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Monday mornings are the worst, right? You have to let go of the deep Sunday slumber and get back to the monotony of your routine. Waking up early, getting dressed, travelling in the metro - the whole jingbang returns!
This Monday was similar for me - I woke up, got ready and ran to catch my metro while plugging in my earphones to cut out the cacophony that comes along with the chaotic but irreplaceable metro rides! I was barely holding myself together in between the push, pulls and ‘thoda jagah dena’ when a woman standing opposite me pointed to my chest and muttered something. I looked down, thinking I probably had something stuck somewhere, but didn’t find anything. She repeated the action so I finally took out my earphones and asked her what she was trying to say. ‘Your button...’ she replied pointing again towards my chest. I looked down again and sure enough, the top button of my kurta was unbuttoned enough for her to see a little bit of my cleavage. And that little bit of cleavage was enough for her to point it out in front of everyone else. For a minute I was stunned and maybe (I hate to admit this) a little embarrassed. Until I realized that this is a woman I didn’t know, asking me to button up my kurta so everyone didn’t see the cleavage I, like every other woman, have. ‘Yes, it’s unbuttoned.’ I replied with a smile and that shut her up but I wondered, how many more women like this shamed other women over a button?
I hardly ever believed people who claimed ‘women are women’s worst enemies’. I mean, I had girlfriends who were constantly motivating me to achieve more in life, my mother never once asked me to wear or not wear something and believed that I could do anything I put my mind and energy to. But slowly, growing up in this big bad world was proving me wrong. Other than this lady in the metro, I had seen aunties in my locality comment about how the 15 year old girl who had more guy friends than girls was surely headed for a screwed up life. I have seen friends gossip about how the girl in their college who puts so much makeup, has to be sleeping with tons of men (for a girl can never put makeup just for the sake of putting makeup, can she?) and even with my self-righteous claims of never having been a part of such conversations, I think, willingly or unwillingly, I am to be blamed too. Me and you. We should all take the blame. Sure the society taught us what was ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ for a woman to do but we gobbled it up without questioning it even once. But isn’t that a scary thought? It sure scares me. For in between ‘men will be men’ and ‘women are women’s worst enemies’ we might just lose the little ounce of humanity we still have.
So let’s make it clear to all aunties/ didis/ dadis/ random women on the road - if on a hot day in Delhi (37 degrees, to be exact) I decide to wear a slightly unbuttoned kurta, it is not because I want to show off my cleavage - and if my cleavage is visible it is because I have breasts. And this might shock you, but so does every other woman on this planet. Despite knowing this, if you see me and still feel the urge to point out my unbuttoned kurta, follow these three steps - Stop. Think. Walk Away.
Because no matter what you say, I am not buttoning it up.