Each time I walk in to our hostel’s bathroom, I return irked. [Ok, not each time – let us say each time that I go there without eyes half-closed 😛 ]
There it stares at me – a hand-written note reading “Think of the cleaning people as your relatives who are helping you and do not leave behind shampoo sachets, napkins etc in the bathing stalls”.
Any free-of-manufacturing-packaging-and-marketing-cost advice is prefixed with a “Tujhe meri beti samajhke keh rahi hun beta.. jaldi shaadi kar lo.. dekho mummy-papa kitne tension mein hain tere waje se!” (translation : I tell you thinking of you as my daughter child.. Do marriage ASAP.. See mummy-papa are in how much tension cos of you!”)
How many times have we met Aunty-jis oozing maternal warmth proudly declaring “Oh, hamaari maid ko to hum family member hi samajhte hain. Diwali pe uske liye bhi naye kapde liye the – woh bhi uski marzi ki” (translation : Oh, our maid – we think of her as family member only. On Diwali, we took new clothes for her too – that too of her choice).
You dare think this extending family member “status” to the whole world habit is restricted to the north of India? Do you want a time-wasting challenge? One that I am bound to win? Pick 3 tamil movies – any 3 ‘entertainers’ aka masala flicks – sit through them for the total 9hrs. I’ll buy you the big Cadbury Silk with Orange peel (yummy) if you do not see a male indulging in street harassment or rape and a male/female confronting him with “Nee ellaam akka thangachi-oda porakkala?” (translation : You all did not take birth with elder sis/younger sis?). [In no other language is the dialogue that standardized & delivered with such conviction! Me loves Tamil cinema!]
Talk about women’s rights to dress as they wish & there is always someone who asks “Would you let your sisters/wife to go out wearing such clothes?”.
Talk about rape becoming a national hobby & there is always someone who declares “If it happened to my sister, I would waste no time thinking.. I would go & shoot him from close-range!” (ok.. wife is not included – a raped wife is damaged goods to be returned to the shop).
The list could go on..
So, am I capable of treating people decently only if I think of them as a family member?
Can I be concerned about someone only if he/she is my son/daughter?
Will I take the effort to stand up for someone only if they share loads of DNA with me?
And of course, it is only my wife/sisters who should dress modestly & stay off lecherous eyes while all other “paraaye” (‘belonging’ to others) women can behave any which way & hence get harassed left and right!
Moral of the story : We, as a society, are not capable of empathy unless it comes qualified with “family”!
All the world is my family? Really? Does all the world NEED to be my family for me to practice basic decency, courtesy & empathy?
Why do I find that insulting to my ability not to be selfish all the time?
Am I the only one frustrated with this exceedingly accepted, respected, revered, totally patronizing & “me so noble” attitude?