Why I Am A Hardened Feminist
People have often accused me of being an unreasonable feminist. Who knows, maybe they are right. Maybe I hold the flag of feminism too high or carry it too far. Perhaps beyond all reasonable limits. I admit I simply cannot bear it when someone speaks ill of a woman. It is the one thing that makes my blood boil and makes me see red. Yesterday, I had a heated argument with a couple of youngsters in my office regarding women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple. They were of the view that public opinion has to be taken into account before deciding on such issues.
I almost exploded with anger in the office. In fact, we were requested to lower our voices by HR as the argument got heated and things began getting quite irascible and unmanageable. Let me state that as far as I am concerned, I still support women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple. But setting aside the Sabarimala issue, let me try and explain why I am such a vehement feminist. First of all, I would like to state that I have had a very chequered and difficult life. The reason I am still standing on my two feet today is because of the support of the women in my life.
In my initial years as a teenager and a young man, it was my mother who was my pillar of strength and stood by my side through thick and thin. My younger sister was always there for me in very difficult times and I often sought her advice. She has been another great source of strength. After marriage, the baton of taking care of me has been passed on to my wife. And now my twelve-year-old daughter has joined my wife. My father has always been there but mainly it has been the women in my life who have held me together.
I hope that explains the reason for my being such a hardened supporter of women’s rights to the critics of my feminist harangues. I am taking this opportunity to re-blog a couple of poems that I wrote earlier this year. Reading these poems would perhaps explain to people my reasons for being a feminist. One poem was written as an ode to my mother on her seventy-eighth birthday. The second poem was written for my wife when we were going through very tough times in our lives.
To Dearest Amma On Her Birthday
Amma, everyone says I take after you in looks and brains,
I am very proud I am like you and was born to you,
I am proud that you are my mother and my mentor,
you are the woman who has touched my heart since I was a baby,
even now when I wake up from dark dreams, thinking of you comforts me.
I remember my early childhood days in Chennai,
when you would teach me Maths, Science, Hindi and English,
patiently correcting the million mistakes I would make,
never losing your temper for even a minute,
always smiling and always ready to teach me once more.
I remember the days when you used to take me to movies,
sometimes even buying tickets in black so that I would be happy,
I remember you coming home from the office every day,
with a pastry for your son from the nearby bakery,
not missing out on that even on a single day.
When I passed the IIT entrance examination,
you proudly announced it to all our family and friends.
I felt wonderful that for once you and appa,
could be proud of their irascible son,
who was so difficult to manage.
Every time I try to tell you what you mean to me,
how much I love you and how well you have taken care of me,
during my long bouts of illness when darkness enveloped my life,
you just brush it aside with a shrug of your shoulders and tell me,
that you just did what every mother would do for her child.
There have been times when I have made you feel very bad,
yelling at you because of my beastly temper which I could never control,
you always tolerated it and folded me in your comforting arms.
When I cried in dejection and faced failure at every front,
it was you, my dear amma, who held my hand and consoled me.
I remember our trips to interviews for years and years,
I would finish the interview and during our return journey by train,
I would go to a different compartment and smoke cigarettes,
and you would wait for a long time and then come to check on me,
fool that I was, I would show my wrath on you.
There have been times when I have been an angry son,
who failed to listen to you and defied your wise words,
but every time I came back to you with my tail between my legs,
you have embraced me warmly and welcomed me with open arms,
and helped me pick up the threads of my shattered life.
Amma, when you had to be operated upon,
you did not tell me because you felt I would get distracted,
none of us were there to take you to the hospital,
brave woman that you are, you went alone and got admitted to the hospital,
when I found out about that I was very distraught and angry.
Amma, there is no one like you and there never shall be,
you are one wonderful woman and the backbone of our family,
I love you and wish that in every birth of mine,
I am born to you as your son and to no one else,
Amma I love you and I always shall.
Now finally on a lighter vein, oh my wonderful dummie,
have a very very happy and wonderful birthday,
wishing you many many happy returns of the day,
may you live long and be on my side forever,
Oh, my sweet amma, I love you and I shall do so forever.
And here is the second poem dedicated to my wife.
To My Wonderful Wife
Oh, my sweet, I still remember that wonderful day,
I set eyes on your lovely face for the first time in my life,
I took one look at you and knew not what to say,
but one thing I knew was I wanted you to be my wife.
In the middle of that noisy and crowded railway station,
when I got down from a humble second-class compartment,
I was not aware of the noisy crowd busily milling around,
I had eyes only for your lovely face which made my heart pound.
In the thunderous banks of the Siruvani waterfalls,
I proposed to you with my heart going pit-a-pat,
hoping against hope that you would light the lamp,
of my life by accepting me as your soulmate.
I looked at your face trying to read your mind
after I had hesitantly ventured to ask for your hand,
I still do not know what you saw in me,
but you said yes without batting an eye-lid.
I was not what people would call a good catch,
my salary was pathetic and nothing but peanuts,
I did not have a substantial bank balance,
nor did I have the looks of an Adonis from Venus.
You planned a dinner for me in a five-star hotel,
knowing that I could not afford such luxury,
pathetic fool that I was, I did not realize,
you had told everyone, that it was I who had taken you to dinner.
Your family and friends advised you against marrying me,
you stood firm like a rock, defying the world for me,
thank you my darling, for being so staunch,
in your love for me though you knew I had many problems.
I brought you, a new, lovely and pretty bride,
to a house that looked like it had been hit by a hurricane,
with just a television set and cobwebs on the walls,
with dirty clothes hanging from ropes stretching from wall to wall.
I remember the first thing you did after coming home,
was to wash my dirty clothes in the bathroom with bare hands,
for I did not even have the monetary affluence,
to buy you a decent washing machine.
Even now after all these years with you,
I do not understand why you tolerate me,
put up with all my temper tantrums,
and still hold me dear to your heart.
You brought love and life to my lonely soul,
which had been withering away in hopelessness for years,
moving from misery in one form to another,
thank you, darling, for giving me a life.
Today we have been married for more than a decade,
we have a lovely daughter who is a gift to us from God,
my love for you is like a red and beautiful rose,
that cannot wither away with the passage of time.