BodyTree

The theme of this 2021  International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’. We felt the theme is inspiring. BodyTree launched the campaign with the theme on March 1st 2021. This theme reminds us how it all began, right? After all, International Women’s Day started not with coupon codes or discount sales but with women raising their voice for equal wages and better working conditions. As we celebrate another International Women’s Day in the pandemic-hit world, BodyTree created a platform for women to share inspiring stories of how they chose to challenge, be it the system, status quo, or even themselves!  And here are the stories we received. We are grateful to the contributors who took time to pen down their story for fellow sisters. You inspire us !!  

#choosetochallenge #IWD2021

We choose to challenge little things

-Veena Vimala Mani, Researcher and Writer 

My grandmother had female and male friends

whom she met at her home,

and my mother have female friendships

whom she meets at temples. 

My friends and I meet wherever we like,

like in Calicut beach, Kochi chai-house,

Hyderabad student’s quarters, 

at the foot of the Charminar,

at the Besant Nagar fish shop, 

Trivandrum museum, 

Zoom, Whatsapp and Skype,

at homes of our own making. 

At dawn and dusk, in

sadness and mirth,

sipping kattan or something stronger

fighting or healing.

We do not meet 

for sometime

as sadly some adults do

when they work

or when we are burned out

from modern living

and when we wait to be

able to move and grow.

We are a bunch of rooted rootless

jokers and thinkers

who laugh at their older selves

and kindly look at the now-selves. 

We challenge little things

one little thing at a time

personally

politically

When she realized the

wounds untended,

she had a few hands

to hold and be.

When she was happy

and creating, she

had a few smiles

hanging around her.

At times when loneliness

pierces through her,

leaving her like a sieve

empty, hollow and thin,

They were there,

simply there. 

Challenging little things

that defined our fates. 

Table for One 

Najma Jose, Engineer and Culinary Enthusiast

2018 ഫെബ്രുവരി മുതൽ ആഗസ്റ്റ് അവസാനം വരെ ഞാനൊരു കുടുസ് മുറിയിൽ ആയിരുന്നു താമസം. പെട്ടന്ന് പെട്ടിയുമെടുത്തൊണ്ട് ഇറങ്ങേണ്ട വരുമ്പോൾ നമുക്ക് അധികം ഓപ്‌ഷൻ ഉണ്ടാകില്ലല്ലോ. അവിടെ താമസിച്ചു ജോലിക്കൊക്കെ പോയി ,ഇടക്ക് തെറാപ്പി ഇതൊക്കെയായിട്ട് മുന്നോട്ട് പോകുന്നു. അങ്ങിനെ പോകുന്ന സമയത്താണ് ഫുട്‌ബോൾ ലോകകപ്പ് തുടങ്ങുന്നത്. കളിയൊന്നും വല്യ കാര്യമായി ഫോളോ ചെയ്യുന്നില്ല. താമസിക്കുന്ന വീടിന്റെ തൊട്ടടുത്തുള്ള ഒരു സ്പോർട്സ് ബാറുണ്ട്. പണ്ട് യൂണിവേഴ്‌സിറ്റിയിൽ പഠിക്കുന്ന സമയത്ത് ഇടക്ക് വ്യാഴാഴ്ചകളിൽ ലാബിലുള്ള കൂട്ടുകാരുടെ കൂടെ അവിടെ പോയി ചിക്കൻ വിങ്‌സ് കഴിക്കുമായിരുന്നു. പിന്നീട് കുറച്ചു വർഷം ജോലിയും, വെച്ചുവിളമ്പലും ഒക്കെ ആയത് കൊണ്ട് ആ വഴിയൊന്നും പോകേണ്ടി വന്നിട്ടില്ല. ഒരു ദിവസം ജോലി കഴിഞ്ഞു വരുമ്പോൾ പബ്ബിന്റെ മുന്നിൽ ഒരു പോസ്റ്റർ കണ്ടു. ലോകകപ്പ് ഫുട്‌ബോൾ ലൈവ് സ്ട്രീമിംഗ് ഉണ്ടെന്ന്. ജൂലായ് 15 ഞായറാഴ്ച ഞാനും പോയി… ഒറ്റക്ക്. കയറി ചെന്ന് seating കാത്തു നിൽക്കുമ്പോൾ അവിടുള്ള പെണ്കുട്ടി ചോദിച്ചു “are you waiting for someone” “No ..I am not.. ..table for one, please ” കുറച്ചു കഴിഞ്ഞപ്പോഴേക്കും പബ്ബിൽ നിറയെ ആളുകളായി.. ഫ്രാൻസിന് വേണ്ടി ചിയർ ചെയ്ത് ആഘോഷമായി കളി കണ്ടു.

Buraa Maano

Sherin Catherin, Researcher &Writer  

Every year, around Holi time, I am reminded of my worst Holi experience, the memory of which makes me really angry everytime I think about it. And this experience is eerily similar to the sickening incident where semen-filled balloons were flung at a DU student in 2018. In 2009, I was a third year student at LSR and lived in the hostel. Every time one had to purchase something, it was necessary to take a cycle-rickshaw trip to Amar Colony or to Lajpat nagar central market. Unlike most of the other colleges in DU, ours is kind of isolated as far as its location is concerned, and unless and until one enters the college gate, personal safety was something one was really careful about. So, in the month of March, maybe a day before Holi, myself and my close friend and classmate Amrita Mukherjee, made a plan to go to amar colony to grab a few things for the upcoming graduation dinner. We bought some sweets, got our hair washed and set at a local beauty parlour and then decided to walk back to the college. After we walked for barely a distance of 200 meters, we were both hit in our breasts with water-filled balloons by a bunch of hooligans. We started running, but they ran after us, hurling water balloons at us. The water had a strong foul smell to it and was brown in colour. We were drenched in water, head to toe, and all the bags and all the sweets – every single thing was spoiled. We shouted for help, but nobody stopped them. Strangely enough, nobody found it odd to see two girls being chased by a group of guys, right in the middle of a busy market place. We jumped onto a cycle-rickshaw and asked the rickshaw-puller to take us to the college asap. However, they ran parallel to the rickshaw and continued throwing balloons and spraying water on us and one guy even tried to stop the rickshaw. This was when we made a call to the police. Two police men arrived with in a minute and witnessing the ordeal, they caught hold of those thugs. We got down from the rickshaw and were shivering with anger. The policemen brought them in front of us and asked us whether we would like to give it back to them. We slapped all of them, one by one, and went back. And the police took them away. Since then, I have stayed indoors every year during the time of holli and thought with extreme resentment that how unfair is it to keep women away from public spaces for fear of being hit by balloons and splashed with water, much against their consent. 

There is nothing as impertinent and disagreeable as sexually harassing a woman under a slogan which suggests that since it is some festival which her abuser opts to celebrate in the most menacing, nightmarish ways, she shouldn’t be taking offense. “Bura mat maano, holi hai”. Wow. Such an absurd sense of entitlement. Such a lack of understanding of consent.

Women please take offense. Slap on the face of such lewd customs, whenever necessary. Bura maano, please.