Category Archives: E magazine

Mard ko dard Kyon nahi hota: On Hegemonic Masculinity.

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I gaze into his clear eyes
Like I gaze at the starry skies
Reflecting the colours vibrantly alive
Oh yes! He is learning
How it looks like,
What now, to me is this world’s
Big dark scary side.

Today is like any other day.He is back from school and as I change his clothes, I get to my regular question to him.
Hope no one made you feel uncomfortable!”
“No,” he casually answers.
Always tell mummy if someday…”
He seems disinterested and runs out to play.
He is four.
I am a mother. An awfully petrified mother. On hearing my friends distressing about the safety of their daughters, I often think about my son. With humanity stooping to a new low every day, the thought of a child’s security disturbs every parent. I do not know what we can do about it at such an early age, so I talk to him. I talk to him about everything. Everything. I have learnt in my five years of parenting that it does really help. All these years, growing up in a rigidly structured Indian milieu made me realise that we really go out of the way for the safety of our girl child. We protect them from strangers, uncles, almost everyone for the fear of abuse. We protect them from dark and solitary lanes. We make them delicate and dependent. We make them feminine. Seldom have we worried about our sons’ sexual security. We let them loose and never doubt a friendly visitor who comes too close. We teach them to fight. We take pride in their masculine might.

I gave birth to a child, they make him a bit of a man with each passing night .

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The process of emotionally destroying a male starts at a very early age along with the process of gendering.They become aware about the basic socially acceptable norms for a girl and a boy. Language, I feel, plays a pertinent part in the construction of one’s identity. Communication strongly impacts a child’s brain to grow up into an individual that the society wants to see. As I delved deep into my study, I understood that all these years, while we were growing up, my parents never asserted gender roles on my brother and myself. My brother and father can really cook good food and my mother’s decision was always counted as significant.I also realise now why talking things out, crying, seeking for help is considered by the majority of men against their manliness.

Ladka hoke rota hai (you cry despite being a boy) !, ladka hoke kitchen set se khelta hai(you play with a kitchen set ), ladki jaise zyada baatein karta hai(you talk too much for a boy),mera sher(my tiger) , are the widely used expressions in our daily language that demean a woman and uplift the status of a man thereby destroying the essence of we being an individual above all. To fit in the normative gender roles assigned to us by the society, we try to mould a child’s personality. The social construction of masculinity is one of reasons, I feel, why men refrain from talking about them being in a deplorable condition. Everyone is aware of women being victims to sexual assaults and rapes, we explicitly talk about them on a regular basis. Predominantly taking place around us, the unspoken bitter reality of male rapes is hushed and concealed almost everyday. A significant portion of males are victims of sexual assaults and most of them stay unreported.

Under section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, the term ‘Rape’ was used to identify only the forceful sexual assault over a female by a male. However, with time, little amendments have been made to consider rape as a gender neutral crime. A large number of male sexual abuse cases are left unheard due to the lack of legal recourse and majorly because of the dishonour related to it. The hegemonic masculinity, in much simpler words, mard ko dard nahi hota(men do not feel the pain) notion plays a vital role in stigmatising male sexual abuse. A survey conducted in 2007 about the children who experienced sexual assaults reports that 57.4 % were boys and 42.3% were girls. The social construction of men being regarded as superior, physically and emotionally stronger, propagates gender inequality and justifies the role of a female being inferior, weak, and therefore being more vulnerable.

The fact is that a sexual assault can happen to anyone but because of the stereotypical notions of masculinity, men refuse to be portrayed as a victim of a situation. Being more protective about a female child than a male child is considered normal in our society. But this idea confused me when I gave birth to a HIM.  My son needs my protection from anything suspicious and wrong in anyway, which is a question far beyond a child being a boy or a girl.I became a young mother and my surroundings have made an influential impact on how I should bring my child up.

I have strongly felt that we need to make our boys softer, calmer, and tell them that they are not weak if they weep.That it is okay to speak up and look for help when needed. That no one can touch them without their permission. So, each day I combat these social standards and try to raise him not as a boy given to me by the society but my baby, who came and empowered me to stand by him and not to let him loose his individuality.

 

 

 

 

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Redefining Motherhood: ME and My Son

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“We all live with the objective of being happy;

Our lives are all different and yet the same.”
-Anne Frank.

These were the most painful days, when in the deafening hush of the classroom, with everyone gone I would think over if all these restless and anxious nights, all the rush and haste someday would be worth it or not.
I think about all those years back in school. Growing up dreaming from one corner of my classroom, just a Nobody doubting whether she would ever make it to the other side of that room ever. And then I think of myself Today, still wondering the same.

… so there he was running towards me,
in my college today as I could see,
pulling me out of my trance a starry eyed Dreamer just like me,
with words as delightful as none could be,
“Mumma, how was Class today??”, said he.

And my heart wrapped up all the angsts and fears as if they never occurred and, I smile.
Perhaps I feel both of us will figure this out together as we grow what seems very vague today, Me and my Son.

