What is the most terrifying thing you can wish upon a man in India? Apparently, bangles. Now how did a non-lethal piece of jewellery beat diarrhoea or misogyny to become the curse No. 1 upon the male species of India? As a person who has worn bangles occasionally and never felt its mysteriously debilitating effects, of course, I was at a loss.
The things I have been able to do while wearing a bangle include the following: polish off packets of Lays, travel in a crowded general compartment of a train, chase down an auto, wash a pile of utensils, lug suitcases up the stairs, down cocktails bottoms-up, write, type, shoo pigeons away, swat mosquitoes, get an injection, hold someone's hand. Take bangles off, wear them back and I have still had my brain function in recognisable human form. In fact, no human being has been known to have gone to jail, run someone over, said something stupid, abuse or hit someone under the allegedly fearful influence of bangles worn on their wrists. Yet, time and again, men are threatened with the deep ignominy of wearing bangles.
Yet, time and again, men are threatened with the deep ignominy of wearing bangles.
Like Congress leader and a highly educated lawyer Kapil Sibal reportedly asked the government to 'take off its bangles' and take strict against Pakistan, a country which has been accused of mutilating the bodies of Indian soldiers. Now, how these hypothetical bangles may have come in the government's way of taking diplomacy-related decisions can't be logically explained. Last I checked, the only things that slowed down human thinking were either narcotics or stupid prejudices. And bangles, as it now stands, can induce neither.
Lalu Prasad Yadav, the knight-in-sexist-armour no one needs, pulled up BJP leader Giriraj Singh for insulting Sonia Gandhi. How? By recommending that he be made to wear bangles. And after Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched by a crazed mob, a very enraged Markandey Katju decided to scold the Supreme Court by telling them to wear bangles. And fellow bangle-wearer Smriti Irani had apparently urged former prime minister Manmohan Singh to don bangles if he failed to act against Pakistan.
Last I checked, the only things that slowed down human thinking were either narcotics or stupid prejudices.
Either these people take Hindi film dialogues as serious life advice, which is a condition I completely empathise with. For example, I cannot deny that 'Main To Raste Se Ja Raha Tha, Main To Bhelpoori Kha Raha Tha' has defined my steadiest relationship till date — one with junk food. Or, influenced by powerful cultural narratives -- like 'Bole choodiyan, bole kangana' -- some people may consider bangles to be an euphemism for Indian women. And that is a truly terrifying consequence. (Incidentally, many men, especially those who identify as queer, do wear bangles as a sartorial choice or political statement, but that, I suppose, is too fine a point for a lot of people to reckon with.)
What is not to be terrified about being an Indian woman? If, by chance or luck, you manage to avoid being born into societies where you'd rather be killed in the womb or have to pay some man money to marry you, your life is still a headache. You'll be introduced to a harassment-proof dress code that covers everything from neck to ankles and preferably doesn't make it apparent that you possess breasts. And then you'll realise, it's a hoax. Because you will anyway get groped and pinched and shouted and catcalled at while you're trying to get to school or college or work. Then you will be asked to stay away from this mosque and that temple because apparently possessing a uterus in public is more offensive than picking your nose in public. So, since you were burdened with one, you're advised to stay away from mythical figures who don't fancy being near real woman during their period. (Oh, you must not read the last word aloud.) And when you want to forget the shit that your life can be and just go to watch a film, you'll be left wondering why is your species treated like the wind-chime in your living room — dangled to look pretty and make occasional pleasing sounds.
Phew! No wonder then angry men wish other men the great misfortune of turning into a woman.
Of course, which Indian man would want to swap places with an Indian woman? They'd rather trade lives with cows.
Also on HuffPost