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Dear tai,

Dear tai,
Hi.
I haven’t talked to you in a while. Where are you? Where have you been these past days? I miss you tons. I’m pretty sure you don’t. If you had, you would have talked to me. You would have atleast made attempts. I don’t get it, I tell you everything tai. My fetishes, my secrets, my academic plans, my crushes, everything. You know everything about me, and you know that you’re the only one who knows. You know you hold importance in my life. Don’t you miss me even a bit? After all that we have been through? Do you not remember our childhood? How protective you were of me, how you were basically my second mother. How heartless are you to just abandon me? And that too, after 14 years of relentlessly being there. Does it have anything to do with mumma, is she the reason for your disappearance? I told you I’m sorry for her Tai! I’m sorry for the way she behaves these days. I don’t know why she does it, she was quite normal. Why she ignores you, why she doesn’t acknowledge your presence, sometimes even your existence! I mean, you are her daughter, just as I am. And I must admit she’s become a horrible mother. I know, I know you don’t like this family now, with their partiality and you have complete reasons to. But you have me. You know I won’t go. You can have complete faith about me. You and me, tai, we are warriors, against our parents. Remember, remember how we silenced them the other day when they said that you had gone away, that you weren’t part of our home, our family anymore? You were sitting right there! I mean, how insensitive could they have been, the amount of ridiculousness that they contain is close to poisonous. And only you understand that. You are my only salvation, but these days even if you have started to distance yourself from me.
I need you tai, I’m so close, so close to giving up. I need your presence to calm me down.
Please come back. Please. We’ll go through everything together. We’ll manage. Come on, please grant your baby sister this.
I love you so so so much.
Please come back. You won’t regret it.
Yours lovingly,
Anika.

14 year old anika lost her elder sister Anaya age 19, in an accident. Anika and Anaya were in a taxi, during the early hours, when a truck driver, lost control of his truck, and collided with their taxi while breaking through the divider. Anaya, died on spot, while anika suffered grievous injuries which compromised the functioning of her brain, and led to memory loss. She has no memory of the accident, or of the demise of her sister.

Dictionary:

Tai is an Indian word for elder sister.

The soldier.

Emblazoned with medals,

Greeted with awe,

The soldier walks towards home

As he bids adieu to war.

 

His hands are bruised,

His face a scarred mess,

Yet the smile refuses to fade

As he walks home at the fastest pace.

 

His daughter whom he met,

A wee little runt then,

Awaits her father’s steps

Her now youthful face, filled with pain.

 

His wife the once lovey bride,

Colors her grey streaks black,

She tries to hide the long gone hope

Of her husband coming back.

 

The soldier walks through the lanes,

Grateful for his feet,

As many a men he saw destroyed;

Their bodies a gory mass, with no chance of retreat.

 

The war was lost

But he was alive

And that’s what matters most.

 

Until he saw a mass of people,

Rushing towards his frail soul

They called him a traitor, stoning him to death

Adding one more life to the rising toll.

 

The soldier lay on those very roads,

The ones which led back home;

His daughter still awaited his footsteps

While his wife realized that he’d never reach their abode.

The first drink.

 

 

Crystalline white flakes surround the two,

Passed out in the pallid overlay

Little can a soul fathom,

Last night, the voyage that they sailed through.

 

Sneaking out with the stars as their guide,

They creep silently past the cheery sounds

To mount the peak where the roaring winds reside

Setting sail for an adventure of a lifetime.

 

Panting, sweating, slipping through the snow,

Tiny footprints scale the zenith, towards the whispering willow.

“Do we dare” she smirks as they settle earthwards,

Uncorking the bottle, “why not?” he answers.

 

On the count of three, they charge

Downing the intoxicating elixir in a gulp at large,

As the darkness turns into the dusky dawn

Words have been spoken without conclusions being drawn.

 

They say things that couldn’t have been uttered sober,

They feel things that couldn’t have been felt sober,

Ah, that’s the magic of the intoxicating elixir,

Heartbeats race faster, and hearts come closer.

 

A connection had been created.

Dear aunty,

A letter to all the aunties in my colony, and all the others spying on teenagers like me.

