Breastfeeding Story

Written by Antra Dasgupta

I was preparing for my 12th boards. And someone began urgentlyknocking my door. I rushed and opened the door and to my surprise, I saw my neighbour - the lady who lived on the second floor of my building.

Wearing a red nighty, two of her upper hooks were unbuttoned - protruding her soft two organs dripping on the mat of my gate. Her hair was ruffled; quavering, gasping for breath, she said “help me”.

A little frightened by seeing her in this oddball appearance. I asked her if she was okay and what had happened. And she asked me to come along with her to her house. I froze for a second or two, but without bothering about my response she held my hand and dragged me by the stairs to her room.

As I reached her room, I saw a very wacky, giant man sitting on the sofa of her hall room, staring with eyes full of lust at her 3 months baby girl who was lying beside him and shouting “Mita (name changed) please come to me. Please come inside”.

I immediately sensed the situation and gushed inside and took the baby in my arms and came out and asked the lady to lock the door from the outside. Perplexed by the situation I probed the lady as to why did she even allow that man to come inside?

Absolutely frightened she replied “he is our family friend. There wasn’t any electricity hence, I kept the door open and I was “feeding my child”. And on further inquest I understood that this man had seen her feeding her child earlier as well. Anyway, we called his wife and the wife came and apologized and took the man away.

Now this whole situation compelled me to think about this cultural conviction that breast (nudity) is always associated with sex which invites public harassment no matter even if a woman is nourishing her child in the public.

And in India nudity falls under “Section 294” of the IPC. However, temple art and “naga sadhus” (naked saints) are exempted from the purview of this section. That’s not considered “nudity” or “obscenity”. But if a mother is feeding her child in public, unfortunately “she is asking for it”. And as an individual I fail to understand the hypocrisy.

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