The patriarchal system that teaches a male child that he is superior to a girl owing to his gender needs to be uprooted. The focal point of reflection and change should not be the victim, but the mentality of the men who perpetrate such heinous crimes. For preventing such untoward incidents in future vigilant surveillance and expeditious law enforcement is urgently needed so that next time we celebrate daughter’s day we do it with the dignity of sentiments!
While growing up in times of adversity, I would often hear elders say, ‘sabr se kam lo’ meaning be patient. When something happened contrary to their expected wishes still, they would say, ‘don’t worry, Allah jo karta hai acha karta hai. Have trust in God’s plans.’ Somehow the faith and conviction with which these words were said it acted like a balm for the disheartened person. Later I came to know that this is called ‘tawakkul’ in Islam. Tawakkul means having complete trust that Allah’s plan is the best plan. It is having faith and reliance that Allah will take care of you even when things look impossible. This idea may not appeal to all, but it can be a source of immense strength and hope in times of hardship for someone who has faith.
There are times when events in life make us question-why me? For example, when someone breaks our trust or when people we love let us down or while battling a chronic disease etc. Sometimes we encounter pain that makes us feel overwhelmed, lost and left with scars. But pain and scars are not always damaging. Responding to them with courage and grace, they enable us to become a better version of ourselves. After all, it is the chisel marks that turn a stone to a piece of art!
Talking of pain, scars and how certain tests of life leave us broken reminds me of the Japanese word ‘kintsugi’. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting and mending broken pottery pieces with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. The beauty of this wonderful Japanese philosophy is that its treats breakage and repair as the part and history of an object rather than something to hide. It is built on the idea that by embracing our flaws, imperfections, gathering the broken or wounded part in ourselves, we can emerge stronger and wiser.
I was at peace reading and contemplating over these beautiful ideas until I read this news. The news that for a moment sent all these thoughts be it ‘tawakkkul’ or ‘kintsugi’ evaporating from my head. I sat numbed fueling with anger and pain that sent chills down my spine. What was the fault of this girl raped and killed so barbarically? When reading about the incident can take one in a state of shock, can we ever fathom the agony of this girl? Can we ever face the parents of the girl who must have invested so much in bringing her to this world and raising her up? The video of the mother sitting and crying in the middle of the road beating her chest continues to haunt me, and I wonder can her scarred heart ever heal? Even after everything that has happened and left with no choice if she gathers the courage to hold herself up; will she ever be able to find solace in concepts like ‘tawakkul’ or ‘kintsugi’? Being a woman can sometimes be worse than being an animal or an object. Even cows are getting their deserved place, and a broken object can still be fixed if desired. The cracks repaired with a precious metal in kintsugi serve to add beauty to the object. But the brutal way this poor girl was raped, injured with multiple fractures, paralysis, gash on her tongue; even if she had survived and healed physically could the broken pieces of her soul ever be fixed after the traumatic torture? Even if we decide collectively to mete out the same treatment to the rapists, the way they treated the innocent girl; will it undo that which the girl and her family have endured?
#Hathras will trend for a few days then life will return to normal for most of us. Petitions, protests, candle lighting everything will settle down in a matter of a few days. We, humans, are wired to eventually adapt to even the most extreme positive and negative circumstances of life as explained by the idea of hedonic adaptation theory, according to which people are doomed to experience stable levels of well-being over time. This is going to happen more swiftly for most of the people for the ghastly incident has not happened with them or their loved one. But for the girl’s family, especially the mother will the days ever be the same again? Will she ever be able to sleep after that horrendous night when she could not even bid the last goodbye to her aggrieved daughter, as her body was taken straight for a hurried cremation?
This is high time we look beyond the biases of religion, caste, social status, our political affiliations and empathize with the pain of the girl and her parents as a fellow human. Let us not get silent after a few WhatsApp forwards and social media outrage, rather come together to question and fix the social, cultural and administrative factors that are dehumanizing our men. Wishing for the most stringent punishment is worthwhile, but we need to come up with integrated measures that focus on tackling the very cause of rapes. The patriarchal system that teaches a male child that he is superior to a girl owing to his gender needs to be uprooted. Till the time men grow up with the idea that women are inferior to men, we cannot expect them to respect the agency of women. Media and entertainment industry also must be held accountable for producing content that promotes the objectification of women and reduces a woman from a thinking being to a mere commodity desirable merely because of her ‘body’. Instead of counselling women or imposing restrictions on their movement, we need to further empower them with education and teaching self-defense. The focal point of reflection and change should not be the victim, but the mentality of the men who perpetrate such heinous crimes. For preventing such untoward incidents in future vigilant surveillance and expeditious law enforcement is urgently needed so that next time we celebrate daughter’s day we do it with the dignity of sentiments!