” Let’s put up a trap and then when we caught her in the act, let’s lock her in a room and we will then take each turns to rape her.” All four boys laughed, hooted and discussed the possibility. I stared at them wide eyed. Their excitement and anticipation impregnated the dim lit room, shadows falling on their faces as they squatted on the hardwood floor. I wondered at the nightmarish quality of the moment. I could not believe what I was hearing. I felt Analyn who was sitting beside me in my bed, shivered. The landlady looked at the boys approvingly and giggled.
The boys were talking about Chona. One of the boarders in that boarding house near the campus where I was enrolled for college.They suspected her of stealing the landlady’s money and a ring my mother had given me a year ago as a gift for entering my first year in college. Chona was a trash talking good looking young woman who dressed in shorts skirts and tube tops all the time. She chain smoked and engaged in late night drinking with the boys on her day offs. She was always in need of money and had left college to be a bar girl. Base on that the male boarders seemed to think that she was also capable of stealing. I used to like her before she started working in bars. She was fun to be around, honest and was genuine. But when she quit college and started working in the evenings she became withdrawn and antagonistic. She often came home drunk and would sleep for the entire day until she has to go to work again in the night. Continue reading
I am not a feminist. I don’t like the idea of ‘gender wars’. Men vs. Women. I don’t see men as the enemy. A woman can also hurt another woman as badly as any man can. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses regardless of gender. I find the terms ‘ that woman is strong like man or that man cry like a woman’ amusing. Both male and female as we all know have masculine and feminine qualities in them. I might find a person incredibly gifted/ intelligent or I could find a person unbearably stupid. A person. Not a he or a she.
I remember a funny but pointless debate I and my female friends used to have when were teenagers against a group of boys. Numerous times we argued with them that women can do all what men can do unlike men one time giving the most obvious example that only women can give birth. ” That is true but Jofs, can five women pee simultaneously in one pot?” Responded the leader of the boy’s gang. We all burst out laughing. It was funny and also true. Blushing the girls would feel defeated and outwitted. Ganging against each other had been embedded in us since we were young. Discarding the gender bias requires a lot of effort as we grow older because of the nature of romantic relationships. Our hearts get broken at one point in time. But it’s neither the men nor women who do this to each other. A person hurts another person. If only we can look at it like that and not crucify nor blame the whole gender for it. Continue reading
What an incredible, wonderful exhausting book to read!
The last page has been read, the book closed, kissed and kept away yet the sentiments of those beautifully crafted words still linger around me like an intoxicating perfume leaving me dazed confused and lost in a different world and time. The protagonist’s depression rubbed on me a little. Leaving me pondering over my existence in this world as woman and what have I contributed for the betterment of humanity. I am ashamed to admit that most of my energy and efforts revolve around myself, my family and my friends’ concerns. Whatever good deed I dished out to someone or to some organization had been too inconsequential to even mention. Perhaps it’s not too late. There are so many chances to care for others and be involved.
Needles to say the book moved me very deeply. I fell in love with Anna’s (the protagonist ) beautiful, lucid introspections that assaulted me page after page, sometimes finding myself closing the book when it’s about to overwhelm me. Continue reading
What is terrible is that after every one of the phases of my life is finished, I am left with no more than some banal commonplace that everyone knows; in this case , that women’s emotions are still fitted for a kind of society that no longer exists. My deep emotions, my real ones, are to do with my relationship with a man. One man. But I don’t live that kind of life and I know few woman who do. So what I feel is irrelevant and silly…I am always coming to a conclusion that my real emotions are foolish, I am always having, as it were, to cancel myself out. I ought to be like a man, caring more for my work than for people; I ought to put my work first, and take men as they come, or find an ordinary comfortable man for bread and butter reasons– but I won’t do it, I can’t be like that…
– Ella from The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
This novel have me in a tight grip. As I turned the pages I get sucked more and more into it. I can feel my mood changing, my being, my thoughts, influenced. My dreams becoming vivid intermingling with the characters in the book as if I am living their lives.
The Author a woman. The protagonist a woman who is writing about the life of a woman in the 1950s. About a period of time when the roles of women were set for change. Feminism was rising in a crescendo and women were breaking free from stereotypes but still galled at the fact that they still need the love of a man to make them happy. Her honesty stings. And still so relevant even today. The truth in her words scalds. It forces you to look at what you refuse to acknowledge.I am like a moth drawn to a fire. I cannot stop reading even if it burns me.
Illustration by Jofelyn M. Khapra