Case 1 : “You can’t walk out like that! You’re supposed to be a married woman!” said a senior citizen father to his newly divorced daughter as she tried to step out of the house in a pencil skirt and top. One would think this is a perfectly normal attire to wear to work – but it’s definitely not something you can go fetch milk from the local grocer in because – “Log Kya Kahenge?” (Translation: what will people say?)...isn't it bad enough that you've brought us shame by living in my house after separating from your husband that you put the cherry on the poop cake by wearing such "slutty" clothes!!!
Case 2 : An animated discussion between a father and another female relative about what is the "appropriate" (read : society approved) time for a female to come home from work. The female relative quips - if my bahu (daughter-in-law) came home after 8pm I would force her to quit her job! * Father nods his head in approval *
Said daughter-in-law works in a morning 7:30am to 4pm shift whereas the person being compared to works a 10am to 6pm in the heart of Gurgaon/Gurugram. Irrespective of when they leave from work - the prescribed time of arrival has to be the same because...log kya kahenge???
The society we live in lays so much emphasis on what people will say, how they will judge us for our actions that we end up living the life of a conformist or risk being seen as a rebel outcast. One might argue that times are changing and Indians are becoming more progressive but the truth of the matter is that there is still a vast majority of hardline extremists who dictate how society needs to be run. Mathew’s scholarship speech in Girl Next Door talks about the concept of “Moral Fiber” or the capacity to do what is right irrespective of the circumstance. The premise for the usage of this term was different in the movie but if we apply this to our society we would see how our neighbours, relatives, friends and the neighbours cat have taken that moral fiber and woven an suffocating bandage to wrap us in and ensure we do not challenge what society believes.
People are inherently judgemental – some are vocal about it in public (case in point the Minister who believes noodles provoke tendencies of rape in youth) whilst others prefer the more hush hush route of talking behind your back (because we all know how terribly wrong it is to gossip…because…log kya kahenge???). Some of us (I speak for myself) pass judgement in a flippant manner and forget about it – because we don't give a f*ck whilst others pass judgement and build a new personality type for the defaulter (she wears short skirts to work…she must be doing her boss…what a slut!). Eyebrows are raised, people silently whisper and snicker when you pass and lo and behold the vicious “Log Kya Kahenge” mud pit has another victim.
The fault isn’t so much in us as it is in the society we live in – Indians are conditioned to mind their neighbours business more than their own. We seem to have forgotten the concept of live and let live – we believe more in live and ensure your neighbor lives in fear of being judged! One might argue that such mentality is limited only to our parents and other generations from the good ol’ Stone Age but that is where we are wrong. Our own peers and siblings are falling prey to the judgement trap – dolling out unsolicited advice and instigating our folks against us. People should just learn to mind their own lives before jumping to conclusions about how we are “spoiling” our lives by doing things we should not. Our society has laid out such abnormal ground rules for conformist social behaviour - differentiating how a guy / girl should behave right from the day that they are born. Be it their dress code, their education, their curfew time or even the age at which they get married! Everything is dictated and set in stone by the "elders" of that community - irrespective of how liberal or conservative they may be.
The whole concept of Morality / Moral Fiber becomes flawed the minute we start bringing judges into the mix. If I find it perfectly legit for a divorced/once upon a time married woman to walk out at 7am to get milk from the local dairy wearing a skirt – IT IS MORALLY CORRECT! If I am ok going to a pub after work to grab a drink with my colleagues (none of whom I am sleeping with by the way) – IT IS MORALLY CORRECT. Before you gasp and judge me for my honesty I will sum up why this is morally correct – it is because they are MY morals NOT YOURS!
This write up is nothing more than a desperate plea to everyone around me – the world is a really really terrible place to survive in – stop making it worse for others. I promise I will consciously try to refrain from passing judgements and resist my pre-programmed brains urges to voice my judgements if you do the same! It is also an ernest call out to people, who, like me get continuously bogged down by these random judgements passed against them. There is an old hindi song whose lyrics go something like "Kuch tho log kahenge...logo ka kaam hai kehna..." (Translation : People will talk...because that's what they do)... So let's all try to turn a deaf ear to all the judges in our lives and live, laugh at our mistakes, give caution to the winds and be happy...because you never know how long that's going to last! :)