It is only when we twist the whole meaning of the practices that were meant for and made to revere and venerate women that we reach an impasse as we are at now. People who don’t comprehend the actual meaning of these rituals have made a mockery of the whole matter and used it to redefine the role of women in society.

These practices and rituals cannot be used to subdue women and deny them their most basic and fundamental rights. The mind set has to change and change drastically. And why give the other gender the strength and power to allow us or disallow women to do something or not do something. Women also need to make their lives uncomplicated and not consider themselves the lesser gender. Women need to support and respect each other and most importantly realise they do not require validation from men to define who they are.

Women have been brought up with strong negative mental conditioning, self-doubts and fears. This has led to several crimes against women: shame of being a woman, no liberty or choice, female foeticide, dowry harassment and murder, honour killing, rape, molestation, domestic abuse. Even day to day women are hassled in a very subtle manner by confused men who want the women in their life to be strong and independent but resent their strength and independence at the same time.

It is also time to stop associating women with their virginity, physical appearance, relationship status and motherhood. Inflated glorification of the importance of a woman’s so called honour puts women at further risk of abuse and harassment (mostly but not restricted to sexual crimes).

Gaining entry into the inner sanctums of places of worship, of temples and dargahs maybe the first step for women to stand up and have their say against discrimination and suppression but just as a friend said today it is not enough.


Thursday, 25 August 2016

I AM GRATEFUL


Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

                                                           Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are so many things I am grateful for, indebted to the power above for the opportunity to feel so. Isn’t it amazing that there are people and circumstances at every turn in life who/that make you feel that you are blessed?                            

Gratitude is a very simple feeling but oh so so fulfilling. In recent times I had forgotten to be thankful for everything that I have or come across. I have struggled to find things to be grateful for especially due to the tough times my family and I have been through in the recent past. But on a weekend trip with my family this month it suddenly struck me that I was actually very lucky and wasn’t the world a great place to be in. Life was great.

I have a beautiful loving family, I had a picture-perfect childhood, a good education, a roof on my head, my family’s and my health, the sun rising and setting, babies, laughter, books, the people who have taught me precious lessons, money in my wallet and the power and choice to go wherever and whenever I want to. If that isn’t enough it was meeting my friends on the weekend trip that opened my eyes to the fact that I was so busy looking for the next best thing that I had lost sight of what was right in front of me the whole time.
My friends took out time for me to meet me and spend time with me.  That must mean something, right? I have people in my life who find it worth their time to be with me and to give me their love and support and for the kindness and the fun that they offer. I was sitting on the beach when it struck me and brought tears to my eyes. They actually felt like being with me in return for nothing but the time and an ear to listen. That’s all I can offer. Life has so much to offer. But as of now that is all I can.

But they are there, my family and friends, making ordinary moments extraordinary, making time for me, giving me the push when I need it, not judging me, making me feel comfortable in my skin, for not holding my past against me, walking the talk, including me in their life, reading my blog, for wanting to be there for me and for accepting me the way I am.                                

That also brings to the fore the point that not just friends but I feel immense gratitude for the people I have never met before who display kindness in the little things. Letting me cross the road first, helping me with directions, holding the door for me and so many other things. There is a huge list of other things to be grateful too you know, like the fact that there are trees and flowers, rain and the ocean, hugs and helpers who make our lives easier and man made things such as electricity, TV, pens, paper, the internet …the list is incomplete.

Of course I am reminded by this whole talk about gratitude that there are many things that disappoint me, discourage me, dishearten and disillusion me. It can be small stuff such as individuals or acquaintances who pretend to be your friends because of some hidden agenda, people who take advantage of you without ever appreciating that they may have hurt you, then there are persons like the one I encountered yesterday on the road who broke traffic rules believing himself to be invincible but never realising that he nearly came under the wheels of my car, my weight issues or bigger stuff such as poverty, sickness, global warming, terrorism, corruption, greed and boy can I go on and on.

However, I believe I can be grateful for these too in a huge way because all the disappointment and disillusionment have their own space in my life and have taught me so much. Lessons I am grateful for, lessons that have made me a better human.

But you know what, just one moment of gratefulness or thankfulness can make it all worth it and have helped me appreciate the little things in life. Gratitude can sustain positive emotions and refute negativity and make life so much more agreeable. 

So a big thank you to all those who surround me with their unconditional love and support. The more I truly feel grateful for all the amazing blessings that make up my daily life, the happier I am. The more grateful I am the better the world seems.