Write

I sit with my pen and paper,
Conscious not to spill any tears
And blot the words
That find themselves on paper
After much struggle.

Write, they said.
It would be cathartic, they said.
Then why does it feel as if
A thousand knives
Are being plunged into my heart?
It bleeds and I writhe in pain
But I do not stop
Because my pen does not
Run in blue or black ink
But in red;
The colour of blood,
My blood.

Once I am done
Emptying myself on paper,
They read what I have written
And are full of praises.
But I do not hear them
Just like how they choose not to see
That what they had merely skimmed through,
Is a part of my soul
Slowly ebbing into oblivion.
Those very words that left them in ‘raptures’
Are fragments of a dying mortal.

If a part of me dies
Every time I write,
Why do I not put my pen down?
Because every time
I do not let these words
Rip my body and make their way out,
I die a greater death
From harbouring
Too many cadavers inside.
While a part of me dies,
Another part of me comes alive;
A part I never knew existed.

They think I am intoxicated
To make such mad claims.
Yes, they are right!
My intoxication is not opium or vodka
But the paradox
Of living a little and dying a little at the same time.

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Your Fight Song

You are weary of nursing
All the wounds on your back
From the incessant stabbing
And your own thoughts, sometimes
Renders you sleepless.
But do not give in, my girl
For you are made of sterner stuff
Like the ravaging seas;
Deep enough to swallow cities
And it’s petty mortals.
You are like the volcanoes;
That can burn not just flesh
But souls too.
You have the power to wreak havoc
But are wise to remain quiet.

The world will tie you down
With chains of self-doubt, insecurity
And most importantly, love.
Break them, darling!
They may tear your skin,
Break your bones
But your soul cannot be touched.
Why?
Because these creatures
Do not care to see
Beyond your swollen eyes
That has spilt many a tear
For the undeserving
And your cracked lips
That has not curved into a smile
For a long time now.
And the love these beings
So abundantly shower on you
Is a mere embellishment
To hide their decaying souls
Diseased with selfishness and vanity.
Do not be fooled, love!

You will find yourself
Locked up in a tower
And guarded by ferocious demons.
Do not wait for Prince Charming
To come to your rescue
Or the King
Who locked you up
To keep you safe not sane;
To free you.
Wield your own sword, my girl
And defeat the demons,
Not just the ones outside the tower
But those in your mind, too.

So when you are tired
But unable to sleep,
Do not listen to a lullaby
About mothers rocking their babies
To deep slumber,
For you are not a regular girl.
You are a warrior
Fighting battles for survival
That nobody knows about.
In the quiet of the night
Listen to your own heartbeat
And you will hear a song,
A fight song.
Your fight song.

Guilty Pleasure

    Your mere sight has me in raptures. You make me feel something that nobody can; something new, something exciting, something that makes my heart beat ten times faster. I look at you longingly, waiting to consume and be consumed in hungry passion. Maybe you were the muse for the thousand sonnets written by poets madly in love. Maybe you were the reason for men killing their own kind on battlefields. I am not a poet or a warrior but man; I could write a book just about your smooth, flawless brown skin and fight any formidable opponent just to keep you all for myself. My heartbeat becomes louder; so loud that even you can hear it as I come closer. I trace my fingers across your clothes that cover your sensuous, well-chiselled body. Only you posses the power to entice the strong willed and the self-disciplined without even batting an eyelid. I wonder what black magic lies beneath that innocent looking demeanour.

    You seem to enjoy my caresses against your well clothed body just as much as I enjoy my fingers covering every inch. You hesitate and hold on to your clothes as I try to undress you slowly but sweetheart, I know you well! I know how you love this kind of attention and want more. After many attempts you are finally naked in my hands, melting slowly from the rising temperature. The sound of your clothes falling to the floor felt like the harps of thousand angels playing from heaven. Words cannot describe how I am in awe of your raw beauty and vulnerability. I almost hear a moan escape my lips but honey, we have hardly started! I bring you closer to my lips and gently lick that delicious looking brown skin. I feel you quivering and shaking as my tongue touches every bit of your body but you love it too, don’t you?

