Dear Future Husband,
I still remember a profound line from one of my English lessons from way back in the seventh grade: “For every villain, there is a hero.”
Along with many other lessons from childhood, that line stuck with me. It reminded me time and again that I have to become a hero someday. I would say to myself, “For every villain, there is a hero. And I want to be that hero.”
But as I grew up, and as all that girlishness seeped in, I forgot about becoming a hero, and instead created one in my mind. I created you in my mind. And as I got to know the world better with every single year that passed, I realized it surely needed a hero.
It was the month of April this year while I was watching the Oprah Show when one of my favorite journalist and a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, Nicholas D. Kristof, came on to the show along with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. They talked about their book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”
Just that very morning, I was wondering if I was more like a tomboy or more like Lady Di. That was what my mind was occupied with. And after watching the show that night, my mind roared that there are bigger issues in the world than whether my body posture corresponds to a tomboy or whether it matches up to a graceful lady as I sit down and write this letter to you.
What were those things Kristof talked about that mattered, you ask?
Well they were stories of African girls and women in post-conflict areas.
In one of his stories, there was a twenty-four-year-old girl, mother of two, who was expecting her third child. She had been in labour for days. And because she was weak and unable to push the baby out, the midwife had sat on her stomach in order to get the baby “delivered.” This had damaged the woman’s uterus further and as a consequence the foetus died inside her.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the dead foetus had started to poison her slowly. The doctor refused to operate on her till the medical fee was paid.
The woman had slipped into a coma. And when Nicholas and his crew pitched in, the nurse told them that the doctor had left for the day and would come back the next day. That woman didn’t make it.
There was another woman, perhaps a young girl, who had been raped and thrown out in the open; considered unfit for marriage. Her body had rotted from missing out on food and water, and she looked nothing more than a bag of bones.
An NGO took her to a near-by hospital. Nicholas and the camera person were the only two people with a blood match. So they donated their blood but the girl couldn’t be saved.
And then there were stories about young girls in brothels.
Imagine a young girl, a really young one whose virginity was sold four times. And at the time when she was sold, she hadn’t even had her first period. They stitched her up and sold her virginity three times thereafter.
A young girl, who should be going to school and playing with her friends, who, even after attaining her puberty, should only be bothered about how her body grows, or if that cute guy in class likes her or not. That’s how young girls grow up in better cultures. And by cultures here, I mean better civilizations.
It was heartbreaking for me to watch all of that. And then I realized that these were the reasons why I wanted to be a journalist in the first place. Rescuing the girls from brothels, protecting them from sex trafficking; that’s why I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted that power. But then when I entered into this labyrinth of journalism , I got nowhere closer to that.
Of course, I was too young. But also perhaps, too naïve, too impatient.
Journalism has always been special to me, and maybe it always will be. For me journalism is not about information. What point could information serve if you tell people the bad stories and leave them in a puddle?
What is the point of telling people the problem if you don’t empower them with a solution? If you don’t make them believe that there is a solution out there. And if not a solution then at least, a ray of hope.
Journalism is not about informing people to the limit where they would feel and say: Damn it! The world sucks. Ignorance was bliss.
That’s not how I define journalism.
Even if I don’t become that journalist, which I had long defined in my mind, I am sure I won’t be one of those cynics who say: nothing is gonna change in our lifetime. That’s what they said about slavery and Apartheid.
I’ll never be a cynic because I learnt in my childhood that for every villain, there is a hero. Most problems in life occur because we forget our lessons from childhood.
I would love to see a girl from that place in the world grow up in a good home and get her schooling in one of the best schools in India, and maybe go on to get a university degree in the US.
However, it’s not just Africa. I hear similar moving stories in this very country we live in. Stories about young girls being rescued from brothels. The lucky ones. They need to be tutored psychologically. They need to grow. They need to grow till the point where they can discuss with other girls about which color of nail polish looks cooler on them. And maybe someday, they’ll get other girls like them to grow up in the same way. I want to be a part of their growing up.
Every woman deserves to feel safe. These women and girls deserve a good health care system in their communities. No matter what I make a career of, I want to help these women and girls in some way. And I wish you would partner up with me in that, for every superhero needs a sidekick; every Batman needs a Robin. Yeah, and we’ll fight over who’ll be Batman and who’ll be Robin, later.
On my walks on the terrace, I often look up at the sky and pray for the kinda hero I imagine to exist somewhere in real on this planet. Maybe some fine day, when I look up at the sky, I might just say: Is that a plane? Is that a bird? No, wait! That’s my future husband!
However, I am so not a damsel in distress, praying for a prince charming. That’s not me. I am also not a feminist but I’ve started to have a fierce hatred for most men in the world. Hatred for the bad men’s psyche. But I want you to be the one man these girls would learn to trust. A man they might one day want to have a husband like.
Be that man, baby. For them and for me.
But mostly, for them.