Hey you! Oh wait, should I say Namaste so as to not hurt your “Indian culture” feelings? Ah whatever, you never really liked me anyways. After all, I wear skirts too small for your eyes to digest, I roam with too many boys, so much that you can’t count (cue, aunty faints in horror) and I come home so late, that you’ve had to leave your peaceful sleep to see me pass through.

Firstly, I’m sorry to have cause you the inconvenience.

Secondly, I didn’t know I appointed you to keep track of my daily routine! You do your work so diligently without expecting payment I’m impressed!

But you know what? I can’t continue to disturb your naps anymore, since I love sleep (cue aunty saying “I saw her sleeping on a boy’s shoulder in the train” cue another aunty “OH MY GOD. These girls, no character”) so here’s the deal. I’ll give you a letter saying thanks and much more:

  1. What do I start with? Let’s go with my dressing sense, or my lack of clothes as you call it.
  • As per the United Nations ( It’s an International organization just FYI, yes even Modi recognizes it ) The right to adequate clothing, or the right to clothing, is recognized as a human right, so yes I’ll continue to wear that short skirt, or the off shoulder top ( I’m sorry your pupil will burst someday with all that wild eyes staring)
  • “you’re bra is showing” (or such subtle actions to show to adjust the strap that even men start adjusting their vests) Well, I have breasts (“not big ones” an aunty/observer replies) and these breasts needed unconditional support (just like your household that you’re ignoring to spy on me) and if I don’t happen to wear a bra, they’ll just keep wobbling, which I don’t mind but you do. So I wear bra, and guess what disaster strikes next? My bra straps shows! Well, hopefully you got my brand, since yours is clearly not doing you any favors.
  • “How tight are your clothes?” Um, figure hugging clothes, yeah that’s what they’re called. You don’t like it you say? Because they’re too tight? Oh darling auntyji, you’re my inspiration for wearing tight clothes. After all, how you manage to wrap in that little sari and not breathe is really noteworthy. Look at the pot calling the kettle black!
  1. “How many boys you roam with”
  • Aunty, dear dear aunty you should be grateful to me! ( cue what a shameless girl. She’s cracking jokes). No seriously, I mean the amount of boys you’ve surveyed would be enough to pick one for your daughter who you obviously would marry off to anyone who’s rich enough!
  • Besides it’s so nice to find you helpful ladies when we (me and the “boy”) were lost. You’re so good with directions ( I hope you can give your life some), but maybe that’s just an effect of how much you roamed while spying
  • Also, you might think that every guy I roam with is my boyfriend. Well, I’m sorry to have disappointed you, but I don’t have the capacity or energy, neither am I as charming and funny as you are (I mean, come on!)
  1. “You have gained so much weight!”
  • OH MY GOSH! You’re eyesight itself should win a noble prize! How would I have noticed my weight gain without you telling me? I mean I see myself in the mirror, and I can feel my weight and it’s my body essentially but nah, screw science; without your generous self, ever ready to help me, I wouldn’t have noticed the weight gain
  • Also, what matters is being fit not thin. Obviously I was kidding. I mean, what’s better than being a bag of bones with a layer of skin as thin as narrow as your thinking and fit into any dress? That’s the dream!
  1. “Behave like a girl”
  • On asking why, you told me that was called manners, well why not tell your son who sits with legs wide enough to have truck pass through? Oh no, no it’s just for ladies, after all it’s how you sit or how you walk that matters, not how you are as a person. Psssh. That’s just your “western” nonsense.
  • After I finished writing the above point, I received a sharp tap on my head (more of a hit) with the words “Who will marry a girl with unladylike manners?” How did I forget marriage, I mean a woman can’t exist without marrying right?
  1. Your leg looks like a forest
  • Well, I hope there are some medicinal plants in there! Because come on, if you don’t wax you are a shame. I mean body hair is a threat to human kind. And not men’s body hair, just women’s. And waxing is the best. I mean, getting wax burning wax to your skin and then ripping it apart with a bit of your soul and a lot of blood is total worth the smooth legs which last for 3 weeks.

