"Life is the price we pay for running away from death "
































































"Madam, so for the record, can you please summarize the speech again?" asked a bespectacled reporter hunched in the corner and overshadowed by the camera flashes. He did not expect 'Madam' to hear him in the midst of the cacophony of questions but she did. Maybe because the other reporters were asking more personal questions and she wanted to avoid them.

"Don't stereotype, that's the summary in one word. That's what I told them," said Madam.
 
"So you spoke against harassment of women, isn't it Madam?" asked a voice from the crowd.
 
"I spoke against every form of stereotyping; gender is only one of them. Look! I come from a low-class background myself and I have first-hand experience working with the low-income groups. I have seen how stereotyping stunts and handicaps the growth of those people. And not just them, it incapacitates the creative freedom of any human being" Madam looked around the crowd for approval, "Our country is besotted with stereotyping. Don't you see those horrible fairness cream advertisements? How they stereotype social acceptability with fair skin? How much more inhuman and illogical can we get?"
 
Madam took a sip of water and continued, "Look! in Nature, things are different. The baby of a tiger becomes a tiger, and a mango seed can grow only into a mango tree, but we cannot postulate that of humans. We may not be omniscient, but we are not nescient too." Another sip of water. "Our narrow minded Indian culture has to get rid of this stereotyping. Indian women must not be relegated to the kitchen anymore. They are not baby producing machines destined to stay under the hood. They will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with men. I challenged their mentality towards women."

"And then I did not stop there," Madam continued, "I challenged other stereotypes too. Dark skinned people need not be called madrasis. South Indians need not be dirty, and North Indians need not be noisy. Andhra food is not always spicy; Gujarat cuisine is not only sweet. Boys need not be brave, and girls need not be shy. Also... all politicians are not corrupt, all Muslims are not terrorists. When I gave these examples they were dumbfounded... I mean, c'mon yaar! what is all this slotting and tagging things into categories, like something or someone is MEANT TO BE in a particular way. Leave it all free na yaar? Leave it all open na?"

Madam looked at her watch and began to pack up, "Okay it's so late. I got to go now. Good day to you guys."

"Madam, Madam, please a few more minutes. We want your opinion on a few things," hurried one of the reporters.

"Can't you see it's so late already?" Madam revolted.

"Madam please."

"No way! I am leaving right away. There is nothing more to it. That's it!"

"Madam, you had spoken about your opposition to the concept of marriage. Can you talk about that please?"

"Look! I don't have time now. It's so late. And today is Friday. Don't you guys know Friday night is party time? And then don't call me on the weekend. Weekend is meant for relaxing with family, ok?" and as Madam was about to leave, she reiterated, "And you guys also remember one thing: don't stereotype." And Madam walked away.


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