    I slowly bite into your warm skin and you lose control of yourself and surrender to my whims and fancies completely. You are like the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden- unable to resist the temptation to devour you despite knowing that you will be the reason for my downfall. You are like the divine nectar churned by the gods- too much of you is poison but I simply do not care if your kiss kills me. Pure ecstasy envelops me as we finish satisfying each others’ hunger. I crave for your gentleness against my lips and bittersweet taste in my tongue. I long for your gentle kisses on my lips and fingertips. I want more but you are scared for me and ask me to take things slowly. It is like you have cast a spell on me as I nod my head in consent and watch you slip away into oblivion. With a heavy heart I say goodbye as I wash off the evidence of our encounter from my lips and fingers and throw away your clothes. Nobody should ever know about our secret moments of guilty pleasure. Cheating on my diet with a bar of chocolate never felt this good.

Hey there, Beautiful!

What is your notion of a beautiful woman? Take a second, close your eyes and visualise a woman that you would consider beautiful. Okay, open your eyes now. Did you see a thin, tall, fair complexioned woman with long, wavy hair in a short black dress that accentuated her curves? Or did you imagine her in a sari because you like your women with short clothes only on screens and not in real life? Whatever the image that popped into your mind, don’t you think it is unfair to women to make them conform to rigid standards? Why is it so difficult for everybody to accept the fact that women come in different complexions, shapes and sizes? This inability to accept ourselves the way we are gave rise to an entire industry: the beauty industry.

Sorry to break it to all makeup lovers but the entire cosmetics industry is a scam. Take any of your favourite cosmetic products for instance. Do you think you can survive without that product? I mean, how hard can life be without mascara or lipstick? But it seems like the end of the world to some people. The cosmetics industry changes our ‘wants’ (something you desire) into our ‘needs’ (something that is absolutely required for survival). This industry makes us feel insecure about acne, dark skin, wrinkles, etc and manipulates us cleverly into buying their products. The advertisements show ‘models’ who have a few spots of acne being dull and not confident, but once they use their fairness cream they feel ready to take on the world. Why would a few spots on my face make me feel less worthy and become obstacles to achieving my goals? If you are making ads to sell your products, at least make them believable!

The industry alone is not at blame. I never was a big fan of makeup because I believed that my looks would not matter over my education, talent or my individual self. Nobody forced me to wear makeup, directly at least. But I could hear stray voices suggesting how I would be prettier if I applied some foundation and compact powder or how my eyes would pop out if I wore some eyeliner and mascara and got my eyebrows done. I took those voices to my head and started believing that I was not perfect until I looked like the women in magazines and advertisements. To be honest, I am still having troubles accepting some of my quirks thanks to ‘stray aunts’ (no offence, I am just quoting my favourite professor!) who could not stop commenting on my hair, skin, nails and what not! After starting college, most of our mothers start showing more concern in our appearances and start providing us with homemade face packs and scrubs to make our skin ‘light’ and ‘blemish free’. That is step one in preparing us for the shark tank (read, marriage) because prospective grooms and mother-in-laws want ‘fair and lovely’ brides not smart, well-educated women who can earn for themselves.

I know how makeup serves as a security blanket for some women and if that makes you more confident, put on that gloss and mascara, girl! But there are some of us who can manage pretty well without applying layers on our face. Honestly, makeup is the last thing on our minds because we have other things to worry about. Since you are able to read my blog, I assume that you are smart and well educated. Do you think you can let people dictate how you feel when they comment on your looks? Do you think you need people to tell you that you are beautiful? Shouldn’t you know that yourself? Yes, you. You are beautiful and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Spread the positive vibes and call somebody beautiful today because a compliment can save a life and is there anything more beautiful than that?

What is the Obsession with Gold?

I have been trying to answer that question for almost half a decade and finally found some answers which make sense, at least to me. Am I the only girl here who is not obsessed with gold and wishes that her family would rather spend money on other investments? I absolutely do not understand why a girl’s family would rather save up and buy gold rather than giving her things that she really wants like good education, a DSLR camera or permission for a road trip to Goa with her gang. Here are some reasons that I thought that might make you rethink before you decide to adorn your daughter with gold whether she likes it or not.

‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friends’ is a popular saying. Well whoever framed that saying sadly did not have many friends. Do you think a girl or a lady would choose shiny metal and sparkling stones over her fierce tribe of friends who have got her back at all times? Let alone friends, I would not even trade my least favourite book for a gold necklace or any piece of jewellery! Bibliophiles would agree with me when I say that the best investment a person can make is in books because they are a powerhouse of knowledge and help escaping the monotony of this world. Yes, gold has monetary value but reading can take you to places that gold and diamonds and silver and platinum cannot.

