I was apprehensive to write something on this topic, as I felt the term ‘Soldier for Women’ was irrelevant. Women don’t need soldiers. They have been fiercely independent since the Neanderthals started evolving further. They hunted for themselves and the whole gang, worked hard to keep their caves clean, fed their children and elders. As the evolution progressed, various epics all over the world suggested that women created wars, perhaps because they wanted to live independently, breaking through the patriarchy which had started forming worldwide. But now, after eons of human life, women probably need soldiers. I too, like many others believe that women are capable of any and every work that men do. And yet, they are physically a weaker race which makes people gang up on them. Yes, I mentioned ‘people’ and not only ‘men’, since there are many women who gang up on their fellow kind too. It is all a matter of power. Women try to take care of themselves – at home and away – but sometimes, a little push from someone might help taking the battle for survival further.
I decided, finally, not to get carried away by emotions and write about a few souls who have protected me knowingly or unknowingly, whether I needed it or not.
# Unknown So(u)ldier
If I recall correctly, the incident happened about eight or nine years ago. I was pursuing master’s degree at the University and had to commute for about half an hour every day by bus. In my city, the buses are ever-crowded, people love to jostle with each other, climb up and down running vehicles and verbally abuse the ticket conductors. The scenario is not very impressive, neither the vehicles are, but the transport system is quite efficient. I didn’t like the commute much as there were always too many people aboard a bus and all of them were not benign. I used my backpack as a shield quite many times against rough co-passengers. One such day about nine years ago, I had boarded a bus back home from the university. As usual, it was a minibus bustling with people and I had barely a few inches to put my feet on. That day, my backpack wasn’t enough to protect me from men wanting to take a chance in a crowd. I felt somebody wanting to stick around my back, who did not budge even after I tried to shift my position several times. I was just contemplating treating the fellow a lesson amidst a sea of people when I realized he had disappeared somewhere else. I craned my back and had a fleeting glimpse of a very sober bloke who assured me with his eyes and the faintest smile. He meant he was there being a shield, maintaining the best possible decent distance from me and yet acting my savior that day. I never got a chance to offer my thanks to him; rather I’d respect and reserve him a spot in my memory.
# Known so(u)ldier
Now this person is closer to my heart, perhaps the closest at this juncture of my life. It is much easier to guess – he is my best friend, my guide and philosopher, my personal chef, my soul mate, and my husband. I refer to him as a so(u)ldier for me because he stood up for me innumerable times at home and away. He fought for me with his nearest ones, never for a moment deserted me. I wouldn’t have dared the aspirations of being a writer if he hadn’t supported my decision of dropping a doctoral degree. I write, in peace, as he is always there for me. I dare to be myself, as he is always there for me.
These are the so(u)ldiers of my life, near and far, known and unknown, thanked duly and unacknowledged, embossed in my memory forever.