There is a video doing the rounds whose title loosely translates to “Boys don’t cry” sub-title “But we should tell them that boys don’t make girls cry”. The video walks through a boy’s life and how he is constantly reminded, “boys don’t cry”. It ends with a shot of a young boy twisting the arm of a girl and the camera pans to the face of the girl. She is a young woman, battered, bruised and bleeding from the lips. Madhuri Dixit shows up with half a smile and says “perhaps we should teach boys that they don’t make girls cry.”
The video repulses me.
No it isn’t vulgar. It has a true social message. But somewhere deep inside it makes me so angry that the first time I watched it, I felt a horrible beast being let loose.
There is another video; a short movie. This is around the stoning to death of a woman accused of adultery in some foreign Islamic country. The woman is buried in the sand up to her waist. Her hands are tied to her sides and basically she is incapacitated. Her son, followed by the husband, throws the first stone and then a whole bunch of men hurl stones. With each stone she howls until so many rain on her that she bleeds to death.
I almost shouted at the friend who sent me this video. I felt horrible. I contrasted with what I had seen in this video with a popular Bollywood movie “Jab We Met” where the son is coming to terms that his mother loves someone else. The mother-son reconcile their differences.
The two videos haunt me. But I keep them buried deep inside. I don’t visit them because I feel myself emotionally vulnerable and so angry that I want to do something about it. In the video “Boys don’t cry” I once thought about what I would do if the girl who was hurting were my daughter.
What my mind came up with frightened me. I couldn’t believe there lay inside me an animal who could think of so many ways to hurt the boy. Let’s not kid ourselves, we humans are animals after all.
There is a contrasting incident that took place in my life that continues to baffle me.
Many years ago, I lived in Powai, Mumbai. My place of work took me past a slum. One evening while driving back from work I saw a crowd gathered on the side of the road. Emitting from the crowd was a shrieking sound that startled me. Curiosity got the better of me and I stopped my car. I got down and pushed my way past the crowd and headed to the source of the shrieking. I saw a man beating a woman and the crowd standing around and watching. The beast in me threatened to come out. Without a thought of my own safety given the size of the crowd and the place (the slum), I yelled at the man and marched menacingly towards him. He stopped hitting the woman and curiously looked at me. The woman, still crouched on the ground, looked at me through her sobbing eyes. I am not sure when or how but I recall holding the man by the collar and threatening to hit him. And then I felt something hit me on my back. I turned thinking someone from the crowd had hit me. What I saw startled me. It was the woman who was being beaten. She yelled back at me “leave my husband alone.” I was too shocked to continue holding the man. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.
The man was amused and sarcastically asked me “what is she to you, sir?”
“Nothing, nobody” yelled the woman.
I stood speechless as the man and woman both stood before me. I turned and pushed my way through the crowd. The scene is fresh in mind even today and I continue to remain baffled. The crowd, which I am sure consisted of slum dwellers, didn’t react at all to the act of humiliating a woman in public. No one went and intervened. The man took pride in the flogging. The woman didn’t want to be rescued or shall I say was protective of her husband.
How could all these realities co-exist?