Recently, I got an opportunity to address prosecuting officers on Gender Sensitization. Since I am currently translating a novel, based on sight or rather lack of it, I found myself connecting the two concepts and explaining what my perspective was, on the topic, to the alert, erudite group.
Since I was using a mix of languages to communicate, one in which I am fluent and another, which often trips me up by its intricate grammar, I often paused to get the correct word. Towards the end of the session, the audience and I , came to the conclusion that all “words ” do not mean the same thing. The word which I used in Hindi hardly meant the same as the one in English. Neither did one person’s perspective match another’s on the same topic.
I acknowledged the brilliance of the author of the book, who very intuitively had pointed out that blindness often meant things far deeper than a darkness of vision. If you cannot “see” the way I do, you are “blind” to what I am trying to show you. Same with my inability to appreciate what you are struggling to tell me.
Finally, we all agreed,(or so I hoped!) that any sensitization relied on the word “respect”. With that fundamental building block, one could at least move ahead with hope. Without that word, without feeling deep inside, another’s right to be happy and joyous; there wasn’t much chance to becoming a sensitized human being.
Someone quoted Ghalib then:
” I kept cleaning up the mirror all my life
The dust, actually, had been in my own eyes.”
” Nazariya, drishtikon, nazar, sight, perspective, feeling, thinking, view point, outlook, my way…” said the participants when we debated on how they defined their own vision. In a room of 75, we had so many perspectives. How can we focus all of them through the converging lens of “respect” and make all realise the value of not trying to degrade another human being? That, we can win cases without robbing another of her dignity; without telling her that she is “bad ” or “fallen” in the eyes of x, y, z..law, society, culture…? For a second, in one’s inner eye, to put one’s own daughter, sister,loved one in the place of that disturbed person before you, requiring just a bit of decency in speech and tone and behaviour? Irrespective of whether he/she is guilty or innocent?
Perhaps, one of them, somewhere years hence, would face a situation when tear filled eyes would look up at her/him from the opposite stand. The pressure would be on the speaker to ” go all out” after the jugular. Can she/he desist the tendency and speak with respect?
I rest my case, I said.
When they gave me tea, they said they were calling me back again:)