The #MeToo Movement, Scary Times. For Me.
Mullah Mchungu has me scared silly. So scared, that I have begun living the life of an upright mo’min in India, to the tee.
It all starts here in Mumbai, where I am holed up for a few days, auditing and making sure CAI’s many Indian projects are IRS compliant, before I continue to other countries. So, I return to Najafi House after a harrowing and heart-stopping motorbike ride as a very reluctant pillion rider with Sarfaraz, the driver, when my cellphone farts. We’ve just finished running my errands among the smelly maze of highly polluted and impossible streets off Pala Ghali in Dongri, Mumbai. These streets are packed with rows and rows of motorbikes, parked and in motion, all kinds of harassed humans trying to get somewhere, untouchable cows and stray, starving, disease infected dogs, making the maneuvering of our motorbike a very dicey affair. Plus, I encounter 3 rats, the size of full-grown cats, when I exit a store that has me terrified; they did not budge an inch when I met them. Uff, tawba!
I am already harassed from the ride, hot and bothered, so I am not too happy to see it is Mullah Mchungu, calling from Dar es Salaam. I have no time for him, so ignore it. But the old man is persistent, so fearing for his mental state, I answer it the third time he calls.
Kisukaali, the Mullah hisses irritably, trying to ignore me, nai? No shame you have, only. I am old enough to be your…’
Geez. I’ve heard all this before.
Kisukaali, you’d better be very careful of the women in India. I know you go there all the time. Are you keeping up with all that’s going on with the #MeToo movement there?
I’d be deaf and blind not to be aware of the #MeToo movement hysteria that is plunging this nation. Amongst the October heat and traffic mayhem of the Navratri intoxicated streets of Mumbai, there is very little that is being talked about. Even the grisly torture and murder of a journalist in faraway Turkey has taken a back seat in print, air and the social media. Once mighty personalities, movie stars, politicians and the like are tasting dirt like a collapsing deck of cards. Why, even MJ Akber, the veteran, powerful, very influential, well-respected journalist turned politician just resigned his post as a Minister of State because 20 or so women suddenly decided they were sexually harassed by him eons ago.
It all began with the bold revelation from a passé Miss India and subsequent Bollywood actress to levy sexual misconduct and harassment charge against a colleague going back several years. This has opened up a tsunami of sorts and several women suddenly realize that they too, can somehow, seek their justice from the assault to their modesty.
Kisukaali, are you listening to me, gatheera?
Do I have a choice?
I hope the women here in Tanzania don’t start this nonsense as well. You know? I mean, how am I supposed to remember what I did as a teenager or a young man? It’s a challenge for me to remember if I’ve changed my underwear. I may look like a roasted tomato now, but I had my moments as a dashing young man.
Kinda hard to imagine the Mullah as dashing, but I let that go without a comment. Even if he was remotely flamboyant, his intense personality would have been a sure put-off for any maiden.
Isn’t is ridiculous, this MeToo, MeThree crap? These women of our times are getting too infected by many deluded doodoos in their heads. I’m not saying they should tolerate any unwarranted lustful advances under any circumstances. From anybody. But let 20, 25 years go by and then wake up to point fingers at family men and accuse them of sexual misbehavior? Come on, get real! Bloody hell, I can’t remember what I did a week ago!
Although I share the Mullah’s sentiments to a certain extent, I’m really behind in my work here so I make appropriate sounds that would satisfy the geezer and hang up, until he brings in the President of the United States into the equation.
You know Kisukaali, I agree with your President in this instance. This President Trump….
My heart makes a summersault and I hurriedly look around to ensure nobody else is listening in. Ya Allah, this is one man I do not want to talk about or mess around with. I mean he is my President and I should respect him and all, but it is best to zip my lips to ensure the walls are not eavesdropping. I do not want to be caught with even others badmouthing him. But I need not worry, the Mullah is praising my President.
I mean the guy had affairs. While married. So? It is silly to even think a man of his wealth and power would not indulge outside of marriage. It would be stupid if he didn’t, really. Why, take me. I had affairs when I was young and married, and I wasn’t rich and powerful at all. True, I did it the Muttah way, so that it was all legit and proper. For my conscience at least. These now suddenly awake, abruptly righteous women had the affairs with Trump willingly, he did not rape or coerce then, did he? If not for his good looks, then certainly for his money and power. So why bellyache now and create all the tamasha and make our lives miserable?
Hollywood, Bollywood, Tollywood…they are all the same. Power plays in Washington, Moscow, New Delhi or Dar es Salaam…same. Be it Kennedy, Nehru, Jinnah Kikwete or others. Raj Kapoor or Hoffman…all powerful and rich men took / take advantage of women. I’m not condoning it, I’m not saying it’s right, all I’m saying it happened, happens and will happen. Fact of life. These women better wake up to this reality. If they want to work with men in the glamour industry or powerplay, and most men are innately dogs, attraction, sex, either consensual or otherwise, is like the raising of the sun the next day. You only have to remember the hadeeth – a lone woman and a lone man makes for a salivating Shaitaan. I’m paraphrasing, okay?
But Mullah, you can’t be dismissive about the pain…
No buts Kisukaali, you’d better watch out. Them Indian dames may look all meek and submissive, with their kajoled eyes and demure looks. Stop flirting. They’ll make mincemeat of you if you even think of being adventurous.
My mind is in turmoil ever since that phone call. I scan my past to see if there is anybody out there who can make a MeToo tamasha out of me. Hmmm. I know I pinched a niece in her pamper once. I break out in a sweat. What if she remembers? Then I remember pinching my nephew in his bum when he had made soo-soo and soiled my freshly ironed, hard to press all-cotton shalwar. What if he, too, is inspired by this movement and comes after my meager savings?
So, I’ve been real good, careful and pious since then, especially here in India. An exemplary pukka mo’min. Solid. I do not smile, make eye contact with women and keep a wide distance when encountering them. Any female, young, old, pretty, ugly, thin, fat… The girls at the Leela are dumbfounded and perplexed with this sudden change in my meezaaj. I don’t care. I don’t want to be the next Pran or Prem Chopra of Bollywood, with my mugshot doing the rounds in social media.
I only pray that the victims get succor for their pain, if that is possible in this cruel, man dominated world.