TDWS | E25: Out In The Real World

A baby no more

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

Annual work plans are so hopeful, aren’t they? They hide all the in-between months of sluggish hopelessness. While Pathu planned to take over the world as boss dog, the universe knew that she was going to be spayed. So did she in her heart of hearts. 

She has seen for herself how well we handle them both as adult humans. Skewed meal times, forgotten walks, delayed vet visits, lax grooming schedules. She knew that there was no way we could manage adding puppies to the mix.

As the night progressed, the rain grew heavier, pelting the streets with rubber bullets like a mob of plain clothed policemen.

Unknown to us, Pathu had gotten to the decision of sterilisation from a completely different angle. Pathu was born under the streets of bengaluru, quite literally in hell. It was a December evening in the city. Her mother, fully pregnant, had taken refuge in one of the storm water drains that surrounded the park, ready to deliver. The park would have offered a safer haven but her mother, with a belly full of babies, could not squeeze between the metal rods of the grilled compound wall to get in. In Bengaluru, parks behave strangely like some flowers, staying closed all day and all night, opening their gates barely for three hours at dawn and dusk. 

When she went into labour, it was raining outside. As the night progressed, the rain grew heavier, pelting the streets with rubber bullets like a mob of plain clothed policemen. A stream of water that had escaped the plastic blockade somewhere behind them, ran down the drain to her. She continued to lick her newborns clean, safe in the faith that Bengaluru rains were a blink and miss affair. Well, faith is not a scientific fact. Another five minutes in, her mother knew that she would have to leave the slowly filling drain.

Where could she go? She couldn’t think straight. Maybe to the store front where she slept occasionally? But that would be too cold for her babies. She needed somewhere dry. Maybe outside the ATM? But that was too far to venture with these infants. She would find a way as soon as she got them out of here. She had borne six little ones. She picked up two in her mouth and crept out, just as the all cleansing water god broke through the wall of plastic waste. 

Even as a puppy Pathu knew that she never wanted to have children. Not everyone is built to care for children. Most humans would count as examples. They make babies before they stop to think why. They were filling the planet up with two-legged dimwits who deny climate change and spread hate. 

She knew she wanted to get spayed as soon as it was possible. Pathu was happy when she met her minions because they looked like unstructured people who would definitely get her spayed. Also they didn’t have any children which was always a good sign. But then again, they had screwed up. No surprises there. But going on heat only strengthened Pathu’s conviction. She didn’t want to feel weird twice a year. It was her body after all. She would choose what it endured.

Pathu wanted me to clarify that she had nothing against children. She said and I quote, “I just didn’t want to have any come out of my body. Just like you say no to working with a bully or buying an unaffordable house on loan or marrying a person you barely know. Oh well, bad examples for humans I suppose.          

Infact, I’d be open to adoption, if it ever came up. There are so many orphaned pups in the world who would love a cosy home with well-mannered, subservient and cuddly humans. Instead of inbreeding dogs to create more bird-brained snouts with leaky guts and rotting ears, why not get yourself a smart and healthy Indian pariah like me?

You could send them to me and I’ll teach them a thing or two about the real world. Of course, they could add to their resumes with pride that they went to finishing school under the tutelage of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma.”

The End

Thank you for reading along on my first fiction series. This is series is soon going to become an ebook. I’ll keep you posted on that. Meanwhile, I plan to write another series as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starting on 1 Nov. Hope you will follow along on that series as well by subscribing below.

Workshop on Gender Inequality in India

Gender inequality is not just out there, it’s in here too

On 21 October 2020, development consultant Smita Premchander and I ran a series of workshops for the students of a school in Bangalore on Gender Inequality in India. This 50 minute workshop was crafted for a group of 14-17 year-old students.

Gender inequality in India is a vast topic, one which Smita has spent her lifetime working on. We faced two challenges:

  • Providing a substantial overview in a 50 minute workshop
  • Personalising the problem of gender inequality

We decided that we would look at three facets of our lives where this inequality is apparent: family, institutions and society.

We began the session with this icebreaker: Share with us your first or strongest experience of gender discrimination? As expected, participants shared a range of responses. From not being selected for football because it was considered a ‘boys sport’ to not being allowed to walk in the city alone because ‘it’s not safe’ for girls. We used this opportunity to discuss ideas of social conditioning about gender and women’s access to public spaces.

From the personal, we extrapolated to how these experiences look back at us as data. We ran a data quiz and followed it up with a discussion. The discussion unpacked data and made it relevant to them. For instance, we said, if your class of 25 students were representative of India, 8 of the girls here would already be married.

Next, we took the recent case of Vijay P Nair, the YouTuber who made an abusive video titled “Why feminists in Kerala don’t wear underwear” and turned it into a roleplay game. This case, we figured, summed up very well the deep hold patriarchy, sexism and misogyny have on our society. We divided the participants into Women, Police and Society and had them discuss the case.

We ended the session with this reiteration: We don’t know what ground zero is for gender equality because we have inherited an unequal world. As demonstrated today, inequality exists in families, institutions and society at large. And the best way to tackle inequality as individuals is by asking the tough questions that need to be asked to these structures of power. 

The detailed breakdown of the workshop is available for free download. Sign up to access the workshop.

Picture Credit: Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash