Of Mard...and their Dard

Mard ko dard nahin hota…

What swag! Amit uncle said what many feel… woh bhi style mein! A real man is he who doesn’t feel hurt, and he who feels hurt isn’t a real man. All’s well in the land of machismo. Prohibit elementary human feelings for an entire gender AND have them celebrate that disallowance too! God forbid if he disappoints, we can gift him the haathon-mein-choodiyan that we have stored only for such momentous occasions.

Raising ‘real’ men as Chief Guests in their own homes & a sense of superiority in their man-status is instilled in us from a very early age. Big little things all around us while growing up, confirming that being a man is a feather in one’s crown instead of the result of a random accident, when X met Y.

Elementary, my dear Watson!

Add to it, these symbols of manliness. Whether it’s blue being a man’s colour or a gun being his favourite toy, or the simple demand to toughen up and ‘Be like a Man.’ The choice is out of their hands even before the ecstatic family begins to celebrate with “Mubarak ho, ladka hua hai!”

It takes a world of normalised effort to create this unique being- The Man. Rajkumars to their mothers, Parmeshwars to their wives, Heads to their families, Protectors of their sisters and Providers to their children, we have placed crowns of thorns on their manly heads confining them for life. Behind every manly man is a very complicit ecosystem.

As the world becomes more woke, arguments on roles of men and women are confused and intense. We have not even accounted for the voices of other genders in our narrow noise so far. It also threatens to destroy any chance for a world where human beings can breathe easy in their own skin, whatever their gender they may be.

If we truly desire a world where people can live as individuals not as actors playing out their gender-roles, we will have to enable men, not only women. When the status quo hurts, we may keep talking about it, writing about it, teaching about it. But there’s no substitute to doing something about it.

What happens when a Virat Kohli applies for paternity leave?

Or when a Harry Styles wears a gown and fires up the cover of Vogue?

Or when a Clarke Gayford announces his stay-at-home-dad status for Jacinda Adern, the PM of New Zealand?

In each case, a simple act has done the humongous task of shaking the basic assumption of a man’s choice in something alternate to what he and we were trained for. And makes room for everyone to similarly exercise their choices. We may begin with celebrating these exceptions, but we will have to live them, normalise them.

Checking on his father’s day in office, Senior asked “Did you meet her today? Your CEO?”

“You know my CEO is a woman?”

“Oh, is it not?”

“Yes, it is, but it could’ve been a man, too.”

“Yes, but I just assumed it was a woman,” Senior said with a shrug.

Both of us parents have worked in women led organisations in our professional lives. It is not our exception; it is our normal.

When we stop celebrating every cup of chai that a man makes for his wife, when boys cry and we help them cry their hearts out, when professions stop getting associated with gender… When all and more of this happens in a society that embraces all, what emerges then, is colossal. We may then remember that we’re a rainbow with different hues, lives and choices.

Yes, Mard ko dard hota hai. Aurat ko dard hota hai. Sabko dard hota hai…

naghma mulla

Owner of the loudest laugh in the room and a development sector professional by day, Naghma is a by-mistake CA, who writes what she feels and feels what she writes.