In my last post, I wondered as I reach what I call my twilight years and prepare for the next world where we all head one day, what I would tell the three extraordinary women I descend from when they ask me whether the land whose freedom they fought for had become what they had hoped for and whether all the sacrifices they had made had been worthwhile. And above all what would I say when these three feminists and women’s rights activists would enquire about the status of women in free India.
How can I tell them that we have let them down all the way and hijacked and destroyed all their dreams. Do I tell them who fought for women’s rights when scarcely any one did, that in free India women are abused by the minute; that little girls are raped, that no woman feels safe.
Do I tell them who went to sleep hungry so that there men could fight to free India by languishing in jail on never ending hunger strikes, that mothers have to ferret in rat holes for grains to feed their hungry children; that lullabies that women now sing extol the virtue of sleeping in spite of hunger pangs.
Do I tell the one who was willing to live life as spinster rather than give give birth to a slave child, that 5000 children die everyday of malnutrition, that millions have no roofs on their heads. Do I tell the ones who fought hard so that their grandchild/daughter could get maximum education, that all girls still do not go to school and if they do they learn nothing as schools do not teach. Do I tell them of children begging on the streets? Do I tell them of young women being killed because they dared to love? Do I tell them that girls foetuses are killed in the wombs and baby girls thrown in dustbins? And yet that is the reality after 60+ years of Independence, a celebration all these three women took part in. How do I tell them that we have crushed every dream they had and let them down in every way possible.
How do I tell these upright and honest to a fault women that today it is corruption that begets success; that every politician is only interested in acquiring wealth that has no end; that Parliament has become a fish market; that the rulers have divided us far more than those who colonised us; that religion is used to pursue revolting agendas. Do I tell them that India is hurting and crying. Do I tell them that India is not free.
And should they ask me what did I do, I have no great answer. Educate a few kids? It seems pitiful and makes me ashamed. I am part of who they were the picture above is proof of it. The baby in the her mom’s arms is me. This is no vague and far legacy that can be ignored. I am one of them and need prove that I have the right to be in the picture.