Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In hiding

There is a woman I wish I knew better. She's super-intelligent, attractive, and tough. She has committed her life to a cause most would consider lost, but still retains her sense of humour. Her integrity, her courage and her brilliance are held in awe by all the people who know her. In three sentences, I have told you pretty much all I know about her, barring a few details of name and place. Despite this paucity of information, I love her. I believe she likes me too.

She has been diagnosed with cancer of the breast. The mutual friend I spoke with could not hide the betrayal he felt as he told me that the tumour was not discovered for a long time. 'I don't understand how you can not notice something like that', he said. 'It's in such..such  a prominent place.' And then stuttered at his wretched choice of word. He didn't need to. I understand what he  meant. As a man worried about possible  inflammation of a hidden gland, it can be difficult to understand how women can not see something right under their  chins.

The truth is, we banish our breasts into hiding.

I am not talking of publicly- there of course, the two-three layers are there, covered with a dupatta over it all. I am talking of in private. Neither I nor my friends, non-prudish and non-diffident women though we might be, ever look at our naked breasts. We shower in a hurry, wear our clothes in the bathroom, and only face the mirror for makeup. We are conditioned to go through life hiding our breasts, and we have learnt to do that so effectively that we hide them from ourselves as well. And yes, there are times when we show them off. But then too, they are not something we look at for themselves- they are just tools in our seduction kit. Do you ever anxiously examine your chisel? And so it is shockingly easy to not notice any changes.

A breast self-examination. Learnt properly, practised regularly. Please.

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