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Another clichéd love story!

March 25,2015

It has been two years now. He is used to all my moaning and whining day after day.When I am happy, I prepare his favorite breakfast. When I don’t, he would surprise me with an omelette or a sandwich. When we both oversleep, we go out and grab the well-needed brunch. He brings home fresh flowers as he returns from office. If he doesn’t, he knows I will pluck random flowers off our garden and fill the vase 😛 . Choosing the right color for our daughters room had taken us weeks. We bought every piece of her furniture  together. There were a lot of bickering and falling, of course. But in the end, he would always let me have it my way. Yeayy! We three always had dinner together to thank the father and the son for all their mercy. Occasionally we would watch our favorite movie together while our baby girl would fall into a sound sleep. On Sundays, we go to watch plays or baseball matches. Sometimes, we sing our favorite songs as we cook and do the dishes. These two years have been nothing short of a celebration for us. I couldn’t think of any couple who have argued so less or loved so much.
January 23, 2014 :
I pressed my face harder on to my pillow.  Pulled the quilt over to my face and curled my legs up and slept for some more time. Around an hour later, still sleepy, I decided to call it a morning.It was another beautiful day. I slowly opened my eyes to find Nick sleep peacefully. I lay there watching him for a few minutes. He did seem a little drowsy and clumsy. Yet, to me he looked helplessly charming. In less than an year, we had actually grown fond of each others imperfections and ugliness.  I crawled out of the bed mutely not wanting to wake him up. I walked out to the window and slowly separated the curtains. Nick started shifting in the bed to turn his back on the thin ray of sunlight that gleamed at us from somewhere far. I stood there watching him for some more time.I smiled to myself and went to the bath and washed my face. Then, I walked to our kitchen. I dizzily prepared two glasses of coffee, poured it to the steel cups we brought from India and walked back to where I belonged. An year had passed. It is our first anniversary. Today afternoon we would go to see through the procedures for adoption at the orphanage.  I placed the tray on the table and called out his name in a slow murmur. I knew that its a long way before he would actually wake up.
January 23, 2013
Here was the man I loved the most in my life. For whom I had left home , left friends , switched country and chucked my job . Today, As I walked down the isle, I could hardly see anything else. We had both been waiting for this for so long. Every inch of my body was throbbing with excitement. He was looking at me the way I always imagined he would. We looked into each others eyes as he read out the vows. We knew this meant forever. We had all the friends who cared come down to Greece. His parents and few other close relatives who mattered where there as well. Those candid photography sessions were amazing. The cake was too huge for all of us there. That was my favorite flavor too. I felt as though I had already become a part of his system. The wedding day had been absolutely magical. I will miss India but I wish the country had a little more tolerance for love. By falling in love with each other, we have probably broken every barrier of law, caste, religion, gender and  age. But we advocate for love, which is no crime. But here, among friends and families and strangers who loved us more, we celebrated our matrimony.  Here we start our happily ever after.
December 1, 2012
Coming back to Nicky was the best decision I had taken in a really long time.The few months I have spent with him where so far the happiest ones in my entire life. I couldn’t give up on those. At least not for people who didn’t matter or for the fear of a hypocritical society. Not for all those man- made laws which make absolutely no sense to me. I couldn’t give upon my happiness. Nor his. More so, I didn’t want a miserable marriage to someone else where I know everything will obviously go wrong. My parents don’t understand now. Although I hope someday they will. Not that all these were within Nicky’s parents understanding, however they knew this made us happy. And just for that, they stood by us. I think they are an excellent epitome of classy parenting and they will inspire many in the generations to come.
October 11, 2012
Today I told a few of my friends about Nicky. Some stopped talking to me. Some started pretending I didn’t exist anymore. A few started passing jokes at me. Some broke every threshold of humanity by treating me like an untouchable. An out caste. It was really hard to hold on to this with so much of negativity and hatred all around me. But today I also knew who were really my friends and who were the ones in goat’s skin.. Those a few who actually cared, tapped my shoulders, hugged me tight and congratulated me. They promised they would stand by me. Some others warned me of all the impending controversies . Some said we should keep the relationship a secret forever. But not after this. Not after Nicky took me to this really crowded pool party and proposed in front of a 100 others. Amidst all the cheer ups and wishes, he ran out to me and slipped a ring to my finger. He wouldn’t even wait for an answer. Of course I said Yes a 100 times so that the whole world would hear later. But this alienation from my friends have made me way too insecure and apprehensive. Maybe I should take some time off to think about it. Maybe I do need a break. I didn’t want to rush anything as yet. The very prospect of leaving my family and country was a little hard to take. Things were happening so fast.
August 9, 2012
It has been really hard for me all these years. Hiding in the closet.Pretending to be like everyone else. I never told anyone about this. At times, it was traumatic. Especially when you are the third son of a typical Indian Islamic family. I had no idea why I was attracted to men, or why I wasn’t attracted to any woman at all. Initially I thought I was sick. Slowly as the years passed I knew I was one of those men, for which my country had no tolerance or sympathy. But today after I met Nicky. I know that I don’t have to pretend anymore. I am no more worried. I was a man who had just met the man of his dreams. I knew I was in love. Desperately, irrevocably and unconditionally.
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“…You shall not kill , except in the course of justice…”

