Growing up, I had short hair or what was called ‘boy cut’ back then. I used to love wearing shirts and pants, instead of the frocks my relatives would gift me each birthday. On TV, I’d watch Sachin Tendulkar hitting sixes rather than play with dolls. Hence, I was termed a “tomboy”.
For a lot of us, gendered appearances, behaviours, and norms were defined at a young age. While shopping, for instance, there would be two sections in each toy shop: one for boys and one for girls. The former would have plastic guns, bats, balls and action figures. For girls, there’d be dolls, glittery miniature accessories and of course, kitchen sets. All of them wrapped up in shiny pink paper.
A former journalist, Ananya specializes in marketing & communications. She worked with a diverse set of firms across the spectrum for six years before leaving the cobwebs of a metropolitan city for a quiet, slow life in the hills. A depression survivor Ananya primarily writes about mental health, intersectional feminism and society. When she is not working or traveling, she spends her days in a quaint little town of Northeast India with her husband and two cats, sipping red wine and writing poetry.
You are my friend, my colleague, a follower on Instagram, my father, my boyfriend, my ex.
You are a man, in this world, where the power dynamics between genders has been systemically skewed and abused to give you privilege over women, and other minority groups.
You enjoy a position that has been created and upheld since ages to give you innumerable advantages over us. You have been the decision maker among the two of us; you have benefitted from this position that your fathers, and their forefathers created for you to enjoy and exploit, and I understand you want to uphold it for your sons.
I know it must truly be scary to suddenly be asked to share that kind of power which was bestowed upon you for so long that it started feeling like entitlement instead of plain blatant privilege which it actually is.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you”
Director Shonali Bose quoted Rumi in her film ‘Margarita With A straw” that is based on her own cousin’s life who has cerebral palsy (permanent movement disorders caused by brain damage). Hereby quoting Rumi, Shonali refers to the process of self-healing in which one comes out of the abyss triumphantly after going through the tough times of despair.
However, this would only happen if the external elements are stabilized and not when a differently-abled is constantly reminded of her/his shortcomings. The film gave us hope for the future of differently-abled in India but this utopia seems to be a distant dream when we take a quick glance of the real facts.
Like most Indians, I had grown up hearing about Tagore, reading “Where The Mind is Without Fear” in our textbooks but never really delving into the vast body of his literature. While I had memorized his name as the first Indian recipient of the Nobel Prize, I could not say the same about his stories.
On the other hand, disillusioned by the lack of innovative and progressive shows on mainstream Indian television, I too had turned towards bingeing on western shows. That’s when I discovered “Stories by Rabindranath Tagore” on Netflix. Directed by Anurag Basu and first aired on EPIC Channel, the show is based on stories written by Tagore a century ago. As I binge watched it, it shone through for its relevance and ideas far ahead of its time.
What struck me the most was the portrayal of the female characters- so different from what I had seen before. They couldn’t be fit into black or white categories of the “sanskari bahu” or the vamp, neither could they be understood using an upright moral compass. They rebelled, they questioned, they desired and most importantly, they challenged the status quo of the society they lived in without fearing the consequences.
The year started with a pleasant surprise for the LGBT community and support groups when a Bollywood movie centered around two queer women hit the theatres in February 2019. While no one can deny that Sonam Kapoor’s Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga in itself was path-breaking cinema, the movie in its effort to sanitize the narrative to make it acceptable to Indian audiences lost the essence of lesbian love. It fails dismally to portray how two women who love each other behave in each others’ company. In the film, the two lovers are only seen exchanging a few hugs and some forehead pecks, in fact, they are called out for doing just that.