A street kid was engrossed in blowing a soap bubble in an empty park. He continued blowing, and the bubble grew bigger. Soon, he was surrounded by a few curious souls who began to cheer him on. The kid became excited, and started blowing harder. The onlookers joined him in his excitement, and the cheering became louder. And suddenly with a soul stirring bang, everyone became silent.
The bubble burst in the kid’s face, and left him stunned.
Unwary of the fact that a simple bubble could hurt him, he was in shock, and started crying. A few people came up to the kid to tell him that he should’ve been careful, as the rest of the crowd dwindled away. Soon, the park became empty again.
How different is our nation’s current state than the events that transpired in this park?
Just like the water and soap that was freely available to the kid, we’ve made sure with a lot of hard work over the years, that the plants of patriarchy are grown in every region and strata of our society and the fruits are readily available for everyone to cherish. A few guys, who take pride in this patriarchy, feel that they are superior to women, believing that all women must confirm to their whims and fancies. And this is when these guys start blowing a bubble. A bubble that finds them whistling at women, passing snide remarks, and leching over them, amongst other acts. Their acts do not go unnoticed, but are often ignored. The onlookers, who look at these guys eyeing a woman, smile and walk by, allowing the bubble to grow bigger.
Encouraged by the lack of rebuke, and blinded by their beliefs, they indulged in an act, the repercussions of which were unknown even to them. They destroyed a life, shattered a girl’s dreams, and though they would disappear into oblivion. The bubble which seemed harmless till now, bursts in their faces when they woke up to find an entire nation directing its anger towards them. They were clueless and shocked by the turn of events. Where were all these people when they were blowing their bubble throughout the city? Where did all the smiling and disinterested faces vanish? What brought about this sudden upsurge of emotions?
Something irked the nation’s nerve somewhere. People were filled with anguish and a strong sense of disapproval. Thousands took to the streets, congregating near the abodes of the ones in whom they entrusted their faith to run this country. City roads became a sea of placards demanding justice and safety. The youth of the nation stood up in solidarity, as the wave of protests soon spread to the entire nation. As unprecedented as these protests were, they shook the executive pillar of democracy. Roads were blocked, train services were stalled, water cannons were brought out, tear gas shells were lodged, covering all possible attempts that could be made to make the task of getting their voice heard, more arduous for the protestors.
Despite all the roadblocks, the spirit of the protestors could not be broken. Ably assisted by the fourth pillar, the visibly disturbed youth of our nation succeeded in getting their voice heard. The elected realized that they could no longer just ignore these voices, and came out for a dialogue, assuring the protestors of a series of steps to be enacted upon to make the city a safer place for women.
The wave of protests and being reprimanded by the law has told these guys that they should not have done what they did. Attempts at ensuring a proper enforcement of the existing laws have also begun, suitably aided by the attempts to bring in stronger laws for ensuring the safety of women. Protestors have showed immense strength and resolve in expressing their dissent, but have slowly dwindled away. The park is once again vacant for another kid to try his hand at blowing a bubble. Will we as parents, teachers, friends, and as an entire nation make sure that the kid does not get the water or the soap for his bubble?
It will not happen overnight, for irrespective of how good an agricultural nation we might be, there are far too many plants of patriarchy blooming throughout the nation to be uprooted in one night. Even if we succeed in this task, can we ensure that such an incident will never happen again? In an ideal world, we would love to have that answered with affirmation, but in reality, maybe not. But what we can and we must do is to weed out the saplings as soon as we see one growing. We can check and report any kid trying to blow his bubble, so he can be reprimanded and made aware of the repercussions before his bubble blows up in our faces. Respecting women and considering them as equals in all respects, needs to be embedded in the minds of every young boy.
The dream that I envision, is for us to not forget what we started with the protests, and ensure that this does not go down as a passing wave, but continues to rise like an uprising, to establish a safe, respectful, and a vigilant nation. The churning of the Indian mindset has begun in a right direction.
*This is something I wrote in Jan’13.