The passing of seasons or governments make no difference to me. I cannot look out of window and watch the dry leaves fall or listen to the wind or drizzle. There are no windows here. There is no wind. I see no sign of life or reality. Arnab Goswami says the nation wants to know when I will be hanged. Nothing more. Nothing less. While in here, I rot , day after day. Alone. Silent. Unseen. Unheard. Hated. In a room that smells of rust , urine and filth. Everywhere around me,  all I see is shadowed walls, empty ceilings and grilled doors. And long and narrow corridors that twist and turn into ugly emptiness. And blood stained awkward non-sensical inscriptions of another prisoner who must have made them in moments of sheer desperation during his tenure here. Twenty three maddening hours inside this miserable cube shaped hellhole everyday is the toll I pay for choosing the path of darkness and vile while I still had the time and choice to go back to life. Here, listening to the deafening silence and the eerie vibrations, I pray for those innocent souls  I had slain to safely reach jannath. And wish that the next second, the next moment, the next minute, day, week ,month , year would pass a little quickly than it did before. Looking forward to nothing but the judgement day in Allah’s court. Everyone around me, just about everyone , wants to see me die a ghastly death. During the occasional visit to courtrooms and hospitals , thousands of people wait to lay their hands on me. They try to kill me, throw stones at me, call me names. Abuse me. Burn my effigies. Not that I don’t deserve any of it. A mass murderer , an infamous criminal who is the perpetrator of one of the worst terrorist attacks that struck the country. My name had gone down in history in bloody bold red. A terrorist. I was that and nothing more.

