When I resolved to become a journalist I was too naïve to realise that as a journalist I won’t be considered only as a working woman. There are many related issues which I would face suddenly without being prepared, while I braced myself for reporting only. I have never understood till date how my marital status affects me as a reporter. Especially when dealing with the police force at any level. Strangely the politicians who otherwise keep an eye on the reporters’ ‘weighty’ issues never show as much curiosity regarding our marital status.
With the change of guard every time I hope that the traditional mindset will change. But instead I’ve had to sharpen my skills to deal with this personal question. I have changed from being tremendously defensive and slightly aggressive because I don’t think my single status is for public consumption. And now I’m totally humorous, poke fun at myself and the questioner.
In fact one police inspector source would call me at odd hours to give news and I’d say family will not like. Promptly I was asked for residence address, whether the husband was nice, number of children and if he was a good father. Astounded I said I can’t talk at that hour. In fact another asked if I had few children because he thought I looked motherly. Now what that means I’m still to understand.
In fact in true police style I would be asked, bang in the middle of an interview taking me off guard. In fact one former director general of police was keen on finding me a suitor. I feared he would soon register my name with a matrimonial bureau. So I began exchanging notes with few women police officers.
So few days ago I met up with a senior lady police officer and we as usual were sharing our laughs and little gossip. I told her it is time I tell any inquisitive male police officer who asks me if I am single that I am either a divorcee or a widow. She laughed throwing her head back and said, “Oh so you too are subjected to queries regarding your marital status?”
The lady officer said how women have been the subject of gossip and talk within the male journalistic and police fraternity. Continuing in a lighter vein she asked me to declare that I am a widow because at least then the officers would show some sympathy. The lady officer cautioned me if I said I am divorcee I would become a butt of more loose talk and would be declared the cause of the break up.
And I realised I wasn’t alone. They too were put through these queries which made to the corridors giving enough fodder to us journalists. In fact one very senior officer gave me words of advice and cautioned me never to make friends with policemen. “We can never be friends, we are always police,” these words guided me through out as a reporter. In fact few months ago a senior police officer threatened to call me late at night to his office I told please do call other journalists too because I was confident he didn’t want to give exclusive news to only one newspaper. He never bothered to meet me after that.