And what a life it is.

This is your life
If I could read a book about me, I would. And it will be one ride of sorts. With painstakingly detail I read about trying to keep myself from drowning when my bus falls off the road into a raging river. Next minute, I’d be sitting at my desk, trying to sell a mutual fund to a potential customer.

I close my eyes at night and what is it that I think of?

I think it will make for a controversy if we could know what goes on in someone’s mind. We could write about something in different ways.

I watched him as he went on reading, oblivious to me.

This is pretty straightforward.

I watched him as he went on reading, oblivious to me. Barely did I know that he was distraught, thinking about his life over and over again in a playback. I could hardly fathom that the next day I’d find him bent on his desk, overdosed, wondering what could have ever provoked this.
So yes, a book about me would make for an interesting read. I want to remember what transpired to make me the person I am. I want to remember what of this life I have already forgotten. I want to know when was the last time I felt joy, the last time I fell in love and if I am capable of all these emotions that others so evidently feel.

I want to remember my nightmares, know my dreams and try to interpret them, however ambiguous. 

My life on the outside seems drab, viciously pulled into a Whirlpool of monotony.

It is the mind that’s interesting.

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What makes me want to write?

The important question is this: Why do I write?
I have found entire worlds form around me as I turned page after page, reading what someone else had written. I find that words comfort me and can explain what I feel. 
When I read a sentence that goes:

The forest filled with the sound of birds chirping, as if it celebrated the birth of the boy.

As I read that, I have a picture in front of my eyes. And anyone who loves reading does so because the image the same sentence creates for him can be entirely different from mine.
Isn’t that wonderful?
I think I want to write because I love reading and I know what words can do to you.

Writers inspire me.

Poets create magic with their distorted perception of this world.

Novelists create entire universes full of unique characters between the yellow pages of an ageing book.
I write because I know, palaces will be razed to the ground but words will never die. And it is my shot at avoiding Oblivion.

Writing helps me cope with the dilemma of existing in the absurd. I place my life before anyone else and yet fail to find it’s purpose.

I write because it is much like talking to myself: unraveling the innermost thoughts of this mind and putting it out to censure.

Us

Women.
Women who are mothers to us, worrying how we’re making it. What we have had for lunch and just when are we going to marry. Those who became mothers recently and are basking in it’s glory, even those who don’t think they’re carved for the task. Single mothers being a set of parents to their kid. He is going to ask you someday who his father was. I don’t know what you’re going to say.

He didn’t want you, dear.
She stands outside the obscure clinic, her face covered, awaiting her turn. They’re going to extract a part of her and set her free. Free of this judgemental world.
Women who love their husbands and women who are loved. She wakes up to snuggle up to him and he wraps an arm around her. Life’s good.
Women stuck in a loveless marriage, unable to get out. Where will I take my kids? What will people say? My parents will not take me back.

Women who go to sleep, cuddled next to their pets.

And then those who finish a sandwich on their way to office, tackling casual sexism as they drive. Women who are bosses and those who are subordinates. 
Women that bleed every month and yet try to pretend they never have it. They can climb mountains on their periods. Why should people get to know they’re having those days of the month. The shopkeeper discreetly wraps napkins in newspaper and then puts it into a black plastic bag. She feels like an undercover agent delivering a package to Matt Damon.
She watches him do that and wonders if she should be as ashamed of menstruation as he is.

Women who shout slogans and those who rather post a status update. Hashtag outrage.

Women who stand tall in the face of obstacles.

You will not go outside to work.

You will not apply for a job.

You will not drive.

You will not go to school anymore.

You will not talk to boys.
Women who carry on their heads bricks to construction sites and lament the builder’s cut in their pay.

Women, truckloads of them trafficked across states to be used as maids in upscale residential localities. 

Listen, you will take care of my kid and manage the chores while I go to work. Memsaab I don’t like your husband touching me. 

How dare you say such a thing?

 To be sold to pimps. To enter a vicious never ending cycle of exploitation. Women who deal in these women without hesitation.
Women sweeping our corridors so that they can pay for the education of their children. Those of them beaten black and blue by their men.

Women motivating other women and those that pull them down.

We are friends.

Sisters.

Our own enemies.

Women who work and those that don’t. The ones creating magic out of words. 
Women who are looking for love and those that have given up on it. 

