Being on an unusual trip (for me that is), which is a mix of business, shopping and hardly any photography (due to the rain and a time constraint) I need to unwind after my return from Guangzhou.
By the time I reach Shenzhen and check into the new property-Ming Wah, it’s already past lunch time. I head towards the electronics market to check out the latest drones and car dash cameras. The difference in price, if you pick up a single piece is so miniscule, that it doesn’t seem worth the effort and the risk to me.
By five in the evening, I am famished, so I walk into the first eatery I see- a KFC. An Indian man ( seems to be), is standing next to me, trying to explain to his Chinese companion what he wants. It makes me smile. He notices that and starts to chat. He is from Pakistan and is there to make some purchases. We chat for a bit about photography, batteries and lot containers and then I head back towards Ming Wah.
I’m exhausted, so I stop at the 7-Eleven, opposite the centre, to grab some food for dinner and the next morning’s breakfast. The bus ride that the hotel provides for is at 7.20 a.m, which means I got to turn in early, to bed. I draw myself a bubble bath, put on -‘I got you under my skin’ and ‘My baby just cares for me’, on repeat and get back to the book I picked up from the airport-‘ Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows’.
What a riot, it is! It is my brand of feminism- subtle, layered, funny, non judgemental and about the sisterhood. The characters are relatable not just for anyone who comes from a Punjabi family, the women could be our sisters or mothers, irrespective of what kind of background we come from or where in the world we are based.
The characters are well etched but I absolutely love Arvinder’s story. The curbing of women’s passion to control them is not written about, enough. When I was still just a child, I realised that the way men subjugated women was not just through aggression and violence, it was also through sex. Not just the kind that you think, not just rape. It was through the withholding of sex and that too was a form of dominance, an act of controlling a woman, men who suffered from inferiority complexes usually used manipulation.
In Arvinder’s case, she’s much taller than the man she’s married to and when she asks for sex, he threatens to leave her. She goes ahead and has an affair, something that her daughter finds out about, during Nikki’s storytelling classes. ‘I’m going to get my freaking to-be-husband, to sign a prenuptial agreement. Irregular sex is going to be a ground for divorce’, I promise myself. ‘It’s also the choice women make’, I continue to ponder, ‘trading in passion for financial security, societal approval and the word that all married women use to make themselves feel better-companionship.’
‘It’s good you like your own company, Diyuu Singh!’, I think to myself as I fall asleep.