Honour the soldiers in your life. Write about them, commemorate them, asked Blogadda of all bloggers on their forum. I came across their post on my Facebook feed almost a week ago, gave it a cursory go through and dismissed it right away – I had nothing to write on this, no opinion to give, no thoughts to share. There was no soldier in my life, no valiant man who particularly stood out in the way he behaved with women or more specifically stood up for them when need be. End of story.
But the words and the idea got stuck in some corner of the mind, and the regular reminders appearing in the Facebook feed did their bit too – to get me thinking and analyzing the men in my life – men who were family, colleagues, friends, acquaintances and also the known strangers, whom I know but don’t really know. Most men I know are closet chauvinists, I thought. They will speak about gender equality, opine about the many prevalent biases, talk about women liberation and all the relevant fancy stuff, but when it came to applying the grand ideas in their live norms of society, and s they will stick to the tried and tested if not this, they will feign indifference.
And this train of thought led me to my father. Yes, father. Rhetoric it will sound, as most women claim their dads are the soldiers in their lives, but I have a different angle to share. My father comes from a family of hardliners – a family where fun and freedom for women meant taking care of the family. He was born and brought up in a small village in Punjab and no matter how long a time he has spent in metro cities within India and abroad, some part of him will always remain a conservative, orthodox village lad. BUT, he has a come a long way, he has evolved and tries his best to let his daughter BE. He has given me and my mother all the freedom in the world to do whatever we fancy. He has given me freedom of expression and the liberty to live on my own in a ruthless city like Delhi. Of course, there are limitations in his thoughts and the way he views a woman’s world, but I believe he deserves credit for what he was and what he has come to be. We argue a lot over ideological differences, political debates, and the many social trends. There are times when I hate him for his orthodox views but there are also times when I am so proud of him, for trying to understand. Both of us love old Bollywood music and quiz each other on Retro Bollywood trivia. We love watching the movie Jab We Met together and mimicking the funny dialogues from the movie.
And however hard I try I cannot imagine doing any of these fun things in any of my paternal uncles’ homes. They still remain the real world chauvinists – with their belief in the superiority of men folk going as strong as ever.
So, despite my cynicism about this whole soldier for woman thing, in my heart of hearts I know that my father is the soldier in my life, maybe not as valiant as I would want him to be, but a somewhat strong soldier nonetheless. Thank you, Papa, for being there.