Women! We are chugging along fine…
I make my hurried way through the overcrowded suburban railway station frantically searching for the ‘ladies only’ compartment of the train, and just in the nick of time I manage to board the even-more-overly-crowded train! It was 8 pm.
As the train blares and chugs along noisily, I focus on catching my breath that seems to be ‘chugging’ at a whole different pace altogether. Two stations after, I find myself a place to sit by the window. Phew! Settled, I survey my surroundings curiously. My first observation: the train’s cacophony is no match to the la femme babble of voices and laughter resounding in the compartment. Gossips, TV soap discussions, love stories, family woes are all doing the rounds.
Old Indian film songs from a bygone era resonate from a mobile phone radio for all to hear. Nobody objects. Amidst all this prattle, women hawkers are desperately trying to make their end of the day sale of fruits, flowers, snacks and knick-knacks. The bargains and arguments continue.
My second observation: I look around and I see women, so many women, each one different from the other, each one with a story to tell, each one coming from varied family backgrounds, cultures, social status, communities; but right now, here they were all together (mindless of my scrutiny) in this very train compartment with a common agenda of returning home after a hard day of work or academics.
I see women, so many women, strong, independent, capable women who have dared to rise and face societal pressure and challenges in the eye. Women in India (and women in general) have come a long way from the days that once were. Days of being docile, withdrawn, oppressed, ignorant and hidden from sight.
Goes without saying, the unmistakable taste of ‘debatable’ liberty savoured by us today is absolutely indebted to someone else’s efforts yesterday. Truly laudable. Bravo!
All said and done, it is however imperative to note that there are still so many women out there in the world to be reached out to, to be given the chance to be more than they can be, and it will happen someday.
The efforts continue . . . and we each in our own little ways can propel this by perhaps contributing or sponsoring a girl-child’s education, providing work opportunities to underprivileged women, spreading and sharing our thoughts, words and actions within our families, communities, friends, societies and the likes. Communicate. Act. Speak. Write.
My station arrives. I get off the train. The babble of female voices fades into the distance as the chug of the train dominates the air around me, but it is still no match to my chugging new sense of cheerful pride to have been a part of that ‘ladies only’ compartment.
In closing, a quote from Daniel Defoe sums it all –
“For I cannot think that GOD Almighty ever made them so delicate, so glorious creatures; and furnished them with such charms, so agreeable and so delightful to mankind; with souls capable of the same accomplishments with men: and all, to be only Stewards of our Houses, Cooks, and Slaves.”