Having him in my life was not an accident or a slipup, it was the Choice I made, We made!. I wanted to be a Mother and trust me you don’t Never learn it from anywhere, it comes naturally to every woman. So, the day I held him in my arms I made a silent promise to him that I may not know to cook good food ever, and may never knit you a wool cap, and may never ever be the ideal definition of a Mother. But, I will make sure I be someone you will love growing up with, I will never stop chasing my dreams and teach you to race for yours, I will show you that Shooting for the Stars is not just a phrase, that from this day onwards I will do rather Live everything but by holding your hand till my last breath.
I have always dreaded leaving myself somewhere behind in the passage of being a Daughter, Wife, and most importantly a Mother. When they said Motherhood is a full time job and  that I would have to make my choices. I decided to reform my characterisation for the same, I thought it was not my JOB and  as a matter of fact It cannot be any one-body’s job but it is an intrinsic part of us women that comes to us as natural as breathing, it is one of the roles we play like several other, Its just we play this one a little more peerlessly!

So, I made my choice.
The society sets hegemonic structures for everyone. The term Hegemony refers to the controlling social and cultural ideologies. These structures are ruling since forever predefining notions on how things are to be done by all and sundry. When in a small town, they have an imperative role to play. The society needs to validate your undertakings at every step be it being a fair petite feminine girl, or a sturdy masculine boy, marriage at 20 something, having children before being labelled childless, have one then another till you think of yourself as no one else but, only a Mother.

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So, instead of living obligatorily when you choose yourself over social standards you tend to become apprehensive, you fear let-downs. It is not easy but then no one said it would be, I may fail terribly or I may reach my purpose but I will learn and so will he, Me and my Son.
One can never know that you can swim too unless you are left with no choice but, Swim. I never knew what I wanted from life until very late. It took me thirty years to apprehend my abilities and make my passion for the same to assert the presence of my insignificant self in this universe. Motherhood never stopped me it only elicited my sense of self, and I embarked on this journey to self-discovery. It never should be an end to yourself rather a new beginning for now you have your little infallible Hope gripping your fingers and looking up to you.
I made my choice long back holding his hand and I am living my dream and I will make it become our reality, hoping that someday he will know that no structure or defined boundaries can stop you from getting what you want if you passionately conspire with universe and frame your own destiny. You may fall but you will learn with absolutely no regrets.
So, here I am almost breathless as I reach just on time to college (my everyday goal read struggle) for the morning lecture as a Research scholar after dropping our son to his school.
And, I have never felt this alive before!

 Meghna.

Motherhood Dare- from my eyes !

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I have never been the kids coochy coo type Period. Albeit I was what we they conventionally call or at least I thought myself to be a full-fledged “grown up”, the idea of going to a place where kids were around made me anxious. Why did not god drop them straight all prim & sophisticated I once thought?

Four years back from now things changed significantly for me when I delivered. By bringing in a new life to this world I felt a phenomenal sense of power that by nature’s grace we women are blessed with. I saw my heart thumping outside my body and I knew life would never be same again. Once you have a baby all the pre-delivery pampering and Mr husband keeping with your midnight hunger pangs and the entire family going gaga over you looks like history. Guess what? It is your little marshmallow who happens to take away the whole of paparazzi leaving you with a nightmare that every woman dreads –“The Post-Delivery Fat”.  I was blessed with some of the fabulous genes and got back into shape a little too soon but dealt with my bit of post-partum too. Apart from all this I was experiencing a great sense of completeness like never before and the answer to my inexplicable happiness was the one I was holding closely –“Our Little Piece Of Heart“.

But I realised being a mommy is much more than just looking good holding a cute little baby in your arms. There are a lot of sleepless nights, gut wrenching moments, at times it’s messy, annoying, and monotonous and yet you want to live every bit of it downright and happily. You learn to wear those stretch marks with utmost pride.  It has been a perfect & not so perfect motherhood for me and I did encounter a self that I had not known ever. The less self-conceited, ever optimistic myself and also the perpetually paranoid, overtly possessive lioness who is utterly hopelessly obsessed with her offspring, undeniably this is what I had become & it was natural coz I had never held anyone so delicately tiny before. I was completely head over heels in love with him, “I still am”. Neither a lover nor a wife or a daughter but only a mother is capable of being so much & even more.  Even I do not know the extent to which I can go to protect my baby. He has given me the courage to live this phase of life, has changed me inside out, softened me yet made me stronger, strong in way like never before yet left me so vulnerable.

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Being a mother has changed my perception towards life. I have happily strived every day waking up to a better version of myself and I intend to do that all my life.  We are growing together building little dreams with playing blocks. I am learning from him reviving my long forgotten innocence & teaching him the ways of living. I am celebrating my rebirth.

Four years back when love happened all over again I had a reason bigger to live.So,welcome aboard ladies  “…its motherhood – another hood and if you are here you’re here for good…”

Meghna.

Motherhood dare- I accept!

Almost 8 months ago when I found out that I was expecting, I was shattered. I remember I tested myself with a home pregnancy kit because I was a day late for my period. I always used to keep these testers handy with me. I had experienced many false alarms but every time I just knew that I couldn’t have conceived. It’s just one of those things that are close to you and you know when and where things could’ve gone wrong. However this time, I knew there was a possibility to have knowingly made this oversight.

