“ The body – naked, embalmed, clothed or buried – has been the object of art, literature, physiology and politics”, writes Shefalee Vasudev in Marie Claire August 2008 editorial. “More than the human body in general, it is the woman’s body that engages our attention…”
Yes, don’t we know that? The female body has also been the kurukshetra over which blood has been shed and battles fought. It has also been the dreaded existence for which men and women in unison, in some cultures have snuffed it out of existence, even before it could see the light of day. It has been raped, ravaged upon, mutilated and denied its right to pleasure, physical and emotional, like all males do. It has been the grounds, which have been trampled upon for centuries. Not even where feminist theories had at one time taken birth, has there been a scene of change – women and their bodies still are looked upon as only second to men.
In the light of the above, making it to fifty is a great relief.
Men will no more look at me as a diet for the night. My body is undergoing change. My girth has no promise laid in them. I am not their image of fertility – 36-24-36 – and thank God for that. I will now hopefully receive some respect in the public transport systems where they will quickly stand for me to sit down I hope. And their compulsive desire to pinch my bottoms or nudge my breasts, whenever, I am in a hurry or absent minded, will meet with flat disapproval from their end.
I no more have to watch the backside of my dress, sari or salwar to protect myself from their evil eye, looking to see if I am still fertile, able to bear a child, because I have stained my dress from the back. I no more have to worry about being the body to fill their lust and allow them to deposit their expulsions inside my womb. Hopefully, even if I stand naked before them, they will only show disgust. Thankfully, I was born in a culture where, I do not have to perform sexually to prove that I am desirable. Nor wear lipstick to cover the fading colour of my lips. Nor wear rouge and powder my nose before I go to bed, so that in the morning when I rise, he does not see my wrinkled skin or I myself refuse to accept my growing years. Thankfully, I will resign to the fact that although my mind is racing still, my body is not so fast and I must tarry before I take on another job, just to catch my breath. Thankfully, when I see my hair turn silver, I will not try to recapture its youthful black of yester-years by applying shades of black that challenges the colour of black itself. Thankfully for all the gifts of true freedom from the body, I am fearless at fifty. Half a century passed. For the night to fall, it may not take another half. Hence, it is best to rise to a new dawn, when still I can cross my legs and sit on the floor for an hour each time and devote myself to Higher Thoughts and practices, for if not now, then perhaps, it will be too late. And this time, not men, but I myself will be obsessed with my body, now sick, now aching, now unmoving. The roles will change and from being an observer of the ever changing, decaying and dying body, I will become only the body and mind. I fear not fifty therefore. It holds the promise of true freedom from the body and mind. Soul-ly!
Psssst! I hear the older they get, the worse they become
Casually, most recently with Bengali writer, poetess, Nabaneeta Deb Sen