On Being A Woman – Year End Post


It has been over a month now since I wrote anything here. I am not really in right frame of mind. Anger and pain has made me numb. Excuse me for this rambling and just ignore the errors for now.

kuch alfaz ab bhi seene me hain uljhe

kuch girahen abhi bhi khulni hain baki

hain sawal kuch jinke dhoondhne hain jawab

hain jawab jinhe ab bhi hai sawalon ki latash

Sometimes I feel my life is like an exquisitely embroidered shawl. Richly embroidered in vibrant hues which people see and appreciate but it is I who feels the inconvenient knots and tangled threads of its inside.  When anyone says “I understand how you feel” I say “No you don’t”, you possibly can’t imagine how tough it is to be a woman in this country, to struggle each day, to fight for survival. To live here is an act of bravery and then you see what ultimately happens to the brave hearts who dare to dream of living a life on their terms. What are these terms? you will ask.

 

The terms are – Dignity, honor , equality in all spheres of life, a right to LIVE as a fellow human being.

 

” Ha!, you say, don’t talk about these philosophical  terms that feminists quote. You have all that you need –  security, food, shelter, money, a husband to” look after” you, what else do you want? What is this about dignity and crap? Your dignity is within the four walls of this house. It is in your hand to preserve and protect it. Don’t listen to these so-called “committed/progressive women” these “feminists from women’s Organisations” they will try to lead you astray, they will break your home and fill your head with shitty ideas that will only take wrong decisions.  Dress”modestly” . It is because of these “dented, painted disco going women” that all these cases of rape and molestation happen.Stay within your boundaries, follow traditions and norms set by society for their women, know your duties and follow the moral code. If you do all this then only you can give good values to your children. God has been kind to you and given you two boys. Thank God for not burdening you with a daughter. Don’t talk to the neighbors, make only a few friends (although we don’t see the need of it) and mind you they should not be men. You are a married woman and your commitment is only towards your husband, children and in-laws. Your parents? Their son will look after them, it is his job not yours. Now you are part of this family and nothing else matters. Remember that silence and patience, tolerance and abiding to the wishes of your husband is the utmost priority in your life even above your own self for that self is also now His and not yours anymore.

Do you get what I am saying ?”

 

“Well,  yes I do see it. I followed it like an idiot for a major part of my life and screwed it. Now I intend to trash your “Codes for an Indian Woman” and chart my path make my own rules, take my own decisions, Live My Life.”

 

“What? Then you are not a good wife, daughter, DIL, and mother, you are not even a good woman. See, this is what happens when women are let loose. When they gain access to public spaces and get exposed to things like Internet. This is what corrupted you. Now your head is filled with all those lofty notions of independent living and all the crap about women’s rights. Mark my words, you will suffer, realize your mistake within no time and come back on your knees.”

 

***

“If that is what you think, Shame On You.  I do not wish to be labelled as a “Good woman” by Your Standards. I will sell myself if I have to and live under the open sky if push comes to shove but I will not give in now and will not come back to this prison with invisible bars and barbed web of rules designed to keep me in hold all through my life, that’s a promise.”

2011 saw emergence of a new Me.

Many women are not living their dreams because they are living their fears.

 

Isolation, restriction, guilt, humiliation, denial, continuous controlling and criticism and  lack of empathy, love, companionship, shattering of a dream of ” a life long relationship based on mutual respect” breaks them. Emotional, mental tortured is hard to explain due to lack of  ” solid evidence” . 
Emotional Abuse comes silently most of the times camouflaged as “love, betterment, moral duty, guilt, emotional blackmail, and marital rape. Silence helps it breed and dig its claws deeper.
In our country ‘thinking’ for oneself is not encouraged. It’s always conformity & herd mentality. The  moment a woman begins to voice her thoughts she is condemned, ridiculed & told to shut up. If she rebels , her condition is even worse.
Does that mean we keep suffering ?
NO.
 Trust me it is better to raise your voice and make your life worthy than suffer and reinforce the fact that women can be used as objects and treated like an old newspaper.
Two years have passed since I cut those silken chains and  moved out to rediscover myself as a woman , as a person, as a human being. I had to pay the price. I had to leave my boys behind.
“What kind of mother is she? So insensitive and unconcerned, so selfish.”  I still hear it but in hushed voices.
Emergence of new woman who can defy everything that binds her and yet be happy is a painful, uphill task.
Today when I sit and look back I know I was privileged. I had friends who stood by me like a rock, I had patronage to be economically independent in some way after a gap of 22 years. I had a family to go back to though it was a halfhearted acceptance.
It is easy to say what took you so long? It is easy to say ” Hang in there, everything will be fine”, it is easy to sympathize but it takes immense courage to hold the hand of someone who is defying and rebelling against the system. I was privileged in more than one ways to have people with such strength.
I owe it to them as much as I owe it to myself .
 If anyone thinks it is selfish to think about oneself, to dream, to have desires then so be it.
I am selfish. I can’t deny the love I am supposed to give myself. It would be utterly dishonest to do so and if I am dishonest to myself how will I ever be honest to others?
I believed and hoped my boys understood. They stood by me.
They did not have a choice.
They said nothing.
It is tough to be separated in such manner. The guilt ate into the fiber of my being  day and night. It still does. But I had to make a choice – To live or to exist. I chose the first.
I have a lot to thank for, lot of people to offer my gratitude for helping me be myself but the battle is not won yet. Even after two years I   have one foot in the past and one in present. Sometimes I see myself at the periphery of a void at others I feel absolutely thrilled by what I have achieved in last one year. I have been able to break many mental barriers. It has been a productive year in many ways but still something is amiss. I have not been able to completely shake off the layers that hide the real me stirring and quivering underneath in want of  release. A lot remains entangled and knotted not just due to the rotten system we are part of but also because of my own failing to regain the confidence and courage. I am still a sucker of emotions, still vulnerable to the core, still seeking approval when I shouldn’t.
I took the step in direction of change but it seems like a move from a smaller prison to a larger one. A little more space to breathe and move about but still confined. It makes me question my decision. I lose my footing and begin to slip back. It scares me to venture into a society where every moment women are violated, sometimes so brutally.
Physical rape is just one aspect of VAW, the society we live in and are part of strips the female of their species  of a dignified life from the time she is conceived. Some live through the horror of it till they cough last and some are spared that trauma by getting  murdered in the womb itself.  There is only a small percentage that breathes the free air and lives as desire.
As we step into another year my thoughts are with all the women who are facing a challenge to free themselves of the chains that bind them, who are daring to break the silence despite of the risks involved, who are struggling to make a place for themselves  within the culture of violent subjugation and male dominated power structure around which everything revolves and in which women die many times over every day. Most of the times unheard, unsung. There voices stilled. I am thinking about the lack of a support system for those who have the spark to stand up for their rights and fight against the system.
I am not just thinking of women’s rights and gender violence but also about  gay rights, racism, casteism and coexistence which doesn’t exist in our society. I am thinking of equal opportunities, paid employment for women ( just 14.5 %paid employment as compared to men speaks volumes about the structure of our society. 2 million women lost their jobs in last five years), basic education,  basic hygiene and medical facilities. I am thinking of children and the crimes against them. Earlier too there have been catalyst who have shown harsh light on the stinking rotten interiors of our society. Earlier too there have been movements against every damn issue which is shoved under the carpet, How many more ? ? How many wake up calls, How many lives cut short before the change finally occurs?
Will there ever be one single day when a woman will feel safe in this country and breathe easy? When her security and self-respect will not be ground to dust? Will we ever be rid of our sexist culture? Unfortunately when I ask these questions the city that comes to mind is the city in which I have lived for more than forty years – the national capital Delhi.  Not a single moment of my life I have felt secure here. Fear has been a constant companion since I began to move out in public spaces. Fear of those so-called “protectors”. It started when I joined school and continues till now.
As I write this last post of this year I am wondering what lies ahead for the women of India, for me as an individual.  I know it will take a lot of effort and time to completely overhaul the mindset of people to bring some much-needed positive changes but I can begin with myself and my life. It is a rough path that I have chosen but am not giving up. Ever.
Here are two brilliant articles for you to read and ponder upon as I take your leave.
He says among other things,” Men abuse women in every society, but few males do it with as much impunity, violence and regularity as the Indian male.”
(TRUST ME IT IS TRUE)
And
The problem is us  by zigzactly
I have not been regular with my posts but I know you will understand. In a struggle to find my footing I have to sometimes give priority to other important issues that I am dealing with. Thank you for supporting me in all good and bad times and for encouraging me by reading and commenting. I appreciate it very much.
Do something constructive in the coming year.
Have the moral courage to Defy what in Unjust. Don’t be a performer.
You can view all the Previous Entries about being a woman and other social issues HERE 
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Would you hold me? Give a real hug?


