“My wife has been cursed by Devi”... said Ravi, our office peon, wiping his tears. “Her mother does not want to keep her and my mother also does not want her. I have brought her with me now. I don’t know what to do with her.” Ravi’s wife is 19-year-old girl and from Ravi’s description, she gets fits every now and then. But he is convinced that it is a visitation of the angered ‘Devi’ and the only way he can get her cured is by taking her to an exorcist. l had a long chat with him and convinced him that his wife has nothing more than a physical affliction. He looks more cheerful now and has promised to bring her so that I can talk to her and see what can be done.
The incident made me realise that instead of becoming militant about women’s issues and consider men ‘bogey’ figures, we should try and ‘educate them about our sex. For centuries now, men have come to accept the prototype of woman as has been portrayed. They only know one way to react — by being boorish and throwing their weight around. They genuinely believe that’s what is expected of them. It is their ignorance rather than any ill intentions which makes them what they are.
To begin with, we need to undo the harm that has been done for which even women are to be blamed. Ravi’s mother and mother-in-law have been the biggest culprits because it is they, who have thought up the bizarre explanation of the ‘Devi’. Granted they are also ignorant fools but at least some loyalty to their own sex could help. Not familiar with all these beliefs, yet not enlightened enough to negate them. Ravi and men like him resort to the only way they know to deal with the situation — either relegate her to a corner and let her survive or punish her for what they feel is their bad luck. Either way, the poor girl has to suffer.
Ignorance has been the bane of our women and men. Instead of women’s organisations crying blue murder against men and asking for legislations and presenting recommendations, why don’t they divert their energies to educating the men? They could use their organisational clout to get a slot, not during primetime but during the local telecasts, on the television and stage simple plays, doing away with blind beliefs and explaining the practical problems of life. These can be done in local languages to suit the particular regions. They can tackle local issues in the manner most familiar to them.’ Incidents that actually happen in their life, can be picked out and treated with a rational approach. The self styled critics of society, can do more than decry the powers that be. Production houses should stop making films/serials depicting women in a negative way.
Social change can come about more effectively on a one to one basis. In every one of our circles — either in the office or on the domestic staff front there is a Ravi who is suffering from ignorance. If each of us, teach the Ravi’s of our world we will be contributing to this change. Collective revolution is for bloodshed and radicals. Our mission requires the personal touch. Let us women make this our personal commitment to society. Let us be the drops of water to make up the mighty ocean of an enlightened society.