“I couldn’t sleep yesterday!”
“We went patrolling.”
“What patrolling?”, I was baffled. We were 21 when we had this conversation. We were both mere CA students and he wasn’t in any sort of organization that went patrolling during the nights.
I held my breath. It wasn’t a topic I wanted to discuss with a boy. This was way before I realized that no topic was a taboo. I was shy and just listened.
“It has increased over the years and it has been a while since we have gone patrolling. We do this. My friends and I. We decide a date and scour the area, get hold of women practicing prostitution.”
“What do you do with them?”
“Initially we warn them. If it gets worse, we report them to the Police.”
I didn’t know what to do with this new information. But I sure did feel proud of my friend. After all, prostitution was a filthy practice! How could women simply sell their bodies for money? It is one of the biggest contributing factor to rapes and molestation. It fuels the fires. I was proud of my friend.
Until I read Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho.
It was a slap on my face! A wake up call. Maria’s story was enough for me to imagine the various possibilities of prostitution. It may or may not have been a personal choice. It may or may not have been forced. But who are we to judge them unless we were born in a brothel or helplessly forced into prostitution? Above all this, is it really that bad? Is a prostitute worse than a murderer, rapist, pedophile, your uncle who touched you wrong or a corrupt politician?
Prostitution wasn’t a problem anymore. The book opened my eyes to a new face of prostitution and suddenly prostitutes became mere humans in my head as opposed to the grotesque image I once had.
The thirteen year old was going to the North of India for the first time. It was a crowded train and they were group of seventeen – Two teachers and fifteen students. As they were playing card games, she heard it. A distant series of claps and clangs. And suddenly people began to droop as though they fell unconscious. Before I knew, half of them were pretending to sleep, a few were clambering up the upper berths and a couple of them were trying to get to the farthest corner of the coupe.
‘Hijra!’ someone gasped. And a fear began to creep inside her. She hasn’t seen a transgender before. But within those thirteen years, she had heard enough to fill her with dread. Before she had the time to process what had happened, the transgenders were upon them. Clapping and asking for money, with a basket in hand. Her friend and she were the only ones who hadn’t pretended to sleep and one of them came right to them. The girls looked at them, trying to get as far into their seats as possible, the fear showing on their faces. Both the girls had a fancy magical slate they had bought for their siblings. Without further thoughts, the friend dropped hers into the basket. The person who came to them smiled and said that wouldn’t help. Soon, someone gave some cash and they all went on to the next compartment while the group laughed in relief.
Years later, I, the then child, began wondering how they feel when we shun them, look at them as though they were monsters or untouchables. What are we educating our children? Why was a thirteen year old who hadn’t seen a transgender all her life, so scared of them at the first sight? I don’t know when the transformation happened to me. But transgenders weren’t my problem anymore. Something or someone opened my eyes to a new face of LGBT community and suddenly they became mere humans in my head as opposed to the grotesque image I once had.
Instances like this and my own changing perspectives about things, people and life made me realize that the world is what we perceive it to be. With time and experience, our perceptions differ and the way we look at the world differs. It is all in our head. If that is the case, what happens if we just close our head (mind)? Whatever is our perception becomes permanent. We refuse to accept anything else. When I understood this, I began to look at everything in a new light. It sounded something like, ‘Is my perception about this particular thing the only side to it? Are there more ways to look at it or deal with it?’ or ‘How can I improve the way I look at this?’ and I began to progress.
When I became open minded to things, I was able to accept many situations as a way of life. I realized people do what they do because they have been exposed to a certain set of people, situations and stories. I began to get a certain kick in analysing why people behaved a certain way and suddenly the world became an interesting place, and people, interesting beings.
Understanding and accepting the other person’s perspective is the key. Realizing that perhaps if you were in the same position as the other person, you would have become like him/her opens your eyes. These factors makes you an open minded person and you begin to say yes to the world. Along with this, if you just travel a bit around, you will know different faces, stories, backgrounds and situations and you’ll realise that life is much more vast than you imagined.
Here is a warm, fuzzy video on Why people love the world
So, are you the kind of person who is striving to say yes to the world? Why do you love the world? And what is your story?