We applaud your courage in standing up for Hrithik in what you would like to believe is the good fight. You are writing on behalf of the MARD which is ‘Men Against Rape and Discrimination’.
Since your open letter is, in a marvellous Kafkaesque way, addressed to everyone and yet no one but also manages to target one person, who must not be named, we are wondering who is going to send you a reply.
I am Everywoman and in my convent school when Ms Rose Dias (my God bless her) taught us English, using the everlasting Wren and Martin’s English Grammar and Composition Book (I have still kept my tattered and much thumbed copy with its frayed red binding….. but I digress), one of the things we learnt was that it is rude to leave a letter unanswered. So we are replying to you on behalf. Of whoever open letters are written to.
It was in fact Ms Mallika Dua in the staff room who paused in her rantings about a boy who is a waste of space (Poor Dhananjay. He really does it bring it upon himself) and brought to our notice your open letter.
Initially we thought MARD referred to an old Amitabh Bachchan film which had dialogues like ‘Mard ko Dard Nahi Hota’ and a rather repugnant and despicable ‘double meaning’ song called “Lambu tambu mein bambu lagaaye baithe, Maine jor lagaaya hayya hu, haath se bhi dabaaya, Par dil ki miti na chubhan.”
We were rather alarmed and quite a-twitter at this, but once we all composed ourselves and realized that this was released all the way back in 1989 and not likely to corrupt our lovely little boys anymore, we searched on Google and learned that you have founded M.A.R.D which is Men Against Rape and Discrimination.
Sister Mary was so delighted when we shared that information with her. Whenever we discuss in the staffroom if the Future is Female, she has always told us, while working the rosary beads and adjusting her wimple, “Patience! Patience! It will come.”
The only problem is that we thought the name meant Men against Rape and Discrimination -of WOMEN. But after reading your open letter we realized that it actually means Men Against Rape and Discrimination –of OTHER MEN. This quote from your letter makes the situation so much clearer now.
“Until such a time that the matter is brought to its logical conclusion by the authorities, we must avoid vilifying the man on the basis of unsubstantiated statements. Let’s not discriminate.”
I must confess that we were a bit discombobulated upon this discovery. In India, where more than a 1000 women are raped every DAY, women are still being set on fire for not bringing enough dowry, beaten with hockey sticks for giving birth to a girl child, having acid thrown on them ( like the sister of ‘she who is not named’ in your open letter), murdered, commit suicide ( like the girlfriend of one of the men who is standing up for the ‘man who must not be named’ in your letter) and just generally discriminated against on a daily or even hourly basis, we are slightly puzzled as to why more MARD is needed.
But as my Hindi teacher Ms Mehbooba used to say—Jahan DARD Wahan MARD. I guess she was right after all.
I am proud to tell you that I am also now an English teacher and I intend to use your open letter for parsing exercises and as a demonstration of a piece of writing that brings to mind , simultaneously, so many writing effects.
The obfuscation of Sir Humphrey from Yes Minister when you say-“I am not the authority on who is right or wrong in their situation”
(“Yes, Prime Minister.” said Sir Humphrey Appleby: “It is not for a humble mortal such as I to speculate on the complex and elevated deliberations of the mighty.”)
You also reminded us of Donald Rumsfield, (who was the Secretary of Defence- a task you have risen to rather well in your own letter we must say!) when you said: “Well, the truth is that WE do not know the truth. “
Here is what he said when questioned about the Iraq war “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
There is also a hint of Shashi Tharoor’s sesquipedalian-ism in your letter: “The reason I felt the need to say this is that it is apparent that some people have already jumped to conclusions while some are deriving some sort of voyeuristic pleasure by encouraging the woman to carry on speaking. “
With a dash of Salman Rushdie’s magic realism here : “Today I read an open letter written by a man I know about a woman I know, professionally, at best.”
We even thought there was a charming allusion to Alice in Wonderland when you say: “For a moment, let us put aside emotion, prejudice, biases, our understandably protective instincts and look at the facts as they exist today”
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
Of course you have learnt your literary craft at the knees of your father Javed Akhtar, mother Honey Irani (who has, incidentally, been the screenwriter for Kaho Na Pyar Hai, Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish and Krrish 3), your second mother Shabana Azmi, your father’s writing partner Salim Khan, perhaps Gulzar Uncle and a veritable smorgasbord of literary influences.
In fact when we first read this earlier tweet from you we thought you were admonishing the Bollywood fraternity (we cannot say sorority given how male dominated the film industry continues to be) for ganging up against the girl who must not be named.
But it turns out that you were addressing Ram Rahim’s disciples and followers who were running amok when he was finally called out for his lying and manipulation and messing with girls’ lives.
We apologize for this bungle and we promise to follow you even more very closely on Twitter in the future, so that we don’t miss anything subtle.
(It’s a good thing this is not a voice message or you would have noticed a distinct snicker, or perhaps even a chortle in the background. Ms. Zeenat, our PT teacher has a rather active sense of humour, despite having almost lost an eye from a beating. By a Man.).
Anyway, I don’t want to keep you from your very busy life making men in India feel safe, so I shall get on to the main Open Letter to FAB.
It should reach you by the morning post tomorrow.