My school organises a cross-country race every year. The students run about 8 km. As a teacher, my duty invariably is in the village through which a part of the route runs.
Actually I was getting a little bored of standing on the village road doing nothing, seeing no living creature except a few stray dogs and an occasional vehicle that passed by. The huge expanse of land on one side had nothing to offer since it belonged to a religious cult which did nothing with that land except keep it arid – potential parking space for the hundreds of vehicles that will come to attend its Satsang. This cult already has kilometres (not acres) of land already marked as parking lot for the Satsang it holds three times a year. I have always wondered why they don’t use so much land and the immense wealth that pours in by way of donations of people who come to attend that tri-annaul sermon for better purposes than parking lots that remain arid for ever. To be fair, however, the cult makes sure that the main road that passes by their area always remain in good condition. That’s one (perhaps the only) service they render to humanity.
The people of the village try to cultivate some vegetables in their land. I watched a woman weeding among the spinaches and a man cropping some of those leafy vegetables. It was then that a rare vehicle came along: a bullock cart. That was not a strange spectacle for me. But this time the bull was being whipped by a woman.
This happened on Saturday, two days back from today. I would have forgotten the whole thing had it not been for what happened today.
Today, an examination was going on in the city of Delhi. There were four male candidates and umpteen female ones in the room. The male candidates wrote their exam silently. All through the exam female voices ricocheted through the room asking for help from the neighbouring candidates. The hapless invigilator (another woman) tried her best to make it look like an exam room of post-graduate students, but to no avail. “Women in India are really empowered,” I said to myself. [Don’t ask me where I was or how I came to know about this. I am a good Indian and don’t want to get into trouble.]
At many a moment during that examination I felt like that bull in the picture!