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It was a Saturday evening and I was expecting friends over for dinner. After all that garlicky cooking, I decided to head in for a shower at about 5.30 in the evening, as they were expected to be home by 7.30. I took a tester, did the needful and patiently waited for the result. I was always used to see it say ‘Not Pregnant’ and somehow I hallucinated to see the same. But no, that blue and white stick flashed ‘Pregnant, 2-3 weeks’! I sat there, numb, tears rolling down my cheeks and I had no idea how to react. Was I happy or was I crying on my stupidity, I don’t know. On that day, sitting in the vicinity of the four walls of my bathroom, the only thought that kept flashing through was how could one night of irresponsibility lead to a lifetime of responsibility.

But that was then, and this is now. Each day leading to this was a struggle. I was not the easiest pregnant woman to deal or live with. Emotions ran high, sometimes situations were not in my favour and most of the times I didn’t want to be around anyone. My body changed, nothing fitted me. I wasn’t my toned self anymore. I feared my husband would start hating me and the way I looked. I mean, there was a phase when I was convinced that he had no physical interest in me. But again, that was then and this is now.

Every phase and chapter of life is important and it chooses to come at the right time. We cannot ever question its timing, only feel it. I felt a sense of power which only a woman can feel; that was the day I felt my baby kick. I am bearing a child, giving him space to be nurtured and this can only be felt by me. Women who haven’t been through this yet would feel I am talking exactly how other to-be mothers do. I probably am. Because no matter how much I write, no one can understand this until you go through it yourself.

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I am not a mother yet and to be honest, I am scared to actually be one. But this time, this will never come back. My baby’s kicks, hiccups, turns and somersaults, his/her growth, that feeling of feeling it grow is unbelievable. Nature and a woman’s body is designed to naturally take this pain in a beautiful manner. It’s amazing how superpowers above have actually taken care of the minutest of detail in crafting this immaculate evolution/ mechanism, whatever you want to call it.

I wanted to travel the world and achieve the heights of success I had planned for myself. For now, all this is on hold but not forgotten. Life doesn’t stop here, we don’t stop living for ourselves. And this little one inside me will be my source of strength and power. I can’t wait to the unconditional love and cutie cute cuddles which would be solely for me. I can’t wait to see what you have inherited from me. I can’t wait for you to shine and bring tears to my eyes. Little one, I can’t wait to see you.

 

Aastha K Singhania

Social Obligations

‘Confessions of a socially obligated fool’

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How many of us here have felt we have been socially obligated to do something we didn’t want to at the time? You? Me? Our parents? Grandparents? Well, it’s a thing of the past. So many times we’ve heard our mothers come into our rooms on a Friday evening, informing you of her plans and how you are included in them. All this when you have already decided to chill the hell out after an exhausting week; probably order a pizza, a glass of wine and a RomCom. Try getting out of it and you’ll hear “jaana padega, acha nahi lagta“. Kisko? Dude, who cares? You do go but only to find out that your presence or no didn’t really matter. You decided never to give in to your mum’s demands then. Think now. How many times did you repeat the same mistake you swore you would never repeat. Why? Social Obligation.

What all have we done to be our social best! Had the best pictures on social networking sites (deleted the bad ones IMMEDIATELY when someone tagged us), never dressed inappropriately (I mean, if people still commented on the attire, there is nothing more I can say), made sure no one knew who my boyfriend was at the age of 18 (it was a social tabboo to agree when people asked you, “are you going out with so and so?”) even when the whole town knew what you were hiding. I mean, come on! Today, it’s all about attending each others gatherings, side cheek kisses and putting those photos up on Instagram and Facebook and before I forget, the ‘Western influenced’ attires!

Well this culture is the same in this part of the world as well. London is no different. Only difference, social obligation has joined hands with the power of money here. You got the red notes with the Queen imprinted on it, you will have the whose who knocking at your door to happily socialise and not feel obligated at all. You don’t have it, consider yourself lucky to keeping away from the fake cream of London. Daughter in-law’s social obligations are way higher than a daughter’s, but that is a discussion for next time.

PDA makes everyone happy. Period. But here the question arises, ‘kiss kiss ko pyaar karoon? Aur agar karoon, toh sabko kaise Facebook pe izhaar karun?’! So one day I decided to stop, ‘kissi ko mat kar yaar’. Hence reduced mental pressure. I admit over the years having done things just because it was obligatory for me, especially on social media. Ageing away and pleasing people? Tagging, wishing, write-ups just for the heck of it. For a few, my heart spoke out and for few only my mind did the needful. When you become socially indentured to do things you don’t want to, you become wish paralysed. NO MORE NOW.

So, my running year resolutes to dealing with it in a better way. I mean I am thirty (well almost) and Aastha is approaching thirty in a few years! ‘Ab nahi toh kab’? Finally, have decided to entertain my bucket list of dreams this time. Pleasing myself so that my carefree radiant life can unfurl the same happiness to the ones around me and not momentary smiles leaving my heart in shreds. Not ‘socially obligated’, ANYMORE!