Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Emotional Fool

I’m an ‘emotional fool’ ,
for I hold on to each nugget of cherished memories, while I make new ones to treasure.
for I sob while watching sappy movies, and I love to make people around me smile.
I'm an 'emotional fool',
for I am the one who cries with friends in sorrow, and laughs the loudest in their joys.

for I would be pained at an unkind remark, and yet keep on looking for the goodness in people.

 Oh yes! I’m an ‘emotional fool’ , for there’s no other kind I would rather be!



Sunday, 29 December 2013

कोहरे को हराती धूप

कोहरे से छन छन  के आती धूप
ये एहसास दिलाती है
कि शाम कितनी ही गहरी क्यों  न हो
सुबह सुनहरी रोशनी लाती है

कोई साथ हो न हो तुम्हारे
ये अपनेपन की  गर्माहट तुम्हारी है
नए दिन का सूरज
ये सर्दियों की  सुगबुगाहट तुम्हारी है

चाय की चुस्कियों के साथ अख़बार का ज़ायका  तुम्हारा है
जो पाया है अपनी मेहनत से
और जो पाने कि आशा है
वो सब तुम्हारा सिर्फ तुम्हारा है

कोहरे को हराती धूप
ये एहसास दिलाती है
कि शाम कितनी ही गहरी क्यों न हो
सुबह सुनहरी रोशनी लाती है


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Not without my daughter

My part time maid is one of many who have come to Delhi seeking livelihood. She and her family are from Cooch Behar in North Bengal region. She can barely speak or understand Hindi and sometimes it is a real challenge to communicate with her. Thankfully for me (and her), I’ve stayed in Falakata (about 45 mins. drive from Cooch Behar) and I manage to understand her dialect and accent. Beyond the fact that she is neat and is thorough in her work, I’ve never paid attention to her. Last week she told me that she is getting her daughter married back home and would need to go back for a couple of months and if I could provide her some monetary help. I was a bit irritated at this sudden announcement but didn’t inquire any further and said OK. I took out some old clothes and gave her some money for her daughter’s wedding and asked her to provide me a replacement while she is away.

Today morning she brought her daughter along to say Thank You for the clothes. The daughter appeared smart and was accompanying her to all the houses from where they had received help. I congratulated her and asked her what she did otherwise.

She told me that her father’s family back home wanted to marry her off when she was about 16 years old and all she wanted to do was study and be a Graduate. Her parents supported her and she finished her Senior Secondary and joined a Government College for Graduation amidst vehement opposition from the extended family. The year before last, which was also the Final year of her Graduation, her Uncles gave the ultimatum to her father to either marry her off or leave the Joint Family home. Her parents sat her down and asked her what she wanted. She repeated that she wanted to finish her Graduation and then do B.Ed. and become a teacher. They packed their bags overnight and boarded the train to Delhi. She and her mother started working as part time maids and the father washes cars for livelihood. Her younger sister and brother continued to go to school in Delhi.

She went back home to appear for her Final exams for Final year and after having scored a decent score joined a B.Ed College there. Her parents put her in a hostel without informing the family in Cooch Behar. Now she has finished her education and is applying for a job of her dreams. She is getting married to one of her batchmates from the B.Ed college.

 I was suitably impressed and felt a sense of pure happiness in my heart.I called my maid who was busy sweeping in the house and asked her “You didn’t feel scared to stand up against the entire family?” She replied in broken Hindi “I feel it is not enough to give birth to be a mother.I can’t deny her opportunities and dreams. And I can’t be happy if she is not happy!” I throat choked at the sentiment and I wished them both happiness and best of luck.


I’ll think of this story every time I read and hear about how girls are mistreated in our society to remind myself that this too is a reality.I honestly have nothing more to add …







Monday, 4 November 2013

My review of 'Soulful Symphony' by Meenakshi M Singh

Meenakshi’s ‘Soulful Symphony’ is a beautiful collection of poems and it speaks to the sensitivities of the soul. The poems are divided into five sections-depicting different seasons in life. Monsoon takes the reader on a journey of Love ; Summer reminds of the essence of Being a Woman ; Spring is a passage to Motherhood ; Autumn travels through Rebirth and Winter is a path of Reflections.

While “Where do I belong?” takes my subconscious on an interesting journey in ‘Homeless’ , many of the readers would find familiarity in the following :
“You never said But I heard it every day; Deep inside I have felt
Love at its best; Unspoken, Unsaid”

What is Life all about , a question for all sensibilities in ‘Have a Heart’ and a social message in ‘Save the Tiger’ would resonate with many too.

Meenakshi finds poetry in the seemingly simple ,day to day life and that is what makes this such an interesting read. Each reader would find something that is appealing and fulfilling in this journey for we all are connected through the same emotions that Meenakshi has skillfully shaped into poetry.




Thursday, 24 October 2013

From one Human Being to another....

