Review

A rebel is born

As a child
I loved the smell of sauted garlic
And ginger boiling into the milk tea
Even jolted whistles of a cooker
While I grew sprouts under the sink
Which grew eclectic with pumpkin

I was determined to love it all,
Even the very art of simmering
In the right measure

But then one day, and then every following day
I stood behind my mother
And wondered why,
In every house
every commercial
even world cinema –
It’s women
That stand behind kettles and burners
Relishing the aroma of sauted garlic
And tea and sprouts

I didn’t wonder too long,
I tossed the kettle, flushed the sprouts and cut my hair short and called myself a rebel with a cause.

I have hated cooking all my life, not so much because I had something against preparing wonderful meals that bring so much joy and contentment. I did some soul searching and I remembered that I did love cooking and to watch amma cook, but the day I realised that the world sees this as a “woman’s compulsory unpaid service”, I had told myself I wouldn’t conform.

Review

Zenana

Zenana.. ( Part of the house/ palace where women were confined to)

Why does this city linger, in my unremembered dreams,
Not for its mahals, forts or finery
But for women
who raised them all – Maharajas, rajputs and craftsmen..

Their zenanas, , their loneliness
forever a royal,
Forever living it’s ways,
Forever, knowing their promised predicament
Forever, not knowing the wonders of the world..

The magnanimity of it all,
To be part princess, part prisoner,
Partly loved and partly not,
And one wonders what do riches mean, if one isn’t free?

But given a choice, wouldn’t we all give it our all,
to protect our own rightful imprisonment?

Review

Then and now.

I would not have pictured myself penning the intricacies of those magical moments down to such finite details any day, but I have perhaps more reasons than one to think that keeping him as alive in me, as much as I possibly can, is a choice which I couldnt have not made. Well, the lover in me is often a slave to the writer in me, waging a war with my inner self till it gets myself to bleed it’s ink with the tales of its adventures. I thought I had known life, and love and meanings, only to realise later that I lived the life of a long withered twig floating about the course of an aimless wind till I one day swarmed into his arms. As enchanting as it may have been, now, years later, in retrospect I cannot stop thinking that I would have liked it a lot more to have met him in a different world. Somewhere far, somewhere quiet, somewhere from my dreams, somewhere I would not want to return from, somewhere away from the haunt of civilisations and expectations. But here we were, urban nomads, at a posh chinese restaurant, wearing fashionable clothes and speaking more with words than with unsaid syllables of subtle silences and discreet glances like what I always imagined it would be.

I had read volumes about it. Large volumes of all my favourite literature from around the world only seemed to speak relentlessly about the bitter-sweet entanglement that love was to the world. The eccentricities, the vulnerabilities, the longings – I knew all about these that came with this exquisite sickness called love. But, quite reluctantly, I must confess, I did not see it coming to get me when it actually did one afternoon, unannounced and in utter silence and then turned my whole world upside down until he was to finally make my world revolve around his being. Now that I look back, I hate that I cannot remember the mild subtleties of the day – I cannot recall if it was a bright sunny day or a gloomy Monday afternoon, but I do recall tensing up at the passive awareness of a storm that had slowly began to build in me somewhere deep down. Only days later, I found that about myself, it was me, and I was the girl walking into it, smiling as if in a daze. I sometimes look out into the ends of horizon to remember the fine details of the day that do not matter. All I can remember now is how you just stood in the distance, calm and lost in thoughts, looking right back at me as I walked towards to you, beaming and so full of our ruthless wanton charm that has since held me captive.It was only years later that I was to find out, quite disturbingly, that at that very second, at that very instant, not very far from across the table, he was silently following my mind that had begun wandering off boundaries on a dreamy adventure. I did not, and couldn’t have forgiven myself if I looked away for a minute, or a fraction of any fraction of measurable time possible away from your face. For once, I wished to climb in him and see myself through his eyes, and for once feel beautiful.

His eyes soon met my probing eyes halfway and in seconds he was only an inch within my reach and the insides of my brain have been an ecstatic mess since. He reached his long lean fingers to shake hands with my small plump hands, and says a word or two in his husky dreamy voice that I cannot pass a day without hearing anymore. Love caught me off guard, love caught me in a time and space where I was neither prepared nor allowed to love, and to a man I wasn’t fully capable of loving. One thing that you realise about the sheer powerlessness of your will against the plot of your heart is that the heart hears no rationale. It had its ways of getting things done, and it was evidently luring me into loving him more and more, a little more, every day. I was not prepared to be entangled in such infinite madness, with a man who was to take years to see into my soul. But despite my very best efforts, it was too late to escape my predicament, it was too late to be cautious anymore.

