Before I speak of Sita, let me introduce you to me. I am the thinker. And I thrive on analogies. Every person I meet is either a story or poetry. And every thought is either a creative idea or an essay. In a normal situation, the creative idea turns into a performance or a pitch for one; the essay is forced down a friend’s or sibling’s ears. In this case, since the subject is such, it turns into a blog.
I wrote this as a rant perhaps, almost 15 days ago. I am sharing this now because I think it’s a conversation that I should put out there. As I met a friend and discussed what I felt over tea, sipping my half a cup he said, “How can that be?”
I asked, “Why would it not be?”
He said, “Can the mortals be compared to the gods?”
I wondered, “Aren’t we already?”
Don’t we from time to time, turn to mythology to find our inspiration to stand up, learn, create our value system? In someways, it does create a fabric of conditioning around which we grow up, make choices, work, build relationships and everything else.
We’ve learnt courage, dedication, the importance of truth and honesty, the value of respect and so much more from these stories… which brings me to think about the human aspect of these.
It brings me to think of Sita as a woman and the thoughts in her head. What if I was in her situation – and by that, I don’t mean becoming divine – I mean… being in a situation that I didn’t call for, I didn’t ask for. What then?
Think of Sita as a woman for a moment. A woman living in 2022. What happened with her is not something that can never happen here. Sure there is not chariot or magic deers, but there can still be deception and mind games.
And the the train of thought hence brings me here.
The most painful part about being in Sita’s situation is that, not only does she have to cope with the trauma of being taken away without her consent, but she also faces the problem of self-doubt and criticism.
She will second guess herself and wonder what happened and why it happened and then blame herself about taking a wrong decision. Didn’t she pay the price for being nice?
I am not even talking about the Lukshman rekha, which is a totally different concept that we don’t know the validity of; the conversation would then become about ‘instructions given to her that she did not follow’ landed her in that situation. But to be honest, with a rekha or without one, the line does get crossed.
Even in a situation where Sita listened to the instructions given to her, there are so many ways in which people can cross the line and she will still wonder if it’s her fault.
With a Lukshman rekha it’s just easy to place the blame and take the blame because, well… “Bola tha! Nai suna”.
And if you notice …. I am saying “take” the blame too. Because, if more women are the way I feel I am from within, I will take the blame. I will wonder, whether I asked for it. And that pushes me to ask ….. Who must take the blame?
Hold on now. Because our conversation is going to get even more intriguing. Do you know what else I think Sita might have worried about? Ram. Yep! I can only wonder how heart breaking it must be for Sita to worry about Ram’s pain. The fact that she would have to face the pain that he will suffer when he gets to know that Sita was taken away by someone. The crisis in her heart, when she faces the fact that the man standing beside her is not the man she loves is heart breaking. (Yeah, if you thought a woman’s mind was an oasis, here it is. Here is proof. We can go to any lengths thinking… at the risk of getting stereotyped, here!)
And that brings me to the next dreaded question.
What if Ravan had forced himself on Sita, say that her chastity is lost – how much more terrible would that be? (let’s take a moment to swallow, it’s disturbing, but…)
First, to be so gravely wronged and then to know that this will change everything between you and the man you love. Doesn’t that become an even greater dilemma for Sita? Isn’t that a greater tragedy? So then one wonders, is she stressing and hurting because she is violated or is it because what the violation by someone else, against her will and against her consent, will do to her life?
What is she then really, truly worried about?
What would any girl be really, truly worried about?
The violation in it’s own is a nightmare, but beyond that is, the unacceptable impact it has on one’s life. It’s just so irrational; the more I empathize with Sita, the more wrong this narrative feels.
When we hear of Sita surviving the agni pariksha, we feel proud and thrilled and happy. Then she rejects the world and submerges in the earth, we see she stands for her dignity. We all hold our head down in agreement that this was wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened. At least I am immensely grateful for one thing that, from the way the story has been told through the years, no one has ever agreed that what had happened with Sita was right. The beauty is that even the people of those times (appear to) reflect that Sita should have stayed, lived, been.
However, this brings me to the disturbing part – that all this reflection and all this thought and all this remorse happens because Sita is chaste. Because Ravan did not touch her. Because she did not burn down in the pyre. (And then there are many reasons for that too. Some stories say she was the daughter of the fire) – The question that bothers me is, what if she had burnt down because she was not chaste. What if Ravan had gone too far? Then? Would we call this a happy ending? Would we say, “Ram did what he could. Ravan is the villian. He killed Sita” and would we for generations avenge that?
Or would we have the courage to say, “She went through hell. We shouldn’t have put her through this. We killed her. We are responsible. Let us from now, vow that we will treat all women with respect”.
Alas, since in our story Ravan turned out to be a principled man, we will never have lesson to learn.
So then, where does this change? There is always a version of a Ravan type incident in our environment, quite often sheltered under the word ‘misunderstanding’- someone misunderstands a girl’s way of talking or greeting, someone simply makes a move thinking it’s romantic or simply because she talks openly about the idea of love and romance and one thinks it’s the most appropriate behavior to make a pass; and countless scenarios that make me ask – how is any of this an invitation? I bet even if Sita had chirped joyfully about Ram and how wonderful her husband is, someone somewhere could be led on! (the possibility exists) In some world’s .. anything can be …and no one will ever know. The girl will be left wondering what she did to get this.
What happens after this?
Do women continue to lose from time to time, and again and again .. by first suffering violation, then losing respect; losing love.. Sita loved Ram but because something untoward happened to her, she loses on two levels:
A- She suffers trauma
B- the love and her normal life.
My cup of tea is almost over and I conclude that the battle can be won by the one and only: Ram.
Only Ram can change this narrative.
If the world has to become a better place, Ram’s gotta do it. (The women are already doing their bit! They have fought so many battles, and dragged their feet to a place of voice and greatly, respect, dignity and equality.)
Beyond this, it’s all in the hands of Ram. The boys who will play the role.
And how they will change the narrative.
It’s really about Ram stepping up in the game.
Will he now hug her, take her in his embrace and tell her that he loves her.
That he is sorry she went through this and that being violated or being wronged or being abused is not her fault -Will her affirm to her that their life will be secure and that they will rebuild and come out of this together, stronger? Will he wait. Will he stay.
Boys, become this Ram of 2022 please. Sure, the world isn’t all that safe and one should be careful- I am not saying women should be careless in being carefree, but here is the most honest truth, no one can never know.
Sita had no clue that feeding a poor bhraman
could be the “lead on” and just like that, in the world we live in, we will never know what’s round the corner. (At times there is intuition, and I strongly recommend women should hear it) but besides that, I’d say, be wise.
We can never know for sure. We can only act with intuition and wisdom.
And you know what? When she wins, everyone wins. The changed narrative, brings about a world that we will all be happy in. I am not all that dejected to be honest, the boys around me (kids that I refer to at 18-20) are truly wonderful and men around me, and appearing to have another level of sensitivity these days. I am optimistic, but I have my fingers crossed.
It’s like a moment of epiphany and also truth, and that little part of mythology that I may not want to change – Only Ram Can Save the Day.