I like the way you say “we will find a way”. I like the word “we”. It feels like a warm hug even from such a distance. I have lived a life fractured into “You” and “I”.  It never became “we” until you came in it.

It is true that every time I think of you  it is like getting a hug from inside out but sometimes the want for a real hug consumes me like a wild-fire. I wonder if the love we put into words will ever transform into hugs – real hugs not virtual.

I have forgotten how a  real hug feels like, the warmth of a human body against yours, nothing sexual or romantic but just a need to be held. I can’t remember even if I go back looking through my youth or even my childhood. Just simple hug, that cocaine high , that surge in the blood, that solace of being desired, that shamanistic, trance like feeling of ecstasy which strangely illuminates from within.   I desire you in the simplest way, simpler than you can think of and this desire is constellation of  wants and needs, hopes and dreams exploding inside me yearning for that one hug. The warmth of your arms around me.

I get that warmth from the words you say and write and the yearning increases with each day.

Sometimes I sit and wonder, why do we feel so uncomfortable giving a hug as we grow up? We don’t teach our children importance of non-sexual touch. They grow up without that knowledge and don’t know what to do when someone wants to hug them. They freeze. They feel confused when a sudden voice from inside tells them to go embrace someone. They burn but can’t bring themselves to give a simple hug. It surprises me how my own boys somehow lack in this especially when I instilled it in them. I guess society has a lot to do with this inhibition we have. These simple gestures of holding hands, hugging are lost in the rigid norms society enforces on us. It is surprising that two girls hanging out, hugging , walking hand in hand, giving a friendly peck on the cheek is acceptable but when boys do it becomes a matter of concern and ridicule, something abnormal, out-of-place. What kind of world are we living in? Aren’t we depriving our children of basic human needs? What will they become when they grow up, if not skewed up, frustrated adults fighting with their basic instincts?

We grow up to be icons of romance, fulfil those slush fantasies but so lack in these simple things. It is strange that sometimes those in a relationship/ marriage too lack these simple pleasures just like we, the lonely ones do. It is not gender or age based either.  We connect with each other at many levels but not on this one. There are times when one wants to give a hug and restrains and if one gets a hug one freezes and shrugs it off. Either way we lose, curl up, and go into a shell yearning for a  hug.

Empty hearts give empty hugs, even the pleasure of sex quickly goes cold in cold arms. I have been there so I know. They are just physical motions one goes through, a routine, devoid of love, desire, care or longing empty arms which may feel warm but leave your cold and drained. Slowly that dies too leaving a void, a starved body longing for human touch. Nothing is more bitter than to be forced to submit to the falseness of love. To endure the cage of arms that suck life out of you instead of  nurturing it.

I long for those arms, those arms that can end the growing longing; arms that would wrap me in the comfort of loving energy that matches mine. Arms that would make me feel safe, cared, understood for who I am. Not possessed, owned or used as an object, not holding me as an obligation to dead vows .

I sometimes feel like hugging random people on streets but I notice how suspicious we are of each other. We restrain ourselves and lock ourselves afraid that the floodgates of human emotions may overflow. Unsure if we can handle the deluge. We give virtual hugs freely but a real hug is a herculean task. I have felt the flow of energy even when touched accidently but it just ends in a surprised reaction. Hardly anyone gives a real hug these days. It has been reduced to a social gesture. We hug our animal companions more than we hug our fellow human beings. Isn’t it something to think about? Have you ever wondered “why”? Why is there such a social disconnect?

I sometime ..no, actually all the time … feel the need to put my head in someone’s lap or shoulder and cry or open my arms to someone who needs it, to stroke someone’s hair, to simply hold someone’s hands, simple things that words can never express.

You have to be in this place to feel the emptiness of the feeling of having someone who can change this forever and yet being a distant dream. This feeling is beyond the loneliness of any sort.

To be held in true love is a rare experience these days, be it from children, parents, friends, lovers, be it in any relationship even marriage.

I am looking for those arms, those arms which would hold me and true love, compassion of human heart, comfort and understanding.

Would you hold me? Would you turn those words into real hugs?

Would you?

You know

I would

If you choose so

Till then I will just desire. Feel your words wrap me in their warmth and make my fragmented state of ordinary life a little coherent. No longer scattered like autumn leaves through  time and space but contained at one place. In You.

When was the last time you gave or got a real hug?

If it makes you think, I feel for you.

Here is one  for you

GBE2 Week #64 : Hidden – A veiled Life


Her fate was sealed the moment she was born. The Chador that wrapped her, grew with her infant body. Layer after layer it hid her slow painful journey into womanhood, chained forever to her home and hearth,  by norms of society and religion. She was born to serve and submit.. Serve  and submit to the omnipresent men of her clan. In silence.

She was one of the few who survived birth but her voice was stilled for life.  The muffled cries of her infant sister dying a forced slow death still woke her up in the middle of nights. Unlike the so called emancipated, literate, liberated urban women, her life was tied by invisible ropes that rubbed against her soft flesh and left wounds that scarred her being.

She ceased to be human the moment she “came of age”. The menstrual blood brought with it emotional and physical abandonment. It also brought a sudden realization of turning into a “woman” who had, a body “to be kept hidden”, tongue which was just a purposeless mass of flesh, heart which would in long run become a vault for unmet dreams and desires and a mind which was considered “non-existent” and which only worked behind a camouflaged screen of darkness.

Suddenly she shrunk under the chador which had taken monstrous proportion since her infancy days. Her life was no longer hers.  A marionette whose strings were pulled and pushed by the men in her household and extended family.  Shrouded in mystery of her gender, modesty, pleasure, shame, pain and drudgery she carried her body through the lonely barbed web of rules designed to keep her in hold all through her life.

She was still in better position than her aunt, barely a few years older than her and a widow, who had to continuously protect her “unguarded, dangerous” body till she is lowered into her grave safely, a daunting task in a society of vultures ready to pounce on any slice of flesh that they can lay their eyes and hands on.

Deep buried and hidden under layers her body and voice stirred and quivered in want of release but never reached the climax. Considered unfit for any function but marriage, childbearing, housekeeping her entire being came out from the hidden depths during the dark recesses past the midnight silence.  Lying next to a snoring satisfied husband or alone, she  freely roamed around the courtyard and beyond the threshold into the unnamed, unknown lanes and streets like a alley cat.

Suddenly the landmines erected by society to prevent her from deviating from specified gender roles forgot to explode as she stepped on the prohibited terrain.

Not swathed in black from head to toe in the age old dirty chador that hung near the main door, she set the woman in her free. Reclaiming herself. Night after night.

In those intimate hours with herself she would try and familiarize with the contours of her body, feeling that fervent rush which knew no outlet in her forsaken life. Many times she would slip into the veranda, dressed in nothing but a thin duppata, which made her a bit comfortable with herself, throw her bare arms in the air and watch the night sky with two bright starry eyes, letting the breeze flirt with her.

Imagination would thrown open the doors and windows which usually remained bolted. Walls that had risen brick by brick around her segregating and secluding her would collapse in a heap, making her vulnerable and alive. She would create and recreate the stories told in the midst of giggles and laughter by her city cousins.

Before the first light of dawn, hidden in the safety of the darkness she would dare to live a life she imagined. Strange that the very darkness that engulfed her in daytime became her saviour at night.

