Good news only.
Have you ever realized for a fact that what you hear, see and perceive over a period of time, becomes either your perception of the world or your worst fears? Just take a test of five questions below:
- Will you, as a man be accepting and unaffected at the same time, if your spouse were to earn more than you do?
- Will you be comfortable if one of your children (or say, only child) has a different take on sexuality?
- Are you willing to accept that God resides in the good we do and not merely within the sacred realms of temples, mosques and churches?
- If you see an unjust incident, say any like a person taking a bribe or a stranger getting beaten up by hooligans or say, a woman being eve-teased, are you brave enough to question the act or do you, succumb to your fears of being drawn into a seemingly unnecessary scenario which you may want to avoid?
- Which are your favourite Bollywood movies?
Do not reply on impulse. Imagine yourself in a situation you have not encountered yet. Although the answers are predictable (Thanks to the changing mindsets today), the answers shall still vary. And the answers shall probably enlighten you about the person you are. But then, only if you are honest with yourselves when answering them. Maybe, you will be surprised at the way you think despite your advocacy for women empowerment, gay rights and what not. The way you have seen life until now, is the way you will continue to perceive the world around you. And that, is your perception of the world no matter, how hard you try to camouflage your actual opinions with cheesy lines on how women suffer and how women need to fight back. Face it!
OK. Let me give you an example. For instance, Bollywood has forever portrayed man as a never ageing Greek God! People never have an issue with a 50+ Khan romancing a 20+ woman but eyebrows are raised if a 40+ woman has feelings for a man younger to her. Our society thinks the way they perceive the characters in the cinema. And I have grown up watching Amir Khan in movies like Dil, Jo jeeta wahi Sikandar and Qayamat se Qayamat tak, He was one of my impressionable crushes. But then off late, I found myself questioning, "ain’t Amir Khan too old to romance Katrina in Dhoom", or for that matter "Salman Khan too old to fall for the fresh Jacqueline Fernandez in ‘Kick’"?. (That said, I still adore Amir Khan). However, these very actors used to romance golden beauties like Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit on screen, long back. And that is when I realized that our cinema has been instrumental in creating a somewhat vague image of a woman. As per Bollywood, a woman is nothing more than 'chittiyan Kalaiyan' or 'jadu hai nasha hai'. Precisely which is why our society is unable to perceive a woman any different than the usual - the desirable. She can be a strong, independent, fierce and dominant character, only in dreams! Anyways, I am digressing. The reason for this post is in different context altogether, though subtly connected with the perception theory I mentioned earlier and in my previous post. There is a reason why courage has taken a beating and fears of unknown and lack of goodwill have increased. Of course, is there anything good we hear about these days?
For instance, let's talk about the DEC 16 incident that shook the world. Playing and replaying the unspeakable horrors of the ghastly incident for over two years (including Suzette Jordan’s story) has not done any good to the society, except disturbing the already disturbed. I have had sleepless nights that year and I still get cold shivers when I think about the brave heart Nirbhaya. May her soul rest in peace. And then, the Park Street rape incident was highlighted. Suzette Jordan was not the conventional woman who wore salwar kameez. She was a single mother to two teenage girls and she was a supremely independent woman who lived life on her own terms even if she were jobless for a long period. She had no qualms about her drinking and smoking and she cared two hoots about what this world thought about her. And, when she was raped, the world loved to label her a slut because she was not the quintessential Indian woman our society expects a lady to be. Yet, she fought the world with all her might. I loved her. I respect that strong soul. (RIP Suzette). And I loved her to pieces when she said, "I have a name. My name is Suzette Jordan". She did not like to be referenced as ‘Park Street Rape Victim’. And this is precisely what I am talking about – the label! Yes, the label ‘victim’ that is slapped on a woman who falls prey to this torment of a lifetime – Rape. The physical scars heal over years but, the psychological scars inflicted, bleed for a lifetime. Imagine the amount of grit and will for a rape survivor to pick up the tattered pieces of her life, to begin all over again as a normal human, to brave threats and disturbing calls from unknown predators, to walk on the street without being pried upon, to forget the horrors she prays no lady must undergo. People, she is NOT a victim. She is a SURVIVOR. And, SURVIVORS make GOOD NEWS!!
