26 October 2014

Stories From India: Let me be naked #2

Imagine a hot day, above 30°C and high level of humidity. But you are there in jeans and a jacket, walking up to fifth floor, wishing to reach roof-top for a fresh and....and it just feels even hotter and less tolerable when you get there! The only thing you want is to be in shorts and light t-shirt or tank top but you can't! This is exactly how I felt in my first weeks during my 6 months stay in India. In first days it felt like I was constantly sweaty and salty. And it never was so much of a feeling of hotness and breathing, it was about the feeling of being dirty. The moments of taking a shower (in reality it was just an ice-bucket challenge) are priceless but as soon as you dress up again it feels like nothing have changed.

And all you want in this world is to be allowed to be in your own clothes! In first days it was simply uncomfortable but later on it made an impact on my psychology. I didn't feel good at all. My clothes became my own cage. I don't remember last time when I felt so trapped and oppressed. It was the feeling that your rights are simply taken away and you can't change anything. It felt like someone tied my arms and glued my mouth. I was craving and daydreaming about the shower. The only place where you can really be you. But how long can you be in a washroom if it feels wrong to touch a wall or a floor barefoot? When you have finally reached it, you just want to make it as fast as possible to not get any disease.

Being restricted can lead you into depressing state of mind. It makes you angry. And when you see a man who is walking next to you in shorts (or lungi) with a tank top...you just want to scream at him and the rest of the world for the injustice! Scream, cry and never stop! While a male can do whatever, I have to be dressed up like a Spiderman who is hiding his personality! I just want to be me but I can't because of my gender! Something as beautiful and wonderful as my gender was the cause for my troubles! I couldn't resist it, it felt so wrong but yet so true. Actually, India is a country where I've seen so many penises that I lost my count because these people (male) pee everywhere. You go by bus and you don't need to count stones or cows, you can count men who are peeing by the road! At first it seems either disgusting or amusing but then I understand that it is simply unfair. Women can't pee wherever they want! I couldn't pee wherever I want! And if I found a place where I can pee, it was so bad that I preferred that my organs explode inside me and I better die than stand in pee, feces and who knows where else. Once I went to a public washroom. Once.
Many times I was very close to tears. But then you are just there sitting on the floor sweaty and tired and if feels like your arms are tied behind your back. This feeling doesn't leave you until the hour when you can lock your doors and go to sleep in your underwear.

Only in Bollywood and very few parts of India girls can be found in suits where their stomach is uncovered and V line/ back line is very low. India has their dream just like Americans. In many parts of India, especially Haryana state where I was staying, a woman is treated very differently from a man. Every single female and male, either they are 5, 15 or 50-years-old, they know that she is less than he. If two kids are playing along but and suddenly doing something wrong, girl will be the one who will get slapped or spanked by their parents. Women are maids, delivers and accessory for a man. Women and man do not shake hands, it's inappropriate. She does what makes he happy. In a village where I was staying a women has to cover their face from the other man (except if it is her father, brother or husband). 

It's unbelievable that skin, just a bunch of different cells, blood vessels and nerves can be considered as something dirty and cheap. It's unbelievable that a simple knee, depending on if it's his or hers, is considered as something lewd! A man doesn't marry his wife but buys with a palatial wedding from her family. Buys her loyalty and body. They call it love but all I see is a market place where they sell meat because there isn't any opinion, ambition or faith. Like a dead body, she is covered from people ayes. And usually you don't talk about dead people but in this case everyone is allowed, to call her too fat or too skinny, beautiful or ugly, smart or stupid. And she will be there, listen to all this but keep doing what she is doing so she doesn't make anyone angry.

For me, as a foreigner, it was less and more difficult at the same time. Less difficult because I don't care so much what people say if I wear different clothes. Even though that I still covered everything I was supposed to cover (because most of my housemates were men) but it was more loose and relaxed. But also it was more difficult because I knew how it is to wear whatever I want and whenever I want, I knew the feeling to get out from shower only covered in a towel or go for a proper swim while for a woman in here it's difficult to imagine it. Especially doing it themselves. But also I got used to. And this also changed my stereotypes on body image that Western world was pushing on me through media my whole life. Woman should never have a limited choices (on anything). In our society boobies and booties are taking over while human being has so much more than a body. Sadly media isn't pushing on that. But if a woman loves to wiggle her booty - do it! If a woman likes to keep her body in privacy - do it! One right choice is soooo last century! Be you.

Actually, at the very beginning when I was respecting the rules of this country I never fully got why is it so strictly. I thought that I might be seen as an easy woman, being disrespectful or offensive, as the one who is trying to enticing men until the day I saw  his ayes. It was in Delhi where usually these things are more relaxed. I was having lunch with my colleagues, couple of men with who I was talking once in a while. It seemed that I know them a bit. During lunchtime appeared new Scandinavian woman who was around forty years old. Not the only one in the office. She sat down with her long dress and took of the scarf that was covering her shoulders and back...the animal look and and gasp that one of my office mates made...it was simply scary. I haven't seen anything like that in any other persons ayes, he made an aye contact with the guy from another table and both smiled with this inhuman spark in their ayes. I got shivers and my appetite was gone. Still, I continued to eat but that gave me the real click on what was going on. Remembering it still gives me really bad feeling. And a strong belief on that this world is lacking humanity and equality.


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rocky said...

I have often seen girls naked even up to 12/13 years of age in India mostly in rural areas. kids go naked all the time in India but coming to adult I think it is easier for women to be naked than men because you'll be clubbed to death if you are a man without close in public.

rocky said...

About the whole punishment thing where did you get that info? It is complete opposite in India. I have lived here for over 25 years and in school boys often get a beating or punishment but for the same crimes girls go with just a warning. This is true with parents as well. Boys are punished harder than girls and everyone knows it here in India.


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