When I was reading the New Yorker a year back, I came across this one article by Katie Ryder. It was a series of photographs by one Mr Vincent Ferrané titled Milky Way. It documents his wife breast-feeding their infant child and nobody could’ve better described it than Katie who says, “a mother and baby joined repeatedly in the act of nourishment, as the father looks on, present but apart.” There was something about these photos. They looked like casual pictures clicked in a normal digital camera but there was still this tenderness, this rawness that make us love these pictures for more than what they are. The not-exactly-a-bed-of-roses motherhood is captured in the messy bed sheets, spilt milk, a crying baby and a tired mother.
Recently while constantly refreshing my Instagram’s discover option (Come on, we have all been there),I came across this bold picture on a cover page of a Malayalam magazine namely Grihalakshmi. It was a beautiful picture showing the bonding between a baby and it’s mother, not as bold as the ones by Vincent of course but bolder in a subtle way, in an Indian way.
When I looked at this picture, I was actually happy to see such valiant initiatives. I was glad than we as Indians, known for our conservative nature were willing to step out and push the limits. Finally the Gen Y was willing to show the world what it had, being unapologetic for what it is and what it stands for.
Little did I know that this picture had started so much commotion on many media pages and social networking pages. They shammed the model Gilu Joseph for openly breast feeding a baby on a magazine cover shoot, called it a publicity stunt (for what and how precisely, no one will know), they even went to the extent of pulling her religion into the picture, calling her different names which I don’t even want to mention.
How is a mother breastfeeding her child vulgar? Why should a woman be ashamed of her body or ashamed of a natural process? Who are we to question the law of nature and who are we to tell a woman what to do and what not to do? Has our society stooped to such low levels? Is this our progress after all that we have seen? Just because our democracy has given us freedom of speech, is it right to hide behind screens and accuse someone for being bold? Where are we even headed?
Oh well, wherever we are heading, I guess there is no Milky Way for us in India.