A dream of Acid

A few hours ago, I was extremely bored, had nothing better to do and just decided to take a small afternoon nap. It gave me such an eye opening dream(call it nightmare) that I couldn’t help but write a blog post about it. 

It was evening and I was having dinner in a roadside dhaba-cum-restaurant with a couple of friends and my sister. I might have even been a bit drunk. 2-3 waiters were roaming around taking orders and serving everyone. They had no uniform, as dhaba waiters normally don’t, they were thin and were the kind of blokes that normally do such menial work while they are young as they aren’t much educated or from a wealthy family background.

One of them, particularly looked like Theon Greyjoy, a character from Game of Thrones TV series. Medium height, curly hair, a bit whitish and thin, and he wore a dark blue shirt, which was a bit dirty due to his daily work. Looking at him I thought he was someone else, an ex and I started flirting with him. Sometime later I realized it wasn’t someone I knew and felt bad for flirting and just prayed that I hope the waiter didn’t think much of my weird behavior.

When it was time to leave, my sister had gone to wash her hands and the waiter suddenly came and sat beside me. He was smiling at me as if I was still in the flirty mood. He sat beside me and he seemed extremely happy as if finally a girl had given him some ray of hope of having a girlfriend. Before I could say anything, he touched my breasts. I put away his hand angrily but maybe he was drunk himself and did the same thing again as if I was playing ‘hard to get’. It made me so angry as if I wanted to scream hoping it would make him deaf, only if it could make him stop. But I decided against it, thinking if I shock him, he’ll run away and I might not be able to give him a ‘tagda jawab’ for his shameless behavior.

So I held his hand which was still touching me, put one of his fingers in mouth, pretending for a second that I was sucking, just so he doesn’t panic and steal his finger. Then I bit the base of his finger with my molars so hard that I thought he bled a bit. After I knew he was in pain I let his finger go and punched his cheek bone. I screamed at him “If you ever do this again to a girl, you will be beaten more!” in front of everyone, followed by cursing. I used the kind of two-word Hindi slang which begins with an M or a B and the second word begins with a C. I knew he was badly embarrassed and I could see it in his eyes that he wanted to hurt me for payback. I knew it was high time and I picked up my things, stole my sister and left at top speed.

I reached the parking as I had to take myself and my sister home on a two wheeler. All I could pray was that the waiter doesn’t follow me home to see where I live. On my way back home, I made sure to go through all sorts of confusing routes, to make sure a follower gets badly confused and doesn’t find out my address. The fact that the roads were completely empty at that hour of the night was not in my favor either. That night it took me ages to get sleep.

Early next morning I woke up and found myself in my bed next which was next to a locked grilled door through which a hand can pass, but it can’t be easily unlocked from the outside. The door opened directly into a busy street. My sister had already woken up and was standing close to the door gazing outside through the lattice. Suddenly I felt a guy in a black jacket had come to stand outside the door and in that moment I knew something terrible was about to happen. Without wasting a single second I screamed at my sister to get away from the door. She ran to me in the bed and hugged me such that my back was facing the door, while I protected her.

The next thing I could feel was something burning right against my skin wherever it was not covered in clothes. I could hear a low sound as if something was boiling. I knew I had found myself in the middle of an acid attack. In that moment all I could remember was my brother’s words:

“If there’s ever an acid attack, absolutely do not rub your skin to rub off the acid if it is still present on the skin. Acid might not be harmful if it flows on the outer skin. If you rub the broken pieces of glass (in which the acid was brought) on your skin, the glass will tear through the skin and give the acid an entrance inside the body, where it will start destroying the tissues.”

In those moments I prayed those words to be true. I knew I didn’t want to move an inch for a few seconds and asked my sister not to move a muscle either. When I was sure the perpetrator had left, I ran to the bathroom and took a shower, right then, right there in the same clothes. When I knew the water had diluted the acid, I saw myself in the mirror. my skin had marks but I didn’t see more than a few spots of burn. I wasn’t disfigured and the damage was limited to a few little burns here and there. But I knew everyone was going to be able to see it and ask me what had happened.

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Was this done by the same waiter? Will he ever realize what he has done? I really hoped his conscience told him what he did with me was wrong. Even for the craziest second I thought that maybe he might understand his mistake and as an act of correcting it, he might marry me so I don’t have to be rejected by other guys. The next thing I could think of was I wasn’t even disfigured, and yet felt bad for those who have to live with this. That’s when I woke up.

This dream raised a whole lot of questions in my mind-

How the victims of acid attacks would be feeling all their life?

Was I to blame myself for the acid attack or the waiter? Who was at fault? Was it me, the waiter, the alcohol or the acid?

Can any act be so punishable that you choose to disfigure not only a person’s skin, but their entire existence by throwing a bulb full of acid on them?