    I read an article online which said that Indian home makers owned more gold than the Swiss Bank and that is not something to be very proud of. India imports a lot of gold from foreign countries due to its high domestic demand and this causes a negative trade balance, leaving our country in debt. I have seen my mom saving up money and buying gold with it despite knowing that I am not a big fan. When I ask her why, she says that it is an investment and secures my future. Well, your investment just adds on to the debt of the country so why not invest in shares, debentures or other financial instruments so that capital flows into the market and boosts economic development thereby creating jobs and increasing the standard of living of the people? Funny that I still remember twelfth grade Economics lessons!

One of the most common reasons why people buy gold is for their daughters’ wedding. Again, people like me do not prefer wearing gold or any jewellery, for that matter so why spend money on what I am not going to use? My parents look at the gold saved up for my wedding as a ‘security’ for my future because my jewellery is going to be my knight in shining armour if my marriage comes crashing down. (That is a hypothetical statement so believers of ‘traditional marriages’ and marriage counsellors can calm down!) There is a common belief among Indian parents that the amount of gold given to their daughters is directly proportional to the respect they receive at their in-laws’ place. Can we just take a moment to realise how nonsensical that is? Why would my education, job and my individual self matter lesser than the only metal that has not been used in any scientific experiment so far? Parents of daughters work really hard and sacrifice the simplest things in life just so that their can daughter can look like the brand ambassador of GRT Jewellers on her wedding day. Is it really worth it? I do not think so.

    I have nothing against buying gold and wearing them. This is just my opinion and we can all agree to disagree. I personally find wearing jewellery the most troublesome thing on earth because I simply do not like it and so do many other women. I feel like it restricts me from complete freedom (literally and figuratively). If you like gold and want to save up to buy it, nobody is stopping you from doing so. But never force anyone to wear gold or any jewellery just because ‘girls are not supposed to be seen with empty hands, neck or fingers’. All I am against is hoarding up of gold and treating it as the ultimate treasure that will possibly save lives. There are other things to life apart from this shiny, polished metal found in cold, grimy and dark mines.

The Last Words of a Goat

Bound by tight ropes,
I say good bye to all my hopes
Of making it through the night.
But I am not going down without a fight!
My time on earth,
Is drawing to a close
And there is no time for farewell or tears.

Shaken awake from my sleep
I am dragged by two strong hands,
Away from my family
And into the stands
Where my murder will unfold,
As people watch without any pity.

I scream and shout
And kick and struggle
But nobody seemed to care.
Except for a girl who stood out
From the rest of the crowd.
She could not bear
The thought of me being killed
Before her eyes.

I give one final try
And shake my head
To say no.
But the executioner did not care and
Raised his sharpened weapon.
Before it landed on my neck
And blood spattered everywhere
I saw the human
Amongst the other ‘humans’.
Fighting back her tears
And whispering a soft apology
For the crimes of her species.

These silly humans
Pray to their gods and offer my flesh
Before devouring it.
I do not know if god
Accepted my flesh in offering
Or answered the prayers
Of these flawed beings
But he certainly did not answer mine.

NOTE:
I was on the verge of witnessing an animal sacrifice some time back but luckily I managed to slip out of it. Though I did not see it happening, it created some disturbing images in my mind. I gave up meat four years back after seeing the final moments of a fish on the road. Coming from a family where meat is considered essential for survival, I was subjected to ridicule for being such a big softie! But there is not one day I have regretted my decision to stop eating meat. Being an animal lover, I believe that all animal lives matter and not just the lives of the ‘jallikattu kaalai’ or the tiger or the stray puppies. So if you know a person who has given up meat for the same reason as this, do not try persuading them or play the ‘plants are living beings too’ card. Instead, sit with them and hear them out because it takes a big heart to give up something someone loves just to save a few five sensed animals or birds.

Why I am a Feminist

    Most people I know are aware that I am a feminist. I have encountered questions from many of my friends, particularly girls as to why I am a feminist. This article will hopefully answer your question. Before I start, let me clarify a few things. Feminism does not equate with hating men or trying to oppress them. In fact, it does the opposite by breaking stereotypes that affect men as well. For instance, a feminist will be against the notion that men should not be sensitive or like pink. If a feminist tells you to hate men, then he or she is not one. Secondly, men can be feminists too. Yes, men like Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, etc have called themselves feminists. Anybody who believes that men and women are equal is a feminist. It is as simple as that.

