( Photo Credits National Geographic. For illustration only)
On Januray 14th, the winter turned into summer and a clear blue sky was dotted with hundreds of brilliantly hued kites, in many parts of India, celebrating Makar Sankranti/Uttarayan, in which kite flying is a prominent feature.
Whenever I watch a kite flying high and strong in the sky, I draw a parallel between it and the life of a woman. The similarities are based on two aspects.
First, lets talk about the conditions in which a kite is able to fly. It rises against a strong wind to attain its heights of glory. Many a times, a woman, similarly battles inimical and restraining attitudes, beliefs, situations and actions to achieve success. In ‘The Feminine Mystique’, Betty Friedan says“Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?” Her question is against all forms of domination that patriarchal structures and processes unleash on her individuality Thus like a kite, she nose dives into the ground, gets tangled in a tree, Sometimes , unfortunately she gets pulled back by sister kites too. Yet she picks herself up again and again, thrown up and helped many a times by those, irrespective of gender, who want to watch her soar. The difficult conditions perhaps infuse grit and a diehard spirit in her to rise phenomenally. Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous words about the strength of the fair species come to one’s mind: “Women are like tea bags; you never know how strong they are until they’re put in hot water”.
Second, a kite needs to be tethered down by a thread in order to fly. That thread, I believe, is what Mother Nature weaved for us, women. It is the thread of nurturing and care giving and we are tied to it in all the roles we play and live: that of a mother, sister, wife, lover. The restrictions that this thread binds us in are intrinsic to our feminine nature. It is also what most of us accept willingly and joyfully. Pardon me, if this sounds anti-women or anti-feminist! To those it does, I quote GK Chesterton “It [feminism] is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands”.
A kite symbolizes freedom. But a kite can’t really fly free, that’s just an expression. It can only soar high in the sky ,if its strings are anchored.. If the string breaks the kite drops back to the ground. The kite’s freedom depends on realizing and it not being as free as she thinks it is.
That is how I guess I would want to fly too. Enjoying the pleasure of flying with strings attached.
Does that mean that I am being dichotomous or against the sisterhood. An emphatic no. Its just being a ‘visionary feminist’. What’ s that ? I shall request Bell Hooks to answer that : “Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion. Males cannot love themselves in patriarchal culture if their very self-definition relies on submission to patriarchal rules. When men embrace feminist thinking and practice, which emphasizes the value of mutual growth and self-actualization in all relationships, their emotional well-being will be enhanced. A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving”.