There was a terrific response to my last piece on gossip about woman and her character. This is a clear indication that mature persons realise the truth of how working women can be vulnerable to easy character assassination by loose talk of gossipers. They also agree that it should stop and that perceptions need to be changed about their life.
For Alisha, life would have presented a disastrous episode had Dilip not been mature enough to understand what was happening.
When his father enquired at Alisha’s office what kind of girl she happened to be, what kind of job she held etc, he got a shocking picture. Many in Alisha’s office described her as a girl of questionable habits and loose character — she was always among boys of the office; she was spending a lot of time in the office cafeteria; she was very friendly with her boss; she was seen often going home late in the evening perhaps after spending time with a boy in the office…..
It was rather a ‘dirty’ picture of the girl, and Dilip’s father said so in so many words. Dilip did not agree. For, when he first met Alisha at a formal introduction, he was impressed with her openness and straightforward approach. She had spoken clearly and was frank enough to express her opinion without any fear or favour. There was certain transparent honesty in her dark, big eyes. Can this girl really be what Father heard from office gossip? – Dilip wondered. He decided to find things out himself.
What followed was a silent vigil by Dilip on what Alisha was doing during office hours. After several weeks of vigil, what Dilip found was altogether different from what office gossip had. Alisha was a serious worker, meticulous and committed. She was friendly with everybody, not just boys, and never spent more than a few minutes a day in the cafeteria. She was often quick to leave office the moment her time was up and generally went home straight from office. Yes, there was a boy who would accompany her to her house occasionally, but he was the boy who lived almost next-door to Alisha and they treated each other almost as brother and sister since their childhood.
All this time, Alisha never knew that Dilip was watching her. Then, one Sunday morning, Dilip’s family said ‘yes’ to Alisha, of course much to the girl’s surprise. For, she had learnt from some people in office that some of her colleagues had spoken all sorts of thing about her. So, she had concluded almost that Dilip’s family would never say ‘yes’ to her. And when she came to know how Dilip found out the truth, her respect for him grew manifold.
This story speaks volumes about how we treat women. Many gossip-mongers do not realise that their loose talk could cost many girls all the happiness of life. Had Dilip not been mature enough, his family would have rejected the girl outright on the basis of information his father had got from people in Alisha’s office.
There can be no bigger misfortune for a society that treats girls so casually. What Dilip’s father had heard was only a loose talk with no substance. There could be many reasons for all the nonsense. The girl might not have given ‘lift’ to some young men; she might have refused to be part of a women’s gossip-group; she might not have made clear her relations with the boy in the neighbourhood…..! But none of these reasons was good enough for anybody to indulge in loose talk about a girl’s character particularly when she in an age when girls get married.
But who cares? It is sad that in our society, very few people indulge in responsible talk about anything, not just girls or women. Any girl who mixes with men is supposed to be of loose character and questionable habits! Any girl whose work keeps her away from home until late evening is not ‘good’. And when somebody dares to ask what was meant by not ‘good’, then there is a silence.
This is very irritating. Look at Alisha’s case and you would realise how silly and serious things can get.
Unfortunately, in our so-called civilised society, we are never taught to respect women and treat them with care and concern and not with a sense of casualness or looseness. And still we call our culture ‘civilised’!
In fact, we are yet to reach that fine point of civilised refinement, minus which we are nothing better than crude beings of lesser variety. And like insects in slush, we seem to be happy in this kind of approach to women.
All this has to be changed consciously by all of us collectively. The sooner we did that the better.