The Stone Age Is Back!

Rupa Gulab Mumbai 

Scientists all over the world are rejoicing madly - the Stone Age man has been discovered in India. Not fossils, but living, breathing samples! Isn't that wonderful? The first discovery was in Mangalore where a bunch of specimens, who call themselves the Sri Ram Sene (SRS), went on a rampage in a pub and thrashed all the women present. As a devout Hindu, I'm very disturbed about this: shouldn't this pre-historic party be called the Sickening Rakshash Sene instead? I absolutely insist that no slur should be cast on Ram.

A Stone Age woman was discovered soon thereafter. She had cleverly disguised herself as a member of the National Commission for Women (NCW), and had implied in her shoddy report on the Mangalore atrocities that she found nothing amiss in the behaviour of the SRS. Oh well, we can't blame her I guess, because how could she know better? But, I do firmly believe that the NCW should get rid of her post-haste. And while she's looking for a new job, I urge her to read Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns. If that book doesn't help her see the error of her ways, I'm afraid nothing may.

Modern Indian women shouldn't see this discovery as a reason to panic, though. Till such time as the International Association of Stone Age Scientists escorts these specimens to their laboratories in bamboo cages, we can ‘learn to adjust' (the favourite phrase of traditional Indian mothers). I'll give you an example: do not stop wearing tight jeans or strappy tees for fear that Malevolent Muthalik (the leader of the SRS) will beat you to pulp. Wear them in animal prints instead (leopard spots look rather pretty) and rest assured he will be mollified into believing that you're a kindred soul from the Stone Age, too.

What's heartening is that a bunch of delightfully feisty girls stood up to the SRS by launching a Pink Chaddi Campaign. The campaign spread like wildfire across India's big cities and truckloads of pink underwear were delivered to the SRS caves -- a nice change from their worn-out saffron knickers. I'm proud to say that I sent some underwear, too. My husband urged me to send a large number on his behalf as well, and as a dutiful Indian wife, I meekly followed his instructions with my head bowed. I must mention here that this act of his answered a very important personal question that occasionally pops into my head -- particularly at moments when he selfishly refuses to share the TV remote control: Did I marry the right man? Oddly enough, some people (including the Karnataka Chief Minister) think that the Pink Chaddi Campaign was more disgusting and outrageous than the act of molesting and assaulting women. Hmm. The scientists have more specimens than they anticipated.

There are three big questions looming in emancipated Indian women's minds these days:

N. Why do regressive men who belong to Hindu/Christian/Muslim fundamentalist organisations across the world keep insisting that beating up women and shoving them pregnant and barefoot into kitchens is a sign of respect? Have they ever considered that women would prefer to be disrespected in that case?

N. How dare regressive men decide what women should wear? I've seen how members of the Taliban and the SRS dress, and believe me, those frumps have absolutely no sense of style -- they'd be cruelly jeered at in Paris. If they feel that ‘immodestly' dressed women get them all hot and sweaty, then they should either visit Sexaholics Anonymous (America has many to cater to Hollywood stars) or get themselves blinded -- we saw how easy it was in Slumdog Millionaire, didn't we?

N. How come a majority of Indian parents let their daughters down by not instigating a national movement against the SRS? Keeping their daughters locked at home is a foolish, short-sighted plan. Challenging the SRS and other fundamentalist organisations will keep them safe forever.

Finally, I'd like to say that my choice for politician of the year is Renuka Chowdhury, Union Minister for Women and Child Development. She's the only Indian mother I know of who spoke stridently against the SRS. This Mother's Day (another Western concept, oh dear), I bet she'll receive many bouquets and cards. Now, if we all had mothers like her, Indian women would feel so much safer!

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