I am not sure if you have heard of Virtualia, but it is a happy nation, filled with happy people. And when I say happy people, I mean happy men, happy women and happy trans genders. The folks of Virtualia hold the notions of equality very highly. They believe, and believe firmly that gender is not a basis for discrimination. To be honest, such a setup is the reason for the happiness in the state. Therefore, Virtualian men go out and do works such as farming, driving, trading, building, treating, designing, researching, governing and all such jobs which are suited for men. Women focus more on cooking, washing, cleaning, painting, singing and dancing. They know that men were built strong and hence could do hard labor. They also know that women are delicate, so they had to be given appropriate jobs. They were quite confused when it came to trans genders. They were neither strong enough to do hard labor, nor that delicate to be confined to homes. Thus, they were destined to beg for their living. Begging seemed just the right job for them.
Miss Claire Kent was brought up in Virtualia. Her family originally belonged to some nondescript land to the west of Mirage Ocean, and had migrated to the land of happiness when the girl used to crawl on her knees. They called her Kali at home. Kali meant fearless in Miss Kent’s native tongue, but the good Samaritans of Virtualia did not know that. Nevertheless, Kali felt the perfect ways of Virtualia to be funny, if not queer. She still remembers how her neighbors had taken away her bicycle, saying that girls were weak and riding cycles could hurt them. She wanted her parents to tell them that she was strong enough, but to her dismay her parents decided not to pick up a fight. She knew she was strong. She believed it was because she included a lot of tomatoes in her diet. The original citizens of Virtualia did not consume tomatoes. The color of tomatoes confused them. Virtualians knew that vegetables had to be green and meat had to be red. A red vegetable seemed like a mix of vegetable and meat, eating which would make their children trans genders. Claire’s kin loved tomatoes. They grew tomatoes at their backyards and had them to their fill. Claire felt that tomatoes made her stronger than the non-tomato eating Virtualian community.
Fourteen years had passed since this incident, yet the very thought would make Claire’s nostrils flare up in angst. Today, she decided enough was enough. Back then, she might have needed her parents’ aid in defending her, but that was not the case now. She had come of age, and had grown stronger with time. Claire Kent decided to stand up for herself. Usually, she used to take the bus to travel from her home to her dancing classes. But this afternoon, she decided to ride her father’s bicycle. The lack of practice was visible in her ride, yet her will power to get things done towered over her fear of failure. Claire had barely gone five hundred meters, when a police man stopped her.
‘Wow miss! Where do you think you are headed to?’
‘Why, to my dancing classes of course. Is there a problem.’
‘I do not have a problem with you or your dance, miss. My only problem is with your bike, and if you would let me help you get off it, I shall personally take it back to your home and also would get you on board the next bus en route.’
‘That sure is kind of you, officer. But I prefer riding the cycle to taking the crowded buses.’
‘You had my attention, miss. Now my patience is wearing thin. Should I tutor you on the possible dangers that could befall you if you engage in such tiresome jobs?’
‘I was just riding. Do I look injured, or in some kind of trouble?’
‘Well you should thank me for stopping you before anything happened.’
‘You had my curiosity, officer. Now I am getting bored. Let me tell you what I am gonna do. I am gonna ride this bicycle all the way to my dance class. And back home. You could choose to be sensible and let me go, or you could raise hell over something so trivial and make a fool out of yourself. I shall take leave.’
Claire Kent had measured her words meticulously. She knew she had hurt the ego of the officer, and he was not going to let things go. This was exactly what she wanted. She wanted the officer’s department, the dance school, the media, her parents, the citizens and every single being to hear her story. That was the only way to address this age old injustice, she thought. Unsurprisingly, her plan worked like a charm. By the time her dance classes had ended, law authorities and the media had buzzed up the place. A girl breaking civil laws and riding cycle was a first of its kind in the state, and the story had potentials to grab eyeballs. Someone had even called up her parents to the scene.
Cameras began to flash the moment Claire stepped out. A horde of journalists started asking a myriad of questions simultaneously. A pair of uniformed officers went up to her and escorted her back into the school.
‘Do you refute the charges alleged against you, miss?’
‘Charges! What charges?’
‘Officer Funnyname reported that you rode a cycle from home to school, despite him advising you against it.’
‘Yeah I remember something like that happening in the morning. What about it?’
‘Are you unaware of the laws of the land, miss? Women don’t drive here. Considering your ignorance, we have decided to let you go this time but I must warn you miss. You would be in deep trouble if you pull this stunt ever again.’
‘Apparently it is the cops who seem to be unaware of the laws, officer. I would accept any punishment if you could show me the section in the penal code that criminalizes driving by women.’
The officer rang up his subordinate, who consequently ordered her subordinate to go through the rule book and note down the section number in question. The policeman went through the legal text once, then once more but he failed in finding anything that prohibited women driving vehicles. He even went through the constitution of the neighboring country, all in vain. He phoned his superior, who then informed her chief of this accident. The inspector was aghast.
Claire Kent had played her cards right. She knew that there was no explicit law enforcing a ban on female drivers or male dancers, but this custom was rigidly followed in Virtualia for centuries that the citizens actually believed a law existed.
The news of Miss Kent scoring over the legal system created quite a ruckus in the political Virtualia. National media organized prime time debates where representatives of the ruling party accused the opposition of supporting misguided youths in disturbing the integrity of the nation, and the opposition criticizing the government for being fascist by interfering in the private lives of citizens. The largely conservationist Virtualian community damned Claire’s arrogance, while the liberals hailed the bold girl. In the midst of all these, Claire continued taking her dance lessons, as if nothing had happened. One evening, as Claire was about to return home after the class, one of her schoolmates went up to her.
‘Hello Claire, would you care to spare a minute?’
‘Of course, Brunei. What’s up?’
Claire Kent and Brunei Wayne were not friends. In fact, this was the first time Brunei had talked to Claire. Claire had always felt that Brunei was a timid, sleepy girl who made friends with none.
‘Do you really feel your actions are justified? Shouldn’t some things be left the way they are?’
‘I’m quite sure of my actions, Brunei. Why do you think girls should not be allowed to drive?’
‘I was not being specific to the question of driving, Claire. I feel that some jobs could be done only by men and some exclusively by us. Pardon me if I sound cliched, but tell me how absurd would it be if men raise demands for pregnancy. See, different genders exist because some tasks are cut out for them.’
‘Interesting point, Brunei. But when you tell me that pregnancy is women’s forte, you must not forget that no woman could attain that without the help of a man.’
‘Indeed. I just wanted to tell you what I felt about the whole affair, Claire. No offense meant.’
(to be continued)
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