Dear loving aunty, there’s a lot more to come, along with an upgrade in your mentality. Thanks again, for making me feel better about myself by looking at your life.

Yours sincerely,

The characterless girl whose name you don’t know .      .

Okay? Maybe.

“Are you okay?” They ask

“Are you fine” they say.

With a poker face I mask

Beneath, the cringing pains that lay.

Anxiety is a companion now

Distress, such a dear friend

My existence feels questioned somehow

This so called life is on a continuous descent.

“Why don’t I look happy?” They enquire

While coaxing me to put on a fake smile

Little do they know, the cheery lad disappeared

And it’s been quiet a while.

Amazing how a person can be both

Dying to burst out, yet hesitant to speak

I am now like a mammoth,

Outwardly strong, but about to be extinct, I’m that weak.

The girl with the hazel eyes.

She lived across the street,
The girl with the hazel eyes
She walked with her dainty feet
Under the morning skies.

I never really talked to her,
Just shared a shy smile
After all we both did seem to prefer
Silent conversations across the mile.

You must have known the girl
She was the perfect kind
The one who could make your heart twirl
Beauty and brains combined.

I didn’t know of her muffled cries
Of how she faked a grin
That she had more lows than highs
And more losses than wins

I had no knowledge of her loneliness
Of her battle against the universe
I had no knowledge of the constant distress
Of how her life was a curse

Beneath every smile was a tear
Beneath every laugh a scream
She ended her nights with a quiet prayer;
For death, as her life was a nightmare not a dream.

Away she learnt to ease her pain
With the blade as her guide
She cut herself near her vein
Which under the band aid she did hide.

That night it all came together
The pain, the anguish and the anger
This time the sharp end met the vein
The blood flowed until it stopped her brain.

Her forced breath now stopped,
And finally she felt at peace
And now as the last of her blood dropped
She felt liberated and at ease.

She lived across the street,
The girl with the hazel eyes
The dainty feet now didn’t move
Cause she lied beneath the starry skies.⁠⁠⁠⁠

“Sex”

This three alphabet word has been a source of controversy in India since ages. What does sex mean? The term refers to the act of sexual intercourse i.e. the union of a male and female which often leads to the creation of new life in the world. It is a perfectly natural process. Then why is it so controversial you ask? Well, in India “sex” is considered to be a “filthy” word and if you ever dare to utter the three letters together you’ll be met with dark looks judging your character; which is really surprising since Porn hub, one of the topmost pornography sites receives the 3rd most amount of traffic from India. Hypocrisy you say! Not to forget India is the 2nd most populated country in the world, so we aren’t exactly “new” to sex. Then why is it, that even today, in the 21st century “sex” is considered to be a taboo topic? In this age, it is extremely critical for an individual to have a knowledge about sex, with rapes increasing in India, and the ban against abortions. However, the Union Minister of India Mr. Harsh Vardhan and the Human resources Development ministry feels otherwise:

Recently, the Indian Union Minister came under the scanner for his statements proclaiming that “sex education” wasn’t an essential and that it should be banned. Not only that, in his document “vision” he stated the need to integrate value education with course content and put strong emphasis on exposing students to India’s cultural relations. May I mention, all of this comes from the same minister who said that “condoms are safe, but fidelity is safest.” And did I tell you? Vardhan is a doctor by profession! But this was not it; the Human resources Development ministry (HRD) added to these medieval comments by banning the use of the word “sex” in “sex education” as they believed it would “offend” the feelings of the people if it was used. “Seriously?!” you ask. See, this how progressed India is.

  • Firstly, wouldn’t sex education be necessary, since the rural areas of India aren’t aware of family planning and hence lead to the population explosion? Hasn’t the “lack of sex education” been (and still is) a crucial element in the rapid and unnecessary population growth?
  • And how is “integrating value education” going to help huh? Asaram Bapu the so called value based person, was convicted of rape by not just one but many women. So were the women at fault here, because come on values are what matters! Oh sorry, should I have not given that example? Was it against my values?
  • I’m sorry if I am being rude (I apologized cause values, you know) but, how and why the heck would someone make such a stupid comment? India, is a country where after a marriage, the couple is under social pressure to conceive.
  • Hello!!! The topic “sex education” itself has the word sex in it? How much more ironic can you be?
  • Besides, banning the word “sex” would encourage condemning the word more and essentially increase the taboo about it.
  • Also, wouldn’t it be contradictory for the word “sex” to be banned, but the physical intercourse i.e “sex” to be encouraged after marriage, as is the case in India?

