My mom had this really funny line which she loved saying to me each time I stepped out of the house! No matter how far away, on which floor she would be, somehow she would always manage to scream this line to my embarassment, every time I stepped out of the house!
“ Andhera hone se pehle ghar aa jaana”
So what is so special about this line?
Trust me once I dissect this line for you, you will know why I held on to this line in my head.
Firstly it means that the minute it will get dark I will miraculously start making out with someone!
Secondly it also means that people can make out only once its dark!
Thirdly somehow after dark I will lose all my senses and sense of responsibility and fall asleep in my non existant boyfriends house and I will forget that I had to go back home and then my life will be ruined for ever! Phew!
Since according to my mother that’s how lack of sunlight affects a woman’s judgement!!
Fourth even if I give her benefit of the doubt, she probably implied that all the boys in the city where hiding behind bushes ready to pounce on me as soon as the sun sets.
Yes that one small line “ andhera hone se pehle ghar aajana” means all of the above somehow!
In our culture we find very innovative ways of talking about sex and sexism without actually mentioning either of the word!
For example “ tum ladki ho, jo karna hai shaadi ke baad karna”
( read, you can’t have sex before marriage because you are a girl or else your life will be ruined!)
“Bahar reh ke aaya par bahut sharif ladka hai!” ( read, although he was staying abroad but he is still a virgin)
“Night duty mat karna, 4 log kya sochenge”
( read, if you do a night shift your neibhours will start believing you are not a virgin anymore and your life will be ruined)
Trust me I am even better than Robert Langdon at decoding this stuff! Dan Brown are you listening!
Its amazing how we are so causal about our sexist attitudes!
And that’s why even till today whenever I encounter any kind of sexism the voice-over in my head goes, “andhera hone se pehle ghar aa jaana!”
I remember a few years ago during the valentine week a friend of mine came to me and said that the boy she was dating had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do in life. Since he had zero ambitions, she was going to break up with that loser!
My head went, “ andhera hone se pehle ghar aa jaana”
The very next day, a male friend of mine came to me and said that the girl he was dating, “poor baby” had no idea what she wanted to do in life. She was a such a “lost soul” and cute too with zero ambitions! “I am goimg to marry her!” he exclaimed.
And my head went into a tizzy of “ andhera hone se pehle ghar aa jaana”
Most men I talk to refuse to admit that they unconciously desire an ambitionless woman because they are very convenient wives ! And actually since we don’t want to face our own sexist attitudes we cover it by sayg things such as, she never wanted to work, it not my fault!
True that, but how is that most ambitious men very conveniently fall in love with non career women, and most women in general fall is love with very well settled men!
“ Andhera hone se pehle ghar aa jaana”
In our country to use Chomsky’s phrase, we manufacture consent of girls since childhood that they need to grow only to becomes somebody’s perfect wife!
Instead of saying, come home before its dark, why are we not telling our daughters to earn money before getting married!
Instead of valorizing their sacrifices and making them feel they are doing a great job by giving up everything for their families, why are we not teaching them to ask for responsibility sharing!
Instead of teaching them how to ask for their basic rights why are we encouraging them to give up their rights completely!
I don’t believe that anybody is born dreamless but its really sad that we bring them up teaching them to stop dreaming! To stop believeing in their own capabilities! We put a ceiling of cultrue and traditions on our girls and we somehow end up telling them that its ok to be socially, emotionally and financially dependant on a man!
First on the father, then the husband and then the son!
It’s a amazing how such rigid social conditiong can have a life time effect on you. Although my mom could never see my work, her voice is still alive in my head!
And her voice still comments on most of my characters!
When I did Geet, story of a girl who despite being pregnant decided she had a right to fall in love again, I could gleefully imagine what my mom would have said.
( haad hai behudgi ki)
When Arnav Singh Raizada of IPK lived in with his girlfriend.
( badtameezi hai par shaadi ke baad sab theek ho jayega) pls note the forgiving touch for a mans transgressions!
Of all my shows she would have hated me the most for Zoya ( Qubool Hai) As she and I have spent many years fighting over jeans! And then here was a muslim girl who wore only jeans and that too on TV!
(Allah jaane kisske ghar jayegi! Maine hi galat parvarish di hogi)
By Ishqbaaz she would have drawn legal papers to disown me! I think according to her, I would have crossed every line of her feudal upbringing that she gave me by making Anika and Shivaay!
How can a woman not know how to cook, not pray, doesn’t believe in god, still wears off shoulders after marriage infront of her in laws and the to top it all refuses to take her husbands surname! What was Shivaay thinking!
Sometimes I wonder that the reason why Shivaay beats Anika in popularity is that everything my mom believed in still alive in our society! And such anti feudal women are definitely not welcome!
And that’s why in my never ending ideological war with my mom, which by the way despite managing from her heavenly abode, she seems to be always winning, as most people out there are looking for the perfect product of that purely sexist upbringing that my mom believed in!
But then you never know! Maybe there is still hope!
Maybe, just maybe this valentines day we could try identifying our own hidden sexism!
Maybe this Valentines instead of restricing our daughter we could tell our sons to make this world a safer place and address the fears of a mother!
Maybe this valentines day we could re access our love and try to not confuse love with convenience!
Maybe this valentines day we could buy her wings instead of diamonds!
Maybe this valentines day we could find enough courage to give her the gift of equality!
Who knows she might just figure out how to fly!
But please ensure that “ Andhera hone se pehle ghar aajana!”
Adds Nakkul Mehta:
As an actor, who has had a chance to play one of the most chauvinistic character’s on screens in one of Gul’s most popular dailies, Ishqbaaaz I can vouch for a fact that having had numerous discussions with the maker about making her ‘hero’ the quintessential bad boy who would many a times come off as sexist yet eventually be a changed man, was in many ways showing a mirror to the society with a hope to make the hero aspirational and then show his journey to redemption. I hope for a valentines day, when we will not need to highlight this journey to create the change we so desire. When we, the men will ensure there is enough ‘light’ for our mothers not to ever again feel the need to say, ‘andhere hone se pehle aajana’…