It all started when I was a kid. Say around 5-6 years of age. The boys in the flat would play the royal Indian game- Cricket in the compound, and the girls would cheer. Note that I had no idea what the game was about. I only knew that when the ball came at you, you hit it hard. One day, I walk to my friend Karthik and tell him that I want to play too. He sizes me up and says no way. After a lot of cajoling (which involved giving up a few WWF cards and other things that I don't remember now) I was allowed to field.
"You stand here ok. When the ball comes, you catch it and throw it to me, ok? You must not move from here ok?"
The buggers made it look like fielding was the most important thing to do, and I lapped it up. And the ball just wouldn't come my way, and eventually I got bored of it and called it quits. If I still harbour hatred toward the game, it is because of this.
Then I do the schooling, and they teach us - Boys play with cars and wear pant-shirt. Girls play with kitchen sets and dolls, and wear frocks. Daddy goes to work and earns the bread. Mummy stays at home and cooks food. Brothers pull sisters' pigtails. Sisters always cry.
Through junior high, after heavy doses of Nancy Drew, Famous Five, Secret Seven and other similar books, my friend Anisha and I were convinced that we were 'Tom Boys'. We would play punching games, wear only shorts and tees, stand in the tables in the class and touch the fan, crop our hair real short, play with the street dogs, pooh-pooh at dolls and call the girls sissys. But we were still girls. We couldn't understand why then, but eventually we did, and became normal.
We were doomed to be girls for life. (realisation->horror->acceptance)
Fast forward to today.
"Ma, Ill be back by 10."
"Alone??Get someone to drop you!!!"
Peak hour traffic and the car is not doing what it is supposed to do-move. My brother gets out to push it. I get out too. And get blasted for it. "Are you crazy??You're a GIRL!Sit inside."
All of this is reasonable! But what got me worked up was the following incident.
Final Sem MBAs sit for campus recruitment. A renowned UK based MNC wants to hire students for the post of Area Sales Managers. 6 boys and 2 girls sit for the job. Aptitude test- cleared.
Personal interview goes thus:
Questions about the GD.
"You like bird watching? You know what is bird watching?"
"You are good at debating? How about an extempore?" Which included further cross-questions 'Oh so you have a Boyfriend?No?Why did you say you did?I can read emotions yaar!'
After a few more cases, the guys say they like me.(HA!!)
"But..The job is risky, it involves long hours of travel, deadlines..stress..you game for it?"
What do you think?Of Course!
The good final list has my name, along with two boys' names.
Elation. Publicize it. Fix dates for treats. Its the joy that you experience when you are told you have clinched the job..You should be there to experience it.
The week end passes in bliss.
Following Monday, the Placement co-ordinator summons me.
"Gitanjali, These people called me up..They say they dont want a girl for that position."