During what is now a heavily circulated video of Sakshi Malik, there is a moment where she says, “(Humne) ladai kari, poore dil se kari“…and then she proceeds to accept defeat against an unfair system. I think it should break all of us at some level, that a woman accepted defeat; because the heavens know it is not in our nature. Simply put, we are not programmed for it. So, to see Sakshi on the other side of the table that evening, felt like she was on the other side of the entire world, admitting that okay, you win.

Source: The Hindu

There have been times when I have sat across a table or a mobile phone and had people – my family, my lovers, the colleagues, question my struggles. I remember my desperation in those moments and the tears, marvelling, in the most unfortunate way, at the cruelty of someone not even attempting to listen.

Seeing one of our most celebrated athletes in that press conference brought back the memory of not being understood. If there is no chance for her, where do women like me even go?!

We have no medals, we have no certificates, we are just people with commitment who don’t give up. So when we see one of us do that, it is a collective defeat for the girl who cried night after night to come and study in a different city, for the girl who thought that she will make something of herself if she just keeps trying, for the poor little girl who beat herself up thinking that perhaps she is not pushing hard enough and went for it harder than ever before. As women, we learn many things, but it’s the girls in us who keep hurting. It is also the girls in us we keep fighting for. 

Source: Hindustan Times

We keep thinking that maybe someone could have saved her, and our decisions are informed by that sentiment. If we could go back in time, maybe we would save ourselves, but we can’t, and hence we sit on protests, we raise our voices, we stand up to bullies – telling ourselves that we cannot afford to lose.

When a woman breaks, in my eyes, that is when the fabric of society breaks; because if we believed in quitting, there would be no society, as we know it.

And yet, look what the world has done! The whole case of the wrestlers’ protest is filled with ups and downs of appointments and resignations but none of that matters. I mean, it matters in the sense that they are developments that need to be analysed, but to me, the crux of it all is that they cornered a woman into surrendering. 

Source: Business Today

Now, the most inspiring and unfortunate part of this event is that Sakshi will very likely come back to what has started to feel like a battleground; or if she doesn’t, someone else will carry the baton on her behalf. But she will likely be back, knowing fully well what ordeal awaits her.

So many times in my life, I have gotten frustrated by own resilience. It is a difficult thing to admit but I have thought to myself that if I could just quit, perhaps I will get a good night’s sleep. What if I told myself today that there is nothing I need to prove? That I am talented, or smart, or that someone did something inappropriate to me against my will. Will I sleep better? 

The problem with asking this question is that I may not like what I find as a result. What if I do sleep better? I might be able to reconcile with the fact that this is what I need to do, to stay alive, because my tired brain will collapse at any point. But there are answers I need to give to the 12-year-old me who went through hell at an age when she shouldn’t even have known things she was fighting against, every minute of every day. I can’t let her down, but more importantly, I can’t abandon her. She doesn’t have anyone. 

That, in turn, makes me think of the 12-year-olds everywhere. Some of whom are yet to find out how scary people can actually be, and some of whom are already aware. These girls need me, and Sakshi and Vinesh, and the rest of us. 

Source: Ahmedabad Mirror

With everything that has happened in the last year or so, the lesson the system has given to women is that if it decides, no amount of persuasion from their side will help, and to their allies…that determination will be challenged and crushed – not with tactic, but with power. A no-effort sweep, sometimes literal. I shudder to think of the consequences of this. If things don’t change, many women will not be able to pursue their dreams of becoming an athlete in the future, because convincing families – an already uphill task – will be even tougher now. The parents will say, “There are rapists in the institution”, and that will be the end of discussion. And this is not limited to aspiring sportspersons. All women, everywhere suffer from the effect of state-sponsored brutalities against us. They just manifest themselves in different ways. For some, it becomes more difficult to have a career; for others, it becomes more difficult to step out after 7 in the night. A woman somewhere never speaks out about being raped, another woman never learns what a rape is. The impact is never linear because the messaging is not. In the end, we are forced to go against our own hearts, and the world that actively stopped us from excelling tells us that we are not good enough.

I hope the future does not mirror my cynicism, and somehow we make it to the other side without shattered dreams, but in case our worst fears do come true and there is someone who has to go through the devastating loss of ambition, all I can tell them is what Sakshi told the world that unfortunate evening- “Humne ladai kari, poore dil se kari“.