Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Loss

If ever I had to write, I would write about loss. 
Like I attempt to do right now. 
Loss, pain, emptiness, loneliness, helplessness. 
As morose as they may sound, I’d like to write about them. 
These are the feelings which keep asking to be justified, to be addressed, scream for answers, at least some explanation. 
But never, never get one. 
And any explanation, however deep, cannot dislodge them. 
They keep coming back once they strike as long as memory exists. 
As long as the very basis for such emotions does not fade away.
Loss. 
A lot of it. 
Unjustifiable loss.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Stories in the Air

Too many words too few
To tell a story too many
There isn't just one
To attempt to word it all 
To get lost is easy if not likely
To dream and to know what is real is not easy
Like music without lyrics
There is as much meaning as there is none
As overrated as meaning might be
I need it as much as it troubles me
As impulsive as a thought can be
It springs this moment and makes it alive
And disappears without warning like a fire fly



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Starry Eyes

I do not see a perfect world but I know that beauty is possible

I do see it on nights like these

I can hear the song in the clouds and see the smile in the stars

I can immerse in the music in the breeze and float

As light as a bubble

The night unburdens me and gives me hope

To imagine

To play a tune in my head

The trees aren’t unequal

Nor are the birds

Nor is the sea and the sky

When I see my own insignificance, I can see

There is life beyond ladders

If I was granted a wish tonight

I pray that this moment of being one with the sky and the sea and the stars be lived


Isn’t this how it feels to be equal?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Contract called Marriage and Blah

These are just a few questions. And it is not an exhaustive critique of marriage as an institution.

1. The very institution of marriage is a private property version for sexuality, more so for a girl, what with they calling it "kanyadaan", which literally translates to donating a virgin. So much for virginity! What gives anybody any right on the virginity of any girl, their bodies and how they should be regulated? All their lives, parents are protective about this so called virginity of their daughters, which is amazingly hypocritical in its confinement only to girls, there seems to be no such concept of male virginity. If they are really so bothered about it, shouldn't they have made it equally applicable to guys? Why such selective regulation for one gender? And why such regulation in the first place?

2. Marriage takes the sexual orientation of people for granted. It outright excludes lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

3. "Infidelity" in marriage. The relationship may end for many people in a few years after marriage and they live dead lives fulfilling obligations. They might both want to break up but they can't because of unreasonable social pressure. And usually it's easier for guys to have extra marital affairs because of greater unrestricted mobility. If only the ladies also had that freedom! How many break ups don't we see in college days? Imagine if all of them had to still stay together because of social pressure. It's so convenient to break up and start life anew if it's just a relationship. No additional baggage. Families are also like organizations, they seem to have to exist forever whether they have a purpose or not.

4. And children, poor children. Everywhere while talking of children's rights, the most ignored question is the oppression of children at home. How family as an institution acts on children because of the institution of marriage. Children are rendered vulnerable from day 1 by being put in this institution called family without choice. They are trained to accept the power of elders over them from the very beginning. Love and power are often confused with each other.

5. And then there is that hypocrisy of confining respect only to sisters, mothers and others' wives. It's like the 'propertied' females deserve respect while those who are independent do not.

6. Relationships vs Marriage. Why is the latter legitimate while the former isn't considered so? Because they do not have wide social approval when it's not an official thing like a marriage? Because it allows scope for engaging physically and mentally with more than one person? In relationships, as against marriage, people can break up peacefully without all the divorce drama. Of course, women who are vulnerable and are likely to get adversely affected by a break up need to be protected, given that many women do not have access to any share of the family's assets or income though they contribute to it through their work that is rendered invisible because it is not valued, like for example, household work or are denied any opportunity to get their income or even when they do, it is not under their control.

7. And, in a marriage, one has to bear the stupidity and fight for one's freedom with another family. Especially for a girl who has done this fighting business for the slightest things like going out for an hour, it can be doubly irritating.

9. And finally, arranged marriage perpetuates the status quo on many problems in the society and promotes them further. One only has to look at the matrimonials to confirm this. People want spouses from the same caste (casteism), fair (racism), earning in lakhs (class inequality), education too (meritocracy). Why don't people only interact within their own caste then? Why send them to schools where everyone comes? Why benefit from a society where people from all castes are contributing? Talk to only fair people, make only friends with them? Do not eat food grown by farmers, do not depend on a society which consists of people other than your own community for anything, do all your work on your own!

10. There are many other evils perpetrated by marriage like dowry and domestic violence which are widely understood as problems to be dealt with but marriage itself is not seen as the root of these evils.

