‘Serene, Richly Coloured But Unsafe’, Women Define Night
Night has always evoked various emotions through generations. While on one hand, it suggests the idea of love and romance in popular culture through songs and films, there is a different side too. People also associate night with darkness, unsafe environment and a time rame when criminal activities take place. To discuss what women feel about night—a time so personal—Delhi Poetry Festival held a session called Raat Akeli Hai on Saturday at the IIT campus in New Delhi.
Retired IPS Officer Meeran Borwankar, authors Mona Verma and Shabri Prasad Singh and social activist Shalini Shrinet spoke about their own ideas of night. While for Mona, night was richly coloured, for Shalini, it is a time to have fun as most marriages and all happy events take place during the night. F,or Shabri, night is a serene time but for Meeran it denotes a risky time.
Mona expands on her notion as she says, “To me, night is more richly coloured than the day. In my opinion, night is the time of reflection and contemplation. Night is not as hopeless as it offers hope for the next day.” She said that probably days are more hopeless for her than the nights.
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Srinet, who runs a movement “Mera Rang”, where she talks about various women’s issues, also had a similar optimistic view of the night. She tells the crowd that she grew up in the small town of Gorakhpur where she would actually wait for night to play a game called “Andhera Ujala” with her friends and siblings. “I have always had people in my life who talked positively about night time as all the happy occasion like marriage are celebrated in the hours of darkness, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.”
However, Borwankar felt very surprised with the other panellists’ definition of night. She, in fact, drew upon a very pertinent scenario often correlated with night. “Because I was a police officer, if I was out and about in my civil clothes ,then nights are dangerous for me as a woman and I would strategize on how to deal with it. And If I was in my uniform, then it was a whole different ballgame as then nights were challenging and action-oriented.”
These are the varying views of night in popular culture as well. However, Shabri, who dealt with Borderline personality disorder and also wrote a fictional book on her own life, has a very opinion of the night. One that showcases how nights are to someone who is dealing with mental issues. Shabri also suffers from insomnia.
“Borderline personality disorder is an emotional upheaval. It is an array of different shades of emotions which go up and down very frequently. So nights are generally the time when we go through hormonal change and when I was young, I couldn’t sleep alone and now I cannot share a bed with anyone.”
“Because I was a police officer, if I was out and about in my civil clothes then nights are dangerous for me as a woman and I would strategize on how to deal with it. And If I was in my uniform then it was a whole different ballgame as then nights were challenging and action-oriented,” – Meeran Borwankar
She opened up about insomnia and said, “I take many sleeping pills to get some sleep because there was a time when I went without sleep for a month. If people don’t sleep even for two days, they go crazy, so for me when I couldn’t sleep for a whole month, I felt psychotic.”
For some, nights bring joy and fervour and for others, it is a source of worry. It is diverse and expansive and probably it is there that the beauty of night lies.