Thursday, April 2, 2015

Monsters in the house



 In the recent incident where a woman was molested by a man during a flight journey (watch the video), the said man in the incident is a 60+, well-educated, well-earning man who has a daughter. What would have that daughter gone through, when she saw this video of her father on her Facebook feed? My poem seeks to explore this breed of males, who think that they can hide behind a façade that they create, an image of the educated family man and successful professional who is leading a perfect and respectable life. My poem is an attempt at voicing the reaction of his daughter. 

 While the countless rapes and molestation cases that come to the fore in the daily news show that the perpetrators are mostly uneducated or little-educated, coming from rural backgrounds; the fact that such behavior exists and goes unnoticed in “normal” families is a case in point. While in the so-called more ‘cultured’ families, the more educated men from honourable professions may not go as far as attempting a rape; there is no doubt that they definitely indulge in inappropriate behavior, even if in minor degrees. 

 We think that such acts happen to others and in other families, and we choose to keep our eyes and mouths shut when we see such acts by men within our families, men who could be our own brother or father. For the sake of not creating a stir in the family, or not letting relatives and neighbours know, members of such families silently bear such acts perpetrated by the male member, or ignore it simply because they need to face and interact with that person for the rest of their life. It is time the Indian family wakes out of its conservative mould at the cost of its daughters and sisters.  
My poem is inspired from Sylvia Plath’s poem 'Daddy'.

To count numbers in petals,
And see colours in an eye,
You taught me the letters,
And shapes in the sky.

My first teacher,
My partner in debate,
There was never a day in school,
When I reached late.

From caroms and chess,
To basketball;
Teammate, cheerleader –
You were all.

I was the little girl,
The apple of your eye,
It didn’t take long,
For the truth to dawn by.

But even as a child
I sensed something amiss
As I noted your hands
Touching that and this.

Of course who would suspect
When a man approaches a child
And gently squeezes her bum
As he pulls her beside.

Or when he sits in a car
In the front seat
And caresses the bare legs
Of a little kid – his niece.

From kids he moves on
To nieces grown up
He doesn’t know to talk
Without feeling them up.

‘Oh uncle, you’re funny’
He believes, so the niece thinks
But unknown to him
In her eyes he sinks.

‘Oh beti, you’ve lost weight’
Or, ‘become stout’
Are his excuses
To scan their bodies in and out.

He could be related –
A brother, uncle, or father
That makes you wish
You had another.

He opens magazines and glossy newspapers
From the last page
To leer at half-naked women
Less than half his age.

He waits for his family
To leave the hall
To switch on the television channel
That’s playing women’s beach volleyball.

No matter who the person
He will even letch
At his daughter’s friends
He is such a wretch.

Caressing other women with smiles
He cascades sugar-coated words;
While he scowls at his own wife,
Harsh and rude shouts he hurls.

He waits for his wife
To get busy in the kitchen
So he can sneak out and talk
To the neighbourhood women.

Salivating at every woman,
Forgetting his age
He’s oblivious to the fact
That he’s staring at his grave.

Walking on the road
His eyes on anything that’s female
A little child, a young girl, or woman
He targets without fail.

With squinted eyes
He scans her head to feet
And flashes a lascivious smile
Through yellowed teeth.

Breasts and buttocks,
Buttocks and breasts.
Are the only places
Where his eye rests.

Such men, oh Daddy,
Are everywhere.
Just to walk on the road,
Is a nightmare.

To walk alone peacefully,
A woman can’t afford;
Daddy, Daddy, you bastard,
You’re that man on the road.