Different…they said

They say, they don’t understand me

I ask them – Why?

They say, I am different from them

I ask them – How?

When I hurt, I still bleed red

Do you – bleed blue?

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But yet…

Drowned – In the noise of silence

Marooned – In the midst of a crowd

The mind – Flooded and over full

But yet – Parched and dry

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The looking glass…

I went to my regular beauty parlor last month, for a haircut. As I waited at the reception for my regular stylist to be free, a couple walked in.

They were a pair, but not married.. I could figure. She was pretty, with a cute round face, large almond eyes, and wavy hair which reached her waist. The guy was nondescript, except that he had bulging arms, accentuated with a tight t-shirt, highlighting that he was a gym regular. She clung to his arm, like her feet couldn’t carry her, on their own.

Inside the lobby, she detached from him and came and sat next to me, while he walked over to the receptionist to talk.

“Oh..OK..he wants some service, and she has accompanied him”, I thought.

The receptionist listened to him, nodding her head as he spoke, and then walked inside. The guy strutted and seated himself next to the girl.

In a minute or two, the receptionist came out with a beautician. She walked over to the couple and started inspecting the girl’s hair, length, texture, asking questions about their requirements. Every time the stylist asked a question, the guy answered and the girl nodded. Sometimes, her eyes showed disagreement, but her head nodded. If I had not seen them talking to each other, and had not heard her voice, I would have assumed that the girl was speech-impaired.

Rosie, my stylist, came out finally and I walked in to have my hair cut.

After around fifteen minutes, the girl came in, and her stylist seated her diagonally opposite me. As the stylist started working on her, I could see that she was getting her hair cut and straightened.

What made me feel sad was the look on her face, as she sat there. She looked miserable and heart-broken as her locks fell under the sniping scissors. After cutting her hair to just below her shoulder blades, the stylist asked her if she was happy with the length, or if she wanted it further shortened.

She got up from her chair, and went running out to the reception.Though I couldn’t hear them through the glass doors, I could see them very clearly. It looked like she was asking “him” if he was happy with the length or wanted it further shortened. The chauvinistic ass critically surveyed her and said something. She returned, and then meekly asked the stylist to shorten her hair further.

All through the time I sat there getting my hair cut, styled and set, she kept going out and coming in getting his seal of approval through the cutting and straightening process. And every time she looked at the mirror, staring at her reflection, it seemed she positively hated what was being done to her hair.

My stylist finished with me, and I came home. But, I kept thinking of that couple… especially the girl.

She was modern, educated, looked sophisticated. She “looked” – independent. And she was beautiful. But what made her feel so insecure and unwanted, that she had no will to stand-up for herself?

I did not feel angry with her, nor did I think she was stupid. I understood the mental trap she was in. In the past, when I was still in my painful marriage (which I have spoken about in my old posts), the fear of emotional and physical censure and harassment was so much that I would not shake a finger without permission. I did not then know how it was to live for myself.

These people were not yet married, and she had already submitted herself to a life of a doormat. She was already tiring, dying a little death every time she gave up a part of herself that she loved. Before she knew, she would just be a shell, her soul all empty leaving behind only an abyss of darkness and unending ache and longing.

I really hope it does not end-up like that for her. I hope she tires soon , reaches the breaking point and decides to reclaim her life.

I hope the looking glass reveals to her what she really is and she realizes that she is perfect and enough on her own, without the approval of a man.

I hope she gets a chance to live her life, long before she loses the will and strength to claim what is hers.

 

 

 

But Why??

I haven’t written anything for some time now.

Not because I had a writer’s block… not because I had nothing to write. On the contrary. I was overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed and bogged down by all that was happening around me, in the world.

I just feel at a loss… at a loss to understand, why the species of “homo sapiens” behave the way they do?

I don’t claim to be a genius, ultra-special, holier-than-thou specimen. Just an ordinary person, like any other. And when I can understand that what is going on around is so destructive and so wrong, why is it so difficult for others?