Women who are achieving milestones. Women witnessing these women and wondering what they are doing with their lives.
Then there is a tribe of those that find recluse in gossip because that’s their escape.

Women adhering to stereotypes and those challenging it.
I know We are the same, all of us. Our stories make us different, have us grasping at reality differently.

Some of us affixed like rubber stamps into categories.

Good

Bad

Beautiful

Fat

Bitch

Cunt

Whore

I don’t understand how we make that distinction. We are misfits.  We love our men. We fall in love with other women. We are survivors.
Impossible that every woman finds a mention here but those that I have seen and those I know of, do.

Us

We are men and women.

Some of our days begin with odd jobs-

We are busy lifting things and loading them in truck, our soiled vests and a sweaty skin gleaming like polished shoe surfaces in the sun and yet by our own admission, we’re invisible.

We are driving autorickshaws, plying people from A to B, day in and day out. Some of these people sit at their desks and prepare reports that ought to be something substantive. Some of these people have people working for them, forging blocks of metal into sheets, the jangle similar to a steel plate slipping from my hand and landing on my feet.

And there are of us, wary people of the same mould, worrying over the same things simultaneously: the safety of our loved ones and the safety of our reputations.

We talk about anything under the sun- about women who were asking for it and about men who are bothering us. 

This isn’t a feminist rant. It is about you and I.

You begin your day in a rented apartment and fast forward to work where you elaborate on presentations. I wake up and go where I work. I wake up and mop,clean,brush and dust for the madam that leaves her kid in care and keeps a foot in her cubicle and another in the creche.

You run, jump,skip,hop over obstacles and everyday is the same except that sometimes, you die. Sometimes, we die.

But still, you chatter around tea shops, discussing politicians and cussing them at the same time and I drop by, alight from my car and take a sip of the streetside tea while posting it on Instagram. You wear your overalls while machines buzz around you, a constant hum while you go wham. I, a ten year old kid see everything differently. Your world is so drab. I want to grow up already and have a job to pay for what I want. And you keep telling me to have fun while I can. Growing up seems fun too. You sit by the side of the road with last week’s produce that didn’t sell but I can see no one will buy it today too. I pity you, old lady.

You tell me I should buy this insurance and you have targets to report. I have choices to make. 

These are just thoughts of a clueless mind about what we are, all of us.

Some of us can’t see colours. Some of us lose the will to carry on while others tell us their survival stories. I wish I could record all of this.

Men, women and transgenders because seeing the world in polar opposites is like trying to fit it into a zigzaw puzzle when it is not. It’s a seamless transition of states of matter. From skin to charred bone dust, from skin to termite infested flesh in soil, from present to the past. 

People.

People who marry the person they love. People who don’t like such people. People who have no qualms killing but find it difficult to look at PDA. 

Children who don’t know what discrimination is, but will find out when they realise growing up is not that bed of roses they imagined it would be. Children who refused to grow up and have to be trained at schools for children with special needs.

Children with parents and without them. 

This is going to take more than this. Maybe a series of posts. To talk about nothing else but us.

And to learn to empathize.

Maybe today is the day!

I looked at the table in dismay.

How could I live like this! I chided myself and set to task. Maybe when my table was organized, I’d want to study on a Saturday that I woke up so late on. Let me just get this little thing done although I don’t for how long everything will stay in place.

Our love for order in a chaotic unpredictable world is strange. Books need to be piled on top of one another. Pens should know the stand they take. Headphones are a pertetual entangled mistery. Knick knacks are to be stuffed in compact spaces, shut down in containers.

Let me set this straight.

Someone said cleaning is like putting things in less obvious places. So it is! From pens that don’t work but I can’t somehow want to get rid of them to clothes tags that I’ve collected to turn into bookmarks, there’s so much that takes up space but does nothing. Yet I can’t seem to part with them.

Someday I’ll buy the refills to these pens. Someday I’ll have pretty insta ready bookmarks. I really have begun believing half the work is done when I contemplate it. That sounds like a death knell to that novel I have already written in my mind.

