Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ye Saali Gaali...

How many 'Gaalis' (Expletives, abuses) do you know? What do they mean? How many of them do not speak about a woman's dignity (or lack of it)? Do you think you ever mean what you say in a gaali?

Many years ago, while we were enjoying the new freedom of  a job after studies, I used to be the flatmate of a girl who started taking pride in using abuses while talking, courtesy her new friends at work. Accustomed to the much polite Lucknowi Tehzeeb(?), I used to cringe listening to her gaalis in brash Punjabi style, which were more derogatory and hurtful to her own kind (i.e. women) rather than being amusing and uplifting. The girl refused to let go of her gaalis as she thought they made her sound cool. NOT!

Of late, Hindi movies have glorified gaalis via movies like Ishqiya and Delhi Belly. Sadly, expletives are actually ingrained in daily lingo of UP (The land of Lucknowi Tehzeeb) and Bihar as the writers/directors of these movies claim. Here, gaalis are so much a part of the tongue that two fast friends cannot meet without  addressing each other as 'Saale' which sounds casual and harmless, (but is it?).  We even have Gaali songs in weddings and other functions, and they are pure pornography in lyrics, potent enough to make one's ears bleed, mind it!

The structure and nomenclature of Hindi gaalis is such that they are almost always directed at an innocent, unsuspecting mother or sister somewhere. Gaalis from foreign lands, when used in India, become insipid in comparison to our desi abuses. Imagine calling someone an 'asshole' in Hindi. Would it be as effective and satisfying as a Hindi gaali of the nature of 'mother-sister'? Some people use one or two 'mother-sister' type abuses in every sentence that they speak. They are not bad people. I have personally heard them dish out such smelly, vulgar words without ever giving it a thought. More careful and sophisticated people avoid using expletives in front of women, but among men, they are all the same. Someone in this category, once uttered out a gaali in front of me, and as soon as he realized, he said ' Oh, so sorry!'.

The most cultured, educated men do not refrain from dishing out choicest gaalis once the matter comes to it. I am yet to come across a man who claims otherwise. What is it that urges someone to use gaalis of this nature? Is it the helplessness of not being able to harm the other person physically or in any other way that a word picture of the possible harm is created? Is it about harming a person or a woman (Mother/Sister/Daughter of the person)? Why does a person need to use crude language in order to fight? How does it help? How does committing an act of sexual nature against someone's mother or sister compensate for the loss/ harm/suffering of the abuser?  Are we not propagating 'Rape Culture'? After all, words become thoughts and thoughts become actions.

Its been probably centuries since women have been targeted in this indirect way. Is this the prize that we receive for being a good sister/mother/daughter? The icing on the cake is that we cannot even vent out our frustration by hurling a gaali because it will most likely boomerang.