So Janmasthami is over! All of us have celebrated the birthday of the “naughtiest” and the “notorious” Lord Krishna. The butter thief and the flirt! A darling of women, both as a child and when he was older! Though he is also the originator and orator of the “Bhagvad Geeta” which expounds the wonderful philosophy around life, few of us actually think of him in that role! For most of us the image that comes to our mind when we think of him is a dark cherubic infant polishing off a pot of butter or the young man playing the flute on the banks of the Yamuna! Poets like Surdas and Meerabai wrote about him building and embellishing those images and finally that is what sticks to the average human mind!
But this post is not so much about Shri Krishna but the qualities of mischief and notoriety that mark his childhood and teens.
I remember when I was in primary school there was this fellow who never did his homework and was always pulled up by the teacher . He managed to contort his face in the most amazing way from his position outside the class which was generally where he was relegated to ! All the other boys seemed very “tame” in comparison! I used to be full of tales of this boy whenever I got home. While my mother does not remember many of my friends from primary school his name has certainly stuck in her mind. She pulls it out every now and then and wonders what became of him. She can even recall his mother’s name and face - a harassed looking lady who used to go home with a red face after listening to the complaints about her son!
Unfortunately, I had to move to an all girls school later. Interestingly the “bad girls” did not seem so interesting! Ofcourse, one used to be agog listening to their exploits on the grapevine but that was it!! They did not acquire the aura of heroism that the “bad boys” had!
College was again co educational. Being a professional college there used to be strict segregation between the sexes. However some of the boys managed to break that invisible barrier!! And yes, they were the “bad boys”! I was paired with a couple of them during practical classes. Though it was supposedly three of us who were the “practical batch”, it was as though I was working alone because both of them would never show up!! They were confident that they could copy the reading off me or if I was feeling more benign borrow my record and copy the entire experiment! It used to be annoying but they had their uses. They used to chat up the lab assistants before the practical exams and find out what were the salts being given for analysis. I, being their favored friend would be provided the information just before I walked into the lab for the exam. People used to be amazed how these fellows managed to score such high marks despite bunking most of the practical classes.
Even the women professors were not immune to their charms. When one of them broke a retort during a practical class (this was on one of those few occasions when they managed to grace the lab with their presence) he managed to “talk” his way out of paying for it!! Chivalrous chap that he was, he employed the same technique once again in the final semester when I broke a burette! And that was how I managed to get my provisional degree without losing any of my caution deposit!
I wonder what is it about these fellows that makes them attractive? I guess it is something about their being non conformists and original that is the point! Women, having been brought up in a society where they are expected to behave in a certain way are secretly tiered of conformity!! Otherwise why would Scarlett O” Hara be fascinated by Rhett Butler? But one must admit that they come with a lot of charm which makes them get away with “murder” and the best thing is that they know how to manipulate a girl or woman in a way that makes them putty in their hands ( remember Shri Krishna asking Yashoda how could he have stolen the butter because he could not reach it where it was hung and his hands were anyway so small)
But what about “bad girls”? For starters, they are certainly not liked by their own sex. Firstly, their overt expression of non conformist behavior (often an exaggerated projection of sexuality) makes them very unpopular with their own sex. Many boys are also scared of them for the same reasons. They feel a threat to their masculinity in the presence of these girls / women. The interesting part of being a “bad girl” is that charm is not a part of the adjective that describes you! These girls/ women also know how to manipulate but they are often called “B___HES” because they do so.
I suppose bad girls do hold a fascination for the opposite sex the same way that bad boys do!! But what happens to relationships with the a “bad person” ? Is the attraction a fatal one? After all playing with “fire” is not without its consequences? One is bound to get hurt.
I have had so many women friends who have walked into such relationships with “bad boys” with their “eyes wide open” so to say and found themselves miserable. I think the problem is that we women think we can change these fellows! And where “bad girls” are concerned, they themselves die a slow agonizing death as somewhere along the way they get badly hurt by all those who decide to take advantage of them. Unfortunately being a “bad girl” means you cannot allow yourself to exhibit these feelings of vulnerability – you are fighting a gender stereotype as you try to sustain the negative image. Both your feelings and your reputation gets hurt.
While people can forgive a bad boy by saying “Well boys will be boys” one can rarely say that about girls! We girls and women carry a lot of burden on our backs- it is called social responsibility. One bad behavior on our part and our entire tribe can get branded!
I remember a muslim classmate from school who had a boy friend. She used to often miss school to go out with him. When it was found out by the principal all hell broke loose!! Her parents were called and she was suspended from school with threats of expulsion! I sometimes think now about how it must have affected the prospects of education of other girls in her community.. She came from a fairly conservative background and in those circles it must have been interpreted that education gives girls too much “freedom” and they go “astray”!
Being “bad” might just be a passing phase in some people’s life! People grow up and start acting more responsibly Even Shri Krishna quit chasing the Gopis and started focusing on politics and diplomacy! As a bad boy, the qualities of charm might aid you in whatever you do and whenever you do them and being a bad girl might just give you the hard headed ambition that could make you focus on your career! After all. no image is devoid of its opportunities!
Just because someone calls you “bad” you do not become bad! It is the way society interprets human behavior and slots them into categories. The gender classification is unfortunately not fair across the same category! No wonder we do not have a female equivalent of Shri Krishna!