As an Indian woman, how do you feel when you drink water?
As you drink water, as the life-sustaining nectar that is as old as the Vedas and is as fresh as this moment washes away the tiredness of your long day, what do you think of? As an Indian woman water-drinker, do you find yourself wondering if the water will be safe for your husband and children? Do you feel sympathy for those who don’t have water? Do you feel any sort of primordial spiritual awakening? These are the sorts of questions that we Indian non-women will never know the answer to, because Indian women writers like you are failing to discharge your responsibility.
After India’s World Cup win, I eagerly waited for your post; I was disappointed. I did see your tweet, “YAAAAAAYYYYY!” but I wish you had written something more evocative—something that captured how an Indian woman twitterer feels about the victory of a country her sisters literally gave birth to. Even if you felt more nocturnal than maternal, I would have loved to hear your perspective as an Indian woman post-world-cup-victory-party-goer.
Let me explain why this issue is dear to me. After my mother died, I resolved to keep my memory of her alive by educating young Indian women about their true identity as young Indian women. For International Women’s day, I wrote an essay titled, “Indian woman: life-giver or life-liver?” In my essay I argue that Indian women are not thinking enough about their Indian womanhood. I emailed it to all the women I know, but the person I wanted most to read it was my nineteen-year-old niece, “B.”
B. is a smart young woman, but she spends all her time reading Richard Powers, Cormac McCarthy and Haruki Murakami. How is this going to help her become a modern Indian woman? When I called her up to discuss my essay, she said she had deleted my mail and emptied the trash, “by accident.” I sort of lost my temper and asked her directly if she knew what it meant to be an Indian woman—she giggled as if I were asking her to be my mother. She has no clue. She has no idea who she is.
And that’s why I’m writing to you: I know B. reads your blog. I beg you to inject more Indian womanhood in your writing. I understand that everyone cannot be Namesake like Jhumpa Lahiri, but is it too much to ask to add a little mandir in your jokes about the mind, a pretty mangalsutra around your insights about marriage? Can you not be a little less meta and be a little more meetha?
Please do consider my appeal. Otherwise, I fear the worst: that being an Indian woman will cease to mean anything more than being just a regular human being.