City

City lights glaring;
Auto rickshaws howling;
The evening sky changing colours;
The soothing breeze caressing her face.

The coffee had gone cold;
The pages of the book remained unturned;
Made in Heights demanded her attention;
But in vain.
The fire cracker’s relentless efforts in unnerving her failed

She sat still in the balcony;
Not caring, not worrying,
Not thinking.
Just being.

The chaos of the city now felt like home.
For once, it wasn’t about her.
She was a part of the whole.

She felt alive,
She felt at peace,
She felt happy.

Chaos

City lights glaring;
Auto rickshaws howling;
The evening sky changing colours;
The soothing breeze caressing her face.

The coffee had gone cold;
The pages of the book remained unturned;
Made in Heights demanded her attention;
But in vain.
The fire cracker’s relentless efforts in unnerving her failed

She sat still in the balcony;
Not caring, not worrying,
Not thinking.
Just being.

The chaos of the city now felt like home.
For once, it wasn’t about her.
She was a part of the whole.

She felt alive,
She felt at peace,
She felt happy.

Did they?

Cigarette stubs lying on her side;
her room in a mess;
confetti from the previous night
echoing their cynical laughters;
the broken bottles playing tag on the floor.
The world outside her shut door called her a freak
said she was a mess within;
had no sense of right and wrong;
mad, awkward, bizarre,
an oddity they said.
A fault of the Gods.

What did they know who she was?
Did they see her eyes when
she was snatched away from her mother?
Did they hear her cries of pain and anguish?

Did they hold her arm and pull her out
of the dark dungeon where
she was being kept hostage?

Where were their cries of right and wrong
when her innocence was ripped from her?
Did they encourage her when she decided to escape?
Did they offer a helping hand?

Mothers warned their daughters of her;
Men stared at her like a piece of meat;
The civilized society laughed at her,
mocked her,
their scrutinizing gaze pierced her skin;
left a hole in her barren heart.

Did they help her when she tried to stand on her feet?
Did they hear her cries of help?
Did they offer a shoulder to rest her tired head?
Did they?
Did they?
Did they?

If only.

If only there was a world

Where fear did not curb expression;

Where laughter was not forced

And tears where not those of crocodiles.

If only there was a world

Where people did not hide behind pokers faces;

Where love was free

And meant for all.

If only there was a world

Where ‘fine’ was not synonymous with pretense;

Where truth was not masked in layers of lies

And where shoulders were held upright

With the pride of being whom they were.

If only there was a world

Where men and women stood unmasked;

Proud of their make;

Both equal in rank and status.

If only…

The lady with the Gucci bag

On the bus today, a woman with a Gucci bag sat next to me. In her arms, she carried a cute child. As always, I had my earphones on, still woozy, in a sleepy haze and getting used to the fact that the sun was up. The child made my effort to stay awake tad simpler when she took a fancy to my locket. She tugged at it, sampled it and played with it.

To humour her and also fight sleep, I joined her game. Now, she pulled at my hair, which is a common occurrence with me; children generally love my curly hair — some have even find similarities between the crop on my head and ‘maggie’ noodles. Her mother looked on, a smile played on her lips and then stumped me with this stunner: “You will make a good mother.”

Taken aback, I mumbled a word of thanks, not wanting to engage her further. But she pressed on. She informed me about herself, asked me searching questions, things like “are you married” to “when do you plan to settle down”. I played along, limiting my responses to the bare minimum. I was just a student, I insisted. I have a lot to do before even considering either marriage or motherhood. Then she said something that got me thinking. “Of course, all girls say this. But you do know that you eventually must marry and give birth. Look at me. I studied in the US, came back to start a family. It was the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong. But this is what happens. This is normal.”

I tried to reason with her. But a woman can be mother without being wife; wife without being mother; wife and a mother both or neither. It’s her choice, her life. Unconvinced, she asked me why would a man want a wife who wouldn’t be mother of his child? I felt like shouting — Excuse me, but haven’t you ever heard of love? No argument, no convincing moved her. At the end of the conversation, she hectored me: “You are young. You’ll eventually understand.” Soon after, she got off.

For a moment the future looked bleak. What was the use thinking about life if everything was preordained, decided, so cast in stone? All I had in store was to be dutiful wife and mother? Soon, the rational being in me took over and shrugged off her comments. That was her way of looking at life, I surmised.

She appeared well-off, well-settled, comfortable in her skin, had seen a bit of the world. And, she believed it was imperative for a woman to become a mother. Her thought process struck me as so primitive, one where a choice did not matter.

Motherhood is beautiful — it is pure, means a woman taking responsibility of a soul. And, it means a lifetime commitment. But what happens to child and mother if the mother isn’t ready for this responsibility, when it is forced on her? All those who were never given a choice; those who didn’t know they had one — what is their fate?

Am I to go the way of these women? Certainly not. I’d never be found in a place where there’s no freedom to choose my path. I’d much rather live by what I believe in, my sense of right and wrong, my morality. That’s a tough way to go, but may God give me the courage to stick by my mission. Amen.

LEAVE

That day she asked him to leave;

For once and for all;

Perked up the courage, squared her shoulders,

Puffed up her chest and did it.

Didn’t think, didn’t tell and probably didn’t mean,

But she did anyhow.

She did.

How long- she asked her lingering doubt;

How long can this go on?

Being sorry, being sad,

Being missed, being loved

And back to being sorry again.

How long?

Unsaid words, uncomprehended thoughts,

Unfelt feelings- all hung in the air.

The thick viscous, invisible mist;

It was all there- all encompassed in one word-

LEAVE.

That was the day she saw freedom.

That was the day she tasted loss at the tip of her tongue.

That was the day she said ‘enough’.

It was that fateful day she grew into something more.

It was that day she finally became HER

loss2002_edited.

A reason

I told my mind-
Give me a reason.
A reason to dance under the open skies;
A reason to sing tuneless on the streets;
A reason to wake up every morning ;
A reason to smile amidst the mist;
A reason to try;
A reason to believe;
A reason to love;
And a reason to live.

It scoffed.
Told me-
Look in the mirror you fool.
It is there you will find your reason;
Your reason to live.