 

Review

The one that couldn’t be.

I wish we could stay like this till the end of time. Your hands entwined in mine, the gaps between my fingers wholly filled by your long strong fingers, the pressure on my hands slowly building that it was almost beginning to hurt a little. The cab began to move and my mind began wandering aimlessly to all the realms where my figments of imagination had taken me in the past. I was high and hazy and was dripping with desire, the slow motion of the vehicle taunting my eagerness much, making me smile in passive awareness of the situation. The air around was moist and misty and smelled only of you, just in the right amount to crack my senses up and the rain and alcohol, only adding more fuel to my desires for a sultry romantic entanglement this evening with a man who I had been so helplessly in love with forever.

My dear, I still recollect the look in your eyes, the torment and apprehension, and I remember that my sudden sideways glance had met yours somewhere in the middle and it shone brightly in recognition of my most intricate desires. I was drawn to you in the most shameless ways and it was a lot more than what this moment could handle. I lowered my head slowly, cutting off the savage eye contact and rested it on the lump formed by our entwined fingers. I stayed there in contentment for the next few minutes, inhaling deeply now, my lips lightly brushing the back of your hands, evidently giving up all caution. Even in that state, images of your empty face were playing games behind the closed shutters of my eyes, and I knew that every next second with you, I was risking a heart attack and a heart ache at the same time.

Oh! How I longed to plant a kiss on your face!

We were indeed immensely tired and the long walk in the rain had not helped wear the tiredness off. But, every time it rains again, I’ll think of you, I’ll think of how you held me as we walked on and how you reminded me how wonderfully magical it is, to be in love with you. The wind, ever the cupid, was swaying past us, the strands of our hair swiftly dancing in the air and the clothes slowly giving up the dampness. The city had drifted into a sound sleep, and here we were, idiotic lovers, looking into another’s eyes, singing unsung verses of a love story that couldn’t be.

(Did those moments seem as beautiful to you, as they were to me?)

It wasn’t long before that the cab pulled into the reality of the airport driveway and I sank to realize that it was time for you to leave. I was still stuck between the wheels of the wayward dream, in those brief seconds where fantasy and reality exchanged pleasantries – all I could think of was you. Your face, I so badly miss every morning, and the face that comes to haunt in the most beautiful dreams and the worst nightmares alike. I refused to let go of your hands, but when you kissed my forehead, it made me weak and mushy and tearful.There were no tears in your eyes, but the expression on your face was so profound that it whispered volumes of our love in mild subtleties to my miserable being. Before I could even break down or beg you to stay, you had pulled away and walked out of the car.

 

You were right, there’s not a place for our kind of love in this dimension of time and space. The idiot that I am must stop to hope against hope that there is a possibility of us beyond such rare moments of ecstasy. But I must tell you now, that you departed too soon, to the life that is your reality, continents away. And well, don’t ask me if it hurts that I am not in it.

Review

Dear Facebook, Make amends NOW!

Dear Facebook,

Mankind will forever be thankful to you for making social networking so ridiculously easy and accessible for everyone on the planet. I am an addict myself, and I strongly believe in the power of social media in facilitating all its users to become socially aware citizens. But then this letter is a reminder, to remind you that with great powers come great responsibilities. And those, you cannot, cannot pretend to turn blind on.

I’m not sure if the recent developments regarding the arrest of the admins of a paedophilic page has reached you. It is probably not the only one in history, but what makes this arrest unique is your involvement in it. To say that you were not aware of it would be wrong, because by all means, the page was reported several times by several people and the news had reached you, I have no idea to which hierarchy level though. I understand that the page did not breach your “policy” that time, but now that they are arrested, you do see that they were essentially what we had reported them to be. I hope you want to seek redemption now. And by redemption, I suggest that you decide to make significant changes to your policy to keep your hands clean at least in the years to come.

