As I mentioned in my previous blog  I have not been out on my bi weekly peregrinations for a week, as my man was away so food becomes the least of my concern. I guess it is a counterpoint to the obsessive food management needed for Ranjan. I  cannot count the number of tomato sandwiches I have gulped in the past week. Anyway, one of the shops I go to is in Mehar Chand Market. We normally take the Sewa Nagar flyover and imagine my surprise when I saw a big new display board on a house stating: HINDU MAHILA SANGATTHAN - apologies for my photographic skills which are abysmal -. A simple translation would be Hindu Women's Association I guess. Anyway the board was not there last week I promise. Is this a precursor for things to come, I hope not.

As I travelled along to my destination, my mind decided to wander in another direction. The words on the sign stated Hindu woman and I began asking myself what is a Hindu woman compared to another woman. Be you Hindu, Muslim, Christian or atheist you are before all else woman, the other half, the often denigrated one. You are considered a burden as you have to be wedded at any cost. You are the misplaced repository of the honour of the family and that entails all kind of injustices. You are denied a voice and can be used and abused at will. If you are born in a poor family, whatever your faith, you may be denied an education, given a different diet than your male sibling, married off as soon as possible. In your husband's home you are under the yoke of the mother-in-law who is the same be she Hindu or of another faith. You will be derided should you not bear a son, no matter X or Y chromosomes. Actually this happens also in educated homes.

You are not safe on the street, not safe in your home environment, not safe anywhere if you do not have a male protector be it your father, brother, husband or son and that happens in all families. You are taught to hate the other without any plausible reason. As a little girl you play the same games, and as you grow up like the same songs, movies, actors and so on. You have similar dreams and feel the same pain when they come crashing.

You feel the same pain when you give birth to a child and cry the same tears when you lose a dear one. The blood you shed every month is red, and the one that flows when you hurt yourself is red to. The colour of your blood or your tears cannot tell me your religion.

In this election we have seen attempts at polarisation and heard the word secular again ad nauseoum. For electoral gains politicians use religion to divide but this time it looks like it did not quite work. I see a glimmer of hope in our beating this monster out of our lives and hope that signs like the one in the picture is an exception to the rule.

For me secularism means respecting all religions as this was what I was taught by my parents. I grew up in lands of different faiths. A friend of another religion meant that many more festivals to celebrate together and that many more goodies to eat. It also meant praying in different places of worship as my parents never stopped me from going to a church or a mosque or a synagogue. I am lucky that this was many decades ago when communalism and extremism had not raised their ugly heads.

The women of India face the same problems and need the same solutions. What differs is more the social strata they come or whether they live in cities or villages. They all need water, food and toilets. There is no Hindu or Muslim in these matters.

I hope our new masters will remember that we are just women.