“You don’t have to work.
Your dad is rich
And your husband will earn enough too.”
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.
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.
Your teen on the verge of adulthood.
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.
You plaster a fake smile
Across your lips
Pretending to be happy.
While the entire world
Believes your pretension,
I know differently.
How would I know?
I see your eyes
Tired from sobbing into the quiet of the night.
I hear your muffled cries
Dying behind locked doors.
The cuts on your wrists
And the rope marks on your neck
Are invisible to this world.
But I can see
The number of times you have died
Or been killed, rather.
You cannot take it any longer
So you decide to tighten the noose
For real this time.
But something stops you.
You wonder how I know you this well
So I share my secret,
“You are not the only one
Battling against this ghastly world”.
Unconvinced, the noose is still around your neck.
So I try one last time
And show you
The cuts and marks
That are invisible to this world,
Not on your wrists or neck
But on mine.
“I was here too but I chose to live
And change what drove me to the noose.
You should live to do the same.”
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers in India and depression is one of the main reasons why many are driven to commit suicide.
Sadly,depression is not even considered as a mental disease by many. Some think of it as a phase or something that would go away eventually but it will not. In advanced stages, only proper medication and counselling can cure this deadly illness. If you feel depressed, talk to somebody who is willing to listen. Suicide is not the answer to everything because life is beautiful despite that fact that it can punch you in your face or knock you down continuously. If you ever feel like giving up on life, think of all the people you love and remember that you deserve all the happiness in this world and do not let anybody tell you otherwise.
“You never seem satisfied
With the abundance
I have given you.
What more do you want?”
You seek an answer.
The red lipstick
That cost you a fortune
Feels heavy on my lips,
Blocking my words.
A thin strand of shiny metal
Studded with sparkling stones
Embellishes my neck.
Feels like a feather to you
But I know its weight.
You drape me in rich silk.
Beautiful yet heavy;
So heavy, that it nearly chokes me.
But I brave a smile and
Appreciate its finesse.
You put me in a mansion and
Fill it with the air
That you were made to breathe.
But you and I both know
That we breathe different air.
So I suffocate
And struggle to breathe
In my own nest.
You watch me like a hawk
As I try to answer.
Yes. What more could I possibly want?
The answer demands to be
Loud and clear
But it comes out as a pathetic whisper
That sounded something like:
Afraid of ridicule,
Taught not to stand out;
Silenced when different from the rest.
We conceal our souls with a petty mask.
But you deny being a part of this mad game.
Well, let me show you
How we are all victims.
Where is the spirited little child?
That got muddy in the rain,
Chased butterflies, bathed in streams
And didn’t care about what the world said?
Or, where is that rebellious teenager?
Who wanted to make a difference
And swore that she wouldn’t rest
Until she changed the world?
Where is the adult?
That wanted to wanderlust
And let her spirit run naked
On paper and ink.
You look at me, puzzled.
Trying hard to speak
From underneath that heavy mask.
And I simply say:
Take it off, darling
Because this unreal world needs some real people.
She. A beautiful paradox. She had an imagination that could fill a thousand books, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an unvanquishable fire that raged within her. Her heart was cold as ice but her smile was enough to melt any winter. She was innocent but aware and a dreamer rooted to this monotonous world. Parts of her were mellow like a saint while parts of her were fierce like a rebel. The beauty and kindness of her soul were reflected in her eyes.
But life wasn’t going to be kind, unlike her. The world treated her generosity as a weakness and her innocence became her Achilles’ heel. When he, another beautiful but broken soul came close, she longed for his warmth. Slowly her icy heart began to melt and together they experienced the greatest ecstasies of love. But little did she realise that it would be the same fiery passion that would burn her down to ashes. He wanted to burn along with her in the fire that they started together but not wanting to see him fall apart again, she pushed him away with all the courage she could muster.
And there she was, in the depths of despair and hopelessness. Tired of falling apart and stabbed in the back by those close to her, she wished that she wouldn’t wake up on some days. She lost hope and she wasn’t the same as she was before. Life was becoming abysmal but it had to go on. She was ready to give in but the courage of her own heart amazed her. She didn’t know that she could endure this amount of pain and her heartbreak led to self- discovery and realisation.
Like a phoenix from the ashes, she rose more confident and stronger than ever. She is no longer afraid of anything because she has been through the darkest path and still survived. She isn’t scared to face her past because she has a tribe of fierce, trustworthy women who have her back. Her wounds have healed but the scars remain and she isn’t ashamed of them. She wears them as a symbol of her survival – that she lived yet another day to tell her story.
Her heart is broken, bruised but still beating strong. Her convictions and beliefs are stronger than ever and she is ready to take on the world. This is her story and it could be yours too.
This is my very first blog post and I’m super excited. This has been my long time dream and hopefully my first step to become a published writer. My blog will basically be an online journal with my rants, feelings and what not! I write poetry occasionally. Writing is my escape and one of the things that got me through tough times and keeps me alive. I believe that writing can work magic in people’s lives and if it is good enough it can change lives of readers too. I hope to change people’s lives through writing.