The fallen leaf

A mundane cold october morning, nothing in the diary apart from a loose plan to drop by the senior citizens group that I developed 2 years ago. Respecting my lie-in-day privileges, I woke up after 8. Succumbing to my sluggishness, I decided to skip the group and indulge in a Friends and duvet day instead. Albeit Friends is still Friends when you watch it back-to-back for the 50th time, you still need a ‘break’ (if you get it, you get it) so I watched ‘Same kind of different as me’ – I laughed, cried, reflected, planned. Thoughts crowded my head, so I decided to get away from my habitat, go for a drive, taking ‘Becoming Michelle Obama(cause you know, I love it) the Primal Wound (cause I have to), Cecilia Ahern (just incase), my journal and grateful journal and a pen with me.

Largs. A drive through the mountains which eventually opens up the view of the sea on the left hand side, rocky mountains on the right hand and the blue velvety hills up ahead.

My eyes and brain were going crazy- so many breathtaking things to register. Blue and pink sky, hills, sea, seals, ferry boats (even though mind did wonder about the possible impact this causes the sea, welcome to my environmental conscious brain!). But driving around looking right and left is not the way to go about in life, so the task was to find a spot. Having failed to pick a new spot, I retracted to my usual spot, parked the car and went upto sit on the bright blue bench near by with my blanket, music and books.

Braveheart song starts playing in my ears when two lil black fur babies, out of nowhere, run up to me excitedly. Although freezing cold, their playfulness, fight for my attention, and the good 20 mins chat with their owner warmed me inside. Went back into the car after they left because you know, hypothermia is real.

Didnt read, didnt write, didnt do anything else apart from sitting in the car thinking of the time when I caught sight of a little fallen leaf that was stuck on the cobwebs. A leaf that serves no purposes. But when the wind blows, it dances. It danced to the tune that was playing in my car and provided me with right entertainment during the red light.
A fallen leaf that became the dancing leaf. Huh.

The fallen leaf that became the dancing leaf for me made me smile then and it made me smile today thinking about it.

Nature, rather generous in her offering, gives us plenty to see, feel and enjoy but our eyes often fail to see them. With that thought, I decided to head back home. After about 50 yards, I see a couple in their 70s probably walking slowly on the other side of the road. Arm in arm. Nothing unusual. But then I take another look. The man has shades on, a walking stick, taking fearful smaller steps, relying heavily on his partner to be the eyes for him. To be the eyesight he lacks.

I am a Woman

I grew up in a country where palm lined beaches and backwaters along with the beautiful misty hills earned it a title ‘God’s own country’, Kerala. A place with 100% literacy where my hair colour, choice of clothing and not having children after 4 years of marriage concerns the general public much more than my basic right as an individual, as a woman. Although Kerala is much more liberal compared to other parts of India, its still a patriarchal society where women and men have different set of rules.

I spent 2 weeks in Kerala last month and I came across different types of men who stood out to me during my trip.

1. A man who is terminal, who has fear in his eyes, who had made a lot of wrong choices in his days pushing people away yet the love he has, love he had, connects all those near and dear to him.
2. A man who has no fear in his eyes, who is making a lot of wrong choices by drinking and smoking everyday and withering away bit by bit.
3. A man who followed 3 girls (2 of which under aged) back from church, in the dark, and parked his fancy bike in a dark corner and started helping himself and said obscene things.
4. A 17 year old young man (who was meant to accompany the girls on the way back from church) who ended up blaming it on the way the girls looked and behaved upon hearing the incident involving the man from point 3.
5. A 33 year old professional man who married his college girlfriend and has a child with but somehow thought it was OK to behave inappropriately towards his 15 year old cousin-in-law after having couple of drinks

Some of these men I’m related to by blood, one is a stranger who decided that he had the right to be ‘himself’ when in the dark and thus violate the rights of others (of women!), latter is someone who is married to someone dear to me. All these men have something in common. Choice. They all have a choice or had a choice. A choice to be yourself, a choice that may or may not cause (or have caused) harm to yourself, your family members or strangers. A choice I or the majority of the women don’t have.

I am a woman. A woman with rights, with skills, with desires and ambitions. Being able to walk anywhere without fearing anyone or without a male family member accompanying and not getting harassed is not my pride, my ambition or my arrogance, it is my right. My basic human right. But I’m denied that right. And when I do voice my dissatisfaction with that, I’m ‘sushed’ from left and right by own kind, the females.

After effect? Immense amount of anger built up for the innate inability to not do anything to those who misused their choice. You get affected by the incidents; angry for not having a choice to react, for not having a voice. But then out of nowhere, it occurred to me, I’m demanding a choice and a voice from others, from strangers and not from myself. I may not have the innate inability to react to others misusing their choice and my right, but I do have the choice and right to react in a way that does not give them any more power. Mulling over what had happened and being affected by someone’s perversion is still giving power to the perpetrator. The days where the woman gets sexually abused in the Indian movies and her life is distraught till a good Samaritan guy decides to ‘give her a life’ is over. Its not needed any more. Reason? She is a woman.

I am too.
I am a woman who made the choice to spend time with the man who may not have a lot of time. The reason for my visit.
I am a woman who feels angry when a man turns to alcohol or other substances and do not tap into his inner emotional strength,
I am a woman who said ‘F you you a******, go F your Fing mother’ when I caught a stranger masturbating in the dark,
I am a woman who said ‘Blame it on the way a girl walks or dresses, not the way a man behaves inappropriately’ to the 17 year old who blamed her for ‘looking nice’,
I am a woman who used careful words to the 33 year old man to let him know that he is not invincible,
I am a woman who knows a man no 6, who lets the woman be a woman, a real man. I married him.

I am also a woman who chose to focus on the above points and nothing else or no one else. I have rights. I have choices. I do not give men any power or control. I fixate on my choice, not their wrong choices. I am a woman.