It is evident from my experiences that you and I share a very intimate relationship. We’ve been together even before I opened my eyes to let out a screeching cry as I gasped for breath outside Ma’s womb. You were there to peep between my tiny legs and whisper in my grandma’s ear, “Hey psst! It’s a girl. Ask her parents to dump the child. Quick!” But, to your dismay they didn’t.
As I grew up to be a young toddler who loved running around and knocking things over, you slowly crept in and took my mother’s disguise. You made me wear pink, frilly frocks and handed over barbie dolls and kitchen sets that disgusted me, but apparently boys were supposed to play with cars and guns and girls with dolls and kitchen sets.
I remember you were there when my class teacher asked the girls to knit a muffler or make a handkerchief for class while the boys could score by playing sports. You slyly concealed yourself yet again, dear patriarchy. When that boy from a senior class pulled up my skirt to see what’s underneath and somehow you made me believe that it was my fault. You were not there to console me when my pillow soaked my tears that night. But you did show up again a few months later when my uncle tried to touch me in between my legs, kissed me everywhere while I squirmed and tried to break free from him.
I didn’t know what was happening, whether it was supposed to happen or not but I knew for sure something wasn’t right. He cupped his hands on my mouth so that my screams wouldn’t disturb my father working at the other end of the house. You even asked me to shut up about it and never talk about it again. I understand why you did it but what I cannot comprehend is why my mother complied. Maybe, you had a role to play there too.
I heard your condescending voice again, dear patriarchy. I heard it again when papa made me sit down and explained to me calmly that “boys are rowdy and aggressive” so I should avoid being in a relationship for my ‘safety’; dress modestly because I am a lady now and that I should be back home before 8 pm. This was after I learnt that if and when I bleed, I was ‘impure’.
I decided to defy you and fell in love with an amazing person. She went to the same piano classes as I did. She understood me like no one else did. We were best friends for the world but secretly we were lovers. Yes, dear patriarchy, secretly. Because you told me being heterosexual was normal and I should love only men. Not women. My lesbianism offended you. But then what is this hypocrisy, dear patriarchy? You objectified me on those porn sites where lesbianism was fetishised?
You knew I loved watching T.V. You managed to fit yourself in that little box of pixels as well. I did not even realize when you started putting ideas in my head. It was only few weeks ago that I saw on TV an orange, straw-haired man talking about grabbing my pussy or something. You started putting ideas in my head about shaving and waxing my entire body in order to be pretty, about investing in fairness creams because I shouldn’t be proud of my dusky complexion, about being a docile creature devoid of sexual desires until the night of my arranged marriage, about being scared of public places because rapes are on rise not because of the perpetrators but because the survivor’s skin was showing or because she ate ‘chowmein’. Couldn’t you have told me to be safe in my house as well? Couldn’t you have told me to stay alert from my relatives, dear patriarchy?
Oh wait! My friend saw you too, in her lover’s rage-filled eyes when he picked up the cricket bat to hit her for not picking up his calls. Her scars still bear testimony to the fact that you were there.
You almost convinced me, dear patriarchy, that I should be dumping my career that I had always dreamt of; as my sole motive in life according to you, is getting married and raising kids. Because you thought I couldn’t and shouldn’t do both together. You told boys they couldn’t cry because it was not ‘manly’. Well, I think you don’t know much about human nature then. It is only natural to express the emotions we feel.
Dear patriarchy, I know that you and I share a long and intimate relationship but I want and choose to break-up with you. I want you to get off my back which you’ve been clinging to all my life. I am tired, annoyed and disgusted with you. I hope to never see you again.
Note: Valentine’s day 2017 saw Miranda House Women’s Development Cell strike, dance and rise with the One Billion Rising movement. Women from WDC, in the spirit of OBR, decided to write letters to patriarchy who had been their constant lover: it was time to breakup.
Breakthrough India joins hands with MH-WDC’s One Billion Rising campaign in University of Delhi and brings to you a glimpse of some of these letters, some of the stories that women from Miranda House have been writing to patriarchy.
Beware, you might soon find them in your nearest bookstores as well!