For as long as I can remember, all my female relatives have complained about how I was acutely averse to wearing any ornaments around my wrists or, for that matter, have anything applied to my palms (hint: it’s an essential stage in the entire package of getting married nowadays)!
My school-going self would never have actually sat down to ponder about it till one day when one of the most handsome Hindi film leading men (and a personal favourite) rambled about how “main ne bhi aapni haatho main chudiyaan nahin pahen rakhi hain...” and I froze – struck by an unexplained composite emotion made of distress, hurt and disgust at being wronged.
I wondered “why don’t you”? What is so wrong in “chudi pehenna...”, after all? Or, as realisation dawned then, what WAS the matter with “tumhare haathon mein kya mehndi lagi hai...?”
If a tiny me, who could not have been accused of feminism at that pre-adolescent age, could take such offense – how have women down the ages felt? After working at every possible level in the society, only to have it all taken for granted by entitled oafs and then being dissed for good measure, to add a pungent dollop of insult to grave injury?
I understood at that little an age that anyone that breathes can feel injured and more so by words than all the cricket balls I used to face in the sessions of gully cricket.
Especially when it’s in the name of “tradition” and “sanskaar”, where you are damned if you do -- “toh tum ne haatho main chudi actually pehni hain...” -- and damned if you don’t -- “toh tum chudi nahin pehno gi...akhir kyun nahin?” Where you are an easy target for sledging simply because of a set code that one half of the population deems funny for some unexplained juvenile reason...
After mulling over it for a few days, my impatient self had to wind the matter up for my sanity’s sake – I am OCD about unfinished businesses, you see.
So, I came to my own conclusion – to get my mother to purchase the strongest steel kadda my tiny wrist could bear. And after that, anytime, I heard that lame rubbish of a statement (you would be surprised how many times that was – on the field, at school, in the bus), I ensured that the kadda found its mark and left one too! So that it was clear beyond doubt that “haan, hum ne haatho main chudi hi pehen rakhi hain...”