Peculiar Bengali homes, rustic wooden furniture, tea, lush village settings, men in their cotton kurtas and dhotis. I have always enjoyed Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories. What defines them singularly though are his women. Their elaborate white and red sarees, beautiful big red bindis, Victorian style blouses and traditional ornaments. As colorfully as he painted them on canvas, the real beauty is in how he captured their emotions in hues and shades that are a perceptive rarity.
We humans, have lived for thousands of years now. We have advanced in phases over time. We learned to put down our roots, we established societies, we defined some borders that nevertheless we have been fighting about since, we developed faith out of fear and we explored philosophy in the midst of darkness. We are at the height of our scientific achievements. Yet, we have gone on for so long ignoring fundamental basics and enduring such injustices. While we aim to balance our own lives with our careers, relationships and saving money for our future, there are still fellow humans struggling for safety, security, warmth and food. There are people who are more deserving with fewer opportunities. There are people who are still oppressed and forced, let alone out in the big bad world, but in their homes by their own people. When I think of women and all the rules of the societies they have played by all these years, I ponder if it is really a slighter issue than say basic health care or savaging wars.
I have come to feel that society and the world at large is a bigger being, just like each one of us, going through its own imbalances, disappointments, hurt, joys, pleasures and triumphs. Everything is connected. And everything goes up and down in its own time. When I see our world with this view, I get to an understanding, not of a tired acceptance, but a curious, passionate, patient wonder of our existence. It is true that each race, gender, society and species have their legitimate complaints and rightfully so. It is the ones that have cut through their own waves, withstood their opposing tides that know what it took to cross. But there is a piercing beauty in perceiving the battles of others. In realizing the strength behind someone’s patience, in reading someone’s silence and in seeing the joy in someone’s eyes. In knowing someone’s small pleasures and the little gestures that could make all the difference in the world.
At the peak of the independence movement struggle in India, Tagore observed the beauty and struggle of women of his times. He was able to empathize with women’s desires, restrictions and individuality. Let alone then, these are somethings that most still strive for today. The houses, attire, and lush surroundings have changed. We have modernized and opened our minds, yet women struggle to satisfy the same desires, break free of the same restrictions and demand recognition of their individuality. In what sense have we advanced then? We are so blinded by habit and insecure of change, that we are unable to welcome new things even if they may be better.
The resistance is always from those who aren’t directly impacted or rather those who benefit from it. The change is always from those it affects the most. They do not rise from courage but from necessity, they demand change not to ruffle feathers but for peace. There is so much to learn and be aware of, we all just pick up a few pieces, and so much of what we have learned gets left behind. And that’s why history repeats itself. But there is always hope too. That we will do better. We may wonder, how difficult it is to be and let be. I guess that nature feels most comfortable at the equilibrium of harmony and chaos. But even if that may be, chaos could be so much more meaningful. Chaos is the sound of all the birds chirping away together, chaos is all the trees shedding their leaves in fall and chaos is kids at play. And so we hope. Hope that we can fight together instead of each other, hope that we can love more fiercely than expect of someone, and make new mistakes and find new problems to solve.