In the past two years I could carve a niche for myself in this small dot in the Straits of Malacca which truly exemplifies a multicultural society. I live in Singapore, a ‘fine city’ with almost honk free traffic and where every citizen has a smartphone as their better halves. I perceived technology as a disguised GOD in this foreign land where bowed heads swipe on their phones like praying with a rosary. Only during my second week of stay did I find a face smiling at me in the nearby supermarket. I was carrying only a big watermelon while her basket was overloaded with groceries. She smiled at me and allowed me to stand before her at the billing counter. I thanked her and bade adieu with a smile.
We kept encountering each other quite often in the same supermarket. The scar on her forehead and a burnt mark on her right hand had etched her face in my memory. Our meetings lasted only through exchange of smiles. Words neither found time nor a place in that crowd till one fateful day. It was one of those days when my Mr. Iyer accompanied me for shopping. My absent minded scientist husband forgot to put kumkum-vibhuti, the certificate of a South Indian. She looked at both of us and asked, “Punjabi?” Probably, the tall stature, big eyes and burly body of my Mr. Iyer made her surmise so. We both smiled at her and introduced ourselves as Bengali and Tamilian. That was the first time I analysed her properly. Her physicality, attire and her query complemented her identity. She was from Northern part of India.
Incidentally I met her again yesterday. Not in the supermarket but in the adjoining bus stand. I wished her Happy Women’s Day. A woman who always used to display an innocent smile, smirked at my wish. She asked me, “What does WOMAN mean?” I was taken aback, not knowing what to reply. My vacant smile made her continue. She pointed to the scar on her forehead and that burnt elbow of her right hand and replied, “Man named us WOMAN, literally meaning Wife of Man. That is our identity.”
Her thoughts surprised me. While kneading the dough for making phulkas, I wished to check the etymology of the word WOMAN. Unfortunately, I found her knowledge to be right on the money. The word WOMAN originated from WIFFMAN, literally meaning FEMALE SERVANT OF MAN and was further refined as WIFE OF MAN. Was that a proper definition of WOMAN?
The Creator crafted WOMAN because she was needed. She exists because she must. You are indeed God’s best creation but your magnificence was accentuated only when God created Woman. You were born tough so was the life around you. To mitigate the hurdles, God provided you with his toughest creation, Woman. You jostled around to name her as subservient to you when she was actually your true saviour.
She bears a bit of you in her womb and nurtures it to life as a mother. She propagates your genes in the form of your daughter. She shares your genes as a sister and as a wife she shares all your trials and tribulations. I won’t say SHE is equal to YOU. She can never be as she is not meant to be. I won’t say she competes with you to prove herself better. No. You both are bound in a symbiotic relationship where both partners must contribute proportionately for the betterment of the liaison.
All the basic needs to survive are equally essential but not essentially similar. Isn’t it? Oxygen and water, both are needed to survive, but are poles apart in their characteristics. Similarly both You and She are essential for balancing the human race. YOU need a woman and SHE needs you. She serves you with love, care and affection not because she is bound to but she was created to do so.
When news of gender discrimination, female foeticide, rape, physical abuse hogged the limelight in the media, YOU created a day for HER to mollify the whole world. Women’s Day. An uproar occurs on the 8th of March every year, only for it to be extinguished the very next day. Is this how you truly want to celebrate womanhood? I beg to differ from your thoughts.
Celebrate that day as Women’s Day when nobody dares question her integrity based on her choice of attire. Celebrate Women’s Day when the concept of female foeticide is abolished. Celebrate her existence when discrimination becomes quality based and not gender biased. Celebrate her right to education. Celebrate her distinguished abilities and acknowledge her thoughts. Celebrate that day when you raise your hand to bless her, to love her, to caress her and not to beat her. Celebrate to the fullest when you become amnesic to the mere perception of sexual assault.
I cannot change the etymology but all I request is don’t saddle her with only one day. Give her the much needed respect. She doesn’t want you to worship her. Just shower your love and affection. VALUE HER EXISTENCE. Not for yourself, but for the persistence of human race.
YOU EXIST, SO DOES SHE!!!