Dec 9, 2010
Eddie uncle and I have been friends for a long time now. Even though he is older than my dad, we have been best budds. A retired Gulf-returned gentleman, with a wife and two daughters who are married, Eddie uncle had accomplished everything in life and had nothing left to do. His wife Cecilia aunty is the most gracious and fun-loving lady I have ever met and his daughters Jennifer and Jenelia have taken after their mother. This is enough for a small introduction to Eddie uncle and his family.
Every time I come home, Eddie uncle takes me out to his most beloved spot on the beach with five bottles of beer and some nuts – I mean peanuts. Drinking is strictly a prohibited activity at home and Cecilia aunty takes care that Eddie doesn’t meet his drunkard friends. But when I come around, I don’t know why she allows Eddie uncle to drink, strictly beer though, maybe because she thinks I can take care of him, or maybe because she thinks I drink all the beer. I don’t know.
Anyways, on one such drinking session of ours, Eddie uncle and I got talking about women. Being a good 40 years younger than him, my thoughts about women were different from his. You know what I mean, don’t you? Sitting on the white sand, with blue waters in front of us and blue sky above us, Eddie uncle started talking.
"Anil, what do you think of women in India?"
I was completely taken aback. What do I say? Both of his daughters were married and now Eddie uncle is asking me such a weird question.
"Uncle, I believe they are very pretty, but a bit plump, but I love plump girls."
That’s what came to my mind at the moment.
"You dim witted fool. I am talking about their condition in India, not their figure and your likes and dislikes. Oh now I understand. You really liked that girl in college. Didn’t you?"
"Arre, leave it Uncle. Anyway you tell me about their condition now. Err…Open the bbbbeer Uncle," I tried to divert his attention and was clearly stammering.
"Be calm dude, I know you since your cranky days. You will find your plump girl soon. Haan, about the condition of women in India - I was reading an article in a newspaper and felt really bad about it. It was about a young girl who was forced into marriage and later on divorced by her husband."
"Was she pretty Uncle?"
"Shut up Anil. I am serious. I want to do something for such women."
"Just half beer uncle and you are already high. What’s wrong with you."
"Look Anil. I am old and I have to do something for my people, my country. I have lived a good life, earned lots of money. So now I want to give something back."
"That’s good. At least you thought about it now. You should have done it a long time ago."
"Yeah I know. I need some help from you. Don’t tell anyone. Not even your Cecilia aunty. She will think I have started drinking again. Now coming to the point, I consider being born in India as a girl is a sin. A woman has to suffer all along, first as a daughter, then a wife, then a mother and finally even as a grandmother."
"Yeah, I know. I had visited a remand home and the situation there was pathetic. Around 80 boys in one room which was as big as our living room and girls were in a separate room which we weren’t allowed to enter. And you know what, only one bathroom, that too in the corner of the same room. It choked me uncle."
"What about those girls in the remand home. They must be surely sent into prostitution when they are 18. Isn't it?"
"Worse. Some young girls are forced into it before they are 18. Many are raped and blackmailed to do dirty things and they are not allowed to visit anyone. These girls are so ashamed of themselves that they don’t want to go anywhere and finally they get used to it and become prostitutes."
"Oh my God. I never knew this. But what can we do for such women in India? You can use your consulting studies and advice me to do something."
"Well, we can do lots of things. But how much do you want to spend on this?"
"Anil, don’t worry about money. I know a few friends too."
"Oh. Hope your friends have pretty plump daughters. You and aunty should have planned to have Jenelia 2 or 3 years after I was born huh."
"You Jackass. I am serious here. Jenelia is happy in her new house and has two devils of her own."
"Kidding Uncle. I love both your daughters. Look, Indian women are mild-hearted, except when they scare their husbands. Ha ha, but they have been trained to live as subordinates as you said. This trend has to go away first, which is really difficult as we have to change someone’s thought process. Women empowerment is a must. They have to be encouraged to venture into different things, lead groups, get employed etc."
"Education, encouragement from parents, freedom to dream and follow it, knowledge about government policies, employment opportunities etc."
"That is fine. I know that. You are talking in general. I offered you bloody three beers to help me start something."
Eddie uncle’s anger was evident.
"Uncle, aren’t you scared about the consequences of you opening a women empowerment centre? People will call you names; they will throw false allegations on you. They will call you a pimp. One of the major hurdles if you want to do good things in our country is PUBLIC attitude. One more thing - are you ready to bribe politicians and other small time leaders?" I showed him the critical analysis which I had learnt in the third chapter of Management consulting.
"What. OMG. Do you think politicians will jeopardize my venture?"
"Politicians can do anything Uncle. If they want they can even ask you and me to get out of this pristine beach giving the reason that our feet are dirty. Don’t you get the point why hundreds of rapes in India go unregistered? Police are also corrupt and every police station has one or the other officer on a politician’s payroll."
"So what do you suggest?" I have never seen Eddie uncle this serious in life. I really understood his pain and his genuine sympathy towards women and their sufferings.
"Uncle, I can see you really care. There are few people in this world who care about women. You might have heard of Nike’s slogan - "JUST DO IT." Just start it uncle. I will extend all the help I can, but from backstage. I don’t want to get involved in this venture which may lead to a murky situation."
"Anil, whatever happens, I have to do it. Maybe we can start small and do some good work here in Mangalore first, and then slowly get my friends involved."
"That will be fine I guess." I was already guilty of the fact that I chose to be at the backseat being young. "Uncle, everything starts from home. You will have to convince parents to encourage their daughters to have aspirations and give them resources to fulfil them."
"Anilaaaa. You are my consultant for this venture. Don’t go and bother companies to have you and ruin their businesses."
"Huh...I will ruin your amazing venture then. How much will you pay me for this?"
"A bottle of beer every week. Drink your beer and come let us go home. Hope my Cecilia hasn’t empowered herself now."
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