The outside seemed unreal to me. It simply did not exist anymore. This was my destiny. A direct result of a series of wrong choices I made. Most of them made out of the sheer lack of choice. We were all trained for this. Trained to be undeterred and vicious and strong. Yet no description of reality will prepare us for the actuality of it until it strikes us. Sometimes, I close my eyes and try to recollect the world outside.I don’t particularly imagine the sky or the birds or the meadows. But I might have wanted to see the sight of the shack in which I was born or the fields in which I used to play as a kid once more. Recently I even developed a wish to get the feel of the sun rays on my skin again. I didn’t know it was one of the things I would miss so badly some day. Occasionally I would scream, I would cut myself, bang at the walls, tear at my clothes, rip my flesh. I would  groan,cry, weep, jump, fall, run, and then at the end fall to the floor tired and weak. I am not insane. Yet I often dug my fingernails into the walls and make carvings of my Ammi’s face. I am not guilty, yet pray that all the souls of people who died because of me would rest in peace.
I didn’t mind the bad food or dirty clothes now. Indeed I had left home one Eid because Abbajaan did not buy me new clothes. Not that I got them later either. I didn’t know they would come for me. And then I met those men . I did not trust them then. I never trusted them later either. I had tried to run away more than once. And I came fleeing home, but then they had chased me back. I knew that if I tried again, they would burn my house down and uproot the rest of my khandhaan. My Abbujaan and Ammi watched in terror as they beat me up and rolled me into their truck. My parents were too old and poor and unhealthy to stop them or pursue me. In a vain attempt, they did try to raise a meek protest. I looked back at them and watched their sunken faces for as long as I could as the trucked pulled away. They knew I didn’t want to do this. They feared I would be made to do something terrible. Despite that, they will never have me again. The fact that they have disowned me doesn’t upset me any more. Those people were too powerful and influential. The path that I chose for myself had not left me with any way back. There would be no redemption or salvation. I could only wait for the day of judgment to arrive.
That day in the basement of an ugly building in some remote land, they had me and 20 others, handcuffed and chained. Then we were offered food and clothes and allowed to offer Namaz. We were given clean clothes and bed sheets and shown our rooms. The next day onward they started teaching us to read our holy books and understand what we thought was about the greatness of our god and our religion. But they manipulated our scripts. They taught us exactly what they wanted to teach us. They showed us exactly what they wanted us to see – About how our life was different from others. When they told us the stories of our brothers who fought bigger wars and gave away their lives for the love of our God , they had our attention the entire time. Then about the need for national reconstruction and the issue of identity politics. We did not understand most of it. What they didn’t tell us then was that, in the pretext of religion, they would shape us into wanton criminals who would kill away thousands of innocent men and women. They wanted a state for us and would settle for nothing less.  Slowly and steadily  they were turning us into religious extremists, more so, as bloody criminals.
In the next phase, they taught us to kill. To run, to not escape but to kill more. And to kill faster. To not leave anyone alive. They told us of everything that can happen to us if we are caught. Of all the torture and torment. To survive it.  Ways  to outlive the pain caused due to physical endurance. To enjoy the high and the color of blood. And then they gave us a choice to back out. But then we were warriors, we didn’t want to back out anymore. We wanted to be martyrs. We were ready. We would never flee. The whole purpose of my birth and existence was narrowed down to this moment. This moment where I would be the perpetrator of God’s will. I did exactly what they said and more. The bomb blasted exactly at the time and place where it was meant to be. The rest is history. What was not part of the plan was that I would be caught, alive. I wasn’t allowed to live.
I took bath and offered my Namaz. Every time I  close my eyes,  I saw the terror on the faces of the people I had killed. The sight wouldn’t let me sleep or walk or talk. I believed I was remorseless. But deep down I felt weak and helpless. I wasn’t allowed to be guilty. I looked down on the lines on my hands – my lakheer. For one second, I wished I was born as  another man. I looked at the dirt in my fingernails and lifted my hand to feel the wound on my face. I take out a small piece of blade I had hidden inside my clothes and smeared it at my vein. I see the blood oozing out in a slow shower. I watched every drop fall to the ground. More blood. All red. Slowly it formed a pool. I cut again. I enjoyed the high pain gives me. I try to imagine the face of Ammi. And the fields. Abbu. Bhaaijaan. The visions become blurred. I grow dizzy. The pool of blood forms a narrow stream and slowly starts flowing away from my body. The visions are now of the faces of the people I had killed. To die knowing that there is no one to mourn our death leaves us half dead. But then to know that the Nation is waiting to celebrate my death fills the other half. I had sinned. I have no alibi or pleas. I knew that along with many others, I had wronged my God and my people. Well, the human in me had died a long time ago. They made an animal out of a poor illiterate 22- year old. I was not allowed to be guilty.My thoughts drifted back to the night I was brought to the basement. That night ,I was dead and a terrorist took birth.
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A CONFESSION THAT CAME LATE

