I met P around 2.5 years back.
The relationship bloomed and was cemented over walks to the nearby lake to photograph the rising sun, late night auto-rickshaw rides from railway stations, and mid-night walks in the campus on full-moon nights.
On bad nights, P sat right next to me, at my desk while I worked my ass off all night in the lab – when I was the only one in lab and there was one particular shady character who had taken to saying Hi often and creepily. Those nights felt safe solely because of P’s being close at hand.
I don’t remember when the wedding happened – it was just natural that I married P.
I made a habit of impulsively going away to explore nooks and corners of the city at the golden hours for photography – because P always tagged along uncomplainingly, let me wander off on my own, but stayed accessible in case “bad people” walked into the frame uninvited. I would proudly show off P as my personal body-guard to over-concerned Uncles who take it upon themselves to preach “good sense” to young girls who wander around alone!
Our marriage shines during vacations. Jaipur, Alwar, Beijing, Jodhpur, Rishikesh – the experiences would not have been the same without P’s company. I am sure the camaraderie and good times would only get better and more.
I might be a feminist who believes women can do it all alone – but I would feel handicapped without P.
At Jaipur, I could not have visited the beautiful Galtaji temple without P with me sending sublime signals to the auto-rickshaw driver that I am not vulnerable. At Alwar, I would not have imagined visiting the serene Siliserh lake if I did not know that P would defend me in case the auto-rickshaw got way-laid by rowdy elements. If not for P’s reassuring presence on the Jodhpur trip, I would not have dared to climb random fortification walls just to see how it feels to be a Rajput soldier keeping watch over a sleeping city while watching nautical daylight grow into the golden glow of a sunrise. I can not forget the alarm I felt at Rishikesh when P, who was standing on the rock beside me, slipped and was getting carried away by the gurgling Ganga’s strong currents. I do not remember any other time where I forgot about my personal safety and ran along the rocky river bank to rescue P, unmindful of the risk of my slipping and falling into the river myself.
You can see where this is going, right?
The relationship I share with P is strong and beautiful with many a unique moment shared. I should have nothing to complain about this marriage. But it doesn’t feel quite right – I do not like this feeling of dependence – though only for my self-defense.
Frankly, the marriage holds simply because of my love for travel – travel with loads of privacy and spontaneity thrown in. I would not hesitate even a second to annul the marriage if I could stay sane staying indoors.
My life would be closer to Utopia the day I feel confident and safe travelling solo without P in my pocket. That was no mistake – I did say in my pocket.
I yearn for the day I can confidently travel with my right pant pocket empty – without P alias Pepper Spray sitting snug in it; without distrust being the default feeling at men walking behind me on a deserted road; without wondering if I’d have to press the spray head at a man who has been curiously watching me photographing a beetle. I yearn for the day I can gather the courage to ask for divorce in this marriage.
Some people tell me that every girl should marry Pepper Spray and that I am being stupidly idealistic when I say that I want out. Or girls should just stay indoors and stop complaining. But hey, men do not get offered Pepper Spray’s hand in marriage, nor do they get told they can stay in the safety and coziness of indoors! If Pepper Spray is so good, why do I not see or hear or read of men carrying it? Pepper spray is male and against same-sex relationships perhaps?
Oh yeah, people do give me another option. They tell me that I can get the divorce easily if I have an affair with someone else – a real husband – a human one. A husband who himself has been bitten by the travel bug and has the means to indulge me in my greed for travel. Only, that feels totally wrong to me.
Making Pepper Spray of a person? That too one who might not necessarily be equipped or qualified to defend me or himself in tricky situations? How unfair!
I know that Divorce day for this particular marriage might never come.
Whether or not I take another husband [I so wanted to use that expression. . after reading so many instances of men taking many wives 😀 ], this particular marriage is for life.
But I dream on. I yearn for divorce from Pepper spray and his brothers – swiss-knives, safety pins and training in assorted arts of self-defense.
And I raise a toast to the unlikely divorce..
This is to my small, probably doomed-to-fail “feminist” attempts at reclaiming my space from the “bad people”..
This is to my lying through my teeth to random people, that times have changed and it is normal for women to travel solo and wishing that the lie would come true..
This is to more women travelling solo..
This is to me and other ‘brave fools’ who travel solo and “inspire” others to be just as ‘foolish’..
This is to the end of the need to watch over our shoulders on every road we walk on..
This is to the end of it being normal & only sensible for women to modify their behavior to prevent being harmed by “uncontrollable criminal elements”..
This is to freedom from dependence on Pepper Spray..