Atonement

image

I am currently reading Atonement again. To tell the truth, I came across the movie earlier than I read the book. The movie recommended the book to me. It is a brilliantly made movie, though feels to drag for a while too, specially the later half. But no movie could ever do justice to a book. A movie is just one perspective to view a book. When we read it, we all imagine it to be unique. Our own interpretations of the same scene are entirely different.
The movie is a treat to the eyes and your mind too. There is so much to deduce and the timeline of the plot starts playing inside your mind time and again as soon as you realise there is a play on the interpretation of memories. You want to remember as much as you can.

I am reading the book again because although there is nothing much to miss, I always stumble across a new detail that I hadn’t paid any attention to, earlier.
Ian McEwan is brilliant with the imagery. The scenes are so well illuminated that you see them unfolding right before your eyes. The movement back and forth in time presents a misguided version of the actual events as seen through the eyes of 13 year old Briony.
There is meticulous detailing of appearances and state of mind as well.
The best parts are when the author really delves deep into the stream of thoughts playing inside the character’s mind. A point in case is when Briony is inspecting her fingers and speculating movement:

A

nd when she did crook it finally, the action seemed to start in the finger itself, not in some part of her mind. When did it know to move, when did she know to move it? There was no catching herself out. It was either- or. There was no stitching, no seam and yet she knew that behind the smooth continuous fabric was the real self

VIP, anyone?

If we voted you to power, I don’t see how we gave you a mandate to skip the queue or to deserve VIP treatment. How does a servant of the public become a celebrity that ought to be put up on a high pedestal?
Yes, a servant of the public- that is what a member of parliament is.
But the public is so used to seeing their politicians have a claim to better treatment that though it may irk them, they are still individuals who speak for themselves. Members of the public aren’t the ones surrounded by bodyguards and yes men.
Suddenly, everyone around such a politician starts considering himself a very important person too.
So you have the driver abusing other commuters and misbehaving with toll booth staff. The assistant demands attention as the stepping stone to the MP if you want to be heard. The distant relative flaunts his relations everywhere with the very common, तू जानता नही मैं कौन हूँ।
Power can be that addictive to those who simply bask in someone else’s influence.
The step taken by Air India and other 6 members of Federation of Indian Airlines in barring Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from their flights after he blatantly misbehaved with an AI staff is commendable.
He created the ruckus when he was seated in economy class of ALL ECONOMY Pune Delhi flight.
What is the airline supposed to do in an all economy flight to accomodate him?
A. Seat him in the cockpit and let him fly the plane.
B. Seat him on the roof of the plane itself.
C. Apply to add business class section to the flight and wait until it is approved, sanctioned and made available.

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These carriers stood up for their staff and that boosts employee morale. The last straw in the hat you need is your employer being apologetic to your client for misbehaving with you.
It has set a great example. Tell me, by what yardstick does a politician deserve special treatment at our expense?
This is a culture that needs to be discouraged.
Politicians are people like you and me, only worse because they apparently live above the law.

The Interview

Tell us something about yourself.

Suffice it to say I am a woman?

So, what do you feel?

I feel a lot of things: angst,  anxiety, paranoia, joy, ecstasy, happiness, delusion and fear, but never too safe.

You don’t feel safe?
Yes. And no, this isn’t a country thing. I mean I tried everything, dressing conservatively, being holed up in my home, not speaking unless spoken to. I followed the instructions you know. I stuck to my side of the road, I moved in groups, you’ll find it funny that I enrolled in karate classes and started keeping pepper spray in my bag.

So, that must have made you feel empowered then!
The illusion frankly. But not safe or protected even then.

Well then miss. This might be the textbook case of female hysteria. We’ll have it fixed in no time.
How is that?
The time tested solution of marriage. You can party hard to bollywood songs, put on bling, wear that red lipstick or the little black dress and have sex as much as you like.

Oh! But what about marital rape?
Umm, well. Let us assume it does not exist.

Oh, okay.

So its time for the HYPOTHETICAL ROUND!!
What happens when you are commented upon, out of the blue.
Well,you see, I’ll talk about tonight. I alighted from an auto and entered a passageway to home. This boy on a bike goes past me, takes a u turn and buzzes past me saying, ‘I love you.’ Dude, I didn’t even know that guy.

What did you do?
I pretended to not have heard him.

So, my hypothetical question is: What if this has happened three years ago?
I would have felt angered. The blood would have boiled over in my veins at such a preposterous act. I would have retaliated with a nasty retort because I was prone to panic.

