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

Life

‘Auntie?’ , implored Ashima cautiously.
Her aunt Pamela, who was making hot chocolate for her favourite niece managed to mutter a faint ‘hmm?’

‘I am 25 now.’

Pam smiled.

‘All grown up, eh?’

‘Remember the question I asked you years ago and you told me you’d tell me when I was 25?’

Pamela handed her a mug of deliciously heavenly chocolate as she sank into her bean bag beside the young woman.

‘Of course I remember Ashi! Well, how time does fly!’

Pamela didn’t know how to begin but she decided to start with a routine query,
‘Tell me Ashi, have you been in love?’

Ashi eyed her delightful aunt with hesitation before lowering her guard.

‘On and off, I think I might have felt something bordering on love.’

Pamela chuckled.

‘And I hope that you get lucky, my dear.I hope that one day you’d be in that place where you just want to spend your life with someone, married or not. That you’d want to watch your child grow through trying times.’

‘For me, I never had that happy chance.’

Ashima raised her brows in mock disbelief.
‘You are telling me that you never fell in love, auntie?’

‘Oh, no, I did. I did fall in love so many times. Or I believed I did. In retrospect, everything is a blur.
In retrospect, everything seems a lost opportunity. At least that is what some people keep reminding me.’

She smirked.

Ashima knew only too well that Pam was referring to her brother, Ashima’s father. He had only lately resigned to the fact that his 51 year old sister was not a bitter woman who kept to herself because she hadn’t married.

‘But you never felt the need to have someone close to you most of the time?’

‘Ashima, I had my books!
I had my students. I had young, eager minds waiting to be sculpted. I did not feel the lack of a family.
Sometimes I did feel lonely. But you see, you can feel lonely in a crowd. If it is meant to be, you can drown in your own loneliness as you sit with your arms wrapped around someone.’

‘And it surely gets painful at times, Auntie?’

Pamela placed her mug on the floor. Ashima couldn’t make out her aunt’s expression as she bent but when she looked up, her gaze seemed distant.

‘I’m sorry if -‘
She began but was cut short by an impatient wave of her aunt’s hand.

‘I do not know Ashi, why the world wants to believe that I am resentful because I chose my way of life. Isn’t that wishful thinking? Like I manage to break away and you’d make such a fuss about it, and say youre sorry about my life, making me question my own choice at times.
But that is just how the world works. You ought to be a wretched wreck if you decide to do anything that they dont sanction. It gives them the satisfaction of saying, ‘I told you so!’
But you see, I have had my books clutched tight, drawn close to my chest on some nights and I cherish that.
I have had my students look up to me and that is enough.
I have this family. You are enough.
I sing and dance and draw and make friends.
This too, is beautiful.
As beautiful as walking into the sunset holding hands.’

‘And if I ever wanted have the joy of watching a child grow into a wonderful, kind person, I have had you. Nahi?’

Ashima fought hard to hold back tears. She alighted the wickerwork chair and walked up to her aunt.

Bending down, she wrapped her hands around the woman, tears streaming down her cheeks and onto Pam’s shirt and said,
‘Yes, ofcourse, yes.’

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We, the inhabitants of a globalised society, have seen technology empower us like never before. The recent boom in social networking and its widespread reach has demolished barriers between societies and ideas. Internet has suddenly emerged as popular forum to vent public dissatisfaction against tyranny and governments. Anything that happens even in the remotest part of the globe is available at the click of a mouse and manifests the strength to overthrow regimes.
And there have been setbacks. Intrusion in privacy, identity theft, cyber fraud and unnecessary exposure to mention a few. Governments realise that cutting down access to the international web of information is one way to suppress public discontent. In this context must be read Section 66A of the IT Act 2000, amended in 2008 and assented to by the President on February 5, 2009.
It reads as-
Any person who sends by means of a computer resource or communication device-
(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character or
(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device
(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to decieve or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages shall be liable to imprisonment for a term extending upto 3 years and with fine.
It is true that the section deals with a wide array of cyber offences but on the other hand is also vague and prone to misuse. Furthermore, the police has not been provided any training about the sensitivity and proper understanding of a cyber crime committed. Any act that defines a crime must be precise and clearly worded but the section uses the words ‘menacing’, ‘offensive’ which are nowhere defined by Indian law. So what exactly constitutes an electronic message to be offensive or of a menacing character? Interpretation becomes relative and objective.
The recent furore over Shaheen Dhadha and Renu Srinivasan being arrested last week over a Facebook post criticising the bandh like condition in Mumbai after Bal Thackeray’s death and a youth in Palghar arrested on November 28 for posting “vulgar” comments against MNS chief Raj Thackeray and people of Maharashtra on Facebook has opened up debate regarding the gross violation of freedom of speech and expression.
(Maharashtra Police has dropped case against the two girls.
“No chargesheet will be filed in the case… There will be a closure report,”
said DGP Sanjeev Dayal)
The Supreme Court recently admitted a PIL challenging the Act by Delhi University law student Shreya Singhal. A bench headed by CJI Altamas Kabir directed the petitioner to present a copy of the PIL before Attorney General G E Vahanvati who is likely to give his opinion on Friday.
The CJI said, “Arrest of children outraged sentiments of country.”
While cyber activists and several people want the section 66A of the Act to be repealed, some feel that guidelines added to it shall be enough.
Meanwhile the Government issued guidelines on November 29 that state approval from an officer of DCP level in rural areas and IG level in metros will have to be sought before registering complaints under the controversial section.
What bugs me is the fact that are we to be in constant fear that while we voice our personal opinions on political issues, the same might be deemed inappropriate by the Government and we shall be liable to face arrest! The very thought is outrageous.
The very notion of freedom is hurled out of the window.