In conclusion, I feel that such steps, actions or comments not only influence India’s development in terms of thinking, but also affect its “social image” and make it a laughing stock.

To put it in a better way, India is showing the world what not to do.

 

The break up.

 

I saw her sitting in the corner of the room, quiet and disturbed. She didn’t utter a word, neither did she hear what everyone said. Her once twinkling eyes were now distorted. The laughter that once filled the room now refused to come. The silky hair had now become coarse due to lack of care, and the happiness which was once evident was nowhere to be seen. My best friend had just broken up.  “That’s normal” you say. Well yes it is. Only, for her it wasn’t. I didn’t know what had upset her so much, she was the one who ended it. Maybe it was because being single was an unfamiliar territory or because he didn’t agree to it immediately or maybe it was just withdrawal. I didn’t know. But we did the best we could; we did the whole shebang, from break up songs to cussing her ex to telling her that a million other guys would die to be with her to writing cheesy letters signed with your lover. But nothing worked; and we gave up. The episode ended for me until she came to me one day, tears filling her eyes her mouth sealed shut. “Are you okay?” I asked. She nodded a weak yes. And then she spoke, in a soft quivering voice. But the words that her mouth emitted were far from weak. “You might have been wondering why I was depressed since I broke up. It’s natural; I wondered about it too. You know that all I did for the past weeks, maybe months, was hope and pray that this would end. And it did. But somehow, the happiness that I expected, never arrived. Never felt the joy, just remorse. No, no it wasn’t because I broke up. Yes, at first I thought so too. That maybe it was a wrong decision. But it wasn’t, I knew in my heart that the relationship deserved to end. That the spark was dead and it couldn’t be re-ignited.  I never felt happy because I didn’t know, I just didn’t know how to exist on my own.  Yes I could breathe, but I didn’t know how to live. I was like a smoker who decided to quit, but couldn’t help wanting to go back. I burnt his letters, I threw away the gifts that he gave me, but the regret stayed, because I existed as his girlfriend, nothing else.” “No you didn’t!” I shouted in protest.  She looked me in the eye and without raising her voice said “What would you say when every habit is associated to a person, every word links to an incident, every scene brings back a memory and every song a tear?” Before I could answer her lips changed into a tragic smile and she spoke, “I called it love.” My numb mouth refused to speak words of comfort neither did it move to express disapproval, as she said “I stayed because I got addicted to him under false impression of falling in love. Yes I fell, rather I crashed because I liked how people said we looked good together. How I existed only with him, not that it was correct. But what did I care? Hell I existed, and that was enough for me then. I stayed, because I felt needed. And that’s where I went wrong; I liked the feeling so much, that I spent a year being someone else’s idea of perfect. That I gave so much of me, and left nothing for myself. And that’s why it hurt.”

The Potter girl.

“I’m sorry you are just too hard to bear with”

“I’m letting go of you”

“You aren’t my type of friend”

“I can’t stay with you any longer”

