A Little Perspective
'Oh, the heartthrob that is Virat Kohli. You want to know anything about him? Ask the girls. They’d know nothing about his game, but everything about his personal life. That’s what girls do!’, laughed Rahul, the ‘Jerky Sandwich’, a title he was proud of. Little did Meera know how long a debate had ensued since, with Ishant as the opposition.
‘Hey, Meera? You know a lot about cricket right?’, he asked, having bumped into her in the cafeteria.
‘Um…yeah, a little, not a lot…’, Meera said grinning to herself as she remembered Joey.
‘I’m sure you’d know this. What’s Kohli’s ex-girlfriend’s name?’
‘What?’, asked Meera, puzzled.
‘Is he a cat person or a dog person ? What, I thought you said you knew about Cricket’, he added hastily, watching Meera’s face change.
‘Tell me something, Ishant. If a boy introduced himself as a huge cricket fan, would you go up to him and ask him anything about… oh, I don’t know, say, Mithila Raj’s measurements?’.
Ishant remained silent.
‘That’s right, you wouldn’t, would you? Apply the same logic here. I’m a Cricket fan. I know about Cricket, like you just said. Ask me all the different ways a batsman can get out, I’ll answer. Ask me when the bowler does and doesn’t get credit, I’ll answer. Ask me the exceptions to a free hit, I’ll answer. I don’t know squat about players’ lives, because they don’t matter!’. Meera, having caught the attention of everyone around (she hadn’t intended to), stormed off.
Later that night, as Meera was writing her assignment under her bed lamp in the hostel, her roommate entered.
‘Oh hi di’, said Meera.
‘Hi’, said the roommate. ‘You know, people like you are the reason many women no longer explicitly call themselves feminists’.
‘Yeah, you heard me. You could’ve simply told that Ishant guy that you didn’t care about players’ personal lives, and hence didn’t know the answer to his question. There was absolutely no need for you to ask him if he would’ve asked the same question to a boy’.
‘But he wouldn’t have!’, Meera retorted. ‘I know what I was asking! If I were a boy, he wouldn’t have asked me a question as pointless as that one!’
‘So what? For all you know, his project is going to be titled ‘How much do Cricketers’ Personal Lives Affect their Game?’. For all you know, the question wasn’t ‘pointless’. For all you know, that was only the first question he asked you, and the questions that were to follow, were exactly the ones you said you knew the answers to. Even if you so firmly believe that no one would ask a guy such a question, keep it to yourself till you know the facts. Because no one has ever been proven to be permanently correct’, argued the roommate. ‘All this after he told you how sensitive he can be’, she silently added, as she threw her shoulder bag on the bed and sat down, exhausted.
‘No. I’m sorry, but these little things lead to big differences in the way women are treated’.
‘Apologies, but one little question a guy asked you, is only going to make a difference, in that the way you responded, means everyone cussing at you silently every time you pass by. Oh, and by the way, I saw Ishant crying at the fountain today’.
‘I… I wanted to make a point. And I think I did that. Why is it that they assume that if a girl claims she knows something, it means she knows about a man associated with that something? Why is it assumed that the girl can’t actually be technically knowledgeable in that field?’
‘Because that’s possibly what they’ve grown up seeing. You, no doubt must change their opinions, but this really isn’t the way you should be doing that. They probably don’t know any girl who knows what an LBW even stands for. Don’t you think there’s a chance? Also, answer this, for me: That day, when Preet asked the girl next door, who as opined by you, is ‘way too pink for anybody’s liking’ a complicated football question, and she really didn’t know the answer, you laughed right? And what did you say to Preet later? You ridiculed him for his choice.’
Meera kept quiet.
‘So if Ishant was judgmental, so were you. If you want to prove to people that you know a thing or two about something perceived to be ‘masculine’, prove it by giving the right answer when the right question comes along. Until then, a simple ‘I don’t know’, will do the job’.
The next morning, walking up to class, Meera saw Ishant under the Banyan tree in the campus. After a moment’s pause, she took a detour and walked up to him.
‘Hey’, she said.
Ishant looked up. ‘Hi!’, he said, as though nothing had happened.
‘I’m sorry for yesterday, I think I spoke too quickly…’
‘No, that’s okay. I only wish I’d had some time to refute. I mean, the 4th, 8thand 17th items on my questionnaire, were the ones you said you knew the answers too…’, gesturing at a file in his hands.
Something occurred to Meera. ‘What’s your project titled?’, she asked.
‘The Influence of Cricketers’ Personal Lives on their Performance’, said Ishant. ‘Why?’
‘Nothing…’, said Meera, squinting at him. ‘Um… do you know my roommate-’, she started.
‘Yeah, she’s one of my best friends. So, can you give me those answers now?’
Meera, with a smile ear to ear, decided to ditch class and opened ‘Cricket for Dummies’.
Title Credits: ANTON EGO