Political Stories by Volga

Political Stories-7 

Torment (Part-1)

I had never been sorry that I was born a female. Ever since childhood I had been happy I was girl. The reasons might have been different at different stages of my life, and my happiness in my later years might not have been that profound, but even so it was just as real and valuable. The reasons for my happiness as a child might have just been childish, but I had been happy at every stage of my life for being female, and proud of it, too. Everyone around me appeared to be ready to destroy my happiness and to take away my pride. But I never let that weaken or disappoint me. I had always found a new energy, a new reason, to be happy with myself and to be proud of myself. My enthusiasm for life would never wane. When I was a little girl it was great fun to wear my hair in two long braids, put on colorful gowns and parikinis and jump with joy and run around. I still remember feeling sorry for boys of my age. They had little hair on their heads and were always crying to keep their knickers from slipping down on chair knees. Walking wasn’t for me i just had to run. Jumping from the top of walls and climbing trees used to be fun. even if it was from a bed, I never got down gently, only jumping down with a thud would please me. Everyone used to wonder about the girl who was always laughing, jumping and running around. Their curiosity would

soon turn into anger. My mother used to hit me for not keeping my hair neatly combed and for soiling my clothes. I used to cry when she hit me, but then I would go back to my ways. In my neighborhood girls of my age put on clean clothes after their baths, wore bottu, lined their eyes with kohl and sat down quietly like dolls. Everyone liked them,Not me. They irritated me. My mother, of course, wanted me to be a doll like them, but who would like to be a doll

rather than play with one? I would go across the rail tracks where girls and boys in clothes dirtier than mine used to play all sorts of games. I was fond of the stick-and-wicket game. When I hit with all my strength, the wicket would fly so far that I wouldn’t know where it landed. I used to feel very proud when older kids wondered at my energy and the strength in my arms. By the time I learned to play the game really well, my father decided that I could not play anymore. My brother used to go to the Police Parade Grounds to play cricket. My father bought him a good bat, a ball and some wickets. Everybody laughed when I asked to go to the grounds. They teased me, and scolded me, too. When I insisted that they tell me why I couldn’t go to the playground across the rail tracks or to the grounds where brother played cricket, all they said was, “You are just an aadamunda.” I didn’t understand what that meant. After a while I gave up trying to understand. Feeling sorry that I could not go play with my friends across the rail tracks, I started to play marbles with boys of my age in my neighborhood. But even that was forbidden. I was baffled. What did it matter to anybody if I played marbles? Why shouldn’t I play? “Are there any girls of your age playing marbles?” asked my mother, pinching my cheek. “Why don’t they? Just because they don’t, why shouldn’t I play?”

“Marbles are not for girls,” she said. I couldn’t understand it; all I could do was sit there and cry. My mother tossed all one hundred and fifty marbles that I had won in a game into the canal and threatened to break my hands if I ever touched marbles again. She had my father buy a carom board for me. He wasn’t very happy to buy it, but my mother insisted. The carom board positively bored me. It was so dull to sit still and hit at coins lying still on the board right in front of me. I couldn’t figure out how playing this game could be better than aiming sharply at a small marble at some distance and hitting it. It escaped me why the elders scolded me rather than appreciated me for learning to play a difficult game. Shouldn’t girls play difficult games? Why? My little brain couldn’t think of an answer. And no matter how much I was scolded, my enthusiasm for games did not diminish. The older I got, the worse the scolding became.

One day I saw my father getting down from a rickshaw in front of the house with a big package in his hands. I ran to him from the back yard and grabbed the package. why do you run like that? Go into the house.” he said sternly. All my enthusiasm melted away; I felt hurt somewhere inside. Ignoring it, I ran into the house. “Can’t you just walk? Why do you always run?” he demanded again. Why was he angry? Why did it matter whether I Walked or ran? I could have understood his anger if I had fallen down, hurt myself and cried. 

Why should anybody scold me for running well! wrong with running?” I asked innocently. I was hit so hard on my cheek…… “I will kill you if you ask why and what for everything W does a girl need to know so much? You and your stupid questions,” my father yelled, quite upset. My mother also joined in, “I am tired of this girl running around. She doesn’t sit quiet even for a second. Keeps hopping here and there. This morning she jumped down from the loft. I was scared she was going to break her legs, but she ran away laughing, I have no idea how she sits quietly in school. All she does here at home is jump and run as if she has springs in her legs.”

With the list of complaints growing, my father’s anger got worse, too. “Look, Sita, No more running. Do you understand? Girls shouldn’t be running. Walk gently. If I catch you laughing and jumping wildly, I will break your legs.”

I was scared stiff, and tried very hard to control myself. Sitting down quietly felt very strange, as if my feet had been cut off. I would run and suddenly remember I was not supposed to, but I couldn’t bring myself to just walk. I would sit down till I thought of something that excited me. My Father’s admonition that girls shouldn’t run was like a stake driven into my head. Why shouldn’t we? One day my mother tried to run to catch a bus that had just pulled out of the bus stand; but she soon gave up, panting and frustrated. The bus slipped out of sight and that was the end of her plans for the journey. I understood, then, that running was difficult and useful. But girls shouldn’t run. Why not? Was it that only those like my mother who couldn’t run to catch a bus were good women? If you could run, if you could work fast and efficiently, did that mean that you weren’t a good woman? One day my father asked my brother to go buy a pack of cigarettes for him. Ten minutes later, my brother was nowhere in sight. My father grew impatient and waited for him at the front door. My brother drifted back slowly, with head bowed down, pondering something. He didn’t notice my father until he reached the door. “Why are you dragging your feet like an aadamunda? Can’t you run fast?” my father yelled. At that moment another stake was driven into my head, one too many to bear for my little ten-year-old head. One day my father was lying in the easy chair reading his newspaper and I was sitting on the floor beside him reading a storybook. I burst out laughing at the antics of the monkey in the story. Before I stopped laughing, I was hit so hard on my back that tears rolled out of my laughing eyes. “Why do you laugh wild like that?” my father demanded, as the traces of laughter vanished from my face.


(To be Continued-)


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