Probably you have never thought of it this way, but then they used you, you to hold pictures of innocent kids, most of them below 10, and then make them available to customers who came through the page. Do you realize that you could have saved a lot of innocent lives had you decided to take prompt actions when the page was repeatedly reported? You said it did not contain nudity, and most of the comments were in Indian languages which must have looked Greek and Latin to you. But let’s have a word, adult to adult, the admins were smart enough to know that you would take it down if they included nudity, so they played the game well enough and you fell for it. You bought them, because you did not realize what they were doing. But since you know that this is where you fall short, make amends to fill it up.

I understand that setting up reviewers for every regional language is essentially a time consuming task and setting up teams would essentially need funding. But I do not and cannot take it if you tell me if its not possible. It is possible, Zuckerberg, you have travelled to a hell lot of places in India and have taken the pain to make us believe that your idea of internet.org was for us. So,deep down, you do want to do something for us, right? Here’s your big chance. It should make you feel immensely proud to have that kind of a unique power, to be able to save a lot of lives from being forced into prostitution and rape. Had you decided to atleast tie up with the local police in helping review those when you still had the time and chance, a lot of man missing complaints would have been solved. A lot of children would have atleast been spared at least a few months of verbal and physical torture had you wanted to do something about it.

I know that there are other ways the perpetrators could have done it on the world wide web. And they would still have been pimps even if the operations weren’t through Facebook. I know they can get their own websites. I know they could have gone to some other social networking website. While there are a spectrum of places to which they could have gone, they chose you. Facebook because that is where the entire civilization is active these days. And Facebook because of its sheer lack of sophistication. Anyone can manage a page and create fake accounts and manage businesses with your tool. And Facebook because you don’t even have to search for it in the world wide web, the pages would just stumble up on you. And Facebook because of its credibility and accountability. And last,but not the least, I do not want to say this, yet Facebook because they know your review policies. They know they are safe.

You, all of you at Facebook, I believe, are adults enough to understand that verbal violence and attacks, including defaming and derogatory remarks are as much abusive as nudity or pornography. You need to take control, take charge of what you host and feed.

You should be proud of what you created. My life has been a lot easier because Facebook existed. I myself am an obsessive compulsive Facebook user. But this is the time, when you decide not let us down anymore with your policies.Get a review team in place, get help from local police and judiciary whenever the situation demands, but make a decision to make yourself free of explicit trafficking pages and profiles. Make amends, NOW.

Review

The Highway Man And His Subway Girl.

romantika-svidanie-devushka

“Hey! What if I make a pass at you right now?”. She says playfully.

“Well, you don’t have to try to make a pass at me everytime, you see?”

 

“Tell me, what if I do?”

“What! Like here? But why, Aren’t you a little too young for that?”

 

“I asked you a question! ”

“Give it a shot, I am game”

 

“So,do you think I stand a chance?

“Do I?”

“Does it have to be so complicated?”

 

“No.”

“No?”.

“No, I think we are way past complicated here.”

 

“So, Is that why you push me away?

“You think I push you away? How do you explain me turning up here every second day then?”

 

“Enlighten me”

I want to pull you close and push you away at the same time, if that is even possible“,

 

” You are quite enjoying the game”

“And you are a tricky woman. Don’t think you can get away with it for long”.

 

“I don’t want to.”

Silence

 

“But, why me?”

“Because that’s what I want?”

 

“You do realize that I am nothing but an old bat with an evil past”.

“I like the way it sounds.”

 

“Maybe you do, but I am certainly not the man that you need”.

“I have seen the way you look at me.”.

 

“Maya, Don’t be ridiculous now. You were not even born when I first kissed! ”

“Well, I am here now”

 

“I see that you are! “

 

“So, does that mean anything at all to you? ”.

“Yes. The world”

 

PS: To Be Continued.. (Or Not?)

Review

Of Lost Conscience !!

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Some stories need to be told even if it is sure to make you sick and uncomfortable.I want this piece to deeply unsettle you, disturb you, pull you out of your very equilibrium, to the extend that you decide to take that time to look around you and stay alert. And if you don’t want that, you can navigate back right away and spare yourself the horror.

And Yes! This is absolutely a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. However my protagonist and antagonist do have ideological and emotional resemblance to many many people, both living and dead.

Before I drop more clues on the story line and its relevance, I will start my narration.

