It was sometime in beginning of April when I got a call from TedxGatewayWomen inviting me as a Speaker. I thought they had called me by mistake. I asked if they knew about my work and they said yes! Knowing how men and women who speak up for justice for men are treated around the world, particularly by women, my first reaction to this conference was a NO. To be honest, I did not know the organizers at all and was apprehensive that this might be a ploy by people who hate me for what I do and probably an opportunity for them to ridicule me publicly while I am speaking on a stage in order to dampen my spirits (Yes some famous women rights activists who hate me to the core, have indirectly communicated that I better stay in my limits) for mere fact that I speak for a gender that people do not want to hear about!
So, I asked the organizers again if they were sure of getting me on a platform as big as theirs. I wasn’t concerned about my content but I was concerned about their event and least that I wanted was an event of such a grand scale facing any difficulties because of me. I proposed if they would want to keep my name as a speaker hidden lest any of their other speakers opts out because of my participation (Something similar has happened to a known before.)
To my surprise they were surer than I was. I spoke to people who I look up to and truly admire and they asked me to go for it. That’s when a journey that I would cherish for life started.
The sessions with Coach Vikram….
The rehearsals with the TedxGatewayWomen team….
That reworking again and again and again on the language, postures, pauses…
That making everything sound and appear utmost professional….
The hard work, the pain and the sweat… (sometimes literally as it was HOT ;))
It wasn’t easy BUT….
The whole exercise of bringing down your entire knowledge to a sharing of just 10 minutes; The idea of enrolling the audience into what you are sharing; The idea of being the medium, the messenger and making the world feel what you feel ; The storytelling and making it the most powerful story in the world; The process of not being emotional but still letting everyone feel the emotions behind it; The never ending support; The absolutely brilliant conviction of everyone around me in me; Those pumping me up calling me a rock star every time I felt low; That sheer satisfaction whenever I completed within the time without missing anything; That care making sure I had everything I needed and did not have to worry an iota about anything…..
TedxGatewayWomen was mesmerising.
An experience for life! More than anything else a realization that every fine piece of work has hours and hours of practice behind it. And when you do that, outcome is for everyone to see.
My inhibitions, my apprehensions, my fears were all gone when I got a standing ovation for a topic that was completely away from standard lines and which is often misunderstood as anti-women. I had tears in my eyes when everyone stood up. It was an emotional moment. Talking in front of a 1000 people in itself is a daunting task, to get such an applaud – nothing short of a dream. I was moved when an old uncle came up to me and bowed his hands, an old aunty hugged me and cried inconsolably and said that she knows the pain. I was no one to them but they felt me as them. I was moved when people came and shared they want to do something about the situation. I felt great when people came to me and said they would encourage students to take up research work on this subject!
I was humbled that many people shared their own personal stories of pain with me which they had not shared with anyone. In fact most of the people I met in this journey had one own story of a friend/cousin/colleague suffering law abuse. They understood what I stand for and were so much in support that it overwhelmed me.
The radio Interview with Hrishi K on 94.3 RadioOne discussing stories of misuse of 498A was a great experience too. The response to the show was great on social media and in real – as the SIFONE helpline started getting calls immediately thereafter 🙂
I am happy that people are finding strength to speak up and I am making a difference whatever tiny little bit I can. TEDxGatewayWomen is an experience I would hold very dear to my heart – a lot because of the truly amazing people I met on this journey – a lot because of the honest souls who stood by me and a lot because I took one more step towards taking voice of those who are never discussed to many hearts once again!
Words are less to convey my gratitude to the entire team – Vikram (my rock star coach), Yashraj, Sneha, Shruti, Meghna, Shivani, Akshara, Dhairya, Aagam, Prathmesh, Rajna, Sonam, every intern who helped me, every volunteer who took care of things I needed.
Thanks for asking me for those extra rehearsals. Thanks for working with me constantly and improving tiny little bits in the speech. Thanks for giving me a hug every time I felt unsure. Thanks for bringing a smile on my face with your smiles. Thanks for investing your faith and trust in me. Thanks for everything you did for me in those three days…All you people were just fantabulous! It would JUST NOT have been possible without you! You all contributed to who I was on the stage on….
May 29, 2015!
To all those who have been with me in this journey since the beginning till now – my heart says thanks to you always! You are Special and please know that even if I don’t tell you often 🙂
To God, To Brent Sir and To my Family……you make me who I am! Thanks !!!