This post was also published on Huffington Post India
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In what is seen as yet another blow to women’s liberation movement in India, residents of Gothivili of Navi Mumbai imposed a Rs 500 fine on women wandering around in nighties. It’s better to be born a cow in India that can move around in the nude without a care in the world and yet get so much respect that even their shit is considered holy.
Only those who have experienced the untethered pleasure of wearing a nightie on a hot summery day can understand why it’s the preferred garment of so many women who don’t give a damn about what others think of their sartorial choices. Essentially a sack with armholes, it’s the female counterpart of the lungi that’s also a sack but is wrapped around the waist to let the climate in. The lungi does a splendid job of keeping men in heat cool as a cucumber. They say the secret of Gandhi’s Ahimsa movement lay in his dhoti. It’s another matter that the same dhoti turns Khaap taus into imbeciles who never tire of issuing diktats against crafty women for instigating gullible men to rape them.
The nightie as the name suggests was originally meant to be worn at night. But such are its magical abilities to rejuvenate the body after a hectic day - multitasking as the family’s alarm clock, motivational speech giver, conscience keeper and the database of her man’s past mistakes -that women refuse to get out of it. All it requires is a couple of washes to turn as soft and absorbent as a well-used dusting cloth. It’s a forgiving garment that doesn’t hold you back but let’s you spill out in all your paunchy glory.
It’s the closest a Sanskari woman can get to a dress. Since buying a nightie is a usually a choice between “grandma don’t give a shit” and “the porn star (available in blood orange, traffic light yellow and all shades of “ewww”)”, most women end up choosing the former so as to not offend others with the suggestion of a body underneath the garment. It is a known fact that men get agitated at the mere hint of boobs and butt and the grandma nightie does a perfect cover job of it. Coupled with a dupatta or a towel slung over the shoulders, nobody can even make out that you’re a woman.
So it beats me, why a shapeless ugly garment that has a better coverage than Airtel and Vodafone put together, has managed to offend the residents of Gothivili so much. It’s not as if she’s turns into a blood sucking hound that targets men and sings like Himesh Reshammiya once she dons the nightie.
Is the sight of a woman’s body so ghastly that it has to be covered in a shroud lest it distracts men from their noble pursuits? Or is the nightie an ugly reminder of a woman’s nightly procreational activities? Hey, if she’s wearing a nightie, she must be having sex, which is against our Indian culture that prefers getting babies home-delivered by storks.
Will it offend people less if we stopped calling them nighties? After all night is when people do hanky-panky things and that automatically gives nightie a sinister connotation.
So, for the sake of all those women who found freedom if not in their lives but in their nighties, let’s start calling them dayties and give them a respectful makeover. A woman in a daytie will keep naughty thoughts at bay and will compel onlookers to restrict their imagination to the wearer’s honourable daytime activities. And if she manages to sprout a tail, she might even get to sit in the middle of a busy intersection and swat flies all day.