Monday, 24 August 2015

a chat about women and a different kind of man

this is part of a chat with a very dear friend on an online forum. we met there on india forums and became good friends over barun sobti, asr, khushi, ipk and our thread called the blast from the past... (link in sidebar).

hello ami,

where i come from, bengal, krittibas's ramayan presents ram, at least in the version i have heard, as a human being, a fine hero character in the human realm... even if he is an avatar, in bengal as far as i know, there is no worship of ram... it's at his behest shakti in the form of durga descends to earth when she is not supposed to and helps him fight ravan. subtlety here: ram is kshatriya and not learned enough to invoke shakti, his purohit is ravan the knowledgeable one, who brings durga down so ram may slay him. oh there's beauty there and mystery. but popular versions make eveything so flat and black and white. i have heard the original valmiki ramayan, very few versions of which exist, if at all, was far more earthy with a much more fiesty sita... seems interesting.

ram is the ultimate prince, man, etc., but even as a kid, that sita being sent away to the forests and then asked to give agni pariksha, uh huh that did it as far as i am concerned.

the world hasn't treated women well for the longest time and we have perhaps just started accepting this as the norm. daily war is not possible i guess. but certain things i can't deal with and i won't. sita, draupadi, even surpanakha, amba, ambika, ambalika, kunti, gandhari, kaikeyi, kaushalya, chitrangada, where is fairness to woman?... (mahabharat is more subtle, in fact i am so keenly looking for a way to do a weekly chapter reading of the epic and do on a forum exactly what we do with ipk.)

and so it is that the whole family breaks upon khushi demanding an answer... even nani ji. she is okay with chhotey being the way he is, what to do, but khushi?!!! how could you? and what of bua ji... you prove again you're not of our blood. what is this? amma slaps her? really. no one wants to know what made her do it... was she in trouble. only payal perhaps, the next day... this is khushi who does anything and everything for everyone... doesn't her character count for anything?

asr loved her and that emotion coloured his judgment. but what about the rest.

sad, na?

no one messes with chhotey because they daren't.

khushi must be the keeper of faith and tradition.


but for all this i could not blame asr... he never adhered to these ideas. he is truly a man of the times. a bit paternalistic, definitely overbearing, but completely comfortable with the idea of women and men being the same in an essential way.

to me asr was never ram. he had shades of archetypes, including the flaw that greek writers and shakespeare pondered in their hero characters, the tragic ones.

but to me he was more than that.

he is, in fact. he is real, here, flesh and blood and my world could do with more people like that... man woman whatever. he honours women. hugely. he never expects women to be less or different. he never even expected his girl friend or wife to change anything about them for him. above all, when he realised his father was wrong, and the way his uncle treated them, he refused his father's name, a big thing in patriarchal societies, which means more than half the planet, and took his mother's name. he is an individualist who doesn't follow a group's thinking, but he takes responsibility and loves them the best he can. what's more he is broad minded, never stands in anyone's way to practice as they please. he has his own moral and ethical yard stick and lives by that. he is called atheist because he says he does not believe in an idol who is bhagwan, claiming he makes his own destiny. shocking in a largely theistic world. yet look at his conscience, his understanding of right and wrong and how he acts. better than many pooja doing people.

and such a keen mind.

a big love for those he does love.

and that himmat.

an essential innocence.

and the cleanest heart and being.

yes, he may say what he wishes to her but dare anyone else belittle her. 

only when it comes to mami, for reasons of fam he refrains from admonishment but you can see he is dying to shut her up.

about khushi and shyam... i believe three things really hurt him and threw his world into a claustrophobic storm. first was perhaps a spectre from the past... a woman breaking up his beloved di's marriage, like his maa's. second rose from that was to do with his sister's happiness... and third: it just broke him to pieces to see the girl of his heart, his dhadkan, in the arms of another man. he couldn't bear to have her taken away like that. what if khushi actually loved this shyam? can you imagine his hurt? after years of no faraq he is standing at the doorway to a dream, tentatively having opened it... now this. 

it was never about sexual morality... he didn't expect her to be a vestal virgin while he was free to have a live in girlfriend. it was about emotions. i loved the fact that he accepted her not because he was sure she had not played around with shyam... even straight after the terrace scene he was always concerned for her... oh the aircon off scene. this while he thinks she did indeed have an affair.

hmmm lots to chat about... we must do something about the pace of thread... 

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