The iron butterfly

How easy is it to be me…

When I start my day with my morning cuppa, the most pressing thing on my mind is planning my schedule for the day – juggling school/football pick ups, deadlines, meetings and of course, the day’s menu.

A tough day for me, is a clash in my schedule or a tantrum-filled day with my tween.

But however tough a day is, a spontaneous hug from my little one or a kind word from my spouse will be all the pick-me-up I need.

I’ve also been lucky in having a father who lived to 75, providing with solid emotional support and a mother who was and always will be my conscience.

Still, I’m on edge most of the days, juggling schedules, handling irate maids, unresponsive customer-care, annoying telemarketes and so on. So many times in a day, I wish for some peace so I can just curl up with a good book.

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I have no political affiliations whatsoever, but in the last few days, during the wait and watch game on TV, which was followed by mourning of the iron butterfly, I couldn’t help feeling ashamed of all the cribbing I’ve done about my everyday life.

Here lies a lady who faced only trials and tribulations throughout her lifetime. Insults, injuries, court cases, imprisonments, were all part of a single day for her.

People ranted against her, enemies plotted against her, others waited eagerly for her to stumble and fall, but she held her ground through it all.

Without a family to support her.

Lost her father at 2, her mother in her twenties, no husband, no child to warm her heart.

She faced tough challenges on her own. And not just faced, but fought back with courage and determination.

Her only emotional support probably was the adoration by the masses.

Now, I don’t know, nor do I care, if she died of natural causes or was slow-poisoned by her trusted aides. But whatever it was, she’ll always be an inspiration to me and many other women of this city.

I suppose till now, we, the educated & supposedly worldly-wise women have been openly jeering her autocracy and winning elections with freebies.

But we did have a grudging admiration for her grit.

The same men who pulled at her sari and tried to shame her in public years ago were prostrating at her feet now.

The same arrogant men who threw her out of the cortege all those years ago were now reverentially carrying her body in one.

The feminist inside each one of us cheered. She won us all in the end.

I saw the sea of people milling about, tearfully seeing her off on her final journey,waving two fingers that symbolises ‘victory to the two leaves.’

But on this solemn occasion, I felt it was more like they were saying “Victory to you, Amma! In death, you conquered all!”

Rest in peace.

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Image courtesy:google

 

I drive

I’m a woman. I drive.

Why is this so hard for some men drivers to take?

While driving, my eyes are focused on the road, but I also notice a mother on a scooter with her kid.

I notice an old man trying to cross the road.

I notice a vendor trying to hard-sell his feather dusters, running erratically between cars at a signal.

I also notice the hooligans on bikes who zoom 100 km/hr hooting & screaming, trying to race each other playfully.

And the morons driving cars like they’re on race tracks and above all traffic rules.

After years of driving with a baby on board, I drive very carefully. I never speed, always go easy on speed breakers & pot holes and wait at signals when it’s red, even when other cars don’t care what color it is, as long as they can squeeze through. (Much to the disgust of the baby, which has grown up quite a bit)

I’ve been driving on the roads of Chennai for the past 14 years. And every day, there’s at least one angry male driver who is either intent on overtaking me or somehow bully me off the road.

The other day, a maniac honked away behind me and was so upset that I did not let him pass. After about 5-8 minutes of blaring his horn at my car &  baring his fangs at me, he got his chance. I had to stop at a signal. He changed lanes & zoomed away triumphantly, way above any speed limit.

Instead of feeling defeated, I could only laugh.

What’s your hurry? I wanted to ask him.

Why is it so important to overtake a woman driving? Is it an insult to your masculinity if you don’t? Unlike you, my dear stone age man, I drive to serve a purpose, instead of feeling powerful.

I drive my kid to school, to various after-school classes, for medical checks, my parents to the temple, aunts to shopping, my driving-challenged friends to the movies, drive myself to do some grocery shopping, so on and so forth.

And while I’m doing that, my focus is to get there in one piece. More than me, I feel responsible towards those traveling with me and want to make sure I get them safely home.

So I’m not interested in power-struggles on the road with men like you.

I don’t care if I win or lose these imaginary races you have with me.

If you’re so inclined to prove your masculinity with your wild & dangerous driving, remember this.

You only come across as a boorish bully, who’s a threat to those on the road.

I’m a woman. I drive.

Get used to it.

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