On being a woman

WomenWrote this as a part of the “Training of Trainers” workshop on Human Rights in Delhi, Feb 2013.


I am privileged if I am born alive,

Not because I was unhealthy, but because one day I might be,

a sister, a mother or a wife.

I count my blessings, if fed as I please

The delicacies are for my brother, who just knows how to tease

I feel I am on cloud nine, as I can express while I write

Many of my gender haven’t seen a blackboard or chalk white

I do the chores, while sports are for male cousins

For my entertainment, household work gets different versions

I can’t decide in which school, college, course can I enrol

The money isn’t enough, making decisions is not my call

Who, when and how I marry, is decided by the family

The decision is less on compatibility, more on account tally

Domestic violence, sexual violence, rape, unpaid domestic work are part of my life

I can’t talk about them for the fear of being labelled a feminist, I can’t discuss my strife

This has continued since long lost time

This will continue until I stand up and comment

Unless I ponder, I discuss, I decide

Unless I seriously take up the cause of women empowerment

As long as I bend to others’ wish

This subjugation will continue, it will remain

Till the time I stand up and fight

I would have to bear the pain

The freedom won’t come from someone outside

It will be me, who will have to decide

The cause, the idea, the action plan

And then only would I rightly say, I can!

It shouldn’t just be upto my female friends to help

My other gender friends should also respond to the yelp

Maybe that will lead the change

Maybe then I will smile

I will wait for your support

All this while!

From Here to There

It is tough to observe the changes
It is weird to explain the reasons
It is impossible to justify the actions
It is crazy to dispel the notions

It is best left to the judgment of the preying eyes
It is easy to accept the rumours then to expose the lies
It is simple to hold a cigarette and blow the smoke away
Then having to wipe off the ashes, scattered away in the skies

The beauty of the solitary moon in the starlit sky
The crashing waves, the slapping breeze, the feeling of being high
Do something to enchant me, tear me up, make me cry
Every whisper makes me open up and then it makes me shy

Observations of this enigmatic beauty, is that for which I pine
Explanation of the inexplicable is the call that in my mind is mine
Justification of this craving and the calling eludes others, makes me whine
This is why the notions remain and on rumours they choose to dine

Does it matter? Do I care?
Am I wary of the stares?
“Hell Yeah” and “Heck No” keep oscillating
They’ll remain as is,
Till all souls lay bare
Till all can sit and share
Till common is every “rare”
From here to there!

Masaan

Masaan

Masaan left me sitting for a good while in my seat after the closing credits, pondering over what I had seen. And that is what drove me to write, albeit after a considerable delay.

So, its a fairly good, concise and hard hitting feature film with performers who definitely seem to know the nuances of acting and theatrics. The film opens with two adults hiring a ‘by the hour’ hotel to experience sex out of curiosity. Quite naive, I say, in our country. There is a police raid at the hotel and the moral lecture begins with the ironical photography and videography of the ‘consenting‘ adults as an enabler to blackmail them later. Long story short, the boy commits suicide for the fear of humiliation and the girl is brought to the police station where her father is summoned so as to elaborate in details the consequences of her action and possible case of abetment of suicide. Needless to say, the father is suitably terrified, coerced and threatened into paying a hefty sum of money to buy the investigating officer’s silence.

Richa Chaddha and Sanjay Mishra have beautifully portrayed the characters and it is difficult to put their character sketch in words. As a curious, small town educated, employed and independent girl, Richa has emoted so beautifully that it is difficult to believe she is merely acting. Sanjay Mishra as the Sanskrit professor who retired from the job for her daughter’s sake and took up part time translation and performing last rites of deceased in return of meagre income, successfully highlights the internal struggle going on between a dutiful and doting father on one side and a society rule bound pandit on the other. His relationship with the small boy Jhonta (Nikhil Sahni) who helps him at his makeshift shop and dives in Ganges to collect coins as a gambling sport is another wonderful human relationship at its best.

Vicky Kaushal, as a lower caste civil engineering student with hopes of a good job sans discrimination, is shown to be unhinged when trying to come to terms with the reality of his budding relationship with a high class girl. Wooing the girl through Facebook chats and trinkets at festival fair, the confusion and small successes and happiness, the growing intimacy and apprehensions, lead the viewer to be one of those rooting for him. And then, when all is good, suddenly life strikes, with death. The fact that he ends up being the one who burns her corpse while helping out his folks in their daily job at the ghat adds to the poignancy of the tragic death of his girlfriend.

The losses suffered by various characters in the movie in their daily course of life shown with the kind of emotions they are actually dealt with, and not as some melodrama, makes the film real and so much more impactful. Adding to the beauty are the poetic lines – “Tu kisi rail si gujarti hai, main kisi pul sa thartharata hun” and the fact that their is some hope at the end, at sangam, in life.

Highly Recommended.

Dying for a Living

Dying for a Living – A Jesse Sullivan Novel

Author: Kory M Shrum

Dying for a Living

The title intrigued me. Though I had never heard of the author before, it seemed an interesting topic, both literally and metaphorically. And so, I started to read. The book had me hooked from page one.

Dying for a Living is a sort of science fiction thriller, which talks about Necronites and AMPs, people who can get up from being dead with no more than a minor loss of their brain so to say, and people who can sense and perceive things to be, based on magnetic fields, sort of like psychics.

The protagonist is Jesse Sullivan, a typical teenage girl, but for the fact that she dies for a living, quite literally. She is a Government approved death replacement agent, that is, she dies instead of other people for a fee in consideration. Other than being a Necronite or a zombie as she likes to call herself, she is a normal girl with normal issues and characteristics – rebellious attitude, romance, family, money and so on.

On her nth death replacement, things begin to go wrong, with a “mortal” attack on her. There are many suspects and motives – The Church, The Government, Colleagues, Personal Vendetta, Morality and Ethics being a few. How she figures this out, with numerous things from her past resurfacing and future allowing a few glimpses, with help of friends she didn’t know she could count on, makes for a fast paced thrilling read and ends at a cliffhanger.

All in all, its a good thriller, recommended for a curious and open mind!

The Wreck

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Price: Rs. 195/-

The Wreck

Being a Tagore Book, I expected “The Wreck”, translation of his creation “Naukadubi” to be an extremely complex book full of similies and metaphors and complex words and characters difficult to comprehend in general. I know pre conceived notions aren’t good to have but that’s what you get when you are picking up a book by a Nobel Prize winner in literature! So it is with these feelings that I started turning the pages of “The Wreck”. However, what I came across was a 350 odd page dramatic yet simple narrative, enlightening in its own sense.

The book is divided into 62 short chapters, very fast paced, so much so, that you keep turning the pages without realising that you have reached the very end.

The story revolves around four characters – Ramesh Babu, Hemnalini, Kamala and Dr. Nalinaksha. Fate works in mysterious ways and causes a mix up in the possible combinations in which these four people could be made into couples. One by one they all come to know the truth which is both sad and good. Sad because when the first one came to know partial truth, he could have told the others and saved all including himself a lot of trouble, to some extent. Good because it is ultimately this truth which comes to their rescue, to some extent.

In a very subtle manner, Tagore has interspersed the story with the difference of caste and creed prevalent at the time. What strikes the reader (or at least a reader like me) apart from the ingenious plot and brilliant writing is the beautiful relationship of Hemnalini with her father, Annada Babu. In times of today in a country like ours it comes as wonderful surprise to know of a father daughter relationship so beautifully open and deeply meaningful.

All in all, highly recommended but for the last page, because it reads, when you don’t want it to – “The End.”