    I am a feminist because I do not think it is fair for people to make sexist jokes about women and ask me to ‘learn to take a joke’ when I retort. I am a feminist because when I try to defend myself against sexism I am asked to ‘shut up’ and ‘behave like a girl’. I am a feminist because I am judged for not conforming to unfair and unrealistic beauty standards. I am a feminist because when my friend spends money on make-up and clothes, I do not want her to be called ‘dumb and shallow’. I am a feminist because I believe that men who are sensitive or afraid of bugs or call themselves feminists do not deserve to be treated any less of a man. I am a feminist because I do not want my fellow sisters to be victims of name calling if they choose to drink or smoke or party at night.

    I am a feminist because I do not want my ability to cook, clean or raise children to matter more than my college degree or how much I earn. I am a feminist because I do not want people to assume things about me just because I am a woman. I am a feminist because I do not want to hear phrases like ‘you run like a girl’ or ‘you are a girl because you are afraid to fight’, etc. I am a feminist because most people do not consider domestic violence, dowry, gender discrimination, etc as a crime. I am a feminist because I do not want my fellow women to be paid less than their male counterparts for the same job despite having similar qualifications. I am a feminist because I do not want to be asked what I was wearing when I complain about being catcalled on the roads. I am a feminist because I do not want women to be forced into bearing children and giving up careers for their family’s sake.

    I am a feminist because I do not want little girls to hear that ‘good women’ endure suffering and do not walk out of unhappy marriages. I am a feminist because I believe that Bharathiyar was right when he told that virginity is a common virtue for both men and women. I am a feminist because if I get married, I do not want to be ‘passed on’ from my father to my husband like a piece of land or cattle. I am a feminist because if I get married, I want my husband and his family to respect my ideas and beliefs and treat me like a person. I am a feminist because I do not want to see any more people worrying about not having a male heir. I am a feminist because I do not want my female friends to be afraid of walking alone in the night. And I am a feminist because I do not want our daughters and grand daughters to fight for the same things that we fought for.

    These are just a few reasons why I am a feminist. Trust me this is just the tip of the ice-berg! I guess I have answered your question. If you agree with my reasons then congratulations, you are a feminist too. Do not be afraid to embrace something that got you the right to vote, the right to study, the right to equal property and what not. There were times where I did not want to call myself a feminist too because of what some people (who I held in high esteem) told about feminism and feminists but I realised that they were wrong. Whatever misconceptions people have about feminism needs to change and we are in need of more people who can do that. So next time if someone asks whether you are a feminist say a big yes and give them some of your own reasons.

Work

“You don’t have to work.
Your dad is rich
And your husband will earn enough too.”
You say.

Trying to control my seething anger
I gently remind you
Of my ninety percent in twelfth grade
And my degrees from the best universities.
I neither earned them
To be a fancy addition
Behind my name on a wedding invitation;
Nor did I study hard
To just slave away in your kitchen
And produce your family heirs.
I did not ace interviews
To be shown off
As the ‘obedient wife’
Or the ‘well-settled daughter’.

Shocked at my brazenness,
You feel ‘sorry’ for the man
I will have to marry.
But I do not pay heed to your words
Because they are shaped
On ego and insecurities,
While mine are products
Of an open mind and
A battle for an identity.

A Letter to all Parents

Dear parents,

I hope you are doing fine. I have been meaning to write this letter for quite some time but put it off for some reason or the other. This is an open letter to all the parents who read my blog and if you are not a parent then do me a favour and show it to yours. This letter contains things that your son or daughter might want to tell you but does not. Raising kids is not an easy job because there is no course in college that teaches you ‘Teenagers: 101’ or ‘How to Pacify Crying Kids’ and we understand that you have sacrificed a lot of things just to make us happy and see us shine. But there are a few things you need to hear from our side. So take your time and read this long but sincere letter.

    First of all, we are different from you and that is not a bad thing. Yes, our take on a lot of things can be very different from yours. For instance, some of us support gay rights, are atheists or agnostic, choose to be vegans, believe that gender is fluid and so on. We are exposed to a lot of different information that shapes our thoughts and opinions which might be of concern to you because they are not similar to yours. Well, let me tell you something. Your parents might have found your views to be ‘too progressive’ and ‘not in lieu with our culture’ but you turned out just fine. The same thing is happening to us and do not worry, we will be fine too.

