As news broke of women dominating the upper ranks of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams, arguably one of the toughest series of tests in the world, I burst into a celebratory jig, pumped my fist in the air and said woo hoo!
I felt like waking up all the men I know to say, "Listen, grab a copy of the newspaper and tell me what you think." (My actual thoughts were this: "Tell me what you think about this obituary to your entitlement of dominance" but that wouldn't have been very polite). Instead, I did nothing. Let them sleep peacefully, I thought, they do deserve that much.
For decades, centuries, eons, men have been the hares dominating the race. Success was so much more likely to be theirs just because they were lucky enough to be born men. Women, on the other hand, were the tortoises - living in a shell made heavy by the burden of their gender. The burden of being a perfect daughter who can be married off without too much inconvenience to the parents, the burden of being a perfect sister who doesn't even talk to her brother about a share in the father's property, the burden of being a perfect wife who manages a home as efficiently as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company without ever getting paid for it and greets her in-laws 24x7 with a beaming smile and a cup of steaming tea. She must also be a perfect mom who never snaps at her worrisome kids, and even after having three children is under pressure to maintain her 36-24-36-vital statistics.
The hare jeers at the slow speed of the tortoise and stops to rest, drifting into a peaceful sleep confident in the knowledge that the tortoise could never catch up. Bad luck, hare. It's the time of the tortoise. The tortoise can not only finish the race, but win it too. She does while embracing the burden on her back as her responsibility and it even becomes her armour when she wants it to be.
Men sit up and take notice, wondering how we managed to get ahead, slowly but surely, with all the weight on our back. Surely they must wonder what will happen if we start shrugging off the responsibilities. Or if we ask that these burdens be shared equally? I guess then our speed will break the all the boundaries of sight and sound and you'll probably have to use an astronomer's telescope to spot us stars.
I continue my celebratory gig as I cook an elaborate meal to celebrate my Dad's birthday, a brave Air Force fighter pilot who passed away 27 years ago. After all, he was the man who taught me that men and women are equal. I am sure he's cheering Ira Singhal, the UPSC topper, from his special place in heaven. He always knew that young girls are not burdens. They are the princesses and queens of their parents' hearts and they will rule the world.