So what changed?
Did you know an Australian court acquitted a man of harrassing two women because he was influenced by Bollywood and considered stalking women as normal?

What is your point?
My point is, that it is okay for that guy to confess love to a complete stranger because she is a woman wearing red lipstick and walking alone at 8 p m with her hair down. It is okay because well, they get away with it in our movies and telly. It is okay for our representatives to talk shit about women. It is okay for women to shame other women because they were ‘asking for it’. It is okay for our media to go on air on national television and glorify the good girl wronged and doubt the one in a club. If that is okay, it is alright to have a sense of entitlement that lets us get away with rowdy guys because men will be men.

Very well.
Now we reach the end of the interview with one last question. What is your name?
Name,ethnicity,race,nationality,religion, ot does not matter.
Suffice it to say I am a woman.

@bewitchinglyme

Irony

I am no expert on feministic theories that have progressed over the years but I am befuddled by its many ironies.

I speak of the irony.

In this largely patriarchal setup, those who have had to speak for the rights of women have often had to address their men who are in the possession of these rights so that they can cede with them willingly.

I speak of the irony.
That women who can afford to have their voices heard themselves differ on how a woman ought to command her just status.
In capitalistic developed economies, these women cannot be blamed if they neglect class struggle in relation to women. Women in poor developing societies are not aggressive about the high end demands made for diminishing the pay difference or equal representation of women in offices, committies or influential lobbying for the same.
I speak of the irony where we are at crossroads with one another and branded ‘fickle’.
And often we have to ask our men to respect women rather than asking our women to strive to command it. Because we are aware that a women’s revolution can not be instigated and there may not be a dominoe effect to events.
A long way to go still.

My faith

Wow.
Please go ahead an ban Shahrukh Khan, self proclaimed moralists.
He spoke up and is that what actors aren’t supposed to do? Oh wait, they’re just meant to mind their own business. No one’s bothering them. Why should they be getting vocal?
Oh yeah. You forget, in your misplaced enthusiasm that these are people and they can be sensible and compassionate, unlike some.
And what are they given back?
This is such a shame. Tell me, that I, by taking this action of saying something you do not like, am a traitor. That I do not love my country and I should go back to Pakistan.
But you’d rather tell me that since I am a Hindu, I have been brainwashed by secularists to air such a view. Kudos to you for having such double standards.

The list of the people you banned keeps getting longer. I think India might be racing to the top in the ease of doing business, but look at what’s at stake here. Ever heard of that story?
One day they’ll come for you, and no one will save you because you didnt bother when they took away the rest.

Why should a government, which must have a lot to do, I guess, take a stance on what kind of meat the nation was eating?
I am very sure if some of us had religious sentiments attached to chicken, we’d be banning that too.
The mob is a headless chicken anyways.
What really got me worried is the silence that prevails on part of those who are expected to speak up after any such incident takes place. Someone has got to take a stand. Why are these bigots still making outrageous statements and nobody bothers to put a check on them? Will that be stifling their freedom of expression? So be it, for the sake of national solidarity and the rosy picture our leaders are painting of this nation, in front of other nations.
Intolerance, transcends boundaries. Every country has its own share of idiots who binge on the publicity such foot in mouth comments bring to them but I can safely say, these past months, we have hardly had a debate on any matter of national importance. We are all stuck in this vortex of comment wars.
The repurcussions, are never instant. If such people like Baba Ramdev, Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi are allowed to stay put and ignored, thereby encouraging their idiocy, we are in for some Hard Times.

Here on my plate,
Remain crumbs of my faith.
And I wear it like a second skin sometimes.
And when I open my mouth,
All I ever say,
Is a reinstatement of my fickle faith.
Tell me not,
Who to worship,
And when not to speak my mind.
Tell me not,
To be blind,
To your intolerance that kills my belief when you stifle a voice.
When on this dreary road I tread on alone,
My belief is my choice.
And suddenly this place,
That I used to call home,
Lets me know today there is a price,
To what I say.
I wear my faith,
Not on my forehead or on my wrist,
Around my neck it doesn’t decay.
I wear it up my sleeve,
This little lie of morality,
That paints your faces red and your swords rise to defend it,
It numbs my reason,
Yet never moves,
My faith.

Aparajita