Once upon a time there lived a woman. She learned that destiny works in mysterious ways when he asked her to marry him. She did not quite know why the most popular guy in the neighborhood picked the most invisible woman around. He was the youngest one down a family tree of proud businessmen and their marriage had been a major affair in the village. The flowing white gown, the orchids and lilies, the velvet cake- everything about their marriage was just too beautiful to be real. They lived in his prodigious mansion overlooking the meadows and mountains with his parents, brother, his wife and their baby Aliya- their sunshine.

He helped his mama cook her favorite fries and read out the news to his aging papa. He would often come back from work early to spend his long evenings with the family. Most Saturdays he would babysit Aliya while her parents took their well-needed break. He would take the baby in his tender hands with so much of compassion that even the sight would melt your heart. He would hum a feeble lullaby and disappear along the misty corridors and let the music echo around the house.As if by magic, in a few minutes, the baby would slowly stop mewling and fretting.

Despite everything being so close to perfect, she was not happy.  She felt a kind of emptiness within herself and assumed that he wasn’t really happy with her. Yes, he always had his dinner with her, but he was always metaphorically miles and miles away. He was gentle with her in bed but he never looked at her in the eye or whispered sweet nothings in her ears. Eventually, she figured that this indifference was something to worry about. Determined to make some serious amends to brighten up the marriage she broke the news of her pregnancy to him. He was ecstatic and she knew things would change for the best now on.

One of those days, she decided to take a walk along the hazy corridors watching the pansies and violets that filled the walkways which looked like an amazing collage of the most splendid colors. The baby was coming in a few weeks and she felt distinct waves of excitement and thrill pass down her spine all the time. She kept moving forward, running her fingers along the sides of the wall as she passed. She noticed a window to the play room left open and leaped on to close it shut because she did not want Aliya to catch a bad cold.

Young Aliya was in deep sleep, her tiny chest moving up and down like a piano playing a mystical symphony. She kept looking at the toddler for a few seconds and slipped a hand on her own bulging tummy to feel her cousin move within her to join the rhythm. Then, she saw her husband walk in to the play room. He cupped her face in his hands and planted a gentle kiss on her forehead. And then abruptly,as if taken over by an evil force, he was moving fast, and then faster, caressing and fondling with his niece as she watched in horror. The expression on his face grew more tense as she watched her husband pull the baby to his bare body. With each movement he made, she felt as if a heavy stab just slit through her bare skin. She watched in horror, cold and terrified, an image of her own husband turn into a monster. Before he could lower her down any further, she closed the window with a heavy thud. She saw him pull up his clothes and walk away in frenzy as soon as the sound of the slamming windows reached his eardrums. She pressed her tears and recalled in horror that the last time she had seen that expression on his face, she was under him.

She felt weak and helpless. Her immediate thoughts, contrary to what I would have liked, were not about calling the cops or about exposing the gruesome obscenity. She felt heinous and nauseous but somehow, she believed that no one would believe her. She did not know if she would be able to save the kid every time. She also knew that she did not have the strength to confront him or demand some serious explanations. That night she did not sleep. She spend hours with the phone in her hand wondering if she should dial 100. She thought of the vows they made at the wedding and decided that this was the toll she had to pay to conserve his honor. Everyone has an ugly secret. This was going to be her’s. Her betrothal to a vile pedophile.

She believed that with the arrival of their son, he would be a changed man. Until one day, only a few months later, she walked into their room to find Rihaan asleep right after his dad left the room with that familiar monster expression on his face.

“It is us today, it will be you tomorrow.” – Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia

P S: I do not know when or where we started loosing as a human race. We live in this society where the sacred bonds of being a father or daughter or wife or mother no more deter us from exercising horrible crimes like these which are not only detestable but are also atrocious and immoral. Sexual abuse is a terrible , terrible thing to happen to anyone. Having said that, it kills me to even dare to fathom the emotional and mental devastation that would be perpetrated on children who fall victim to these. Do they not realize that these leave a burning scar on the lives of the victim forever and ever ? Remember that atrocities like these- marital rape, domestic abuse, honor killing, cruelty towards women and elderly-  keep happening because of people like you and me who choose to remain silent because we live in a delusion. We do not want to see our husbands or siblings or kids get punished even if that comes at the cost of posing a threat to many others. If you ask me, they need to be send to concentration camps, if not worse.I won’t guide the directions to your thought process beyond this point. You can be the woman in the story or not, it is your choice.