We all have that one impulse driven crazy cousin who always got us into trouble. The one of this kind in my family decided to get married last summer. Now we all know how significant weddings are to Indians. But owing to the kind he is, we were only informed of the wedding a week in advance. And yes! He happens to be my first cousin.
Anyway, so the wedding was in Lucknow, and I was in Mumbai. Being an ageing student who is still a dependent, my high sense if self didn’t allow me to take a flight, and it was impossible to find a train reservation. What else could have I done? I put my backpack on, bought a general ticket and hopped aboard. I did manage my way into the AC compartment, though the holiday season got me sleeping on the floor space between berths. Oh, and I was on the second day of my period.
After a 35 hour journey, I reached my city on the day of the wedding. I had grown a little fat and all that I could fit into was an old evening gown. In a city like Lucknow, it is highly unlikely that you would take more than 45 minutes to reach from one corner of the city to another, but that fateful evening, I got stuck in a two hour long jam, after which I had to walk for about two kilometres in my heels to reach the venue. By now, I could feel the train wheel spinning in my head.
So I walk upto one of my cousin brothers, who is almost my age (and almost as drunk as I would like to get). I ask him for a drink, hoping that it would wear off some of my tiredness. But he just chooses to ignore my request. I ask the others, but nothing materialises into a drink in my hand.
Baffled, I go to my blood brother, hoping to receive some understanding there. But what I get instead of the glass is a scornful look, after which my minor tipsy brother moves away. Disappointed, I go and stand with my mother and her sisters, who are onlookers to a dancing pack of boys and young men. One of my aunt giggles and says, “Look at these boys, they are all so high.” The other sisters laugh.
These were my brothers who haven’t even reached their ‘legally’ allowable age to drink. They are high, and I am exasperated. Later, I am also told that my request for a drink was a point of embarrassment for everybody, especially my (minor yet drunk) brothers. This is how patriarchy operates in our culture, restricting my legal right by virtue of the fact that ‘society’ could view a woman with alcohol as deviant, while the same society it amusing when the opposite sex does it.
We are in the public spaces now, and we cannot be expected to operate by the old women’s rule book anymore. But would you, as a woman, much rather give into the whole cultural expectation to keep peace in the society? But how will things change then? From where do we start? I would love to know your comments.