Every year, as Women’s Day approaches, a warm feeling of anticipation engulfs me. I believe that womanhood should be celebrated on a daily basis, yet I am curious to know how the earmarked day would be celebrated in various quarters. It is the time for women’s rights activists to speak, and hapless gentlemen to listen. It is the time for vote seekers to offer promises to the women of the nation.
I remember one celebration by an automobile dealer a few years ago. Since my voluntary retirement, I leisurely scan the news dailies and I chanced upon an invite for competitions for ladies on Women’s Day at a popular automobile showroom. What set my pulse racing was the car driving competition, while the others—fancy dress and hair styling—paled in comparison. Apart from good food, car driving has been a perennial mood uplifter for me. But I was disappointed to learn that it was a slow race. Anyway it appeared interesting and the goading came from the husband as he seemed relieved that I would drive slow for a change.
D-Day dawned and I set out with the excitement of a teenager. I was one of the early birds, having reached on time at 11 am. It took another hour for the chief guest and judges to arrive at their own pace. By then, some honking type sounds were being heard from inside the tummies of the competitors. Despite this, women, from young adults to septuagenarians, seemed agog with excitement.
The last was the slow race and I started manoeuvring the vehicle and touched the finish line, thankfully without stalling the engine. It took another hour for the master of ceremonies to announce the winners. When my name was announced as the second-prize winner, I jumped up and started walking towards the podium. As I surprisingly heard the MC declare that the winner had left the venue. I trotted up to her and whispered timidly, “I am here ma’am!” Covering the mike she whispered back, “The prizes are over ma’am. Please come and collect tomorrow.” Whether a child, whose ice-cream had been snatched away would have been more distressed, or the child in me turned so at that particular moment, it was hard to gauge! But the woman in me emerged stronger as the thrill felt during the participation was the true trophy.