Wednesday, November 8

The veiled woman

I feel hot.

I cannot see the person in front of me very clearly.

I have to work in the fields,on the road, in buildings... wearing metres of cloth around my face and body.

My man expects me to wear it. And my clergy. And in an oddly fascinating way, I have started viewing it as an instrument of asserting my 'personality'

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to feel the light of the streets on my face.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to wear clothes like that girl on the street. But it would be too shameful yes.

Many a times people cannot hear what I say very clearly.

Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to show off my make-up. Which now exists beneath my veil.

There are lots of inconveniences. But it is my religion. And it's only right to wear it.

Now this could really be anyone. In the wake of the situation right now, the Muslim woman comes to the picture. I come from Rajasthan and can invoke this picture to encompass thousands of women of the sands who have in most probability shown their faces to even their husbands only during sex. Leave out anyone else of course. Except other women because it's believed that no one is a lesbian out there. Hmmm

But no, even if that argument's still the Muslim woman. There's no point contesting her discomfort because every woman and some men know the answer to that one. They've taken it in their stride since so long now that the veil has today become a symbol of asserting their Islamic identity. I just read somewhere that Muslim men in the US take it as a symbol of pride if their wife wears the Hijab. It worries me to see such behaviour to be slotted in an attempt of 'assertion'. And that too something as sacrosanct as 'identity'. Do these men even gauge the ethos of having an identity? Stripping their wives of 'their' identity and making them believe in this bizarrely new concept of being another form of a 'trophy'!

Of course everyone has the right to dress the way they want to. Especially women. Because their right to dress is as it is discussed on a global level by men and then thrust upon them. I know that all village-women I know in Udaipur would get close to killing themselves if they're forced to dispel the Ghoonghat. But it's quite wrong to start viewing that reaction as their acceptance of the logic behind wearing that piece of cloth. It's just the time. The amount of years they have worn it...their illiteracy..because they have not grown up watching women without it...and obviously, their men ...all the fathers and brothers and husbands who have reinforced their preference to adorn their women with it. Again and again and again. And the same is with the Muslims. Of course there was a backlash against Jack Straw. He's afterall denying them their identity.

One more time.

All I'm saying is that it's time to stop now. By now all of us know that the Quran does not require women to wear it. By now all of us know that modesty does not necessarily require covering your entire face. We know all that. Then why do we let these women believe that's its somehow 'shameful' not to wear it.
And to stop that...we need the men. To drop their gazes. To stop controlling lives of the other half of the world population. To stop justifying rape because of her clothes. To just STOP IT.

In fact if the men in history and in the present could be less horny..none of this would have ever happened.
Just because it was easier. And just because no one stopped them.

I'm in no instance a male-basher. But I just feel incredibly worried at the state of things sometimes. We have been lucky to educate a certain percentage of women in these times...and a certain percentage from that have managed to be smart as well....there are a few good men...

And all this needs to contribute on doing away with the veil. Because it was never needed and now is the time to understand as well as realize that. The right to the way to dress can change your psyche in more ways than one. Just like Hindu women before used to think nothing amiss from dutifully jumping into a burning fire over their husband's corpse...and thought that was a matter of their 'right'...and spousal 'identity'..

This is a Sati of a different kind.

And there's no Ram Mohan in sight.


Anonymous said...

Hey thanks for the comment on my blog.
It would take someone really great to come from inside that community to demand that change, because people believe that it is their 'custom' and 'heritage' no matter how degenirate. But I do believe that change will come. Don't you find it starnge, and I don't want to sound wrong here, but the moment you question Islam - like Jack Straw did with the veil you're branded an insensitive prick and people burn your effigies. Weird!

LostLittleGirl said...

Why is it that whenever anyone tries to question Islam, they always feel they are going wrong?

Anonymous said...

its great that u're posing such questions. someone needs to. and there might not be another ram mohan, so a sita might have to step in. keep it up!

Anonymous said...

oh yea..wat makes it worse is that i joined post grad right after grad, n then work right outta post it all feels like a vicious cycle.
p.s im from rajasthan too and have always longed to be able to do something bout the situation there. the last time i went to my ancestral village, they still followed the post-widow ritual..that one just sucks