Padma by Mala Mahesh Is a Story About Two Women Who Live Centuries Apart – Portraying the Flaws and Strengths of a Patriarchal Society

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A book which challenges the pre-set norms of a patriarchal society and forces, Padma is not a gender bias but a wake-up call for our society and generations today as well as those to follow. An exemplary piece of writing, Mala Mahesh has not put across a fiction, rather she has put forth a movement, revolutionizing those facets which need to be incorporated and imbibed into our mindsets, both as a society and also as a generation whose primary aim should be to teach their next, equality in the true sense of the term.

THE BIGGEST PARADOX

People say change is the only constant thing in nature. Well, I must say I strongly beg to differ here. No, change is not always a constant element. Take our societal behaviour for instance. Be it 5000 years ago which was the ancient era, or 200 years ago when we were still learning and struggling to live in a structured society or even as late as NOW as we prepare to clang the bells of the doors of a so-called ultra-modern, hi-tech civilization, patriarchy and patriarchal forces continue to be the bane of our existence, as they have been right from the start of time. Yes, nothing is permanent and yet this societal behaviour seems to have embedded itself right into the bloodstream of our ancestors, turning slowly but surely from a cultural to a behavioural aspect, embedded right from the seed core of the start of any lineage. 

Women, who have perhaps, forever, been considered to be second-class citizens as I understand, have been always and forever on the receiving end of atrocities, being the victim in all case scenarios. 

Take an instance from any timeline you wish to. You will observe a pre-set societal norm which glorifies, supports, adheres to and only sustains a man and his perspective. Glorifying the male has long since been the practice, doing only harm and damage to the balance and equilibrium, that which cosmos created when women were born as one of the two aka the equal bearer and carrier of humanity. Unfortunately and sadly enough thanks to these patriarchal forces being in existence right since perhaps the inception of civilization, they have been reduced to a horrible travesty, enamouring nothing but the worst possible atrocities being thrown their way

HAVE WE REALLY PROCEEDED ONWARD?

Yes, I say this with pain today, as being on the cusp of an era where we are proudly raging our way into a uber modern civilization, one which promises to even perhaps “amp up” and “upgrade” our genes to a much more powerful form of Homo sapiens than what we started out as, I still feel we, are super behind in the hierarchy of behavioural transcendence, courtesy the lowly and differential treatment bestowed upon the gentler sex?

MEANWHILE, CONTRADICT MY OWN SELF

See, I told you? Take my own previous statement for instance. When I say gentler sex, agreed I am acknowledging the physical attributes, but why and who imbibed this trait even in me that physical strength alone makes up for a complete analysis of a person? Exactly my point! We seem to have gotten into a behavioural pattern where men have been considered and will be considered the more supreme one of the two.

PATRIARCHY

Patriarchy according to me only leads the male gender to perhaps believe and follow the fact that yes masculinity has to be proved time and again by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression. This creation of fear is what we as a whole, as a society has encouraged. This aggression is what we as a society are wrong in practice. Aggression over the other sex, creating fear simply to be able to be proved more powerful is what was, is and unfortunately seems to be the core belief and norm which is the constant I am arguing and discussing today.

THE FOREVER SUBJUGATION

You must be wondering what caused me to pen these powerful thoughts today. Well, a book I recently read Padma by Mala Mahesh made me sit back and mull over many aspects which I know but tend to ignore. The story which goes on parallel across two timelines nevertheless has one thing in common-the travesty and the struggle a woman continues to face, the atrocities which are thrown her way in spite of no fault of hers. When the main protagonist Padma who is one of the principal characters in the book is unable to bear a child she is actually expected by members of her own clan to step aside from her own position, being reduced to a horrible travesty, thrown prey to a patriarchal, orthodox mindset which is a non- accommodating one, which only believes in carrying forward a lineage regardless of how and who does the same. What shall she be subject to, in the process of having to “share” her rights as a wife with another woman, her mental turbulences, her forbearance, none of these is considered. In fact, she is actually expected to “surrender” to these wishes of her family as she is presumably the “faulty” one who has been unsuccessful in being able to bear a child.

Even if she accepts her fate, her problems appear to be far from over, as she is never treated kindly and is held “responsible” for any misgivings or unfortunate disasters that seem to loom over or strike the household. Even though she quietly manages to stand tall and strong throughout, she is constantly subjected to being reduced to worse than a rag doll whose personal feelings simply do not count or exist, and she is simply made to be a so-called scarecrow, being subjected to vendetta owing to her “non-performance” and inability to live up to the “so-called” expectations.

AND IT SEEMS TO CONTINUE

Cut to the second timeline where the other protagonist Naina seems to be struggling through a similar fate, trying to “complete” her family and strengthen her bond with her husband. Whilst they try the modern means of IVF, still having failed they even proceed to surrogacy. But, Naina is obviously a loser in this bargain, through and through as what gets at stake owing to this arrangement is her own mental peace, the sanity and well-being of her relationship with her husband Naveen. 

THE QUESTION REMAINS

So, my question was exactly what I put forth earlier. Why is it always the woman who needs to sacrifice and compromise in every case scenario? Why the obligatory expectation only from her? Why doesn’t the man have to face the brunt of any negativities or the so-called missing elements? Why is it only ”her” who has to be the one to fulfil all equations? And that is a question I can see Mala too, has addressed and raised as an Author, through this one, a powerful dictum challenged, I’d say.

I wouldn’t call this one a feminist title. Why? Well, remember I candidly accepted somewhere in the beginning that we are seriously erred, having imbibed this behavioural trait and thought process right from the start that women need to be standing up and fighting for their place, position and rights?

THE PURPOSE-AS I IDENTIFY IT

And yet I and also, I believe Mala through this book ask you all but one important question- Something which should be present for all women and men alike aka equality of treatment, of gender, of unbiasedness, why is it that we women still today, as the “other sex” seem to be struggling and fighting for these facets which should have been our birthright, like two peas in a pod? Why do we need to ask for something that actually belongs to us equally, and unanimously? And most importantly, as in joy, so in sorrow, as in struggle, so in calm, aren’t we both sexes equal partners in this primordial soup of the cosmos which the Supreme himself has created in accordance with the true equilibrium of nature?

TO SUM IT ALL UP

If you have to ask something you will never know, if you know it, you need only ask..

Well, we definitely needn’t ask anyone as we should be realizing and acknowledging setting straight this equilibrium which has been in discord right since the start. And books like Padma surely are a very powerful source, a subtle yet strong shout-out of sorts to identify and challenge as well as correct these pre-set societal norms of patriarchy, showing us the true underside of the sad travesty made of a woman’s fate, desires and position, bringing about a change in our mindsets. I also want to take a minute here to point out that this is not your usual feminist book, which speaks only of a woman or their plight. It is more of a wake-up call of sorts, showing how two women from two different timelines stand tall, fighting these patriarchal forces, striving to get hold of that equilibrium, groping to hold those strands of equality. With a voice raised, a thought process created, and a paradigm shift being brought about, Padma is not only one of the most brilliantly written books to have hit the reading circles recently, but it also is a mission, a purpose-driven movement which puts across a thought, powerful as well as one which we need to acknowledge and surely respect and adhere to, after all this time.

Hope you guys resonate and liked my thoughts today. A tiny note, I am not writing this with any negative impact causing stance or to scatter any bad blood as far as the gender treatment scenario goes. I simply wanted to put across what I sincerely and candidly felt and experienced after reading this book. Check it out in the link below:

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Ciao Peeps!

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