11. Lastly, looking at it for what it really is, marriage is actually a contract enforced by society by all means possible - religion, family, state (whether you get married or get a divorce, the state needs to know and approve it), you name it! Some might argue that marriage is protection for women. I disagree, the very idea that only marriage gives women a respectful position i.e. by accepting the idea of being someone's property or accepting someone's control over one's sexuality alone gets you respect is highly problematic. I hope this is not confused with opposing any of the various protective laws that are there for women who suffer in marriage and who need protection by the institutions of the state or voluntary institutions of women (however piecemeal efforts these might be). Here, the very cause of women's vulnerability and suffering is because of patriarchy and patriarchal institutions like marriage. So, if there was no marriage, more than half the problems wouldn't be there in the first place.

For opposing marriage, some take it for granted to view single women as sexual objects for perverted pleasures. Some take to that interpretation that women who do not use marriage and hence subject themselves to the risk of a less respectful social status want to objectify themselves for the pleasure of all perverted men. Frankly, this is trying to justify the perverted instincts of some men by blaming it on women.

I really wonder why this institution hasn't lost its legitimacy yet, so strongly enforced it is, in spite of being dysfunctional to the 'l'. There could be exceptions to this sorry tale of marriage. I mean no disrespect to those who are married or getting married or want to get married. I only wish to empathize with those who share these questions irrespective of their marital status. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Our Cities Are Made Of : A Photo Story of an Urban Street

The images below have some symbols which are probably quite common place today and no longer catch our attention. However, there’s a story of humankind that they tell. Following are some observations. 

Part I: A Walk 

Observation 1: The trees are no more in the foreground; they occupy a secondary status today as compared to concrete.

Observation 2: A man who has labored all day walks to return home with a sickle in his hand, wearing rubber slippers. His labour has been consumed and he has no more a share in what he built, like the painted english words on the wall state in no ambiguous terms who the site belongs to. Private property of the capital owner of this concrete! Well, since when did people start “owning” land and then, also “owning” what is constructed on it? And how do we decide who “owns” it? The contributor of labour or capital? How did one gain precedence over the other? And wait, how do we fix the value of the land or the construction so that it can be owned? Who does it? These questions have no easy answers and anyway, we seem to have taken them for granted.

Observation 3: And just in case anyone tries to object to these basic ground rules that human kind seems to have developed over the years, we have “keys and locks” to protect the territory from “trespassers” and yes, of course, the whole state machinery ensures to keep all the non-owners from disturbing your privacy of property.


Observation 4: A road is laid down by the state for the ease of transport of those who own these buildings so they can commute to and fro between their private properties with vehicles again owned by them which need roads of course. Well, the labourer who toiled all day to build can use his feet to commute, however long a distance he might have come from. He doesn’t seem to own much other than his sickle and a small bag of items that he probably uses for work.

Part II: How to become confident!











Not feeling confident? Try plywood!










Still not? Try getting a hairdo!










Still no? Try learning spoken English!








Or much cheaper! Just have a Coca Cola!




Part III: Our World and Their World





























While we get our spacious two or more bedrooms with attached bathrooms and a balcony with a view constructed, they who construct them are packed into the corners, not disturbing the scenic beauty around us. While we dine in our expensive hotels, they are threatened from even entering such spaces lest they spoil the experience.


Part IV: But we just want to live life king size!
 


We fancy ourselves along the royal heritage of kingdoms and their castles, our colonial rulers, our ‘fairer’ cousins, if only we could be fairer and lovely too. We too want to go global like they did. Vulgar display of wealth? But our wealth is legitimate. Through legitimate systems which favour us just a little more than those who couldn’t compete with us. Earned through our hard work. They might work harder than us too but theirs is physical labour which has not much value. Who fixed that value? Nevermind. It’s the government’s job to take care of them. What can we do?

Part V: Our Private and Our Public Spaces
Which class are you? Premium? No? You can belong to the ‘premium class’. Just buy this!

Public-private partnership?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Invisibility of Women

For since I was a child, I heard of man and man everywhere in my so called enlightened modern English education. I read, “Man” is a social animal. Even in poetry and prose considered in all greatness and glory of the classical poets and writers, with due respect to whatever they were articulating, all I read about was “man” and even if I heard of women, it was from the eyes of a man. So was the case in my daily life when I was accustomed to consider myself, a girl, invisible, always lingering in the background unless absolutely necessary, it needed reason to make myself visible. Without good reason, I had no place anywhere. I wasn’t significant or important nor did I matter as a human in my own worth.  As a girl, one needs a reason to become visible while it is just the other way round for a man, who needs a reason to become invisible. And visible, women become, only when they play to the eyes of men, playing out their roles to their male chauvinist taste.


Stay indoors. If you want to go out, you need to have good reason because of course, a woman’s place is in the kitchen.  Let me adapt it to today’s times. Even if a woman works, her place in the kitchen is still reserved only for her. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Achoo....!

It was a cold winter night
Another sneeze...Achoo!
There was no doubt
The cold had found ways through
her hair and feet
and it spread within
making her hot on the outside

Achoo....!