by Rajyasree Sen Dec 27, 2012, First Post
Dear Shri Abhijit Mukherjee,

I am writing to you in my capacity of  General Secretary of the Society of Painted and Dented Ladies of India. First of all, I would like to state that I was most touched that you have noticed our presence in your midst. For long, we the Painted and Dented Ladies have suffered on the fringes of society, waiting to be recognised – especially by the likes of political luminaries such as you. This honour from a sitting MP, has given me inestimable joy. Not to forget that you are our venerable president, Pranab Mukherjee’s very own son. I stand up in respect, sir.

Abhijit Mukherjee with his wife. PTI.

It takes a keen eye and an even keener mind to look beyond the rape of a young girl and the government and police inaction following it and spot the “shundoris” (beauties for the Bengali-challenged) in the crowd, protesting this inaction. Maybe it is because you are abhadralok and a shining example of the emancipated and perceptive Bengali man – and an obvious lover of beauty – that you were not blinded by the protests. Nay, your eyes looked through the crowds and the water cannons pelting us women and noticed that we were “highly dented and painted” women. We at the Society of Painted and Dented Ladies of India are touched – and I do use the word judiciously – that you realise that we were indeed dented by the force of the water cannons and the wallop of the policelathis. Your comment is not sexist as all the commentators on television are saying. No no. Your comment is actually an objective statement on the state of the women at the protests. We understand that you feel our paint.

We would also like to extend a sincere apology that we had not been informed that there was an age cut-off for the protests and that we had to be students to participate. It is most unfair of the ruling government and the police to have not announced this age limit and educational cutoff beforehand. If we had known, we would have only sent members of our sister NGO, The Society of  Slightly Painted and Mostly Undented Girls of India to the protest.

We are also very impressed at your display of psychological behaviour and personality-mapping, as we were not aware that you have these latent skills alongside your alleged misogynist ones and your narrow electoral victory. You became so much more personable when you said that even you have been a student and you know what a student’s character is like and that you have also frequented discotheques. As I heard this, I could imagine you wearing a fur cap and muffler standing in the Pink Elephant, looking at the young painted  girls shaking a leg. Even then, you must have had a discerning eye.

What saddened me though, is your sister Sharmishtha’s promptness in denouncing your perception and wisdom and stating that “Honestly speaking, I am really shocked…Whether these were students or not students doesn’t matter. My apologies on behalf of my brother. My father understands the anger people have against ill-treatment of women, their anger is justified”. E ta tho ekdom nonsense statement holo.

If siblings don’t stand together, who will? This is obviously what happens when Spring Revolutions take place. Age-old family ties are torn at the roots. Dear dada, this is something the Painted and Dented Ladies of India abhor. We uphold traditional Indian values. There is no dent a little paint cannot fix. If  next Raksha bandhan or bhai phonta you would like any new sisters I am sure many of our members would be willing to be of service.

As a card-holding member of the Painted and Dented tribe of ladies, I beseech you not to be cowed down by the naysayers. Do not apologise for your words. You must realise that you are strewing pearls before swine. Like Galileo, you will also be appreciated in another age.

Thanks to you, not just us, but even the emancipated, intellectual cult of the Bangalibhadralok has been brought into the spotlight. And we are proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, monkey cap-to-monkey cap, face paint-to-face paint with you.

You Mr. Mukherjee are our answer to Freud, Jung and Bernard Henri-Lévy. Please let us know if you can address our next annual general meeting so we can also present a small token of our appreciation to you.

I must apologise that I have to bring this letter of appreciation to an end, but it is time for me to light the candles, touch up my face paint, finish some denting repair work and step out to India Gate. I will try and dodge the rapists and water cannons along the way. After all, one doesn’t want one dent too many.

Sincerely yours,

Shundori Secretary

P.S.: I’ve heard it’s very cold in Kolkata. Maybe it’s time to put on your monkey cap. Thaanda lege jaabe na hole. Take care. See you on TV.