I was walking down the crowded main road of an upscale neighbourhood  completely engrossed in my mental calculation of time and number of errands I had to run before lunchtime when I noticed the girl walking in front of me picking up pace and moving to right maybe to get ahead in a sea of people who had come out of the Metro station. I thought for a split second that she would get hit by the car coming from behind. It was around 11.30 a.m. and although the Office traffic had thinned yet the traffic on the road was busy enough for that time of the day. I kept my eyes on her still trying to understand why she was erratically moving to her right, the reason became clear to me in about a minute. I crossed a couple of men in their early 20s when one of them made a vulgar remark at me.

I thought I had misheard, I mean who would dare to pass a dirty remark with so many people around so I ignored it and kept walking. A couple of seconds later,I heard an even more vulgar version of the comment and I instinctively turned around. One of the men who looked high on something was giving me a dirty smile. The man next to him was laughing. “What are you saying. Don’t talk nonsense!” I said loudly. The first man kept smiling and repeated his comment. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, in the middle of a busy road, in broad daylight surrounded by people and yet this man had the audacity of making such comments. His friend was laughing and nobody seemed to notice.

     The girl walking in front of me was obviously trying to get away from these men and chose not to react. Maybe more girls walking around have had an earful of such remarks too. I somehow couldn’t contain my anger and I shouted “Don’t talk rubbish or else it won’t be good for you!” He kept smiling and menacingly moved ahead with a stretched arm so as to grab me and said “It won ‘t be good for YOU” .I screamed louder “Touch me and I’ll break your arms!” The man who was laughing earlier turned around and walked away slowly. But this apparently drunk/high man kept muttering under his breath and kept moving in my direction. People had started to halt and look at the ‘tamasha’ but no one actually stopped or asked me what was happening. I think I got more frustrated with this casual attitude and kept screaming my threat of breaking his arms!

In my subconscious was a sickening thought…I know so many people who care about me and see me as a person. And look at this man …he obviously doesn’t see me as a person. The people moving past me don’t see me as a person. It might an eve- teasing incident for them but for me it was scary despite the fact that I was physically and mentally gearing up to hit him , something that made me feel vulnerable and lonely in this busy place and something that made me feel so helpless despite my anger .

I started looking around for some help-maybe a policeman , anybody who would look willing to help me. No,no body  was coming forward. I took a deep breath and calculated my next move. This man was still moving in my direction and just then I heard someone call out “What happened Madam?”

I turned around to see an Autowallah calling out to me. He was driving a shared auto and had many passengers inside. He was a young man and he stopped his Auto beside me. I said “This man is passing dirty remarks to all girls passing by and when I asked him not to do so he started threatening me.” The Autowallah looked at him and asked him in crude Hindi what his problem was. For the first time, that man stopped smiling and looked a bit scared. He mumbled something like “nothing”. “My brother is a Policeman, you wait I’ll call him and then you’ll know what happens when you do such dirty things. You just wait!” He spoke loudly to the man and took out his mobile. One of his passengers said “We are getting late, why are you getting involved?” He turned sharply and replied “If it was your sister ,would you still not stop and help? If you are getting late,take another Auto! I am going to help.” The passenger didn’t say anything.

 I don’t know whether he really dialled a number or just pretended to but that action seemed to do the trick. Sensing the support I received ,the man started running in the opposite direction. Nobody tried to catch hold of him and he disappeared in no time.I felt better and turned around to thank the Auto guy. He was not there ,he must have driven off after he realized the matter was resolved. The crowd around me kept moving without flinching. I also turned around  ,less frustrated than before but frustrated all the same.

After careful thought, I know I am not angry, I was frustrated in those moments at the people who kept moving past me without so much as paying attention to what was happening. I know it might have seemed like a minor incident in a big city where horrible unthinkable crimes are committed and heard of every single day. Since it happened to me I know how it made me feel but from their perspective maybe I should have ignored and kept walking without reacting. But as I said it happened to me and I chose to deal with it my way.

I am, in fact ,very grateful to that Autowallah who paid attention and took a few moments of his time to ask me and support me. I am thankful to him for this instinct of intolerance towards a seemingly minor incident. Dear Stranger, You would be the reason that I would stand up again for myself and anybody who needs help against what I feel is not acceptable! You are the reason that I would know somebody would have my back!
Thank you young man, for you are the reason I won’t be scared to walk on the same road tomorrow!

(This happened to me today morning and I have excluded the name of the city, the area and the road so as to avoid   ‘yahan to aisa hi hota hai’ and pay more attention to one person supporting another because both thought it was the right thing to do!)

