It was the year 2000. I was 21 years old. I had accompanied some friends to a New Year’s Eve’s party. Friends were a combination of both girls and boys. I should add here that my parents had not willingly let me go. My father was strictly against my going to any late night party. But, my mother, a little more lenient had let me go as she knew my friends since childhood, but with a strict warning that I should be back at 12:30. Can you imagine leaving the party that early?

But it was still enough for me. I was at least going to the party. The party was fun and we enjoyed a lot. Now, as soon as the clock struck 12, I was in a mad hurry to leave the party. Though we were in Ahmedabad where you could reach anywhere in 15 mins, I didn’t want to take any chances. I started looking for my friend who was till a minute ago was standing beside me, and was staying the night at my place. She was nowhere to be found. Those were the days of no cellphones. How do I find her? My mummy would be furious if we reached late. Just then another friend of mine told me that she had gone out with her boyfriend and would directly meet me outside my house. It was a bother! Still, there was nothing I could do.

One of my friends dropped me to my house, but I could not see my friend. My friend and I waited for her in his car outside my house. It was past 12:30. I knew I would get an earful from my mother, but I still couldn’t step inside my house without my friend. Because then I would have had to tell my mother that my friend was seeing this guy (which she wanted to be kept a secret), and it would have eventually got to the ears of her mom. After half an hour, she finally arrived. The next moment, without acknowledging either my friend or her boyfriend, I almost pushed her to the inside of the compound and knocked on the door. Through the window, I could see my mother pacing the floor of the living room. She promptly opened up the door and started scolding me for my lateness. I deserved it. She had put trust in me, and I had broken that trust.

Lastly, she just told me “You won’t understand a parent’s dilemma until you have a daughter yourself!”

16 years later, I have a 5-year old daughter. I love her to the end of the world. But, I also worry about her all the time. I do not let her play all alone or with her friends in the complex premises. There are various odd people like a milkman, dhobi, deliverywala, etc. visiting the building, who knows what sort of intentions they harbour. With one news after the other of little girls being physically abused keeps me by my daughter’s side at all times. These are the times when I want her to grow up quickly, so that at least she can look after herself.

But, when I read about the news of molestations of grownup girls on the crowded streets of Bengaluru on the New Year, I was horrified. Is there no end to it? Will my girl never be SAFE? Will I always have to be by her side?

And, who are these guys? Yes, many of them are the uneducated lot who come from the most challenged economic situations, but there are still many who are learned and belong to economically rich and socially respectable families.

I am sure no family, whether uneducated or learned teaches their son to molest a girl. Then where do they go wrong?

I can only guess. These are the 5 scenarios where we put wrong notions into a boy’s head:

When their son cries on getting hurt – ‘ladki ki tarah kyon ro raha hai!’ (Why are you sobbing like a girl?)

When their son falls behind a girl in a school race – ‘ladki se haar gaya!’ (A mere girl defeated you)

When their son wants to apply lipstick and nail paint – ‘ladki hai kya!’ (Are you a girl)

When their son wants to learn cooking – ‘ladkiyonwale kaam karega ab!’ (Why you want to learn girly things?)

When their son lets his sister carry a heavy bag – ‘dekh kya raha hai. Woh ladki hai, itna wajan nahi utha sakti. Use help kar!’ (She is a girl and cannot carry such heavy weight. Go help her)

All these remarks may seem innocuous, but are capable of brainwashing a boy’s innocent mind. Since a very young age, he has been told that girls are different. They are weak. They are an inferior species to men. You can not lose to them, you have to win. By hook or by crook. Or the world will laugh at you.

So, what does a boy do when he grows up? He doesn’t let go of a single opportunity to establish his supremacy. If he can’t do it the straight way, he does it the crooked way. He has to show who is the MAN. He has to prove that it’s him who wears the pants at home and outside.

What the society fails to understand is that a –

  • Woman can cry and still go through painful labour for hours
  • Woman can cook as effortlessly as she can head a multi-billion dollar company
  • Woman can love cosmetics and she can still carry water pots and bricks on her head
  • Woman can tills the fields without a complaint

How does that make her weak?

A woman is not weak. Never. But yes, something breaks in a woman when she is touched inappropriately. She creates this world, so when one of her creations violates her, she can simply not take it.

I look suspiciously at all boys who play with my daughter. I see potential rapists in all of them. They are innocent little kids today. But I am not sure what kind of lessons they receive at home. What they will turn out to be? Parents of sons, I urge you to –

Teach your sons well. Today’s girls are not shy about speaking up. As a daughter’s mother, I will not let my daughter cow down. She will raise her voice. She will call for justice. And, I will be standing by her side. AT ALL TIMES!

Because that’s what a daughter’s mother does, she never abandons her daughter whether she is 5, 15, 25, 40 or 60. Once a mother, always a mother! And like my mother, I will pace the floors till my daughter returns safe and sound from a New Year’s Eve party!

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