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“Would you like to be born as a woman again?” I was asked this question very randomly by a woman over a woman’s day high tea this year. While biting into the cheese crackers with utmost care that the crumbs should not fall on my dress, I said “Of course, I love being a woman and I embrace everything it brings along. From periods to pregnancy”The woman who asked this smiled, holding the pleats of her dupatta placed over the shoulder and said,”wo to sab theek hai but don’t you ever wish to be a man, ” I wish I was a man because then I could get away with everything. You know I won’t  have to be answerable to anyone for anything”. Her words spoken in the simplest manner were complex enough to jolt me inside and I pursed my lips in the exercise of retrospect. Do I really love being a woman? or it is the pseudo-feminist that overpowers my rationale. That woman talking to me looked impeccable with short hair, wearing a beautiful dress by one of the celebrated designers, carrying a Prada bag with incomparable grace and elegance. That woman shook my faith with her one sentence. The afternoon was followed by venting out about maids, school teachers, neighbor’s dog and everything possible. We were then served tea in finest chinaware. We all enjoyed every bit of that cake that was served, even asked the recipe from the host but nothing could stop us from discussing our daily combat with sugar and processed food.
Just after the selfie session was over. Most women called their domestic help, asking, if “Sahab is back from work or baba is back from his coaching classes or mummy ji back from the temple”  A blunt YES from the other end and all my beautiful friends picked up their bags as that YES was an alarming siren before the curfew. The high tea then got over and we all parted saying quick goodbyes. A little peck on the cheek and a promise, “we’ll catch up soon”
I sat in the car with a few of my friends, the six o clock news on the FM was being telecast and before it was changed by the driver to the trending ‘Bajirao Mastani songs’ who assumed that women would not be interested to know about the world affairs.  The last bit of the news I heard was about the temple in Maharashtra where women are not allowed to worship. All my friends were busy appreciating Deepika Padukone’s splendid attire in the movie.Then a whole discussion about freedom of woman was carried out and I couldn’t resist asking my friends,”Do we have the freedom to do what we want?” Most of them without a  doubt said “of course” just the way I said to that woman.
Many days later after that woman’s day high tea, I was taken aback by this news where a woman was stopped to attend Satsangs by her husband and the matter was brought to the court. The judge while in an attempt to unite their matrimonial faith asked the woman not to attend Satsangs without permission and go to meet her parents only after her husband’s consent. The Judge SK Aggarwal made the woman not only apologise but asked her to touch the husband’s feet in the court. To some this matter may seem of no importance as marriage is more important than “Satsang” but nothing is more important than living your life the way you want, even if that means you have chosen Satsang over marriage.
The greatest freedom is the freedom of choice, But ” Do women have the freedom of choice?” I asked my men folks to name any woman they think has the freedom of choice, their answers were rather funny. Some said “Sunny Leone, who else has the freedom to be they want” some said Sonakshi Sinha because according to them it takes freedom of choice to wear those clothes. There was also a mention of  Nita Ambani because she has the freedom to choose liposuction over aging.Some said, “My wife, I have given her all the freedom she wants”.  Freedom is not a gift my dear, something you can give your wife with ‘terms and conditions applied’. So after these random answers, I was sure that most men don’t understand what is freedom of choice for women but soon I realized, women hardly have any understanding of the same.
How many women have the choice of not to cook being a housewife? or the choice of not having kids, or the choice to adopt a kid while she can have her own. How many of us have the choice to travel alone without giving our detailed itinerary to our family?How many of us can choose work over house chores or friends over husbands, or parents over in-laws? Many of us would have never even thought of the world like that and for the insignificant number who think, they have these choices are the “rebels” or “control freaks” or “Not so adjusting” women of the society. Don’t be astonished if the handful of you suddenly become the women, people would ask their girls to stay away from.
But what moved me was an answer from my maid, mother of four. She left her husband because she did not want to be his sex toy, she chose to say “No” to him and decided to raise all four kids alone. She said in a very philosophical way, that women don’t know when to draw a line between sacrificing for others and sacrificing for herself. Often what they think is a sacrifice for their family, becomes an oblation of their own freedom. What women never realize is that sometimes these little adjustments or sacrifices becomes a monster of things that were never their choice.’I chose to set my self-free, she said and it was a difficult choice but I am happy and most importantly free’. People think I am a woman whose husband left her, it is hard for them to imagine that I, Left the man .Yes, this answer was a no pseudo-feminist answer it was ma(i)de out of experiences. She loved being a woman and she did not have to say a loud ‘of course’ to flaunt that.
In my opinion, Indian women don’t have the freedom of choice as much as the men. Indian women have to constantly look for a consent from a man in their life for every little thing, be it the Satsang or the kitty parties. Most women in India are living someone else’s dream and waiting for that eureka moment when things will get better. It never gets better dear ladies, rise up from your comfort zone and stop enduring everything like your PMS pain.
And just when I was writing this I asked my maid about the same Bajirao Mastani movie, my friends were discussing.I wanted to know her views over Deepika Padukone, she said very confidently that she liked the characters because Mastani chose passion over relationships.  She fought for her choices.Not once my maid talked about her beauty but what impressed her was the will of the protagonist to stand up for her choices. I was equally impressed with my maid as much as I was with the woman I met woman’s day.
Once again that made me introspect the question”Why wouldn’t  I like to be born as a woman again?”