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The Painfully Noble Origins of Moral Policing

Bodies are a very public affair, and one ought to be mindful of that. Such were Vijayan Kumaran’s thoughts as he dressed in his inspector uniform and buttoned his shirt.

Vijayan Kumaran was an inspector with the moral police—which is to say that he inspected citizens morally so that he could identify the right ones to police. And when one is in an important position of that sort, one has to be rather careful about how one dresses.

As he drove towards his nighttime beat, Vijayan Kumaran’s head expounded further upon the nature of bodies. It is a sordid affair, the body. Apart from being careful about what it dresses in, one needs to constantly monitor where the body goes, what company the body is seen in, and when the body can appear in public places. Of course, the exact guidelines for this sort of stuff depend largely upon whose body one has. If one has a man’s body, for example, it does not matter if the body is sighted in public after midnight. But if one has a woman’s body, manifesting it on a road after dark would certainly be inviting trouble, and nobody but the woman herself would be responsible. Not to say there are no perils of having a man’s body. It would be appalling, for instance, to be discovered wearing fashionable clothes and communicating politely to women if one had a man’s body! Or to have a man’s body but a face without a thick moustache! Who knows what people would take one to be then! Some queer arse bandit, maybe! Oh, the sheer horror!

The Moral Policeman's Guide to Spotting Immorality
The Moral Policeman’s Guide to Spotting Immorality. Illustration by Smarika Kumar.

Not that Vijayan Kumaran had never been visited by the desire to shave the growth above his upper lip or to talk to girls with a smile instead of a leer. Or to stroke S. S. Maleshkaran’s bottom if it came to that. S. S. Maleshkaran was a good looking chap with a tight bottom and a magnificent moustache. Exactly like a man’s body should be, Kumaran fondly thought. But as has been noted earlier, Kumaran was an inspector with the moral police and he had a reputation to maintain. It is easy to give into temptation but one does not just think things like these. There are certain rules that nature has made for humans. Rules prescribing the set of thoughts and actions that each body is allowed: The Rules of Bodies. And flouting The Rules is certainly not our culture. This, Vijayan Kumaran knew well. Why, good people suffer to uphold this culture! People like Kumaran himself, it might as well be said. And there is glory in that suffering—why, even a country like America is becoming aware of the depth and grandeur of our culture! High time we ourselves started respecting things white people say is worthy of respect.

As he was thinking these thoughts, Vijayan Kumaran became aware of a commotion up ahead on the road. A bunch of livid-looking women seemed to be having an altercation with a couple of men. Kumaran stepped out of his vehicle to ascertain what the fuss was all about.

One of the ladies from the livid-looking group had spotted Kumaran, and was now moving towards him. Then he saw that she was not a lady.

One of the ladies from the livid-looking group had spotted Kumaran, and was now moving towards him. Then he saw that she was not a lady. Her dress ended above her knees, and no woman’s body dressed like that can be called a lady. But it was too late to do anything, for she was talking to him now.

“Please sir! We need your help!” she was saying frantically. A dress, and not a sari, it additionally occurred to Kumaran as he surveyed her from bottom to top. Certainly not our culture, he decided.

“We were getting out of the pub here when one of my friends noticed this creep filming us on his phone…” she continued, pointing at one of the men there. “Pub” was about all Kumaran heard. Clubs are family places, but pubs are the dens of vice, he recalled something he had heard on an enthusiastic news channel a few days earlier. Women sometimes even dance in pubs (!), the channel had reported. The utter immorality of it all!

“… And since we confronted him about it, he evades questions about filming us and refuses to hand over his phone. We want to ensure that the videos are deleted. You’ve got to help us!” she finished. Kumaran checked his watch. Five minutes past eleven. Hmmm, what was a woman’s body doing in the street at this late hour of the night? … Wait! What had a woman’s body been doing in the den of vice before?!

“We are trying to protect women, but whores like you are bringing all this trouble upon yourself only!”

Vijayan Kumaran realised that he had found the appropriate meat to police. Taking in a deep breath, he launched. “Why’re you going to pubs and drinking so late in night?! Do you have any sense?! And then, madam, you say why are women getting raped? … If women are getting completely drunk and walk streets naked in dark, tell me, will they not be getting raped?! We are trying to protect women, but whores like you are bringing all this trouble upon yourself only!”

“Motherfucker,” the girl said to his face. Then realising that little could be accomplished by this conversation, she walked away.

“… And women certainly do no swearing in our culture!” he screamed after her. “You are breaking The Rules of Bodies! A male person is filming you? Hah, you are getting away easy now, but be careful later!”

*  *  *  

Later that night, in full deference to his man’s body, Vijayan Kumaran dutifully screwed his wife, for The Rules of Bodies stipulate that the man’s body is an opportunist which desperately looks to screw a woman’s body upon every remote chance it gets. In a heaven below, Lucifer sniggered as he inspected the gustily defended cage of a culture that Kumaran believed to be the culture. As he lay in the darkness, Vijayan Kumaran’s thoughts soon drifted to S. S. Maleshkaran’s bum. This made him smile, but he soon checked himself in case someone was watching.

———

In a completely different and real-life story, citizens were hassled by electronic media representatives when the former objected to an instance of eve-teasing. If you could spare a moment to sign a petition against this and similar incidents, it would be much appreciated.

Smarika writes noodles, eats prose, and blogs here.

Was it good for you?

  • dafuq

    If women are allowed to expose their breasts which they consider to be sexual/private ..can men start exposing their penis in public?

  • ooo yesss!

  • sure.

  • Swetha

    Very well written :)

  • Ramen

    chest is the equivalent of breast which is always being exposed by Sallubhai

  • Vijayan Kumaran

    I’m in love with your writing. You are doing great work !

  • Pluto Panes

    Indian Culture has always been about sexuality and openness. There was no shame in human bodies until the semitic religious crap came in and covered up cause man had sinned and only nudity allowed was in the garden of eden. Is Sharia law, what you want here, covering up women as one covers up mistakes?

  • Alla

    Mr. Kumaran certainly seems to be incapable of understanding your perspective Ms. Kumar, but instead of slandering him for being a fool, why don’t you use your supreme intelligence to understand where he comes from?

    Here’s the way I see it: You are smarter than him to understand the relevance and importance of individual freedom, but instead of harnessing your brain power and utilising that to overcome the said idiot’s shortcomings – you too are behaving in the same tunnel visioned militant manner to defend your ideas. What is the difference between him calling the pub going lady a whore and you speculating about him fantasising about Mr. Maleshkaran’s backside?

    I would really like to know.

  • What I could gather from your comment is, you’re implying that by speculating about Kumaran’s homosexual fantasies, I have somehow patronisingly slandered or demeaned him, or passed an unwarranted moral judgment, in the same way as he does about the pub going girl.

    If that is indeed what you are trying to impute, I have this to say:

    If only the foundation of your thought had not been so rooted in homophobia, you would have realised that speculation about Kumaran’s homosexuality is in no way an attempt to use a “tunnel visioned militant manner”, simply because being gay is no big deal in the same way as drinking, wearing dresses and being out at night is no big deal. What I have tried to show is that people make up rules in name of a culture to suppress not only others but even themselves- thus ending up making big deals out of nothings- a tendency which Kumaran too is guilty of here.

ACK #16

By Monsoon Company