It’s the simplest question that can be asked. It doesn’t even need a question mark. Doesn’t need any intonation. Encompasses the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Why. Why? It’s a statement that’s reflexive. It’s a question that doesn’t need answers. It IS the answer because you know the answer already. You ask only to reaffirm your knowledge of the answer. Why. Why?
I have a long list of ‘why’s. Without further ado, I will plunge into it. And before you ask why, let me be a little tangential and answer – it’s not a feminist rant. Most women and men have this uncanny knack of ascribing ‘-ist’s to things. But it comes from my epicenter which is not the ovary or the gut but the solar plexus – the dan tien if you please in T’ai Chi terminology. Shooting from the hip. Brace yourselves.
… Do you stare at me when I dangle a cigarette from my lips, balancing my not-so-smart phone in one hand and a cup of piping hot lemon tea in the other, being careful not to step on the tail of the emaciated mutt lounging in the hot summer sun on a scorched pavement in the middle of the day… You look, stare, ogle. Are you dazed? Not likely. Your eyebrows rise in an ‘all-knowing’ look. And, with a drum-roll, you arrive at an opportune ‘conclusion’…
… Do you look sideways from your driver’s or passenger seat when I’m only one of the hundreds of hapless sufferers in the traffic doldrums, sweating like I’m pissing in my pants, cursing like a ‘man’ at nobody in particular. The steering wheel is too hot to touch you see. It’s summer and I’m in the driver’s seat on my way to work so I don’t have to feed off anyone but myself. So I can buy that piece of lingerie that I’ve been eyeing for over a month now. Or that tummy tucker to slip effortlessly into my pencil skirt. That you think is so sexy. Just like that woman’s butt which is probably scalded by now. She’s also on her way to work you see, on her two-wheeler.
… Do you make small talk with me at the bar counter while I’m ordering my Scotch or beer or Cosmo just because I am sitting alone. Is it because I am not in a li’l black dress and stilettos but my ripped jeans, raggedy tee and slippers? I work as hard as you and enjoy my drink as much as you do after a crazy day.
… Do you take my hand in yours and attempt to sweep me off my feet when clearly I am in the mood for no such gallivanting and would much prefer a lone cab ride home and watch re-runs of Two and a Half Men. I know you are very brave. Because you expect me to allow you to expect me to lean in for a peck. Heck. A kiss maybe.
… Do you talk about some loser in your neighborhood and feel that the only way to get him straightened up is to get him married to a domestic, ‘homely’, ‘meek’, semi-illiterate woman. (In Bengali, it translates to this, “Oke ekta ektu alpo porashuna jana, gramer meyer sathe biye diye dile o thik hoye jabe.”) So that he can perpetuate his atrocities on her? What he needs is a military bootcamp. Or some good hard spanking from an equally autocratic whip-wielder of a woman.
… Do you express surprise when I say I don’t know how to cook shit? Or equal surprise when I say that I know how to cook I just don’t like the act of cooking itself. What exactly are you surprised at? That I don’t know how to cook? Or that I don’t like to cook? Why is cooking so important? Does your husband cook dinner? Does your boyfriend bake your birthday cake? At a job interview, is he asked, “So, Mr so-and-so… and what are the dishes that are your specialty? What’s the right way to peel a potato?”?
… Do you allow your son to enroll in martial arts or sports when clearly it’s your daughter who’s the gifted one when it comes to the outdoors. And you enroll her in Bharatanatyam or drawing class or Classical singing.
… Do you tell me that my palms feel like that of a man’s because they’re not soft and padded ‘like a woman’s’. Why can’t a woman have rough palms and a man have soft palms. You follow it up with the most weirdest conjectures – “Do you do a lot of housework?” (Read – dishwashing, laundry, sweeping the floors etc). Why do I need to have soft palms just because I’m a woman? And if I do have rough palms, why can’t you accept the fact that I was born with them and I don’t do ‘housework’. My very kind domestic help has the softest palms.
… Do you purposely jostle past whistling the latest Sunny Leone number in the crowdiest of the places with your arms aimed to maim my dignity. And when I turn back and stare you in the eye, why do you shy away if you were so dying to touch my private parts? I have no problems standing in the bus and you don’t have to offer your seat to me. ‘Women, elderly and handicapped’ the sign says. Ha ha. Neither do I have any problem queuing up at the booze shop to stock up for Holi or my birthday which unfortunately falls on Gandhi Jayanti which is a national booze holiday not because Gandhiji never touched alcohol but because 2nd October is one day when urchins are legally not allowed to create drunken brawls. The rest of the days of the year are okay.
… Do you share porn videos with your wolf pack but ask your girlfriend/wife to be ‘decent’ when travelling alone. Enough said here.
… Do you put up with this hypocrisy at all? Men and women? Equally. Women especially.
The list of ‘why’s is never-ending. Maybe I will continue this rant some other time because, like you, I also have ‘work to do’ and can’t afford idling my time away at my laptop