Monday, 5 August 2013

यादों का पिटारा

यादों  के पिटारे से निकली कुछ कहानियाँ
कहानियाँ जो हैं  आज के सच जैसी सच्ची …  

याद  आए कुछ भूले दोस्त
याद आये कुछ पल जो होते थे दिल के करीब
वो चुलबुलापन , वो सपनों का ताना बाना
वो छोटी छोटी बातों पे खुल  के हँसना
वो दिल से सोचना और दिल की करना
वो थक के बैठना  और पल भर में ही उठ जाना

कहाँ खो गए सब ,कैसे भूल गए हम
यादों के पिटारे में इतना प्यार इतना अपनापन है
तो कैसे भूल गए दोस्त
चलो आज कुछ पल थम जाएँ ,रुक जाएँ
और खो जाएं उन पलों में जो आज भी दिल को सुकून दे जाते हैं
याद करें सब और हस लें जी भर के

और फिर आज कुछ नयी यादें बनाएं
लिखें कुछ कहानियां जो हों आज के सच जैसी सच्ची …

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Maybe...In another life !

If you remember the 80s, amongst other things, you would remember the incidents of ‘burning of brides for dowry’. I remember growing up listening to these reports ,reading titbits of gory details in the newspapers and feeling uneasy about older cousins and acquaintance ‘didis’ getting married. I even remember the naïve me once commenting ‘why would I get married? I don’t want to be burned to death!’ Oh don’t think I might have been overthinking! When you grow up with someone and dance at their wedding and look forward to them visiting their ‘maiyka’ ,any untoward incident involving them at their in-laws place would do a number on you…

 When I was growing up, close to our home lived the Sharmas-  Uncle, Aunty and Sandhya Didi and Nakul Bhaiya. We all studied in the same school and Nakul Bhaiya was 8 years my senior and Sandhya Didi was about 10 years senior to me. Although she was older yet she would sometimes hang out with us in the playground in the evening. She would play badminton with us and Nakul Bhaiya and I on one side would try to beat her on the other side. It was fun and sometimes the best part of the day- laughing, running ,falling down, getting up and trying to beat her at the game over and over. She rarely lost to the two of us put together.

 A few years later, she got married and we were all part of the wedding ceremonies- dancing, laughing, crying but at the same time happy for her because she looked so happy. A few days later she returned looking like a different person, our Sandhya Didi – funny, smart, eversmiling Sandhya Didi was quiet and dull, looked weak and tired. I was still too young to understand what was happening but it was obvious that something was amiss. Nakul Bhaiya was in Bangalore by then and I asked her to come out for a game of Badminton with me in the evening but she declined. I remember wondering why she was so sad. I asked my mother about it and she replied vaguely that Didi’s in-laws were harassing her for dowry. ‘Dowry’-what does that word mean;I’ve wondered over the years… that the grooms are for sale or that the lives of girls are of a lesser value than the boys. However I look at it, I don’t find any logic in it. Having said that, I know –we all know, that the practice of Dowry exists even today and silently but surely girls , girls either known or unknown to us, are being harassed, tortured and murdered for paltry sums of money. However well-educated ,however independent, however nice a girl is ;if she is going to be measured against the money and goods and gold that she brings with her ,we are for sure going wrong in terms of ‘development’!

So Sandhya Didi continued her struggle at her in-laws home. A couple of years later, we heard that she had a baby boy. Everyone rejoiced and assumed that Didi must be happier now. However, I never saw the old demeanour again. Whenever we met her,she appeared weaker and distant. When her son was about two years old, news came that Sandhya Didi was burnt alive in a ‘kitchen accident’. How convenient it was that she couldn’t detect her own clothes being on fire or feel her flesh burning till she was totally engulfed in flames. How convenient it was that the kitchen door was jammed and wouldn’t open or that no one in the entire household heard her cries for help or pain!!

As Sandhya Didi lay on her deathbed, Police came to take her statement. Nakul Bhaiya coaxed her to tell the truth. She looked at him imploringly and her eyes welled up. Then she turned to her mother in law and looked at her pleadingly. Nakul Bhaiya turned just in time to see her mother- in- law make a gesture of strangulation around Sandhya Didi’s son as Didi broke down. As Nakul Bhaiya’s pleas fell on deaf ears and the Policeman asked Didi again and again to state what happened.. she only said that her clothes caught on fire while cooking.A couple of days later, Didi succumbed to her burns. Nakul Bhaiya could not convince the police to take action based on what they assumed was his misinterpretation.

Years have passed by but whenever I go to our old neighbourhood ,I can’t help but think of Sandhya Didi. I can’t help but think of the laughing girl in pigtails playing a game of badminton against two younger kids. Last week as I was passing by the Sharmas place , Nakul Bhaiya called for me. I stopped to say hello and noticed a young man in the verandah. Nakul Bhaiya caught me staring at him and asked me to come inside and meet him. “This is my nephew Vivek, Sandhya Didi’s son. We’ve seen him after so many years!! He and his father have come to invite us for his wedding.” The boy’s father also came out and patted proudly on his shoulder, “Vivek has joined a permanent position in the Bank now so we thought it is the right time for him to get married. You know how much dowry we are getting for him??!!” He smiled at Vivek who seemed equally proud of this accomplishment.

Nakul Bhaiya gave a hateful glance to the two. My heart sank and bewilderment took over me as I walked away. I could hear Nakul Bhaiya’s voice calling my name but I could bear no more…Sandhya Didi had lost this game….