Dare To Dream And Have The Courage To Follow It!!
This was originally posted
A couple of days ago, I got a call from one of my friend past midnight. Same age. Single. Self employed. After some routine small talk, she fell strangely silent.
“What’s the matter? It’s going to be New Year’s soon. Any resolutions? Yet? Another high-maintenance diet? A fancy vacation, just by yourself? Get back to a nine to five? More of shaadi.com? Wild sex…” I teasingly mentioned, hoping to get her back into routine conversational mode.
“Sex…!” she cut me short in a soft voice, not sounding her usual upbeat self.
“That’s easy… I thought you’d say more of this arranged marriage shit or something… maybe get back to work…” I retorted, laughing on purpose.
“I have a confession to make,” she interrupted again, saying quickly before I could say another else, “look, I’m going to be 38. This is serious business. I must do it in 2015. Maybe, hire someone. It happens in the West, all the time.”
I listened. Speechless.
“See, the thing is I’m a virgin… I mean… technically a virgin. I had one serious relationship five years ago, and the bugger would say he’d rather wait… I mean… he was kinda religious… said he respected me… but I really wanted it… you know what I mean, right?” she stuttered.
“You mean you’ve been re-virginised now?” I prompted, just to keep it light.
She let out a chuckle.”Yes. That’s a good way of looking at it. So, yes, my New Year resolution is to have a helluva lot of sex. To be free of this excess baggage I carry all the time. This feeling that I’m inadequate, or something, or that I must get married to get that. Like casual sex is a taboo or something. You know… one of my school friends gifted me a toy last year. It was naughty. But deep inside I was a tad ashamed. You think our freedom is linked to our womb, somewhere? You think women possess a right to have sex, whether single or married? To be blatant about it. To say fearlessly, that yes, I love watching porn. I want to do that. In person.”
There was a strange silence.
Simple. Sacred. Sensuous.
Was it gender divided as well? With women being preconditioned for generations to not talk about it. To be passive about what they wanted, their desires, how they want to be touched never really dissected in any detail. Virginity the USP of a good Indian marriage. That, and the ability to procreate
“What happens next?” she questioned.
39-year-old Montessori teacher Shilpa who had walked out of a three-year-old, arranged, marriage because her husband was disinterested in consummating their relationship, even after a year of their marriage.
“I couldn’t find a lawyer. They kept asking me if he tortured me. Asking me to impose a case of domestic violence on my in-laws. Saying I would have greater chances to win then. Scared to bring up the word ‘sex’ in court, like it was some kind of character assassination. You see there is no concept of a test drive here. We met in front of our families, and that’s it. My fate was sealed. How does one test physical compatibility, anyway? Is it even considered a prerequisite between a couple? You review criterion like good family, good job, maybe, even looks, to an extent. What about if he just doesn’t excite me? I mean as a woman I am not supposed to have a sex drive at all. I should just fast for my husband’s longevity and success, waiting daily, parched, for him… alone, anguished… what does this country call such a woman? A Savita bhabhi…” her words trailed.
Recently, BJP MP from Bhopal, Alok Sanjar, declared, in a programme, ironically, to mark Bhopal Test Tube Baby Centre’s tenth Foundation Day, that having sex frequently can drastically reduce a person’s lifespan. “I was reading a memoir recently. A man asks Lord Krishna when should one have sex? The reply was for ‘birth of a child.’ The man asked what if he wanted to have more. The reply was once in 12 years. The man insisted again to get the reply, once in six years. When he asked again, the reply was, once a month. But when the man asked what if he wasn’t satisfied, then the Lord said one should do this with a shroud (qafan) by his side,” the MP is quoted as having famously guffawed.
“Today my family doesn’t accept me. They tell me I should have adjusted. What will they say to the world? I will never have a second marriage; my mother cursed me when I first visited them. I was called a whore, by my brother. They wanted me to see a shrink. Like I was mad or something. The words haunt me even now. As a wife, wasn’t sexual gratification my right, too? Should I have just stayed with a man who in all probability was inwardly gay…” Shilpa rues.
As India dwells in complete denial of its sexuality, preferring to be squeamish about its sexually explicit culture and history, sellingKamasutra and Khajuraho to eager-eyed tourists who come seeking their soul in a land of Yoga and Yagna, the truth is, we are scared of sex.
Parents rarely discussing the subject freely with adolescents, allowing them to watch double meaning item songs and Bollywood films that are in-your-face sexist, women barely comfortable to go across to a chemist and buy a condom for a weekend getaway, popping in an I-pill, instead, oblivious to its side-effects?
A secret. A sin. A sacrilege.
Sunny Leone is the most searched celebrity on Google India this year, even as the debate rages on the moral sanctity of kissing in public. News reports pointing to rates of teenage pregnancy being alarmingly higher in India than in some of Europe, on par with the US, being casually forgotten. The last National Family Health Survey, for instance, that stated that about 18 per cent of teenagers in Andhra Pradesh get pregnant. Another survey by the UN Population Fund adding that adolescent birth rate in India amongst women stood at 39 for every 1,000 live births.
“Sex is largely a man’s prerogative. I mean how many times can a woman, no matter whether she is in a urban setting go ask her man for sex. The way women rarely ask a man out. Good girls, meaning the wife material mustn’t be sexually progressive. Imagine a regular Indian bloke, being asked to indulge in role-play by his pativrata partner? Say play a hot doctor? This will be considered dirty,” a former colleague points out when I broach the subject.
Is sex some kind of threat? Pleasure, the first bastion of patriarchal domination? Our bodies our first line of defence? A character certificate. A conquest. A cartoon.
A report published in the DNA in June this year said that 49 per cent of Indian girls learn about sex watching porn, as revealed by a survey conducted by the Podar Institute of Education. In November again, a report published on Quartz, that quoted data released by Pornhub, one of the world’s largest adult websites revealed that 25 per cent of Indian Pornhub users are women, which is two per cent higher than the worldwide average of 23 per cent. The top five searches for Indians being, Leone, Indian, Lisa Ann, Indian wife and Indian bhabhi.
“Are you happy now?” I ask Shilpa as she readies for a prolonged court battle.
There is the same suffocating pause.
“You know it’s funny, when a molestation victim is produced in court she’s asked all sorts of intimidating and awkward questions… it’s the same for girls who fight marital rape I have heard. The darkness doesn’t change. But, I am prepared,” she sighs.
As I finish keying this, my cell flickers. “Holiday in Bangkok this 31st?” I read to myself.
Wondering if our biggest victories sometimes must begin with the smallest step…