- A classic example of a survivor becoming a ray of hope for the others who live their lives in fear is Sunitha Krishnan. She was gang raped at the age of 15 by eight men. Today, a co-founder of Prajwala, an NGO that works towards rehabilitation of sex workers and their children, she has come a long way indeed. This woman braved the threats all her life and rose like a phoenix, proving that our unhealthy society needs to be treated. And that is what I call, GOOD NEWS.
- Even as female infanticide continues, change has happened. Small it is, but it has started. A village in Rajasthan, Piplantri celebrates the birth of a girl child by planting 111 trees. An effort that promulgates eco friendliness along with the significance of a girl child in the world. Now that is, GOOD NEWS!
- When Vidya Balan enacted the role of a sensuous pregnant woman searching for her husband in the movie, Kahaani, I loved the change. It was a breather to see a woman leading the movie. The change was liked too. Though, the movies that followed ensured that the society was not drawn towards the fact, that women are as impressionable as men. (thanks to Farah Khan and Karan Johar for their undying loyalty towards SRK and bringing back the audience to their clichéd bullshit stories!) Hence, the seemingly insignificant change in the genre of Bollywood movies that was reflected in Kahaani, Queen, Highway, Mardaani, Gulaab Gang and others of the kind may not have stayed with people as much as male dominated movies would have. Yet, that is GOOD NEWS, because the change has begun! And, I love Vidya Balan. I adore her. Not because she is a Palakkad Iyer like me, but because she is one of the few actresses who is comfortable with who she is. Undeterred by the scrutinizing eyes of the media over how many pounds she gained and lost and then, gained and whether she is preggers or not, this actress has managed to rub it off her skin, despite the hurt she must have felt being judged on the ‘plumpness’ factor. Vidya Balan, I take a bow!
- And then, unheard is the story of how this 29 year old LinkanSubuddhi, a software professional who also worked with AID India (an
NGO), stalled a child marriage and not without a fight in which she was injured
critically. This lady is a hero. And I call her, GOOD NEWS!
- How can I forget Malala and the many unheard ones like her? The world adores this 17 year old who was 14 when she was shot in the head three times. But, can a bullet kill a good soul? God intervened. The rise of the brave had started in the wild unruly frontiers of our neighbouring country. This girl now shines with the many honours she has been bestowed upon, one being the Nobel Peace Prize. And, she continues with the good work. GOOD NEWS, the better!
Now, many of you might cringe reading the above examples of GOOD NEWS! OF course, who does not know about all these? But then ask yourself, what do you tend to discuss more? People enjoy discussing the pain and the torment of a rape survivor more than discussing her verve to break free from the fear bubble to fight the world and move on. And that, is NOT GOOD NEWS at all!
Well, that does not mean, ‘stop being a realist’. But then, be a realist with an urge to move on from the stagnancy of 'what has happened is not good' to 'what can be done about this'. If there are 10 bad things happening in the world, throw more light on the one good thing that is happening simultaneously. People who are trying hard to do good in the world by helping the needy, educating the children in the slum and helping this society heal, deserve a better mention than how many rapes and murders are happening around the country. A couple of years back, my brother in law Sridhar (a journalist) had started a group on Facebook – Good news only. When the group started, I initially wondered, “what is the point in spreading good news only? Why keep the world in dark about the news that is not good? Understanding reality is more important than living in a bubble that the world is good.” Those were my initial thoughts. I was so so wrong! Understanding reality is a faux pass today. We do not ‘understand’ reality. We empathize with it. We relish it. We discuss it. We gossip about it. We play and replay it. We devour it. We forget it. But we do NOT understand it.
'Good news only' may not solve problems instantly. They may not change things drastically. They may not even be convincing enough to be a story that must be heard. But then, there is one thing which they give, HOPE! Once people understand this, Faith will follow suit. And then, the change will happen. Which is why, we need ‘GOOD NEWS ONLY!’
P.S: In case you were wondering why I have not given my answers to the questions above, here they are:
- will have to ask hubby. Knowing him, he is extremely broad minded as he has been a strong advocator for double income. For the present, it is me who is not working by choice. :P
- Too early to say ;)
- Yes, I believe God resides in the good we do. I will leave it at that.
- I am not sure how I will react as I have not witnessed any incident such as that.
- Damini, Ram teri ganga maili ho gayi (I loved the end), Arth, Bhawana, Abhimaan....all movies that bear a woman protagonist.