This is one sentence all of us guys have heard. Your girlfriends say it, your sisters, your colleagues - pretty much any woman/girl you might've had the fortune of meeting. It is one sentence that ends conversations of road trips together, night outs, plans to chill at the beach past 7pm, and many many more such things. It conveys one emotion that is so omnipresent in society - fear. I wouldn't term it paranoia since that would add the term “irrational” before the word “fear”. It is a rational fear, I agree.
We all know where this fear stems from. Everybody reads the news. Nobody is nestled, cushioned in the ignorance of what happens outside their walls. Some of us may even know people who've had not-so-pleasant experiences. We might have been victims of such antisocial behavior. This is India - a place where the cops needn't impose curfew past 9pm because our parents do it for us, a place where society decides what morals we must stick to, a place where the paths our lives take are dictated by pakkathu veetu aunty’s remarks.
I find it depressing that many people I've met live to please. A common enough emotion that traverses language barriers, culture barriers and the gender divide is, “Ava enna nenaipalo?” Now this “ava” does not include just uncles, aunts, cousins, parents, friends, teachers, etc. (though it needn't include anyone). This extends to people walking on the same road as you, people sitting on the street outside your house, whatever, you get the point.
I was recently engaged in a conversation with one of my cousin sisters (please don't tell me that's an “Indianism”! I can argue against that later). I said I don't like that sentence and I didn't even agree with it. Even guys can be assaulted and mugged. Her counter argument was merely this, “You don't have a pussy. I do”. When asked if it came down to just that, she replied in the affirmative.
First, it is very disturbing that the women in our country are forced to be on guard like this all the time. We're reduced to the equivalent of jumpy rabbits - ready to dart out at the slightest hint of danger. A life of fear ain't a life worth leading, at least that's what I think.
Second, I've heard about many guys (some of whom I personally know) whose displays of gallantry have been mistaken for mischief. I suppose I may use the word paranoia here but sometimes, as they say, better to be safe than sorry. I agree. But is there nothing we can do about this phenomenon? If we don't act soon, this might become uncontrollable (I'd like to believe it ain't yet there).
We've had raging debates on how to tackle this issue, we've had boardroom discussions and also chaiwallah oda bench la heated arguments as to why this shit happens and what we can do about it. So I doubt I'm saying anything new when I say this but we need to be a little more open about discussing sex. Now I don't just mean serious discussions about sex or just educational content that we're supposed to get in classrooms (which we don't because the teachers don't want to read it out). My 10th grade teacher refused to teach the topic on puberty and the associated changes that the human body undergoes. She claimed it was “silly”. She also went on to declare that condoms don't work and sex is a sin. Anyway, what I'm saying is, these discussions should include everything from answering curious kids to educating ignorant adults. I remember being clueless about what was going on when 30 or so of us, all family, travelled to Tirupati and my sister didn't come to the temple. When I asked her, she didn't reply. My aunts laughed, patted my head and walked away. My mother was reluctant to talk about it in front of the others. Why? I still don't understand.
We should also talk about how fun, or not, it is. We should discuss all of this. And it's not like we don't know any of this. We didn't become the 2nd most populous country on earth by the miracles of God! We worked towards it. Might as well talk about our work.