My friend and I had just finished a very enduring telephonic conversation. It included our reflections on many stereotypical yet poweful theories pertaining to the first and second wave of feminism.. The almost unreal concept of cultural colonization in our country.. About what is known as an identity politics.. realism.. conspiracy theories.. The liberalisation of gays and the emerging lesbianism.. The ethic rivalry.. About Scarlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.. The conversation was long but was equally enthralling and euphoric. I thought of how dumb regular men were in believing that women are incapable of having intelligent conversations.
I thought of the book I was reading as I went in to find something to eat. A thousand splendid suns.. The title said. A story of a young girl Mariam born with the tag of a harami. Her killer instincts and a sunny attitude in spite of the utter misery and pain crushing her and the soon-to-die mother was a treat to read… And then as she’s forced to marry an arrogant old Rasheed thrice her age.. I lost heart. Then I read about how the women are treated post such convenient arrangements under the pretext of a marriage. The neglect.. The domestic abuse.. The rape within wedlock.. The sheer objectification of a girl drawn into this dreaded marriage. The lashes of belt that strike every inch of their body. The even more terrible assault to her mind and intellect. The physical torture she endures as she submits to him. When the cooking didn’t go well.. She’s made to chew pebbles.. She spills blood and teeth alike. I gulp a glass a water and give out a deep sigh. I leave myself to believe that its just another touching story and I shouldn’t worry about it so. The women today are free, I thought.
I walked to my room thinking I’ll retire for the day. I wished my Mariam had married someone with a better temperament. I wished Mariam had fleed and escaped to a valley of contentment. When I started reading the book I wished to implore a young girl’s story from a kolba to education.. enlightenment and awakening. To my dismay what I got was more suffering and misery and the stories of ill treatment of more women as we sheepily read forward. I died another death when her husband married another girl half Mariam’s age again. A child who was not even born when Mariam was brought to Kabul.
I thought of all those women who were given away to abuse and torture because of poverty and the sheer lack of a CHOICE.Again I went on think about the little riches of information my friend had shared with me that night.I went on and locked my room. I checked if all the windows are latched. My thoughts flew back to Mariam. I thought about how she put up with her master’s insolence. I thought about how she finally finds the gut to slay the sinner. I thought of all the ways her life would have been had she been betrothed to the right man. I wished she was born in a different country or a different century. I wished there would be no more of Mariams any more. I thought again.
I drifted back to the conversation. My friend had added earlier that night.. Dont you see it Anju? Men depend on women only for his physical needs. But us? We want them to earn for us.. Bring home all that we need.. Food.. shelter.. clothing.. respect.. and then look out for the kids. There should be some way to counter the argument. I thought. So allowing the lady of the house to work has been a fair deal for them. She can earn her own bit of food,shelter,clothing and respect for herself. And then she would still be the cook and the butler and the dhoby and the prostitute who catered only to the husband.
I looked at the time. I had to get some sleep I thought. To avoid a morning shower I decided to take a bath. I couldn’t help feeling relieved I’m neither Mariam nor any other women caught up in the whirlwinds of life. I’m educated.. I have a job to my credit and a man who loves me beyond measure. I stepped into the bathroom. Then the familiar fear caught hold of me again. I was overwhelmed by a fear of being watched. I looked out to the ventilation and exhaled. I came out feeling empty.
I guess we all have had our MOMENTS as Mariam. In the bus or at home.. in a deserted alley.. at the theatre or the mall.. or the party.. or the temple.. We all have fought to keep our dignity in tact. We have fought to keep ourselves from the wolf ‘s cloves. We have all cried, ran.. fleed.. shouted or felt remorse atleast once in our lives. How much ever we shout out for freedom or liberalization or feminism.. I think deep down we ARE a volatile breed. I thought I was a happy woman. But I realized with pain that happiness in true sense comes with an absence of fear. The day a woman can go out or stay in without the fear of getting robbed.. raped.. molested.. assaulted or slaughtered.. Would be when true liberalization and awakening would take place. Until then we are all Mariams.. But fighting a different Rasheed.