If you can think of the answers to these questions or just want to have a say about the matter of acid attacks, please feel free to comment. What this dream DID do, was inspire me to write a post about “How to save your body during an Acid Attack”. However, I might have to do a bit of research into the matter before posting.

What’s there in a surname?

Patriarchy. Quite clearly!

Ever wondered why a girl has to change her maiden name after marriage and a boy doesn’t? “Because that’s what everyone does!” Aren’t you just tired of hearing- “Boys carry forward the family name.” But the question remains why can’t girls do the same? Why aren’t they encouraged to keep their last names? Just because everyone does it, is it right?

The system of adopting husbands’ surname after marriage and discarding their own maiden names is the norm most of the women follow(or ‘have to’ follow), be it in India or around the world. It can’t be denied that this system is one of the most basic ingredients towards a patriarchal society. Systems like these propagate the idea of an unmarried daughter being her family’s “Paraya Dhan” (translated literally to wealth that belongs to someone else, as if girls are ‘things’ that someone can possess) which has to be given away to someone else after marriage.

Since being born, a girl has the psychological thought process that even her name is not permanent and she will have to change it some day, if she ever wants to get married to a guy who might not allow her to keep her maiden name. When women’s identities are not permanent, can they ever imagine to completely face a society dominated by men? Can they ever really walk shoulder to shoulder with men? I don’t think so.

You might ask, “What’s there in a surname? It’s just a name. We never even use surnames to talk to each other. It’s just on the papers that a surname will change”
Well then imagine this:

You were born with a surname and grew up with everyone identifying you with that name. All your certificates have that name, all your bank accounts, all your email ids and Facebook and Twitter accounts have that name. Your signature has included that name for more than two decades. And suddenly one day, you have to change it. You have to give up all of that, even though you always knew it had to happen SOME DAY. Add to that the fact that you’re not only changing your surname, but you’re even changing houses, leaving your parents, siblings and everything that ever belonged to you. Of course you can take some things with you, but you can’t have it all.

Sound like a cake walk to you? No? Aww! but that’s what most of the women have gone through after marriage, for centuries.

Now, I am not saying that every woman should get stressed whether her husband would let her keep her maiden name or not. After all, yes it’s just a name and there are many more important things that a woman has to weigh in before deciding to marry a guy. There are also plenty guys who love their women enough to let them hyphenate last names or even let the names stay unchanged. But even these guys might face the brunt of his parents if his parents don’t agree that a girl should be allowed to keep her maiden name, esp in countries like India where parents ALWAYS have a say in how children should live their life, no matter how old the children are. Also, no matter what a couple agrees to about the new bride’s last name, their kids in the future will definitely have the groom’s last name. Isn’t it?

There are also plenty of women, who have no problem with changing their surname and actually might want to change it as an act of love for their husbands and be happy about it. But this post is not about whether a girl’s surname should change or not. This post is about promoting the idea that every person has a choice to select their surname. The reason I am not saying ‘every girl’, but ‘every person’ is that, there are a lot of boys who don’t like their father’s names or their fathers either. They should be given a choice to adopt their mothers’ maiden names too if they wish.

The reason why I decided to write this post is not because I love my name too much. But a name is an identity. My name is what I am, and changing it because I married a guy gives undue strength to the idea that girls’ surnames aren’t as important as boys’ surnames and so it is ‘okay’ to change it. Nope, sorry! My surname is as important as any other bloke’s name. Then what about the kids? They will again be given the father’s name? Isn’t that strengthening that same idea? Now that’s where things get tricky.
My opinion is any person who wants to destroy this idea can follow the below given concept, which I would like to call The New Name Concept:

A. Any person who marries another must keep their premarital surname.
B. If a kid is born, hyphenate his surname, with mother’s and father’s surnames.
C. After the kid turns 18 years of age, encourage him to choose. He/she can either keep the hyphenated name or choose the mother’s surname or the father’s surname.

The C rule above can be a disputable one, since if a kid chooses to go with the mother’s surname, the father’s feelings can be hurt or vice versa. But it will also encourage the idea that caring for the child is the responsibility of both parents, not just one’s. If one parent doesn’t take good care of the kid, that parent’s surname will get discarded. Natural selection of surnames? Kind of.

Now this logic might seem a little weird to you. You might be thinking I am basically asking the whole world to change? Well, yes, I AM asking the world to change. Because as long as patriarchy stays, women will always have to bear the consequences. As long as patriarchy stays, women will always be considered expendable. It’s high time we try to weaken the roots of patriarchy. My decision that I will not be abandoning my maiden name after marriage and that I will give a choice a to my kids to select which surname they want is a step towards weakening patriarchy. At a time when women are fighting for equality, it’s needless to say, equality should be everywhere, be it in salaries, jobs or names.

If you feel that the New Name Concept given by me has loopholes and you have a better solution to the patriarchal name system, or just if you want to share ideas, please feel free to comment.