Yes, I’m a feminist! (London diaries)

I remember that day very well, it was the early seventies in Streatham Hill, South West London, I was close to my teens. Flower power (make love not war — 1960's movement) was over, I had of course missed it as I was in nappies at the start of it, although, I was conceived at that time, and flower power had eventually and unknowingly spilled into the disco age. Micheal Jackson’s voice had not broken yet and he was beautifully singing the song ‘Ben’ straight from the heart. Life was sweet as I had my best buddy Yasmin by my side, she being two years older to me, a pretty female who is also my cousin; is half German and half Pakistani. I am a quarter Lithuanian/British and three quarters Pakistani. That’s the mathematics out of the way.

Maybe because her age and that logical German intelligence wrapped in care and warmth, cousin Yasmin always took the lead in our lives, (and still does) especially in the matter of my social education. Maybe when she was born her parents, told her that her mission in life is to ‘teach ‘Billoo things about life’. Billoo is my pet name while Yasmin’s pet name is Bimbim. Together, we were the ideal adventurous team and besties, but Bimbim was the leader I was happy to follow, no argument till this day about that.

One fine Friday afternoon after coming home from Hitherfield junior school, I had just finished listening to my ‘Beatles’ LP, the black vinyl record, that ran round in continuous circles at the speed of 33, my favorite song being ‘I saw her standing there’ when Bimbim arrived at the house on her bike, she came into my room with that serious look on her face, the face that emphasized that yet another educational therapy is about to take place; right here and right now. And she started speaking words of wisdom, (no, not ‘let it be’ by the Beatles) and she made the following statement,

“Billoo, I hope you realize that you are a feminist!”

I was stunned, surprised, even flabbergasted by the statement, I realized that I had a few decades to go before I can even begin to think about feminism let alone be a semi ambassador of it, nor had I studied the ‘Suffragette movement’, and I also needed to meet many females in my future life. “I’m not a feminist” I said at the direct accusation. She seemed to have read my mind “well let me ask you a few questions, then you can decide if you are one or not”. My mind told me that school is over, the weekend is here, I’m even listening to the Beatles, I don’t need a weekend teacher, so I picked up all my courage, turned round to her and said defiantly, “Ok Bim, ask me”

And the lesson began…….She asked me and I answered.

“Billoo, do you think that men and women should get paid equally if they do the same job”?

“yes” I answered

“Do you think that girls should get the same education as boys”

again “yes Bimbim”

“Should women be able to ‘own’ their own property”?

“yes”

“Should women have equal rights in their marriage”?

“They should, yes” I answered (give me a break….)

“So you see, you are a feminist after all” she said with a smile on her face.

I suppose I am if that is all it takes to be a feminist. It is based on equality for all which I’ve always subscribed to. It was a lesson well learnt that day and one that I will treasure all my life.

There were many Billoo & Bimbim adventures that helped change and shape humanity as we know it from the last century till now, but those stories are to be told another time. Getting back to the conclusion of this particular story, and as the reality sunk into my mind as to the simple fact that I was indeed a feminist, I had to keep up with the male side of my personality going, and giving Bimbim an intelligent look and trying to keep to the same subject; I thoughtfully asked her “can we now ride our bikes up and down the hill”?

“Yes” she said, and we did.

Blessings to you

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