of baby talk

When I was young, I tutored a young girl three or four years my junior. Over time, we drifted apart, and she became nothing but a dim memory of somebody I had once found very amiable.

I ran into her at the mall recently. I saw her first – I could’ve ignored her if I wanted; I had all the time I needed to make a U-turn.

Instead, I waved like a maniac and invited her to coffee.

In 20 minutes, I found myself sitting cross-legged on the Café Coffee Day couch, trying very (very) hard to look interested in the one-way conversation about her daughter. It didn’t help that my drink was disturbingly depressing. Each sip tasted worse than the one before.

Wow! How old is she now?

Thirteen and a half.

Years? My eyebrows shrunk to half their size as I strained to do the math.

You’ll never stop joking, will you? She threw a cushion at me, smiling. Months, baba!

I rolled my eyes at her inwardly for the rest of the evening. How does the world keep spinning with a shockingly ridiculous person who can’t discount that one odd month (and fifteen days) off her child’s age? Is it so hard to say “a year”?

I pretended to count on my fingertips (yeah, I’m mean when I want to be) and said – oh, just over a year, then. Is she walking already?

Bad move.

She proceeded to take me through a list of ALL the milestones her baby had achieved, and then talked at length about how she thought her baby was going to be an underperformer because she had started to talk so late.

Then she started to show me 876,297,097 pictures of Little Miss G on the inflatable chair. Little Miss G on the couch. Little Miss G eating. Little Miss G smiling. Little Miss G frowning. You get my drift.

I ran out of there a fast as I possibly could. Just when I heaved the proverbial sigh of relief, my phone buzzed.

Friend request.

From Little Miss G.

Fuck my life.

Do you know any such child-obssessed parents or someone who has created an entire FB profile for their baby? What are the other annoying things that people from your past do now? How many photos of your baby do you have on your phone? 

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Okay, I’m done with this shit.

Recently, one of my domestic helps took a couple of days off without calling me first, and I instantly knew something was wrong. She showed up at my doorstep the third day, with a blue-black eye and a swollen lip.

Apparently, her drunk husband beat her up because he wanted sex, and she asked him to wear a condom, or fuck off. She took a beating because she took a stand, and he fucked her anyway.

This, coming from a man who was filled with rage when he heard about the Nirbhaya incident. They had no right, he had said to his wife, over and over, shaking his head. And yet, he thought that marriage entitled him to use his wife’s body however he wanted, and therefore he felt entirely justified in hitting her. I am a good husband, I deserve good sex, he told her in the morning.

What bothers me is that this is not an incident that took place in isolation.

I grew up in a household where it was normal for mom to cook and clean even if she was unwell or tired. The children were her responsibility, too – and trust me the three of us didn’t make it easy. Dad would just come home and start making demands – tea had to be ready within five minutes of him asking for it, dinner had to be served at nine, and mom had to run from the kitchen to the bedroom (where he ate) with hot ghee-smeared chapatis on a small plate. Then she would clear his plate, and give him water. Next, she would serve us dinner. She always ate in the end.

Now, it would be unfair to let you assume that dad wanted hot chapatis. He said, hundreds of times, that he’d prefer it if all of us sat together and ate, but she kept doing it anyway out of a sense of duty. I remember him getting so, so angry because he had left some documents on the dining table and then couldn’t find them. Somehow, it was mom’s responsibility too – never mind that he had actually kept them elsewhere!

If mom was traveling for work, I was given clear instructions on what he does and does not eat, how much ghee he likes on his chapatti, and where I should keep his documents should he forget to file them.

See what I’m talking about?

In our culture there is an implicit assumption that men are somehow superior to women and they deserve good sex, hot food, an orderly house, and well-behaved children. Men, just because they are men, deserve female nurturance, whatever the circumstances, throughout their lives.

Think mother, sister, wife, daughter – we’re all just side actors in the story of a man’s life. He has prerogatives and we have obligations within the family structure. We exist only because He needs us.

Enough of this shit. Things change, TODAY. I’m letting my six month old son know as soon as he’s able to understand.

What about you?

Fuck Sensitivity.

Recently, I fed my baby in full public view in a Starbucks outlet, and Mister clicked a picture of us. I loved how we looked in the photo, so I posted it on my real-life (for want of a better word) Facebook account. In fact, it is now my profile picture.

My newly-addicted-to-Facebook-but-not-that-savvy mom was quick to comment that I shouldn’t have posted the picture, which was expected because in her fifty something years, she hasn’t ever seen anyone do this. I politely (I hope) explained that there was a need to normalize breastfeeding so people get used to women nursing in public.  I think my exact words were – Breasts are meant to feed babies, not to sell cement and chips and cold drinks.

So far, life was good.

And then, I got “advice” from several people, which was basically smooth talk asking me to take the photo down because “it’s in bad taste” and because “feeding in public can make some men uncomfortable” and “can’t believe you fed him in a coffee shop where even kids go”.

Seriously?

You think you need to protect children from boobs?! The first fucking human contact that a child has is with breasts – there’s nothing sexual about that contact and your kid knows it. It’s you adults that have it all wrong.

Boobs are meant to nourish, not to lure/entice men OR sell lousy merchandise. The reason why you cringe at the sight of a breastfeeding mother is that you see women and breasts as inherently sexual objects.

Why else would you know so many (a) women with smaller breasts always looking for “push-up” and “maximizer” bras and (b) women with larger breasts forever trying to cover up?

Why else would you be ok with a man going shirtless, nipples showing and all, but recoil at the thought of a woman’s nipples becoming visible (nipslip) even by accident?

And pray, how do you intend to raise awareness about larger issues like breast cancer when you’re so embarrassed by breasts? By posting bra colors in a group restricted to women?

Fuck your sensitivity. My photo’s staying.

NIP
Okay, I went and changed the image. I’m supposed to be a woman without a face, remember?

of motherhood

Your baby? She asks, visibly amused.

You’re beaming with pride as you talk. Yes, my baby. I am the one who tells him bedtime stories, wakes him up with kisses and irons his clothes and cooks for him and packs his school bag and helps him with homework and goes to his PTA meetings. I am the one who hand-painted the t-shirt he’s wearing right now. I am the one he comes to with bruises on his knees. I’m the one he counts on to protect him, you know. So yes, he is my baby more than he’s yours. Continue reading of motherhood

of violence

You see the Daily Post challenge on your reader, and almost thankful for the inspiration.

You begin to think back to a time when you are very little, you don’t remember how little exactly, and wake up to the sound of a bottle being smashed to bits against the door of your room. Screaming follows. Then suddenly, a strange silence and you can hear her plead with him not to be loud or you will wake up. Continue reading of violence