A Girl is not an object created for a boy to look at. I wanted to shout on top of my lungs.
He finished reciting his poem and took the seat. Everybody seemed pleased. One of the senior brothers complimented ‘very romantic type’ and smiled ear to ear. The other members of Sahitya-Pariwar gathered for a small meeting welcomed the poem wholeheartedly. I wanted to speak ‘I think I didn’t like your poem’. In fact, I wanted to express how this poem made me feel vulnerable. Words got lost in the labyrinth of my pharynx. Something choked. It stuck in my jaw. I could’ve made a simple gesture or that I could have whispered to his ears words of disagreement for he was seated just next to me. He wouldn’t have minded, maybe. Yet I sat, with a distaste on my buds.
It is only later, quite a month after that recitation when the poem is on YouTube did I muster my courage and texted “umm…actually I hadn’t liked the idea behind your poem”. He took it very lightly. Blinded by appreciations of friends and well-wishers, just a ‘mere girl’ not liking his poem didn’t affect him. It was such a petty thing he even didn’t care to ask ‘what idea you disagree with?’ Rather he puts an old class philosophy ‘Everybody can’t agree with everything’. I have to agree.
As a person who has been writing poems for the past couple of years, it makes me more excited and curious if somebody disagrees with the idea I present on poems to people who agree with me. I wanted to put my idea forth, so I text him ‘Though your poem is a romantic type, you cannot objectify a girl in the name of love’. He still doesn’t understand and instead of discussing the issue, he texts back ‘I am not so gyaani as you’. We belong to a different school of thoughts, I have to understand.
I was barely 12 when I read my first book of Tasleema Nasreen. By 16, I had already read more of her books which ignited a fire on my heart upon realising the status of women in the community and the country. It was not only Nasreen but many other writers and artists whose works I was interacting with which made me more aware of ‘odds of women’s lives’.
The literary bug in me was fed with poems of Maya Angelou among other Nepali poets like Parijat, Kunta Sharma, Sarita Tiwari, to name a few. Discovering Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Women’ at an early age of 16 gave a new trajectory to my life, I love to believe.
A girl realising beauty is a transient thing (and giving up to this world of charm and attraction) is of course not the most tragic thing. “Women are supposed to look beautiful to please men’s senses”, this girl reads somewhere. And then, this girl decides not to fall fool to such apprentices. She is here to serve the purpose of her existence. She is not born to please anyone’s senses, at least she doesn’t wish. She was partially wrong, she now realizes. Being beautiful isn’t the wrong thing. Born beautiful isn’t your fault either. Wrong is how beauty has been stereotyped since long: from dark brown lenses, thick black hair, fair skin to lips like that of heart and else.
I wonder why should a girl wear eyeliner everytime she goes to college? I have no idea why my sister wants me to wear a little bit of lip-gloss every time I go to public libraries. I still don’t understand how does the colour of my hair matter my social relationship. Not even a year ago, one of the judges in Miss Nepal considered it ‘disrespectful’ when a contestant presented herself with glasses and no make-up in the audition. Beauty with make-up and no make-up turned out to be another talk of the town.
Yet my friend wishes his girl to wear a little bit of make-up to look ‘more beautiful’. Seriously? He goes on saying ‘let your hair free in the air and apply some makeup’. He admits his girl is beautiful. If so, why the need for makeup? Are girls mere objects for boys to look at? Isn’t it time our boys to grow a little, be intelligent themselves and not fall for a mere pretty face? Our men don’t know what it means to be a woman, maybe.
A girl is much more than pretty face and body. More than mere hips and breasts and lips and curves, a girl has her vibrant existence as profound as nature. She is not made of metaphors.
Seated silently, not commenting a single little word on the poem, I could feel Angelou patting on my shoulder. Sakambari inside me wanted to yell for sure. But this is not a case with one single poem. Girls, rather women have long been portrayed this way since long. Songs, movies, literature and entertainment industries are full of misogyny. It is not his fault.
The least I could do as for then was helping myself. Dear Angelou, I helped myself by scribbling “A Girl Is Not A Metaphor” on the table I was seated on.