Secondly, please do not compare us with other kids. I know you want us to be the best at everything we do but it hurts when you tell us that another person is better than us. All of us have something unique that makes us stand out and to quote Dr. Seuss ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ Sorry to break your bubble but the cherubic faced, well mannered and studious prodigy who is the ‘ideal child’ is sometimes the craziest one. How do I know? Well, that would mean spilling secrets and putting some people I know in trouble and – someone just take this laptop away from me before I reveal anything else! Well, the thing is we love to make you proud by doing something that we are good at and it does not always have to be studies or sports.

    Lastly, be our friends. I know you have been trying to do that for the past five or six years but hear me out here. Try talking to us about something that we could relate to. For instance, talk to us about the pranks you played in school or the time you were suspended from college (we all know that happened!) so that we can open up about some silly stuff we have done without being afraid of being punished. Talk to us about the ‘forbidden stuff’ like sex, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, etc because if you don’t we might end up getting information from the wrong source and that can go wrong in a lot of ways. We are not little kids anymore so instead of threatening or scolding, why don’t you try being a cool friend?

Being a teenager nowadays is harder than you imagine. There is so much of peer pressure and though you tell us to ignore it, it is not that simple. I have to admit, that we have crazy fights and might not get along sometimes due to ‘generation gap’ but we love you know that you want the best for us. I hope I have not offended you with anything that I have said. If so, please accept my apologies. So these were some of the things that I felt my generation would want to tell the previous generation. I sincerely wish we would find great companions in each other for a lifetime.

Love
Your teen on the verge of adulthood.

My Greatest Pet Peeve

This blog post is about one of my greatest pet peeves – double standards. Those who have read my previous posts would have noticed the serious manner in which topics like suicide and freedom have been dealt with. Unlike them, this one is going to be light hearted and satirical. Google defines double standards as a rule or which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups. In layman’s terms, it is basically having different rules for our sons and daughters. Growing up Indian that is something we have all been exposed to.
Before getting started, I considered meditating for a while to calm my nerves in case I pass out due to excessive anger and or high blood pressure because double standards for men and women infuriate me. But the idea was dropped because when I tried closing my eyes for some time all I could hear was the ‘Clubla Mubla’ song in my head by the Jallikattu hero, Mr.Adhi a.k.a Hip-hop Tamizha and that was enough inspiration. Men and women are two different but equal beings, so why different rules? ‘A good woman does not drink or smoke.’ We have all heard this statement at different points of our lives, haven’t we? People usually justify this statement by playing either the culture or the health card. Apparently our ‘progressive’ culture says that men are permitted to drink and smoke while women are not and it seems pretty funny that only women have lungs and livers that would be damaged by drinking and smoking and not men. Alcohol and cigarettes are bad for health, not just for women but also for men.
Take the instance of marriage. While the woman is expected to choose between her career and family, the man is not put in any such situation. Both of them have studied and worked hard to reach to get where they are but why is the woman’s career at jeopardy? Is it because women are nurturers and caregivers while men are providers and breadwinners? If I have read your mind correctly, then congratulations! You have just won yourself a free time travel to the Stone Age because that’s where this kind of thought belongs. In this age and era, it has become a necessity that men and women work together to run the family. I could give millions of examples for double standards like curfews, dress codes, etc for men and women but this is not the only group we are focussing here. All that I am trying to say is let us not set standards and be quick to judge.
India is a country of millions of languages, religions, castes, gods and what not. Despite being such a diverse country, we have double standards when it comes to racism. We have seen Indians being prone to racist attacks in various countries like USA, Australia, Sri Lanka, etc. When I read about these attacks, I was very angry and felt that Indians are humans too and deserve to be treated like one until I heard my neighbours, relatives and every Tom, Dick and Harry use slurs against a particular caste or race. No matter how progressive we claim to be, we have all been racist at some point in our lives. Be it making jokes about a particular community or stereotyping people of a caste or religion, racism is so inbuilt that it does not seem wrong until one of us becomes a victim. I am against racism but we cannot expect others to treat us as equals when we ourselves are yelling casteist and racist slurs at our fellow citizens.
I know how it feels when an educated head of the school tells you that girls have to wear longer skirts not to ‘attract’ boys or when your teacher jokes about a particular community in class like it is not offensive. What is the point of spending huge sums of money on education if it does not teach you to treat all humans equally or question unfair rules and practices? The world is already chaotic with clowns for world leaders and climate change and clowns who think climate change is a hoax. Do we have to make it worse by being judgemental and treating people differently because they are different from us? Let us treat everybody the way we would like to be treated because it is not only right to do so but also what makes us humans.