Friday, December 20, 2013

Fake or feminist?

Amrita Dasgupta & Anjanava Maitra
Long absences make the heart grow fonder. Sometimes they provide the much needed respite from the monotony of things around you and thrust you to a world where, everything is different. For me, this time, both were true.

Whenever I am asked, where I am from, I find it difficult to answer the question. How do you explain to people you feel you belong to the world, when actually all they mean to ask is, where do you come from, now. To answer their question, a reluctant Delhi slips through my mouth. How do you explain where you feel closest to your heart to live in?  

On most days, I live in cyberspace and not in any terrestrial space, although I occupy one. My world consists of people, I may have never met in my life and yet, I am deeply connected with them. Also most of them are now in two distinct categories – writers and activists apart from clients on my list of Facebook friends and LinkedIn connects. Sadly, of these, there are a few I have given more of my heart to, than I have received in return. Yet, I know, that they are instrumental to keeping me in my heart space, one which we take for granted at most times. The heart sutra for me is distilled in a few words, loving, forgiving, accepting the other for what they are and expanding my horizon and inner space to receive. In that sense, they give and I take.

Taking a break from the mundane and leaving the cyber world for the territorial, is a welcome change, when one connects with the real.

Marriages, they say are made in heaven, but they happen in the world of matter. An elaborate Bengali marriage, running into days, of fun, food, laughter and joy of two persons and families coming together, can be a burst of many wonderful colours and hopes and blessings. It is in order – patriarchal, heterosexual and the union is expected to bring forth one or two off springs which will then bring forth more happiness and joy around the couple and their families.

We did not grow up together, her mother and I, although we were cousin sisters. We lived in two different places, she in Kolkata and I in Shillong. It was after almost sixteen years of not seeing each other, that I in 1996, took a break to visit Kolkata. It was truly like meeting my extended family for the first time. There I met my niece, the one who just got married, sitting between two of her cousin brothers, the now very tall and handsome, boys, Shiba and Trishul. They were huddled together watching TV, although I suspect they were watching me, the alien animal from some other planet, supposed to be their mothers’ sister!

It all began then! The childhood memories of playing house, hiding under the bed, all three of us, Didibhai, Dadabhai and I, came back to memory, like a fresh water bath under the spring. I remember spending long stretches of time at their home, playing doll, going to the pattshala (informal school) where Dadabhai and I always sat on the floor at the back and talked, and talked, and talked! It has never been the same after that visit, 17 years ago.

Kolkata dawned to me, when these emotions returned. I suspect my love for Kolkata has nothing to do with returning to my roots, for mine are really in Shillong, but the pure love of connecting to my beloveds, my brothers and sisters, my mamas (maternal uncles) and mashis (maternal aunts) and their progeny.

Isn't it strange that I may hold out against patriarchy, the institution of marriage and uphold the rights of an autonomous human being, but when it comes to those my emotions are invested in, I am rarely ever militant about it?

So am I a fake or a feminist? These lovely pictures of the marriage, should tell.

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