Sarah was used to these conversations her whole life. It started with her childhood friend mouthing the words”You are too weird for me” and continued with many more giving other reasons.  In the beginning, the loneliness hit her like a tsunami would hit a surfer. It was the first time, she felt alone. She wept, she had tantrums, she begged her friend to take her back but nothing helped. With time the wound got deeper and the pain more bearable. She was used to the looks she got when she sat in the class all alone just reading her books. Her mother did her best, and in the beginning Sarah did try but now as time passed by being friends with someone seemed like lost cause. Sarah immersed herself in books and enjoyed their company. Books didn’t have boyfriend problems, books didn’t care if you were weird or not, they didn’t judge you neither did they make fun of you. All they did was light a fire in your heart, a fire of hope, a fire of belief and fire of goodwill. How good she felt when Harry kissed Ginny! The moment when Ron and Harry patched up their friendship, without a single word uttered, how they made up prediction during Trelawney’s class or how Ron gave his approval for Harry and Ginny to be together through a look. And how great it felt to be included. But as all good things end, the septuplet concluded. And at the moment, when Harry potter and Ronald Weasley bade their kids’ goodbye, Sarah sat in her wooden chair wearing a Gryffindor t-shirt, tears pouring from her eyes with shivering hands. She was happy that the suspense was over, but at the same time she felt a void, a void nothing could fill. “They were good friends, honorable comrades who stayed till the end” thought Sarah and smiled. She didn’t realize the popular girl staring at her back. Even if she knew, Sarah wouldn’t care any less. She had learnt now to ignore the happenings in school or as she referred to it-“the noise.” But instead of insults flowing from the girl’s mouth, she struck a conversation with Sarah about her love for Harry potter, and for the first time someone acted like she existed. As the girl spoke, Sarah smiled inwardly; Harry was indeed a good comrade, he helped her find her own Hermione.

The fairer sex.

Shani Shingnapur is a village in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Situated in Nevasa taluka in Ahmednagar  district, the village is known for its popular temple of Shani, the Hindu god associated with the planet Saturn. Recently this temple of Shani came into limelight for its regressive tradition of not allowing women to enter the temples premises. This tradition had been followed since the last “400”years without any objections. It all started when activist Trupti Desai tried to enter the temple to worship but was denied entry because she was a “woman”. Even after the high court clearly stated that “any person who denied entry to women inside the temple would have to face consequences” the activist group wasn’t allowed to enter the temple as the villagers believed that the group was breaking a “sacred tradition”. Her constant efforts to enter the temple were denied and she was put under preventive detention in Ahmednagar district to maintain peace. A similar case took place in Sabrimala temple in Kerala where women from the ages of 10 to 50 were banned from trekking on the Sabrimala hills or offering worship in the Sabrimala temple because they were of “menstrual age”.

The above mentioned incidents started a nationwide debate on gender bias .It is indeed shocking that the reason the temple had forbidden entry to females was that they “polluted “the temple because they were in their menstrual age. The more alarming fact was that this kind of practices were allowed and even encouraged in Kerala a state that boasts of a 100% literacy rate. What is the use of being literate if such regressive traditions are still encouraged? A woman is the source of life. Menstruation is an important aspect of reproduction through which life is created on earth. Yet it is considered a “taboo” topic in India and even condemned.  The fact that is more outrageous is that any person would be allowed into the temple even if he is a “murderer, rapist or robber just because he is a male. But a women though she has not committed any crimes would be banned to enter just because she is a “woman”. How is this kind of thinking going to help in implementing gender equality? It is indeed an irony that India a place where goddesses like “Durga, Parvati and Sarawati are hugely worshipped, women aren’t allowed to enter the temples. This raises an important question “how are we as a country going to move forward where the position of women in society is continually degraded with each passing incident? Pandit Nehru the first prime minister of India said “You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of it women “Does the condition of India look good? Unfortunately not. Women in India are treated as an object rather than a gender or a person.

We live in the 21st century where women like Sania Mirza, Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, J.K Rowling, Emma Watson, Indira Nooyi and countless others have reached new peaks of success on their own.  We live in a world where enormous amount of efforts are being taken by women and men all around the world for “gender equality”. We live in a world where women are considered to be equal to a man maybe even a step forward. Yet sadly we also live in a world where women are beaten, tortured, not cared for, raped, murdered and constantly degraded without blinking an eyelid. Incidents like these just continue to add to the incessant degradation of the position of women in the society and in the world and reaffirm the faith that it is indeed a “male dominated” society instead of one based on equality. If immediate actions are not taken to improve the condition of women in the society we would be leading to a very dark future. Desmond Tutu said “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite of all the darkness”. Similarly I hope for a future where the role of women in the society is respected and where women are treated not as the “fairer sex” but an “equal gender”, I hope for a world where women aren’t considered inferior, and I hope for a future where women are safe and independent. Basically, I hope for a better tomorrow.