Had the 9th year of the twenty first century and its spring not come, My life would have seen an absolute vertical shift from where it is today. Post class 11, like every other delusional Indian youth, I enrolled for an entrance coaching program at one of kerala’s pioneer institutes because that is what everybody did back then.What followed was prolonged days of concurrent sessions and rigorous examinations.
Finally, like everything else, the classes too came to an end. On the final day marked as  April 30,2009 I was overjoyed to go home. The announcement of classes ending at 3:00(which was 3 hours earlier than the routine timing) that day came around 11 o’clock. I have to recall that in that era I did not hold a mobile phone to my credit.
That day, In the recess break I  briskly ran to the telephone booth. I looked out for a one rupee coin, found it, inserted it into the machine and quickly dialed 10 digits in quick succession. Again, unlike 2015 we all knew a lot of mobile numbers by heart then.I am not sure if it was because I was much younger then or because this device which would store a multitude of contacts was something i did not own then. I did know that he was attending a house warming ceremony of one of his closest friends. But then, as children, we believe its our undeniable right to trouble them at any hour of the day, however trivial the reason may seem. He answered promptly as was the custom. Now, my father had a history of making it late to every public occasion. Be it the school open house or the Annual day, which we believed was an event to flaunt our parents to our peers and teachers. He would invariably appear towards the end of the event when almost everyone would have left. For some reason, As a kid I felt very deeply about all that. I asked him to be present at my hostel by 3. I warned him..” If you’re gonna be late today dad, trust me, this is the last time I’m gonna be traveling with you ever again.”  My dad always said that someday my tongue would land me in big trouble. Well, I did not fathom the intensity of it until later that day. Those words were probably the only reason that I had to shed the hottest tears for a really long time. With that, I placed the receiver on the stand. Now, he would definitely make it. I smiled and walked back to my class.
That phone call was the single biggest mistake of my life ever. Now that I look back, I cannot remember if it was a sunny day or a windy day. If it was a Friday or a monday. I cannot recall who sat with me that day in my class or what color my dress was. I vaguely remember the class getting over and rushing toward the bus which would take us to our hostel. There was a slight drizzle.I looked out of the window from the bus. On reaching the junction there was an unusual crowd and a traffic block. Well those were never one of my concerns. It was only much later that I realized with a shudder that in that rain…On that very moment.. Not far from where the array of buses clustered and deviated roads.. There was a black car that crashed into a bus.. And inside it was my father breathing his last breath. But that day all I thought was about all the impending packing I had to do. I did not even have the faintest idea that it would be anyone I knew, anyone for that matter. The vehicle dragged its way to my hostel. I went to my room packed all my stuff and changed my clothes. He would be waiting for my call, I thought. I went down and made the call. I dialed his number and the screen displayed the number in petite digital display font. The call went through but I immediately disconnected the call as the reply came in an unfamiliar voice. I dialed the number with more caution this time.When I called again, before I could say anything the reply came asking for who I was and the phone belonged to someone who just met with an accident. On that very moment..The skies came crashing down on me. I was shaking and sobbing and hot tears came splashing down my eyes.I cannot imagine how I struggled to hold on to listen to what the man said next. I was overwhelmed with bewilderness and nausea. I could hardly breathe. My legs went limp and my the voices in my head began crumbling. I think I fell down. The picture of my dad with a broken leg or wounded head was more than what I could take.Someone caught me before I passed out.
And then I do not know what happened. When I opened my eyes again trees were running past me in quick succession. I was on a moving vehicle. My eyes were moist and sunken. There was a hand holding me to hers.It was my hostel warden. She was one of the sisters in the convent.There was rosary on one of her hands and the other hand tightly clasped mine. The memories are vague but she did tell me everything was alright. I lay there like a drugged woman not wanting to wake up to reality.I read familiar signboards and bus stops as the car moved forward. We were heading home. That’s a good thing. I would be strong and meet him at the hospital. Maybe stay there till he gets better. I thought miserably. And in a few minutes we turned sideways to a road that would lead to my house. Then I noticed something eery about my place. There were lot of people everywhere. There was a strange silence and melancholy everywhere. The car stopped two blocks away from my house. There were vehicles parked all around. The premonitions were unmistakable. I tore out of the car liked a caged animal. I felt to the ground and stood up again. The sisters held me back. I pulled against them screaming. On top of my voice I ran to my house forgetting every caution and warning. I stood numb for a second to find my mother swarmed by the women in the neighborhood crying and weeping and shouting and cursing at the same time. I walked to her and she hugged me tight to her and wept her life out. I could still not believe this was happening to me. I shut my eyes tight and prayed this was nothing but an ugly dream. For the next 23 hours every second was a heavy blow.. The pain steering through the fleash and bones and the mind gone numb. Thousands of people came to our house .. Gave us a sympathetic glance and shook their heads apologetically and cursed our fate. My mom had lost all her pride and beauty.. She was decreased to a numb mortal in a nick of time. Me and my sister lay on her both sides gasping and weeping. I did not tell anyone about the phone call I made. It was killing me from within. Eating me out alive. The next day he was brought home. I wanted to jump out into the flames that day. I would gratefully be turned down to ash and not regret about it in the next world. I was left alive. To survive.. To exist.. To forget.. To forgive..
Then my life turned upside down. I was no more cold or controversial. There was a realization that now,there would be no one who would look out for me even if I was wrong. Life changed. Everything changed. Our life style.. Our way of thinking.. Way of reacting.. Way of living. I did go back to the dreaded city where my dad’s car crashed  and had left him motionless. I did pick pieces of the number plate and glass pieces from the road. I did cry my eyes out to see the pool of my dads blood spilled and dried on the roads unevenly. And then I never visited ‘pala’ again. Full stop

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What Outshines A Million Splendid Suns??