Section 66A- a short note

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We, the inhabitants of a globalised society, have seen technology empower us like never before. The recent boom in social networking and its widespread reach has demolished barriers between societies and ideas. Internet has suddenly emerged as popular forum to vent public dissatisfaction against tyranny and governments. Anything that happens even in the remotest part of the globe is available at the click of a mouse and manifests the strength to overthrow regimes.
And there have been setbacks. Intrusion in privacy, identity theft, cyber fraud and unnecessary exposure to mention a few. Governments realise that cutting down access to the international web of information is one way to suppress public discontent. In this context must be read Section 66A of the IT Act 2000, amended in 2008 and assented to by the President on February 5, 2009.
It reads as-
Any person who sends by means of a computer resource or communication device-
(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character or
(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device
(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to decieve or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages shall be liable to imprisonment for a term extending upto 3 years and with fine.
It is true that the section deals with a wide array of cyber offences but on the other hand is also vague and prone to misuse. Furthermore, the police has not been provided any training about the sensitivity and proper understanding of a cyber crime committed. Any act that defines a crime must be precise and clearly worded but the section uses the words ‘menacing’, ‘offensive’ which are nowhere defined by Indian law. So what exactly constitutes an electronic message to be offensive or of a menacing character? Interpretation becomes relative and objective.
The recent furore over Shaheen Dhadha and Renu Srinivasan being arrested last week over a Facebook post criticising the bandh like condition in Mumbai after Bal Thackeray’s death and a youth in Palghar arrested on November 28 for posting “vulgar” comments against MNS chief Raj Thackeray and people of Maharashtra on Facebook has opened up debate regarding the gross violation of freedom of speech and expression.
(Maharashtra Police has dropped case against the two girls.
“No chargesheet will be filed in the case… There will be a closure report,”
said DGP Sanjeev Dayal)
The Supreme Court recently admitted a PIL challenging the Act by Delhi University law student Shreya Singhal. A bench headed by CJI Altamas Kabir directed the petitioner to present a copy of the PIL before Attorney General G E Vahanvati who is likely to give his opinion on Friday.
The CJI said, “Arrest of children outraged sentiments of country.”
While cyber activists and several people want the section 66A of the Act to be repealed, some feel that guidelines added to it shall be enough.
Meanwhile the Government issued guidelines on November 29 that state approval from an officer of DCP level in rural areas and IG level in metros will have to be sought before registering complaints under the controversial section.
What bugs me is the fact that are we to be in constant fear that while we voice our personal opinions on political issues, the same might be deemed inappropriate by the Government and we shall be liable to face arrest! The very thought is outrageous.
The very notion of freedom is hurled out of the window.

Delusion

‘Have you ever nurtured a dream for so long that it begins to imply nothing but meaninglessness?’ She asked him, sliding her arm in his, as they sat overlooking the sunset over a distant horizon.
‘Elaborate, dear’, he replied nonchalantly.
A cool breeze brushed past the young couple. She tucked away curly locks behind her ear and smiled faintly.
‘Like holding on to memories until that remind of nothing. Like humming a familiar tune until you lose track of it. Like walking down a road you’ve trodden on so many times that all of a sudden you realize that you’re lost.’
He shook his head.
‘How can you be intrigued by things that don’t matter?’
She sighed. How deeply she wished he would see things and feel emotions the way she did.’ What matters then?’
He slipped his fingers into hers and said, ‘Ambitions, achievements, comfort, your love for me; these matter.’ She wondered if the order of the priorities in his life was reflected in the aforesaid sentence.
‘What about your love for me?’ She looked at her hand which he held firmly and tried to feel the touch but failed.
‘Don’t be silly. You know I love you.’ At this confirmation she lifted her head and looked at him. To her utter dismay, she now was looking at a complete stranger. Her words came mocking at her. . .

Like holding on to memories until that remind of nothing.
Like humming a familiar tune until you lose track of it.
Like walking down a road you’ve trodden on so many times that all of a sudden you realize that you’re lost.

Gently, she pulled herself from him and stood up.
‘Are you leaving already?’ he said.
She gazed at the crimson sky veiled in her heart’s disappointment.
‘It has been a long time coming. I must leave.’ She walked away, leaving him to his own thoughts.
The breeze blew past them yet again.
To him, comforting and mystical; to her, cold and ruthless.

My sky

Its my sky,
a bit of me and my life.
Clear and starry one moment,
dark and overcast the next.
Winged aspirations soar high,
fluttering free, undaunted.
A dose of poetry,
prose and verse amalgamated.
A whiff of you, a piece of me.
And that is how my sky is complete.
Yet endless, vast,
stretching beyond the horizon,
beautiful, serene and tranquil.
A plethora of windy storms on the surface,
frozen crystals underneath.
Too simple to be indulged into,
too complex to be believed.
My sky, a part and the whole of ‘me’.