This post is written for GBE2 WEEK #64 (8-5-12 to 8-11-12): Hidden

Inspired by Tamil writer Salma’s book and Kamla Das( one of my many muses)

Walk The Talk – Marriage , Our National Obsession


Looking for a “suitable” prospective bride or groom for their children is an obsession with Indian parents. It doesn’t matter if they are conservative or liberal. Weddings, social gatherings are the breeding grounds for matchmaking. Keen eyes watch all your movements and scan you like an X-ray machine to see if you can fit into the role of a ‘good bahu or demand ‘for their family. There is an obsession to “marry off” the youngster as early as possible. The term itself puts me off.

No sooner is the child born, parents start dreaming of his/her marriage. In case of girls the scenario is worse. Even the most liberated parents spend most of their time planning the marriage of their children.  It is considered a moral duty to quickly fix a match and make sure that the child is ‘settled’.  I have seen many parents and grandparents pestering youngsters to get married. I have met frustrated parents fighting losing battles with kids when they decide either to not marry or they find a life partner of their choice hence shattering all dream castles of a grand wedding of “their” choice. It seems as if Matrimony is the most important event of human life.

The obsession begins from childbirth. It differs from one region to another but the entire nation suffers from it except maybe the North Eastern states. Money is put in various saving schemes specially tailored for this grand event, gold accumulated, children advised to choose their career with care so it’s easy to find a “good catch” in the “marriage market”. If one is parent of a girl then the responsibility to find her a “good home” and train her to become “a good wife and DIL” becomes the top most priority but that is another long story.

The moment kids finish high school the pressure starts building up on them. Everything revolves around one thing – marriage. Family, relatives, everyone suddenly becomes concerned to terminate their brahamachaya status and push them into grahasth status and it doesn’t end there. Then there is an urgency to have a grandchild and then the second grandchild so that they can be subjected to the same pressure. It’s a social let down if a friend’s daughter or son gets married and you are still fighting to coax yours to agree. It’s considered a stigma if your child crosses the “marriageable age”. The rants are endless and emotional drama worse than what the daily soaps on TV churn out. Torn between their desires, parental aspirations and societal pressures the youngsters don’t know where to head.

Satyamev Jayate ‘s episode on Love marriages had just finished and I was discussing it with my son when the bell rang.

“Hey, can you spare some time for me, I need to talk. Can we go out?” The young man at the door, a friend’s son, seemed disturbed.

“Sure thing my boy”, I said and we decided to walk to the local mall.

“What’s eating you?” I asked.

He threw up his hands in the air.

I told them to give me a break.  “I do not wish to marry and when or If I do I will find a girl for myself. They created a ruckus and I just walked out. There is a limit to everything. First they don’t like my choice of subjects, then they have problem with my career choice and now this”.

He was in a bad mood and I could see why. Barely in his twenties, he was subjected to the ‘career/ marriage and moral talk’ torture every day.

“I am sick of it. They push me just because they were married off early. It’s like “we couldn’t have our way so we won’t let you have it”. What crap is this”?

I completely agreed with him. Knowing the kind of family he belonged to.

“Now the latest is,” Do you have a girlfriend? What community? Will you marry her? Do her parents know? We won’t allow a “love marriage”. “Find someone from your own community. Don’t go for live in or fall for girl of other religion/ caste”. Why do you want to be an artist? Why not MBA?

I am done”.

I asked him if he can stand up against the pressure and pursue his dreams.

“Of course I won’t give in. It’s a matter of my life but think about all those who can’t. I mean, among my friends, everyone has the same story to tell about themselves or an older sibling. Girls get more harassed than boys. They are pressurized to follow a certain moral code. Boundaries are set. The moment they reach teens, their mothers get obsessed with their every move. Like watch dogs the parents monitor everything so the girl can later be ‘ shown off’ as a ‘ homely , demure’ person who can cook, clean, satisfy her husband , have babies and care for her elders. You won’t believe that even those girls who come from so-called ‘modern’ backgrounds have a certain code of conduct which they Have To follow. Why do you think they lie and make stories to slip out and breathe some fresh air? The continuous moral policing smothers them.

Why is it such a touchy thing with the parents? Why can’t they let us be? What if one doesn’t want to get married? What if one wants to marry late? Why being single is such an issue? Why is it looked upon as something abnormal? I do not even wish to go into the issue of sexual preferences. That is one thing parents will never understand”

“Well, know many parents don’t but I have no issues of any kind dear boy”, I said with genuine feelings for him.

“Yeah, how does it even matter, everyone isn’t like you, I feel it’s something to with their insecurities. ” he said thoughtfully chewing the gum.

“They want to prove to themselves, to relatives and society that they can be qualified as “good parents” because they fulfilled their duties, that their children “obey them”, that their children are “normal and straight”, that they can have kids  …God damn it. Sometimes I feel they all have OCD.  Why is so hard for them to let Us decide for ourselves, when and even, whether, we should get married.  ”

I felt sorry for him but was glad that at least he is raising questions and speaking up. The situation gets sticky when young people run out of arguments against this great Indian marriage obsession and give in. Ill prepared and forced into  institution of marriage these youngsters end up being disillusioned and unhappy.

Sometime the pressure is so much that they decide to do something even worse. They decide to marry the first person they fall in love with, without giving any thought and later either end up in early divorces or suffer the consequences of their decision.

Do we see our grown up children as “adults” and even individuals?

Do we care about their dreams, aspirations?

Do we realize that they are not extensions of ourselves and should not be subjected to perform as we want them to?

Do we realize that by making the children feel guilty about not “fulfilling” our dreams and desires and by running them down and accusing them all the time for ‘stepping out of family customs, values’ we are actually smothering them?

Do we ever think that what we as  parents, grandparents do in the name of  “love and betterment of youngsters” is actually smothering their individuality, their decision-making ability, their intelligence and most of all their dignity as a person?

Why do we always have to show our superiority and “expect” the younger generation to abide by our wishes? Why can’t we rejoice in their blossoming?

It is really sad the way we bully the children emotionally and mentally on almost every aspect of life from the time they are born, sometimes knowingly and most of the time unconsciously as a habit. We chart their paths, force them to take the road We choose and in a way make them end up being our own clones. No wonder they try to do the same with their children. Marriage is just one of the many issues which we hang like a sword of Damocles over their heads. The “We know what’s best for you” attitude continues all through their lives and is translated into their dealings with people younger than them.

It scars their lives for good.

In many families where a boy or a girl opts for ‘love marriage’ (usually against the wishes of parents), there is a complete breakdown of relationships. It is unacceptable to parents that their child can go against their wishes and marry just ‘anybody’. Nothing hurts their social ego as this one step. Most of the time the new couple face opposition and in extreme cases have to pay the price with their lives. In other cases, sometimes the families cut off all ties with the “rebel” youngsters and the worse hit are those who are accepted in the fold of family to either keep the social image or in fear that they will “lose” their son , their Budhape ka sahara.

If, under pressure, a girl is ‘accepted’ into the boy’s family, especially an orthodox, traditional one, she is expected to mould herself completely to their customs etc as in any other marriage and  if there is no support from her spouse, romance of love marriage leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

In many cases the boy succumbs to the emotional blackmail by the parents and begins to perform exactly as they want him to, forgetting that he is now responsible to uphold the dignity of his decision and that of his wife’s honour too. The guilt trip is so strong that he gives in with no second thought, hoping that everything will be fine one day. Unfortunately that day never comes in many lives.

Very few are able to create a healthy balance. Most of them are usually in the middle of a tug of war and the boy’s parents; especially the mother makes sure not to leave any chance of proving who the boss is. Interference from in-laws makes it very difficult to lead a happy life with the partner of her choice. Most of the time there is no support from her maternal family too and that makes the situation worse.

Are we responsible enough to protect the dignity of love? Do we really understand what it means in the true sense of the word? Be it love for our children or for each other.

Why is it that Indian parents have such an obsession with marriage of their children? Why is it that there is so much resistance to the child choosing his/her own life partner? Why are young adults continuously pressurized to get married and start a family? (That is another pressure that comes along  … to have kids as quickly as possible and be done with it).

