When that school friend I grew up pouring my heart out to every now and then, that girl in college whom I often have encountered clicking selfies in the Girls’ Common Room, and that woman born out of countless girls like these, tagged me on Facebook to share a photograph of mine- a photograph that makes me proud to be a woman, all I did was ransack all photo albums I have curated for myself. I started with searching for my pictures as a baby, looked for those as a child, an adolescent, to finally come to my adult self. That I have to call my present self an adult is itself testimony to how much of a conformist I have been. What if I am, despite being eighteen, not yet ready to behave like the definition of an adult as is floated around me every time I give in to juvenile desires? But let’s keep it for another day, lest many an old scar should be dug up in the process.
Coming back to being proud to be a woman, I honestly could not find a photograph that, in the milieu I have been brought up, makes me feel so. Why should I be proud to be a woman? It was not my choice to be a woman. It was the obstetrician, who declared to my family soon after examining my genitals that a girl was born to them, who decided that I be a woman. It was my doting father who called me his princess, my grandmother who throughout my childhood bought me numerous kitchen sets from the annual fair and my mother who insisted that I grew long hair, to decide that I be a woman. It was my teacher in a co-educational Montessori, training only girls to join their thighs like Siamese twins, who decided that I be a woman. The womanhood I wield today, was not my choice. I have had to, like pieces of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle, fit in into the various roles of a woman as demanded of me for the last eighteen years.
I did not want to seem rude to all those women who tagged me. Hence, I replayed the bodily traces of my womanhood like lyrics lost on the way home from a late night party that leaves you too intoxicated to remember every detail. The memories which this drunkenness allowed me were, unfortunately, not recorded in the form of photographs. Nobody snapshot the moment I first masturbated, nor did anyone record when the first drops of blood shocked the senses out of me while, as on any other day, I went to the washroom to urinate. There is no pictorial evidence of the first time a certain friend flirtatiously asked me for a French kiss. These hush-hush moments are not to be photographed, because hey, do you not remember that you are a woman- a breed never been talked about in generic biological theories about the humankind for the longest time in history, let alone in sociological postulations. I thus decided against posting any picture in response to the challenge.
I still am not certain about what I should be proud of- the religion of womanhood that I have unconsciously embraced, or the choice of womanhood I made on solitary afternoons with many a new idea about the same crawling up to my head.