The year 2020 was an unexpected rollercoaster ride. The pandemic brought with it a wave of fear and death, right on the heels of communal riots in Delhi. We saw haunting images of starving migrant workers making their way home to homes thousands of kilometres away, and people being sprayed by disinfectants and stripped of their dignity. Alongside all this, voices that dared to speak up and dissent continued to be silenced and locked up.
However, this piece is not about my opinion on the political reality of India. It is about something more personal.
The lockdown of 2020 had many living in close proximity with their families. People scrambled to get home to safety before the entire country shut down for months. For many of us, it had been a while since we had lived in such close quarters. Our clashing lifestyles and views were literally locked down together.
Random seemingly innocuous conversations now abruptly ended in arguments or awkward silences. Discussions about politics would be countered with myths doled out daily on ‘WhatsApp University’. These would be followed by intense monologues, putting an end to any chance of real dialogue. It would feel like a sermon, which would then be routinely followed by some intense eye-rolls, sighs and silence.
Amidst these extremes, a snowball of guilt and rage had been developing in me about my inability to do anything and over being relegated to the role of a bystander during such times. Sitting under the safety of a roof and with my books, I would ask myself how I would look back at these times a few decades from now. I would be one among billions who would have survived the pandemic. And not just the pandemic, such a scenario would also mean we would have survived the scars afflicted upon by the toxic political aspirations which are prevalent these days.
As a bystander, I have been living through these historic times wracked by feelings of restlessness, helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, panic and anxiety. Still, this piece is not titled ‘My Experience With the Hypocrisy of Society’. It is about my visit to a doctor. It is about my health issues.
Somewhere, it is about my ‘politically incorrect attitude’ – or my attempts at being a better person who upholds and speaks their truth – and how it is supposedly the cause of my health issues.
I recently went to a doctor for a gynaecological problem. After waiting for two hours to desperately understand my condition and seek treatment, I was treated to several suspicious and judgmental looks and comments. It started with questions about whether I was married and my reasons for not being married. It moved to unsolicited advice and suggestions regarding the changing of my “being”.
Then, I was told that the cause for my having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) was my “politically incorrect attitude”. Apparently, according to this doctor, my “nature is so against female nature” that I have developed male hormones in my body, which has resulted in “male kind of skin”, “male kind of weight” and a “neck which looks aged and male”.
I was confused and left wondering what exactly was so “male” about me? The doctor could prove this explanation with sonography, I was told. Especially given the political, economical and social condition of our country, apparently my reactions and response to it led to an increase of male hormones in my body, the doctor explained. My views and opinions were against the “very nature of females”.
The doctor further elaborated how the “innate nature of females is to adjust and compromise”. But because I am someone who has opinions and firm viewpoints about current issues such as the farmers’ protest, the right to dissent, feminism and the eroding democratic values of our country, I am unable to adjust and thus I have developed PCOS! In reality, PCOS has more to do with genetics and environmental factors. This is obviously something my doctor did not delve into.
It’s a lived reality for most women that a visit to a gynaecologist or doctor means dealing with body shaming and character assassination. Doctors need to shed such biases, but the realist in me knows that that is an impossibility at this moment in time.
After all, such doctors are a reflection of our hypocritical society. Trying to have a conversation around pivotal issues of the day – be it caste, religion, race, class and gender – at home results in stony silences by the very same people who joyously participated in ‘Thali Bajao’ and ‘Diya Jalao’, believing in the misplaced idea that the impact of the sound and light would lessen the potency of the virus.
Vidya is a history graduate and an explorer of being in all that she encounters – people, ideas, muses, noises, silences and so forth.
Featured image credit: Pixabay/Editing: LiveWire