It is really such a strange time to live in.

Man is at his most intelligent best, and the stupidest worst. He is aware, but his awareness is overpowered by arrogance. He is technologically advanced, but then uses it to spread chaos and mayhem. He claims to be progressive and then does the most barbaric things for the most archaic reasons.

Two year olds become Instagram Influencers, eighteen year olds eat tide pods for entertainment.

People are worried about their privacy, but then want everything  to be done for them by somebody, the more robotic and automatic the better. And don’t they understand that anything and everything that seems to be happening by technological magic, does that by harvesting the personal information that you give them?

Fake photos, fake videos, fake friends, fake life… anything else left?

And the way we take our earth for granted, is unspeakable.

Truth be told, we are just one of the many species on this Earth. We claimed ownership over this planet because of a developed brain, and then in the most stupid way are systematically destroying all that is necessary for our very sustenance.

The earth as a planet will remain… long after the human species is gone. This planet is home not just to us but to so many other species, known and unknown to man. And some of them adapt, evolve and sustain. The mysteries of this planet are so deep and human beings cannot understand it all. Life on this planet will go on, regardless of you or me.

Isn’t it ironic that the only species with the most developed brain, is the only one which is destroying it’s habitat completely? No other species does it.

I just feel so stupid seeing what’s being done by our kind.

I am tired, overwhelmed and defeated. By own species, my own fellowmen.

Why worry about a zombie attack when we are becoming more and more emotionless and robotic each day? We are all right here, becoming more robotic and more plastic, turning into senseless machines, keen to destroy ourselves.

 

Welcome Back!!

Shreya put down her pen and looked down at her answer sheet with a sigh of relief. It was finally over. She had done pretty well. She had been very anxious and tense, and it all seemed silly now. After going through her paper twice, she looked at the clock. Thirty minutes to kill. She looked out of the window. The Sun baked the ground and she could see the dust rising lazily in the air.

She could feel a bubble of joy forming inside her which reached her lips bursting into a smile.  Her exams were finally over, sixth grade was done… and it was also a Saturday. The vacations did not excite her as much as her Saturday routine.

Mom would be home. She would find something special from the internet to cook. Grandma and Mom would be in front of the gas stove, busy chopping and frying when she returned home with her Grandpa. The delicious smell would hit her right at the door, and she would rush straight into the kitchen. She loved to peek into the pan to see how the dish looked. Grandma would be yelling to first wash her hands, but she couldn’t help it. She loved to see how the dish looked, and whether it looked as delicious as it smelt.

Saturdays were relaxed. She and Grandpa spent long hours at the dining table. She ate and over-ate while Grandpa told her stories.

Mom was also more relaxed. Both would laze on the bed for hours. Mom was more patient on Saturdays. She loved to ask Mom about everything. Even though she knew some of the answers. And Mom actually knew that she already knew the answers. It felt good to hear the answers from Mom. It made her feel better. Mom knew everything. No… Mom said she did not know everything. But at least it seemed she knew so many, many things. She hated it when Mom said she did not know, or became short or impatient with her.

Mom let her watch movies on Saturdays. She sometimes even downloaded movies from the internet for her to watch. She would ask Mom to do that today. Princess Barbie, or maybe she would watch Coco again. She loved that movie very much. Maybe she would make one more page on Coco in her scrap book. The first one she made was not so colorful.

“I want to go out today”, she thought. “I will tell Mom that I want to stroll”. She won’t say no today.

Ice Cream…yes. Grandpa would get her Cornetto Chocolate Ice cream.

Shreya sighed. A sigh of relief and satisfaction. The exams were finally over.

Her whole Saturday routine and every day routine had all been in a disarray because of the exams. Mom was also so much more serious. That she caught a cold right before the exam did not help matters at all. No special snacks, no movies, no stroll. Grandpa always gave salt water to gargle, Grandma was always careful about fried and cold items. Mom was always checking on her sniffling, asking her to drink water, touching to check the temperature and then getting a confirmation from Grandma and Grandpa if it was alright…it was so very frustrating!!!

