The doorbell was ringing persistently, almost as if someone had forgotten to lift off the finger after pressing it. I ran to the door to open it and was shocked to see my mom, who was clearly looking flustered, worried and out of breath. While it was my turn to mirror her expressions her face visibly relaxed on seeing me.
I had left home barely fifteen minutes back to visit my aunt who was recently back from a hospital stint of almost four months. I would daily visit her around the same time to spend some quality time with her and my cousin and today was no exception, except for the fact that mom had shown up looking so worried. I knew something was wrong and my thoughts had immediately gone on my grand mom who was 80+. I was sure something had happened to her.
Once mom sat down and caught her breath after gulping down a glass of water and told me why she was there I almost died laughing. The thing was that no sooner had I left on my ride to get here, she noticed a bunch of boys from our neighbor hood leave soon after. She was sure they were following me and I could be in trouble. In the absence of a phone and the fact that she did not want to waste time waiting for a rickshaw to show up in the sweltering heat, the only option was for her to walk it up to ensure my safety. Thankfully it was only a short ten minute walk and not any further.
Today this incident has surfaced out of nowhere from the recesses of my mind probably in the wake of the molestation incident that has become the topic of discussion. As I look back it makes me wonder how long that ten minute walk would have seemed to my mom back then. I could laugh off the incident but being a mom myself I understand only too well what would have transpired in her mind.
Being a mother to two boys I suppose I can relax since I do not have a daughter and the fears related to her safety should not haunt me. But should my role as a parent end here? Should I not be worried about how my sons will behave around girls? Should I not be worried about the kind of upbringing I am giving to them? Is it enough to ensure good education and careers for them and assume rest will fall in place? As parents of a male child are we doing enough to sensitize them towards their female counterparts?
With the innumerable incidents of molestations, rape, acid attacks against women happening all around us, just reacting and having drawing room discussions about them enough or do we need to do more? We talk, we discuss and then we forget till another headline screams for attention and shakes us out of our reverie.
I think as parents we need to step back and check what kind of an upbringing are we giving to our boys … are we teaching them to respect women enough so that they can learn to regard them as their equals and not objectify them.
The incident that surfaced in my memory happened almost three decades back. I wonder if much has changed since. I am sure mother’s having daughters still worry as much till their princesses’ return home safely. We have evolved and progressed as a society in almost all areas but lot remains to be done in this domain. We all need to start from the basics, almost from scratch to ensure a fear free environment for both our daughters and mothers.