Sunday, December 29, 2013

A look back

We have already reached the end of 2013 and are staring into all the possibilities that 2014 has to offer. And for most of us, it's a bit of  surprise that this day has come so soon and so fast. Of course, that's not really true since - as is customary with 'years' - it had to undergo the entire cycle of 365 day, 52 weeks and 12 months.

And yet - quite strangely - it does seem like the year has gone by very fast. I remember saying something on similar lines last year when we were saying goodbye to 2012 but must admit that 2013 certainly went on a stampede.

Some say it is to do with one's age - the older we grow the busier we get and time passes in a whirl, as it were. While still others say it has something to do with the busy lives we lead that leaves us little or no time to pause, and hence, we barely notice the year passing by. And then there are those who feel it has something to do with the earth's rotation picking up speed and hence we feel the year going so fast.

Alright. I just made the last thing up because the subject seemed to be crying for it.

Anyway, whatever be the reason, the truth of the matter is... we have just seen one entire year pass by with the blink of an eye, and who knows, the next year will be just like that... or maybe faster.

The question is, what are we going to say about the year when we are in December 2014? Are we going to breathe a sigh of relief that another horrible year has gone by? Or are we going to pant with the excitement of an athlete who just won a marathon? Or are we simply going to shake our heads and say, another spectacularly boring year in which nothing happened.

Well, we dont know what the new year holds but we do know it's right there in the corner. It would be easy to imagine it's not there but we can't. We have to accept whatever comes our way and make the best of what the year brings.

It could be death, it could be life, it could be illness or it could be health and an overflow of goodness and blessings flowing our way.

All we can do is trust God in knowing He is there no matter what the circumstances, and do our best in fulfilling our role in the drama of life. And maybe do that with as much sincerity and generosity as possible so that if we die and meet our maker, He'd look at us and say, 'well done, my good and faithful servant...'

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Anatomy of an assault

These are not the best of times to be a single, straight Indian guy.

We've been getting a lot of bad press these days and certainly not for any good reason. Somehow there's just excessive news of how Indian men have attacked women, sexually assaulted them or conspired with the authorities in whitewashing their misdeeds.

Somehow it's made out that we are such incorrigible entities that we can't be trusted and so the government in its usual high handed manner feels that the best possible remedy is to censor what we see - assuming that blocking access to titillation will miraculously free us from the urge to do something terrible.

Then there are the moral watchdogs in society who feel that separating us from women altogether will nip things in the bud, and women will be all the more safer by not having 'us' around.

And as if not to be left behind, there are the gurus of political correctness who fall back on semantics to address the issue.

Of course, it can't be denied that most of these remedies (for want of a better word) have worked in some way or the other in highlighting the problem but they've only offered short term solutions - like band-aid over gangrene. The real issues still remain untouched because.... frankly I wish I knew why!!!

But then again, when you read news of young women and even five year olds being brutally raped with their private parts violated.... it doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is not about sex alone, it's not about the gender issue alone, and it's not about the inequality of the sexes that have caused this horrible mayhem in supposedly 'modern' societies.

It's true that - outwardly, at least - the action does suggest sexual hunger may have played a part and that the motivation was partly driven by the assumption that they are 'men' and they can do anything they want with a 'woman' they want.

But let's get one thing clear lest we throw the baby with the bath water - sexual desire does not lead to assault because that's not how desire and longing works. I am not even going to say that this is not how it works amongst 'normal' people because that would give the impression that there are two distinct ways to express desire and would give credence to all that the moral watchdogs have to say.

Let's be clear about one thing though. Sexual desire and longing do not lead to private parts being mercilessly violated but instead they lead to music, flowers, chocolates, candlelit dinners, long walks, sentimental mush that drives strong men weak in their knees, and a promise of a lifetime of fidelity, love and loyalty.

Sexual desire in its proper framework would naturally lead to men wanting to love, care, protect and respect their women. Yes, it often - and should obviously - lead to marriage or a lifetime of commitment. There has to be a sense of responsibility so that the woman realises that she is cherished for the person she is and not just enjoyed for the body she has.

Respect is - most often - a neglected word in most discussions on the topic these days. A man who respects a woman will never dare to hurt her. A man who respects womanhood will never dream of seeing women as objects for consumption and violation. A man who respects humanity will never consider assaulting another person with whatever tools he can get his hands on.

Somehow this lack of respect has also led to lack of civility in society and a breakdown of communication not just between genders but also between everyone.

To put it more bluntly, this absence of respect has created violent monsters who speak the language of assault to show who's the boss. They aren't interested in gently navigating the complexities of sexual dynamics or propping up their best side when they see a woman they like.

All they want to do is attack who they see as a weak person so that their supremacy (for want of a better word) is maintained.

Let's not bring sex or gender issues into the discussion or even insist this is only a very "Indian" or an "Asian" problem. Doing so would not only be a racist generalisation but also simplifying matters when we shouldn't. All we end up doing is perpetuating the myth that any single "Indian" or "Asian" man who likes a woman is capable of such horrors.

Commoditising women and treating them as objects for consumption and violation is a global phenomenon. And obviously, it leads to behaviour that somehow validates these assumptions.

If we are serious about confronting the issue, it's vital that rape and other forms of sexual assault be treated in the same way we react to other forms of physical torture.

It's not about sex and certainly not about issues related to men and women but about violent individuals who use the most grotesque form of torture to attack another helpless individual.

And I - like many other single men I know - are totally disgusted by what these individuals seem to do.