The only light moment was Mom and her jig at the end of every paper, marking the end of one more exam. Mom would also sit next to her when she studied, which she liked. But she did not like it when Mom asked her to read with focus, or looked at the clock. It irritated her. That’s when she called her Mom “Buffalo” in her mind. But Mom was a mind reader, it was like magic. Her head would be in the book or in the laptop, and she would say “And you are a baby buffalo”. It always amazed her. “How do you come to know??” she would always ask. Mom would just smile.

Ah! Yes… she loved to see her Mom smile too. Mom did not smile much. She was always serious. But she looked beautiful when she smiled.

Shreya felt she couldn’t contain the relief, excitement and happiness inside her. Her Saturdays were finally going to be normal. She could hug the whole world with joy. She felt so happy inside her. Back to Life.. Back to her favorite day!!!

When the bell rang, she could barely wait to hand over her paper, and rush out with her bag.

She had no time. She was busy. She had so many things to do… so many places to go. Her Saturday routine was back after all!!

Note: This was my entry for the short story contest of  March for Life Of Writers. The topic was – Favorite Day.  I didn’t win, but I loved the experience. Would love to get your feedback.

The women of beauty??

I am a loner – one of choice (A loner – by choice, not chance.) .

Being a loner has distinct advantages.You get to watch all the drama around without being a part of it.Being quiet and introverted is a bonus. Your mouth is shut and you observe more.

And you get to see so much going around. You are not drowned in the noise and babble. You have your own cocoon in which you are comfortable and secure.

A couple of days back, there was a collection drive in order to organize a feast at office, to celebrate a festival. I contribute, but I don’t go for the lunch. The introvert inside me screams blue murder seeing crowds.

Today was the D-Day of the feast. And as is the norm, people were asked to come in ethnic wear.

This is where the fun starts. Me in my blue jeans and t-shirt, was safely out of the game.

Sari is the ethnic wear for women in India. Men – don’t matter. For this is the battle ground for the ladies brigade. All the feminists, and pioneers of gender equality, and women empowerment join their weaker and meeker sisters; and unleash the power of lipstick and foundation.  (My thoughts on feminism?  Here… A Feminist? Not I…)

Hair is straightened, layered and colored. Eyebrows plucked out and redrawn. Concealer, foundation, blush, and layers are caked over the face. Finally, bindi on the forehead and signed off with the mascara.

Then comes  the actual attire. The said “ethnic wear”.

First – The sari blouse. This is the tricky one. This will give one the edge in the competition. How much of bare back is shown? Is it spaghetti strap, or tie-in. Is it sleeveless, or long-sleeved. Half the competition is won here. The other half depends on how much of navel is shown when wearing the sari.

Finally the heels and the brigade is ready to sashay, making sure every man around notices the feminist you.

The more “empowered” ones, the #MeToo representatives, are the more aggressive in their seductive display.

They know the men who ogle, who love seeing the glimpse of bare skin. And they parade around them, again and again. And if they do not notice, they draw their attention. Walk in front of them, calling out that someone, who has just disappeared around the corner… Take group pics with them, positioning themselves in that strategic way. Flirt, blink your fake eyelashes coquettishly.

To hell with objectifying the woman body!! I am so sexy, I need to be seen!! Back to my feminist ideology tomorrow!! For today, I need these suckers to lech at me!!

Oh!! And how they hate their tribe!! It is to be seen to be believed. Sticking cheeks together, clicking selfies, all the while hoping that the other one’s mascara runs or the fake eyelashes fall off. God! it must be so tiring to keep up the charade of love, when all they want to do is tear each others’ hair off!!

At first, I did not know whether to feel disgusted with the hypocrisy I was seeing or laugh at it. I finally opted for the latter, for it was so much more fun for me. And I enjoyed watching the elaborate enactment going on around me. It was like a costume drama. Like a performance, where every member knows their act and place.

Frankly, I believe this is why every #MeToo drive becomes a mockery. (#Me Too – Really??? That’s How You Define Yourself??) . A mockery of the ones who were really hurt, who really suffered and were victimized. Whose scars are there, hidden and hurting every day.

The real ones are never out there sashaying to the wolves.

They are also beautiful,and they not only dress well, but they also carry themselves so gracefully that everyone turns around to watch them pass by. They don’t revel in their stories. They don’t cry victim one day and push their sexuality in your face the next.

They are the ones who have learnt to live again, who have rebuilt their lives out of ashes; who know what it is to be broken. They are the ones who found the strength to go on when they thought they couldn’t, when they thought that they had nowhere to go, when they thought it was all over for them.

These are the women of beauty. For their beauty is etched in their souls.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuck with our stories?

Opinions, misconceptions, stories – born out of our experiences, exposure, dreams and nightmares. Childhood beliefs, or misbeliefs.

Encounters – someplace, somewhere.

And media… the all powerful media which so powerfully changes the life and perception of people, without any remorse, pity or empathy.

All of these and more shape the stories in our mind. And somehow, we are all stuck with one story about something in our lives.

When I came across Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, I just had to sit back and think. Think about all the perceptions we generally have. And the perceptions media generates.

I want to share it with all of you here. Hope it resonates with you, like it did with me.

Love…

 

And I finally hear the sounds of silence…

It feels good when you finally stop explaining yourself. When you stop trying to make others understand who you are, who you are not, what you mean and what you don’t mean.

The heart feels light. The mind is at ease. And there is relief. It feels strange too… you are not used to this feeling of weightlessness. You are used to the weight of the baggage that you have have been lugging around for so long down.

Being happy is after all so easy. I wonder why I never knew.

When I understood that this life, which I am blessed with, is not meant to be miserable, was never meant to be miserable. When I understood that I was under no obligation to do anything, think of anything or follow anything that did not feel right, that did not make me feel good. That things that were good for me, that I really wanted, and the ones who were really the right ones were never meant to hurt me, make me cry or make me hate myself, it all felt so simple.

Every emotion of raw pain that I felt was a call of help from my inner self, telling me to stop-stop-stop. To stop abusing and hurting my inner being again, again and again. To stop looking for the things that I wanted outside and instead turn inwards.

My over-thinking of the painful incidents and hurt just worsened it.

It feels good to stop. It feels good to pause. It feels good to be yourself. And it feels so good to experience these moments when your mind is empty of thoughts.

Now, I can clearly hear the sounds of silence. The beating of my heart, the peals of my laughter, the bubbling joy of discovery, and the vibrations of relief and calmness. And I can now almost touch these happy images that come up in my mind. The images that bring a smile to my face.

And these quiet sounds of silence that I have enveloped myself with, make me so alive, that I no longer hear the babble and noise of the world without.

 

 

This moment…

 

Yesterday, I was watching a TED talk by David Steindl-Rast (I have shared the link below for all of you). There was one point he made, that struck me so much that I am not able to shake it off from my mind.

Every moment that I get, that you get – in this life, is a gift. We do not pay for it or work for it. It is given to us completely free..without any terms and conditions..to be used, in whatever way we want.

I have been turning this thought over and over again in my mind.That is such a different way of seeing life.

This moment is mine, for free…I can use it for anything. Now do I use it to laugh or cry; do I use it to love myself or berate myself; do I use it to feel good or feel miserable; do I use it to think about myself or think about what somebody did to me…is totally my choice. But, once I make the choice and use this moment to follow my choice, it is no longer free. My choice has a consequence. No matter what. Do I turn this moment into an opportunity, or do I turn it into a miserable, agonizing time – that is up to me.

Just this thought, makes me understand of how we are in control of our lives.

It is totally in our hands to shape every moment of life that is gifted to us into an opportunity to better ourselves..

Amen!