We had a long conversation about this and the more we discussed the subject became murkier and complex.

“I think this obsession about marriage is the root cause of all evils. I think most of the crimes against females would end if This changes.  If the older generations do not push themselves and us to follow blindly the customs and norms set centuries ago. If they opened the windows of their minds just a wee bit.” He said thoughtfully. These urges to fit in and please the society, the regular taglines – what will people say, that’s the way our society and traditions are – are meaningless if we give it a thought.  What is society after all? It is made up of individuals and if individual thinking is changed society too will change. Won’t it? “

There was sadness on his face, a concern for the society slipping into dark ages.

“Absolutely, I am sure if the younger generation decides to break away from the clutches that hold them down, things will get better. I will try to reason it out with your parents”, I assured him though I wondered if the older generations were ready to move forward with conviction.

One can always try.

The quality of mercy…


“It was never going to be an ordinary day. Ordinary days do not exist in the lives of those living in conflict zones marred by war and if you are a woman belonging to a certain ethnic group then life’s ordinariness lies in it’s not being ordinary. “

She suddenly leaped out of the chair and began to pace.

“We can do it some other day if you wish”, I said.

She waved her hand, poured herself some water and settled again. That is when I noticed the two missing fingers on her right hand.  A chill went up my spine as I imagined the kind of atrocities she must have faced.

A lifetime of internal dialogue and struggle was clearly visible on her face. Her deep-set eyes were pools of pain and suffering that she had endured all her life and especially in the last few months. I had thought her to be middle-aged on their first meeting. She certainly didn’t look in her mid thirties.

I was filled with a certain respect for this woman who had transcendent her fear to bare her soul despite the trauma it would cause her to open the wounds which were finally beginning to heal.

“The separatist struggle had taken a toll on all of us. I was just one of the many women who were maimed, raped, killed, tortured or dumped in jails to face the atrocities by the authorities there. We lived in perpetual fear all the time yet convincing ourselves that these things will never happen to any of us. That we will survive but today out of the five people who were rounded up that day only I am left to tell the story.

“Have you ever seen a body of someone you love split in half and the heart exposed to splatters of blood, smoke, gunfire, bomb and grenade blasts?  Seen your best friend brutally molested, beaten and left naked on the streets to die? Seen the fear, hurt, humiliation and pain in the eyes of a five-year old boy watching her mother in that state?

I have. I saw it all that day as I stood rooted to the ground on that chilly winter morning.  Rape in a war is not merely a matter of chance; it is rather a question of power and control. My friend suffered because she belonged to a certain ethnic group. Her rape humiliated the entire community. It was masterminded to totally encapsulate the defeat of men of that community in protecting their women, to humiliate, degrade and terrify them. It is good she died or else she would have been rendered invisible by her own people, left to fend for herself, suffering from one mental disease or the other like so many other women there. Each woman there suffers from anxiety and unrest. Just that, the degree of suffering varies.”

Caught in a maelström of emotions she closed her eyes. I could see her hands trembling as they clutched the bars of the rocking chair on which she was half-reclining.

“I watched in horror knowing it was my turn once they were done with others. Everything fails when you are faced with terror. All my education, training in sports, presence of mind evaporated in thin air.  I felt as if I was carved in stone but something kept telling me to fight till the end, to take that chance. I didn’t want to die like an animal if I could prevent it.”

The evening sun was peeping through the huge trees and the cool breeze made the curtains shadow dance on the floor. She watched them intently for some time.

I decided to record the rest of the conversation on tape and took my seat on a sofa in front of her. She looked up and I felt a slight smile at the corner of her mouth but the gash on her cheek made it impossible to judge that correctly.

As if she read my thoughts and ran her fingers over it.

“The scars inside are deeper than the ones on my body. The wounds are still in process of healing. I put up a fight when they tried to get their filthy hands on me. When a man turns into an animal there is no limit to what he will do. May they be forgiven for what they have perpetrated, she mumbled softly.

“They were four of them. Severely beaten, I drifted between life and death but could make out that I was tossed into a vehicle and taken away. I remember a voice hissing in my ears. “We like to play with our pray before the kill the thrilling the chase and hunt, the better it is. The sound of their laughter still echoes through my mind.”

She winced and began to rock the chair. I looked around for help, suddenly scared for her. She had been in medical supervision since past few months and wasn’t stable enough to cope with the world outside. The doctor observing from the corner of the room nodded at me to relax. The attendant brought a tray with coffee and biscuits. I poured a cup for her. “Lots of milk and sugar” She said without opening her eyes.

“I like it that way. It helps me cull the deep black darkness inside me.”

Then she opened her quiet eyes and looked at me. “They should have sent someone seasoned. You are still too raw to brave such experiences”.

I fumbled with some words in support of myself but failed. She kept looking at me.

“We seem to be of same age though I am sure you thought me to be twice yours”, this time she did smile and I realized how beautiful she was, radiant even in her fragile state.

I mustered a smile and offered her some cookies. She carefully selected one with sprinkled sugar and began to nibble it.

“I have lost the count of how many times and by how many people I was raped and beaten. They broke my fingers and gave me wounds with a dagger one of them had, kicked and shoved the butt of the riffle in my abdomen. For hours I lay naked, body, mind and soul in that small room while they drank. My body was just a sack of pain and bruises but still I kept thinking of a plan to escape. It is strange that they did not kill me or broke my legs or hit me on the head. I never lost consciousness once though pain made me delirious. It was unimaginable to think I could escape alive from them.

The chill of the night made my body stiff like a log. I did not feel parched or hungry even after twenty hours of starvation. In fact I did not feel anything.

Sleep took over as I stared blankly into nothingness that filled the dark room.

When I opened my eyes I was in a hospital in the city. They said I had slept for more than two days. My wounds were stitched and dressed but my body still felt like a log and even the slightest movement shot a streak of pain through it.

I tried to find out how I managed to get out alive from the clutches of those beasts but got no replies. I guess it is better this way, maybe for someone who must have dared to save me, for I had no strength left to carry on. I do say a silent prayer for that person for giving me another chance to live.”

My heart warmed at the words. . On the way back from the village where I was sent to investigate the killings, miles away where the woods began, I had found her huddled like a bundle among the trees. I had stopped my jeep and along with a friend managed to rescue her to the city hospital and then to this private one, away from the turbulent environment.

Of course, no one told her anything. They weren’t supposed to.

I realized that she had dozed off in the meanwhile. The half eaten cookie rested nestled in the fold of her gown. I walked over and placed it in the plate. The doctor told me to withdraw.

She needed rest and most of all peace.

What happened in the last few hours and how she managed to reach the road remains a mystery but it would certainly have taken immense courage to escape alive. All her people were dead. Village burned to ashes. Curfew imposed in the area.

All that remained was the mist that slowly enveloped the small mountain village like a shroud.

Silently I closed the door and look a last look at her through the glass window. She was a survivor, a brave one and she had a beautiful smile of a child.

The curtains of the large window swayed to the night breeze while the crescent moon kept a watch on her as sleep caressed and healed her ravaged being.

In the still moonlit night I too said a silent prayer for the woman who braved it to live a life she held too precious to give up even in such dire circumstance.

There was a new life waiting to blossom buried under the heavy layers of snow. Soon the spring would come.

Hundreds of women like her go through similar or more horrifying experiences each day and succumb to the fate, unnoticed, uncared between the conflicts of power and rule. Human life is ravaged and torn to shreds at the altar of political tug of war and dies in oblivion. The universe watches quiescent.

It wasn’t an ordinary day for me and  henceforth no other day would ever be ordinary.

This post is part of the contest It was never going to be an ordinary day.. on WriteUpCafe.com

Get Up Stand Up Stand Up For Your Right


Don’t give up the fight. Life is Your Right 

RECOGNIZE your inner strength, BELIEVE in yourself, Be Ready to SHED what is not YOU,  if you feel you are being caged ESCAPE  from the tiniest crack you find,  FIGHT for your Dignity and Worth.

Be True to self,  Be selfish Love Yourself  First, Break Away, Cut the cord that strangles you. Bend the Rules.  

Never let anyone write your story. Never hand over the pen to them.

Never feel guilty of  doing what your heart feel right. Never complain. Never explain.

There are no excuses to let yourself be treated like shit.

Never compromise yourself .

Never be bullied into silence. Don’t be a victim.

Never lose your true self  under the deluge of  masks society offers you to wear.

Society has never been kind to women who stand up and speak their mind, make your choice. Be free or be damned.

Freedom to be oneself  comes with a price , sometimes a huge one, Pay the Price or let others pay the price of  trying to cage your spirit.

Nothing is more important than your dignity.

HAVE COURAGE  to Chat Your Path. Never resign to your fate. 

Stand alone, it better  than being lost in a crowd. 

Never submit to the will of others.

Walk out of relationships that smother You. Dare to break away. Be at loggerhead with the society. It is not a cakewalk but it is worth every moment. Subjugated life is devoid of any soul.

Have the moral courage to Defy what in Unjust. Don’t be a performer.

Never let your bodies to be outraged. Never let yourself become an object.

Draw a line and stop the “little adjustment” from becoming a big compromise.  If it takes the monstrous shape it just engulfs before you know it.

Don’t wait for change to happen.  Make your move. It is never too late.

Stop living in your fears.

Think for yourself, never go in with conformity and herd mentality.

Recognize Abuse , for it is often camouflaged as love, betterment, moral duty, guilt, emotional blackmail.

Speak up. Silence only helps it breed and dig its claws deeper into your being.

It is better to raise your voice against unjust than suffer and reinforce the fact that women can be used as old newspapers.

Be financially independent.

Be fearlessly yourself

Sometimes  it takes more than just courage and will to do what is “right”. Look within and you will know your reason to do it.

 Someone said to me , ”  It is all there for you to get, the only thing is How badly you want it.”   You can’t imagine how true it is. It gave direction to my life.

Courageous Risks are life giving  – Take Risks

I DID 

“My priorities are sorted out. I have moved on” , I said.

“Moved on ?”  “True moving on is to bring the past to a closure. It is done and over “

“True that ”  I said.  “So be it.”

It was last year this date that I made the life changing decisions.

This year this day  I am  That I am  and nothing else matters.

I am grateful to my friends, fellow bloggers, readers, and each person who believed in me and stood by me, some visible some invisible.

My boys are my strength and it fills me with tremendous pride and love for these young adults for understanding  my decision despite of the physical distance it created.  Thank you for  being my children and for loving me for what I am.

We all have a spark within but to turn it into a flame  one needs a breath of life –  ♥ レo√乇

Remember 

There is nothing more gratifying than being oneself. 

Recollections from early childhood


“These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.”

Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

When I was a little girl I had crayons and imagination but today’s  performing geniuses only seem to have laptops, Video games, X-box, portable music players, Television and Internet. While I took pride in my collection of pebbles, marbles etc kids today flaunt their gadgets.  Six year old  Suhas is addicted to his iPad.  His life revolves around it. He throws a bizarre tantrum when told to keep it aside and parents give in just to calm him down.  Now I am not against technology but I feel that there is a loss of innocence and wonder in today’s children.

There is now a whole industry of mobile software developers competing to help people scratch the entertainment itch. There are no long relaxing hours for mind.body and soul but micro moments filled with these gadgets which fatigue more than relax the kids.

I asked little Raghav if he read the story book I gave on his Birthday and he sheepishly replied. ” No, it’s too big. I saw the movie on Video.”  Similarly,  Abha finds it easy to read some recommended story on YouTube in 6 min rather than “wasting” time on a thick book.

It broke my heart but that’s the trend these days. Children prefer the immediate gratification.

Vaibhav’s life is like a chat room. He has hundreds of friends on the three social networking sites he is member of. Virtual life gives him a kick. I asked him if he would like to visit the  science center and some other places on a Sunday, he refused. Reason- He had fixed some poker game challenge on Facebook and had to catch up with his friends. His blackberry continues to beep at all times. “It’s comforting to be connected to those who love you , you see “, he says with a warm smile.  I asked him about his family and real-time friends. “They are boring”. Like Pavlov’s dog he runs to his cell every time it beeps.

I did not want to go into the details of how technology has dug its talons into our the very core of our being but sitting on the grassy slope on this beautiful winter day I remembered how we precious those simple joys of our childhood are. I watch ten-year old Ria, oblivious to the flowers and birds around her, tugging at her mom’s purse for the mobile to play.

I don’t think we can blame the children for getting lured into this tech trap. It is parental responsibility to create a balance.  I think life was beautiful when it was simple.

I miss so many things I did as a child. Things I long to do but inhibitions stop me. I posed a question on FB today, At what age does going nude cross the line from joyful to uncomfortable? And, does that age then represent a certain kind of turning point in life, in our relationship to joy? I had read it somewhere and it stayed with me. Speaks volume doesn’t it?

Some of the beautiful memories are fairy tales from the backyard where I buried my treasures, the joy of hiding little things which at that time seemed priceless. The shells, colorful pebbles that were so painstakingly collected  and carefully placed in old shoe boxes.

Running barefoot in the rain in the lawn , on the terrace, in the field , carefree and brimming with joy , splashing water with the toes full of mud and weeds. Making paper boats and watching them zigzag through the water streaming through the lanes.

Climbing on the trees and sitting for hours observing the world beneath, legs swinging to some unheard music.

Playing marbles, hopscotch  and other local games till I was forced retreat to the comforts of home. Dirty sneakers, elastic running from socks, a bruise here and there, hair ruffled ready to face the howler which would split open along with the front door in shape of my mom.

Making tents out of sheets and blankets over the furniture and escaping into a magical world lit by torch, pretending to be  gypsy child. Here a whole new world waited to explode. Boxes and bottles of magic potions , trinkets which could charm any heart, rag dolls and colors and a candy box with gummy bears, jujubes, lemon drops, candy sticks and much more. Sometimes there were half eaten cookies too. 🙂

Those moments of sheer bliss when I wasn’t so wise to the rulings of the world. Playing chess with dad, listening to his childhood stories. Those summer nights when the electricity would go and we would sit in the darkness playing “Radio station ”  where I would be the radio station playing music, commercials and dad would in between say ” change the channel” I would voice over everything and his warm laugh would fill my little heart.

The day I learned to whistle from the blade of grass life suddenly changed. It was fun to make music in the most natural way. I also learned to make a musical instrument of sorts from dried mango seed. It was a cultivated talent to make different sounds from these lovely instruments.

When the silk cotton tree bloomed and the cotton puffs sailed along with the breeze I would run after them and collect them to fill little pillow/quilt for the doll. It was fun to catch a drifting soft cotton, resembling a snow flake, and softly blow it away. Blowing a Dandelion puff would fill the air with little dancing stars and make the heart skip a beat.

I loved making soap-bubble  and ran with the bubble wands, made of wire hangers or straw and threads, as the breeze made it dance to its tune. It was a dream fantasy to watch a delicate bubble escape from the wand and waltz along the breeze with millions of rainbow colors.

Crayons ,water colors, pencils and papers, colored chalk (have you ever nibbled on the chalk or got sprayed with a duster full of chalk dust) would keep me warmed for hours. My box of wax crayons and later the oil pastels was a wonder world where each color told a story. I found immense joy in coloring  and later watching my boys color their world with imagination was pure bliss.

Another thing I miss is the fun I had racing down the road rolling the old cycle tyre with a stick. There would be races in the lanes and by lanes as we maneuvered the  wobbly tyre and ran at top speed to beat the others screaming with glee. Same was with bicycle races where one usually emerged bruised and sometimes with torn and muddy clothes. Tyres remind me of something I long to do even now. Hang and swing to the improvised swings made with thick old tyres. It was The Thing to do on a summer day and sometime when I watch the village kids screeching and screaming while they swirl around on the swing my just want to rush and join them.

Those were the days when one didn’t care about the our sexuality, dresses, looks, time, season, anything. The dirtier the better. A little disorder in the dress was the joy of being a child.

I did play the so-called “girlie games”  with dolls and wooden kitchen sets but I was never stopped from those “strictly for boys” games and often returned home with a booty or a bruise.

Summer nights were spent on the terrace watching constellations and yearning for a shooting star. These days one hardly sees a star in the smog ridden city sky. I remember taking my elder one for walks and sitting under the star lit sky in Ranikhet during our visits there. Summer evenings spent under the shady Neem trees chewing a blade of grass and catching the glimpse of clear blue sky from between the branches was something I long to do.  It was a time to watch the drifting clouds and spin stories around the figures one imagined.

Winter had its own charm. There is an insane joy in scribbling on a steamed bathroom mirror . This is something I carried from my childhood and when my boys were big enough , we left something on the mirror for the other person to figure out. A drawing, a slogan , a note , anything. It still is such a fun. I still finger draw on fogged windows of cars, on fogged glass doors , so do my kids. It used to be fun to roll a paper and smoke an imaginary cigarette pretending to be  Don Corleone  as the water vapor from the mouth condensed due to cold.

Wading through the creek, hopping after the frogs that croaked all the time during rains , wiggling the earthworms with thin sticks, digging holes ( just for the sake of it),  catching a lady bird and watching it run around all over the hand-made life worth living.  Who cared about heat and cold, rain or dust, summer or winter? Life as a kid was all one big carnival of color, sound, light and dark.

I loved to run along the train as a small girl. Trains are fascinating. I would hear the whistle and run out to watch it emerge from the bend billowing the steam and then it would zip past shaking the earth below my tiny feet. I loved travelling in the train too. On our yearly journeys to Pune  I would stay glued to the window watching the kaleidoscope out side, the changing terrain, wind slapping against the face, the people, local food and the joy of straining the neck to watch the train turn around a bend. It is sight  I treasure.

Sneaking away from home for an adventure is something we all loved as kids I am sure. My boys did it too and now I know that mothers have sixth sense and eyes at the back of their head and everywhere. 😀

There is so much we learn and enjoy in every stage of life but those things we did as kids never return. I made sure to do all the fun things with each of my son irrespective of what people would say about a young woman with little boys  rolling down a grass slope or running from the shelter of one tree to another on a cold rainy morning in a hill station along with a little boy. Breathless, shivering, laughing and yet glowing  just like kids. I wanted them to treasure moments which will be lost  in time for good.

We are still a bunch of lunatics ( my boys and me) but we are all grown up now with so many issues about being oneself. Some day I want to relive my childhood, Do whatever my aging body permits. It’s a sad truth that we are all victims of growing up.

Play with your inner child sometime, let go, shed all inhibitions, don’t grow up so fast ..growing up is overrated anyway..

Walk the talk – Temple tales


“I am an Atheist”. He said.” I do not believe in organised, ritualistic religion or God “.

I believe temples are the biggest wealth hoarders  and should be termed as business houses if not anything else and for that matter even the churches , mosques, gurudwaras and all other so-called places of worship. Can we use RTI  to question all these people who are amassing wealth in the name of religion?

I can not believe in anything that doesn’t exist like ‘ God”  if super powers are what we are talking of then I can a name a whole pantheon of superheroes who are more real to us than some non entity that lives in an abyss . I would rather  respect Nature for that matter.

Long ago before this whole class division etc happened people simply revered the nature around them then some men  devised this concept of heaven and hell to  put fear in masses and used it as  instrument of power. People use it because it is comfort beyond compare for those who do not have faith in their own abilities and a sure shot way to richness and power. Those modern-day worries have made people use religion as a crutch and that is the reason they blindly follow those babas, gurus, yada yada to the highest degree of stupidity.”

I decided to listen. It is a wonderful thing to do. A lost art too. “I would rather believe in Good than God ” I said.

“We live in an increasingly gender-neutral, technological world then how can we believe in a sham like religion.”  Except for the temples of Khajuraho I detest them all. Noisy, their air dripping of communal ism  and class/gender differences. I hate the priest who fleeces the zombies who visit these places ..zombies for they are bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli.

” The “God” sits there smeared with various things,  adorned with finest jewels and watches this crap or in some other religions He is conveniently formless. All that milk which is poured on the shivlinga can feed hundreds of malnutritioned kids.  Wonder if God knows that. I find this whole Abishekam and shringaram rituals pathetic. Such waste, and to think people pay hefty sum to be a part of this, to watch God bathe. Yikes!

People do not have faith in themselves , they do not have love for themselves and their fellow being , animals, trees , things that sustain life but they would draw blood and commit the most atrocious things like child sacrifice for a belief they can’t even explain properly. They are like those terrorists, fundamentalist who have blinkers on and one agenda – their supremacy.

I was impressed at the use of vocabulary.

“Losing an illusion is better than finding a truth”- Ludwig Borne

God loves you and he needs money.

“What made you talk about this suddenly?” I asked.

“I refused to enter the temple where granny had taken me and that brought hell right on earth at the doorstep of the temple. He laughed. “I  was lectured on how I would burn in hell for offending Him. Ah, well , who cares.All that fasting had made her irritable and in my opinion she needed food than God at that time. The best thing to do was listen and text to bro for a fake call which came promptly to my rescue.” lol It was my turn to laugh.

“Also I watch our house help pray religiously for her husbands long life and well being and in returns she gets beaten up, abused sexually, emotionally, mentally by  that drunkard day in and day out and I say to myself surely her God is deaf and pro rich and pro men , someone who can  listen only when some seth or sethani is playing raunchy bhajans based on latest film songs  by a loud speaker and offering him a big notton ki gaddi. This poor woman’s tear streaked voiced drowsed by pain and sorrow doesn’t reach his ears.  It makes me sick. ”

“I don’t see any relevance of these grand structures. Mosques, temples ,churches , I love the architectural, cultural or historical aspect  but beyond that, nothing.  It is a height of conceit to clothe some non existent God in human form and  ascribe to them our petty vanities and jealousies. Rituals, beliefs in Horo(horrors)copes, gems, stones, astrology, numerology anything that gives people that illusory hope and a name in His good books is lapped up whatever the cost may be. Sad isn’t it that we have no compassion for living but we can go to any length for some abstract thing/ person or an ambigu­ous con­cept that is not well-defined?”

“True, I hear ya”, I said munching the roasted chana( good choice, when thinking) .

“Religion is the root of all the mess in this world and the most racist, sexist , discriminatory vice of the society and the viral root cause of all evil in this world. Society will rot if this doesn’t end. Religion is a refuge ground for all the unscrupulous people, politicians,business men with number do ka paisa, criminals and many such others. I don’t think I need their company. It is a tool for gender inequality mainly oppression of women. I am perplexed at  how even eman­ci­pated women pre­fer to stay within their reli­gious faiths and strug­gle against oppres­sion, and not choos­ing to dis­card religion? Glad you discarded it long back. ” He heaved a sigh of relief.

I told him about an article from Guardian ,” Religions do a good job of training people to be obedient and loyal to the authorities and women in particular are raised to be both devout and submissive. Religions are sticky: they are hard to abandon and that is doubly true for women, given that subordination and unshakable fidelity are their chief duties.” { LINK }

Fanaticism is at t he core of all religion. A man kills100+in Oslo & is termed as “Gunman” “attacker” “Assailant” by media but If he were Muslim he would have been declared a Terrorist. Somehow the word terrorist is conveniently associated with Islam but I feel everyone who has deep-set ideas and beliefs that are rooted with age-old dogmas, rituals, religious norms has a potential terrorist trait.

“I never believed in religion. I cringe at the fact when someone says “Hindu child” “christian child” so on and so forth. I never took mine to a temple to force religion on them.  I encouraged to ask Why? and take their own stand in life, to choose what is right and acceptable to them. Today it seems I made the right choice by taking a conscious decision of not to indoc­tri­nate my boys and fill their impressionable minds with my aesthetic beliefs.

I remember a huge debate that rocked our home when my FIL decided to build a temple in his ancestral village and a room at Badri Kedar . The question which we raised was “whose temple is it anyway, yours or God’s”? It was funny to me but to the family it struck like a bolt of thunder. It also sparked another fire when I asked how a family can fast for seven days, chant bhajans in praise of the goddess, light a lamp twice a day and abuse , insult the DIL of the house ? Does the Devi grant permission for that? The question evokes responses which the Goddess  herself is still wondering about  but her devotees have forgotten conveniently.

I detest the gaudy display of wealth in these places of worship where we see the names of  people who have given “DAAN(offerings)” . It looks so crude. Is this some “name to fame”  kind of show? Something to brag about for generations to come. Birla Mandir is one such example. Poor God has been left sitting quietly on his pedestal. It is not something new, it began from the times of kings.

“People can go through an entire lifetime without questioning”, I said ,’  It’s impossible for me to believe in any of the anthropomorphic gods, because they are simply ridiculous. They are obviously the fantasy-projections of scientifically ignorant minds.”  I winked at him and said, ” may be we can believe in “Hoobanog”. “What’s that ? ” He gave me sharp look. Well Don’t ask , it is beyond explanation, a kinetic energy that I believe runs the entire show of the universe .” He laughed . ” you just coined a new term. ya well, we need to label our beliefs.”

Jokes apart I am good without God. I said as we neared the gate of our building.  I am in awe of the universe itself, and very grateful to be a part of it. That is enough..When will we grow up and be cured of this illness of  our unfounded belief  in religion and face the real tragedies and pleasures of life?

“How is your writing going? Any new assignments which will pay?” He asked suddenly.

“Huh? No, not so lucky I guess. ” I replied.

” Hey why don’t you become a priestess? It would be damn cool.. ” Tiku – the high priestess of Delhi. She has the divine power . ”

I laughed out loud ” ya,sure and trust me I will have no shortage of wealth. ”

“Absolutely, that’s the point. All you need is a few strings of rudraksha, some rings with colorful gems, a robe ( the Osho maroon is cool), a crystal ball and such other stuff plus a swanky office in posh south Delhi. How cool is that !”

“We are such fools.Adam and eve must be crazy to sow the seeds of human race”, He smiled. “Were they” whites” ? ” How come then we have so many colored people?” ” Something went wrong”?

The sun was setting behind the high-rise shopping mall across our balcony and I wasn’t in a mood to indulge in another discussion.

” Our obsession with white skin must be the by-product of that. Did anyone commit any sin to get brown, yellow, black skin?”

I  decided to enter my sound cave by putting in the ear plugs. He hugged and got busy with the laptop. That God for small mercies.. oooooops :p

Thoughts mentioned are personal and I do not wish to offend any religion, belief  or viewpoint. 

Walk the talk : Crumbling relationships, Social networking, Eve teasing and other things


His silence conveyed that something was majorly wrong. I was in no mood to have a heavy conversation. The rain drops were still shimmering on the freshly washed leaves and the eastern sky was seeped in a rosy hue.

It was becoming uncomfortable.

“Alright , what’s eating you?”

“I could have fucking strangled him with my bare hands If Only I could know him. I had a fair idea but that hand had no face. ”

” Huh?” I was instantly reminded of a post on eve teasing by Ideasmithy called The faceless hand in the crowd.   Had he read it too?

I waited for him to go on. The park was empty so we decided to walk the talk in the serene evening.

He narrated how a hand appeared in a crowded metro and began to grope, touching , pressing his female companion’s body. No , she wasn’t “dressed provocatively” and did not do anything to “entice”  the pervert.

I listened with contemplation.

“Why are some Indian men such perverts?”

“Good Question but it is not just Indian men. Maybe the number of sexual abuse / street harassment or eve teasing  are more here but the situation is as bad as anywhere in the world I guess.

I too have experienced it many times and trust me it doesn’t end on the streets and it isn’t just about physical touch. I have seen the lust in the eyes, in the gestures , in the comments and much more. However I may be dressed I am conscious of those stares, I am conscious of the hidden agendas and the underlying meaning in their conversations or offhand remarks.

Are you aware that it’s not limited to real world , that sexual harassment is rampant on internet and by unsolicited phone calls? Have you heard of Sexting ? ” I asked

“Yes, irrespective of age, from school girls to elder women, some men are relentless. All they see are breasts. Filthy animals, they strip you naked with their fucking eyes.” He fumed.

“Ah! Don’t insult the animals my boy.”

I remembered how one day the autowala kept staring at me from the rear view mirror and deliberately applying the brakes and entering pot holes and puddles on the road.  He kept turning back and staring with a twisted smile on his face. As I sat stone faced not really ready to take up the issue with him on a lonely long road.

“accidental touching/ rubbing/ pushing ” is a common thing which women experience all the time in public transport , crowded streets/ markets etc.

Do we ask for it ? Is it what we wear creates the sudden sexual urge in those men?

What utter crap.”

He told me how he had seen a gang of boys whistle and pass  lewd remarks at a mom and daughter duo on a busy market lane in Patel Nagar. They were “modestly” dressed and were walking back home from school. The girl must have been 10.

“Unfortunately eve teasing has become such a universal phenomenon that we don’t even regard it as an issue. It is crazy to think that women are always at a wrong place, wrong time, in wrong clothes and in wrong company and they initiate sexual crimes ” He said reflectively. I agreed.

To think that a doctor can dare to touch and feel your private parts in the pretext of examining is unimaginable but it happened on protesting he simply expressed that ” a little ‘ fun here and there is good for healthy mind, body and soul” Bloody sucker . I wanted to smash his balls then and there but somehow managed to get out of the freaking clinic unable to collect my disoriented thoughts and shocked to core. I wonder how he runs his practice and was I  the only one to be sexually targeted. I know of a case at Spinal Injury Hospital where a pregnant lady was abused by the doctor in the same manner. Too scared and ashamed she just decided to forget the ugly incident.

It was getting late so we left the park .

” Is it because of crumbling relationships that people indulge in revealing their dark secrets to strangers on social networking sites?” He asked matter-of-factly.

I was taken aback by this sudden change of topic. It’s true that social networking sites have become a comfort zone for people troubled in their relationships and life in general. chatting , talking to unknown faces behind the screen maybe helps in some way to lighten the heart but then there are incidents where this so-called ” sharing and bonding with virtual friends” leads to ugly consequences, harassment and blackmailing. I have been there seen it happening to some people I know.

I told him we will talk about it some other day but he was not giving up. He had seen me struggling to keep at bay the advances of those “available” men who went by the display picture and wanted to be “Frands” thinking that every woman is easy and on a lookout. They take the networking  for dating sites and endlessly keep pushing till you want to hit them hard. A writer who found me among common friends requested to be added. After sometime he pinged on chat and asked for an evening out with him because he liked my name and found me intriguing . When I refused point-blank he stated that its good to” explore and discover each other”. I found it disgusting that a person of his caliber could stoop to such level.

We were nearing home and the young man was still in a reflective mood. “The whole scenario sucks. Be it home, workplace, streets, malls, markets, public transport, net women are not safe anywhere damn it.” He shook his ahead. I was glad he was awakening to the basic core issues that were eating up the society. I had seen him tackle some with great effectiveness. It made me feel good.

“Men too suffer ” He said .

“Yes, especially those who tag along in life holding the pallu of their mom’s sari. Those adult babies who can not think, act without permission and support of their mommy dearest.” I  said with bile rising in my throat.  “Let’s drop it. Some other day maybe.”

“Umm, No, I meant this abuse stuff. men too suffer at times but they suffer in silence. Maybe that is one reason the social networking sites become their ground to find comfort and solace.” ” I am not saying that justifies for what some creeps do but all men aren’t bad after all.”

I laughed. “Spoken like a man”  I said. “Well, you do want to protect your tribe.”

“Naah, I know each of us is targeted due to some assholes who nothing but burden on this earth. and it agitates me”.

I felt for him. He was struggling with a lot of issues. “It is sometimes not about gender, it is about mind-set and power. It is about how open we are. Being modern is not just copying West, it is about  being fearlessly yourself , it is about looking at things from a larger perspective and mainly looking within.”

“We will continue to talk more about it. I think this walk the talk idea is good.” .

He smiled. “I guess so. I hope the solutions to these things were as easy as talking about them. We talk a lot. ”

Profound.

I knew he had a lot to talk about . So did I. I  have seethed about various issues lately. From bomb blasts and our precariously hanging lives, sexuality, LGTB, relationships, this ridiculous obsession with body image and “beauty”, the moral dilemma and much more.

We were still hanging out in the parking lot when he suddenly caught hold of my hand and said, “let’s go have an ice cream”. I love this kid. 🙂

“Two things I want to know by the way” He said concentrating on the small round pebble he had turned into a football.

One –

‘Why didn’t you teach a lesson of a life time to that motherfucking doctor? and

Two –

Is having a close friend of opposite sex after marriage  such a turn off  especially when this institution of marriage sucks( I agree to this but then can one generalize this) ? Is it infidelity to open up to someone other than your legal partner( don’t know if I liked this term but it tickled me no doubt)?  Why is it that a relationship crumbles so easily and two people who swore love a few years ago can’t bear the sight of each other now and for good reasons”

Those were two too many questions.

“We will talk about it”, I said.

Sleep did not come easy to both of us that night. The questions burned like embers.

One thing was clear. In days to come we were going to have a lot of walk the talk sessions. Sometimes it is better this way.

In Memoriam : Shehla Masood – The dauntless tigress silenced


 Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Shehla wrote in a blog post.

RTI crusader, wildlife conservationist, trekker, social causes leader, president Progressive Muslim Women’s Association, a born rebel, arguing with policy makers, foodie… This is how the slain activist and social worker Shehla Masood described herself in her twitter account.

She was just 38 years of age.  A fierce wildlife activist who dared to expose those who were mercilessly plundering our rivers, forests, killing tigers and destroying environment and eco-system. She was raising concerns about the nexus between the mining mafia and the ruling political regime. She feared for her life and had written to DGP Madhya Pradesh  { LINK } . The question is why Bhopal police ignores the well-defined threats?

On Tuesday 16th August she was gunned down right in front of her home by unidentified assailants. It clearly seems that taking advantage of the general chaos and the fact that the entire nation was gripped and being swallowed by the (anna)conda movement the mafia empire engineered her cold-blooded killing. Shehla Masood joins the unfortunate ranks of Satyendra Dubey, Shanmughan Manjunath, Shashidhar Mishra & 100s of others who got death by RTI.

She was a fearless Right To Information activist, a committed wildlife conservationist. She was seeking action against those responsible for the  brutal killing of  Jhurjhura tigress . The tigress,  a mother of three was brutally hit five to six times before she succumbs to fatal injuries. She was left to the mercy of God, with her three cubs destitute and failing to understand why their mother was seething in pain. The forest watched quiescent. Nothing was done to nab the accused as it happens in all wildlife crimes.

Shehla was fighting a legal battle to bring justice to the slain tigress. She dared to raise her voice against the rampant poaching of tigers  and the mining mafia which works hand in glove with the govt and the officials. Shehla challenged the issue of illegal Diamond mining project in Chhattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto and paid with her life like many other environmentalists and wild life conservationists who show dauntless courage to stand up against the all-powerful mafiosi. Fact sheet on Rio Tinto’s Illegal Diamond Mining in MP  (from an email attachment)

A Requiem for a tigress   Do read.

Just  as the accused are never convicted for wildlife crimes the accused for killing the wildlife activists are never punished.  Take the case of Swami Nighamanand , the crusader for river Ganges , the  nation has already forgotten his sacrifice.

Shehla’s father is not sure if the assailants of her courageous daughter will ever be nabbed as the police authorities have already started the cover up process by floating an utterly unbelievable crappy story about the suicide angle in Shehla death case. { Link } [LINK } .

Apart from those who love and support her cause No one, absolutely no one has come up to become the  torch bearer to get justice for Shehla Masood who herself was  a staunch Anna Hazare supporter. His concern is logical. Where are the anti corruption fasters, the anna brigade ? Has anyone given a single thought to the Slain RTI activist ? The nation is engulfed in mass hysteria over AH circus while citizens get murdered in broad day light and assailants sit comfy under the protection of politicians and corrupt officials .. Is anyone going on a hunger strike for these brave hearts ? The state of Madhya Pradesh for whose forests , rivers and wild life Shehla gave her life was shut down for anna andolan but did not mourn or condemn the killing of  Shehla.

If you be the change you want to see you are murdered. Shehla Masood dared to speak out and was gunned down right in front of her home. She was an eyesore for some bureaucrats, politicians, and industrialist of the State, as she had become very powerful as whistleblower. She had filed RTI queries against 19 IAS (Indian Administrative Service), 13 IFS (Indian Forest Service) and seven IPS (Indian Police Service), sources revealed. Some of mining mafias of the State also had grudges against her since she was working against them for longer time.

Social activist Ajay Dubey demanded probe by Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI), India’s premier investigating agency, into the murder of Ms Shehla. He expressed doubt that since she had raised questions regarding several tiger deaths across the state forest officials who were involved in the racket may have got her killed. Mufti Arsh Shariff, a cousin of Ms Shehla Masood, revealed that she had got a threatening call from a Delhi number on Monday night. Speculations are on and while the police and higher authorities try to hush the matter those who stand for her will never  let her roar die. It will echo and haunt  every vigilant citizen of India.

My blood boils when I see how much is at stake for those who are fighting to keep our flora and fauna, rivers and mountains to breathe free and survive the human onslaught.  I wonder if those who are supporting AH (I hate to call it a movement) brigade really know what exactly they are crying hoarse for. Wildlife Conservation is not even remotely in the minds of people and that is the reason life of those who work for it has lost its value. Don’t know how many more it will take to awaken the masses, govt. we can forget about.

Right To Information has claimed ten more lives in the year 2010

1. Amit Jethwa – Gujarat – Shot to death – Enquiries about illegal mining that were a danger to the Gir reserve – July 20, 2010

2. Dattatreya Patil (farmer) – Kohlapur, Maharashtra – Beaten up and slashed with swords – Filed RTI against horse trading in Kohlapur Municipal Election – May 31, 2010

3. Vitthal Gite – Beed, Maharashtra – Killed by under the member’s scanner. – Exposed irregularities in a school in his village – April 21, 2010

4. Arun Sawant – Badlapur, Maharashtra – Shot dead Feb 26, 2010

5. Satish Shetty – Pune – Assaulted by assailants Exposed major land scams, near Mumbai-Pune expressway – Jan 13 2010

6. Vishram Laxman Dodiya – Ahmadabad – Shot dead – Sought info on illegal electricity connections in the city – Feb 11 2010

7. Shashidhar Mishra (street vendor) – Begusarai, Bihar – Shot dead – Filed more than a 1000 petitions before his murder – Feb 14 2010

8. Ramdas Ghadegaokar – Nanded, Maharashtra – Stoned to death – Took on the sand mafia – August 2010

9. Sola Ranga Rao – Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh – Found murdered – Filed a petition on funding of the village draining system – April 11 2010

10. Irfan Yusuf Qazi – Jaitapur,Mahrashtra – Killed when his scooter was hit by a police jeep –  Protested against nuclear power plant in Jaitapur – December 18, 2010

This post is not just about Shehla Masood it is also a tribute to all those brave hearts who stood against the system, for whom  RTI became a death warrant . Who is safe in this country? Not the common people certainly and those who raise their voices against unjust their days are numbered.

Isn’t it Ironic that  Tigers, wildlife crusaders and RTI activists are being hunted and killed mercilessly.. they are the endangered species.

We want justice for Shehla Masood . We want the killers nabbed and convicted. 

Please add your name to  Statement on the martyrdom of Shehla Masood 

My earlier post on bloggers for tigers  

The spark that she left in everyone’s heart will become a flame,  her roar will not be silenced. 

Girte hain Sheh-Sawar hi Maidan-e-Jung me
Woh Tifl kya gire jo ghutno ke bal chale

Part of some information is collected from fellow activists and supporters of Shehla and Internet articles. Due copyright credits to them.All image credits  go to the rightful owners.