My friend and I had just finished a very enduring telephonic conversation. It included our reflections on many stereotypical yet poweful theories pertaining to the first and second wave of feminism.. The almost unreal concept of cultural colonization in our country.. About what is known as an identity politics.. realism.. conspiracy theories.. The liberalisation of gays and the emerging lesbianism.. The ethic rivalry.. About Scarlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.. The conversation was long but was equally enthralling and euphoric. I thought of how dumb regular men were in believing that women are incapable of having intelligent conversations.


I thought of the book I was reading as I went in to find something to eat. A thousand splendid suns.. The title said. A story of a young girl Mariam born with the tag of a harami. Her killer instincts and a sunny attitude in spite of the utter misery and pain crushing her and the soon-to-die mother was a treat to read… And then as she’s forced to marry an arrogant old Rasheed thrice her age.. I lost heart. Then I read about how the women are treated post such convenient arrangements under the pretext of a marriage. The neglect.. The domestic abuse.. The rape within wedlock.. The sheer objectification of a girl drawn into this dreaded marriage. The lashes of belt that strike every inch of their body. The even more terrible assault to her mind and intellect. The physical torture she endures as she submits to him. When the cooking didn’t go well.. She’s made to chew pebbles.. She spills blood and teeth alike. I gulp a glass a water and give out a deep sigh. I leave myself to believe that its just another touching story and I shouldn’t worry about it so. The women today are free, I thought.

I walked to my room thinking I’ll retire for the day. I wished my Mariam had married someone with a better temperament. I wished Mariam had fleed and escaped to a valley of contentment. When I started reading the book I wished to implore a young girl’s story from a kolba to education.. enlightenment and awakening. To my dismay what I got was more suffering and misery and the stories of ill treatment of more women as we sheepily read forward. I died another death when her husband married another girl half Mariam’s age again.  A child who was not even born when Mariam was brought to Kabul. 

I thought of all those women who were given away to abuse and torture because of poverty and the sheer lack of a CHOICE.Again I went on think about the little riches of information my friend had shared with me that night.I went on and locked my room. I checked if all the windows are latched. My thoughts flew back to Mariam. I thought about how she put up with her master’s insolence. I thought about how she finally finds the gut to slay the sinner. I thought of all the ways her life would have been had she been betrothed to the right man. I wished she was born in a different country or a different century. I wished there would be no more of Mariams any more. I thought again.
 I drifted back to the conversation. My friend had added earlier that night.. Dont you see it Anju? Men depend on women only for his physical needs. But us? We want them to earn for us.. Bring home all that we need.. Food.. shelter.. clothing.. respect.. and then look out for the kids. There should be some way to counter the argument. I thought. So allowing the lady of the house to work has been a fair deal for them. She can earn her own bit of food,shelter,clothing and respect for herself. And then she would still be the cook and the butler and the dhoby and the prostitute who catered only to the husband.

I looked at the time. I had to get some sleep I thought. To avoid a morning shower I decided to take a bath. I couldn’t help feeling relieved I’m neither Mariam nor any other women caught up in the whirlwinds of life. I’m educated.. I have a job to my credit and a man who loves me beyond measure. I stepped into the bathroom. Then the familiar fear caught hold of me again. I was overwhelmed by a fear of being watched. I looked out to the ventilation and exhaled. I came out feeling empty.

I guess we all have had our MOMENTS as Mariam. In the bus or at home.. in a deserted alley.. at the theatre or the mall.. or the party.. or the temple.. We all have fought to keep our dignity in tact. We have fought to keep ourselves from the wolf ‘s cloves. We have all cried, ran.. fleed.. shouted or felt remorse atleast once in our lives. How much ever we shout out for freedom or liberalization or feminism.. I think deep down we ARE a volatile breed. I thought I was a happy woman. But I realized with pain that happiness in true sense comes with an absence of fear. The day a woman can go out or stay in without the fear of getting robbed.. raped.. molested.. assaulted or slaughtered.. Would be when true liberalization and awakening would take place. Until then we are all Mariams.. But fighting a different Rasheed.