Friday, 28 November 2014

Heads or Tails?

"I miss you."
"I miss you too."

I love it when people say such stuff. It's worth so much to be able to communicate to another person that they count. But like a lot of things people say, they don't always mean this. It's one of those things you just have to say to pacify the other person...or sometimes, to pacify yourself. 

But you've never really missed if you haven't done a long distance relationship, and not necessarily the romantic kind ( I'm doing over 9 of them at this point, and they collectively contribute to my bouts of "MISSing"- you guys know who you are). I mean, the feeling of your entire body churning inside your stomach, because you know "goodbye" is just a few moments short. You've never really missed, if you've lived in a place all your life- your lungs unaccustomed to air of another kind, your eyes blind to any other beauty but the sunsets you pictured when you drew them as a kid,your mind ignorant to any routes other than those you traversed....Every.Single.Day, your heart oblivious to what it's like to love, but never FEEL.. and suddenly it's a changed scenery, a different painting.

Don't get me wrong, the freedom is exhilarating; Especially for somebody as opinionated as me. It's refreshing to get a chance to cherry-pick your people in a completely different setting. And the proposition to get rid of the dependence on existing attachments is a very inviting one. The desire to grow, to break-free from familiarity, to test and measure myself on my own scale - it was these things that motivated me to leave home and study abroad.

I don't know if I regret my choices. I don't think I do. But the trade-offs are very tangible and real. And the importance of vulnerability has never been as starkly evident to me. How do we expect to feel the clawing depth of emotions without succumbing to the possibility of being hurt? It is an anachronistic belief. The perceived stability of independence is probably the most overrated thing in this world. It's also the most pretentious attitude to condone. Whether it's biologically or philosophically motivated, I cannot say, but I know for certain that relationships are an enamoring concept to all human beings- to some a little more than others. And that is the basis for love, hatred, fear, joy, faith, disappointment, contentment and the myriad of other emotions that you can think of. Association with god or family or friends or even work- essentially, all our actions are compelled by this sense of responsibility and attachment towards something external to us.

And with every passing day, as I attempt to plough my way into internal stability, these convictions are cemented even more. But the desire to strike a balance is there and hopefully it'll come with age and experience.

And the tussle for what home really is, is ongoing. What, if any, are the limits to your external dependence? And when do you define them?

The family and love you've left behind? Or those precious individuals who knew nothing about you, but graciously accepted your rawness?

Heads or Tails?

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Right to Rape- A True Story.

Gandhi. Taj Mahal. Corruption. Hockey? No, I think cricket. Rape. Tandoori chicken. The Himalayas. Goa!. Rapes in buses. The British Raj. Hindu-Muslim riots. Domestic abuse. Bollywood. Did I mention RAPE?

It was a Friday evening. It still is actually. I've been interning in Singapore for about a month and a half, so obviously I've been very busy pretending to work hard. So if my life were a wave, my weekends would be the crests, and my weekdays the deepest troughs. (Pardon the analogy, I'm a little shell shocked and I'm trying very hard to make sense).

I was out drinking with a bunch of friends (I'm twenty years old and it's legal here so judge all you want), and all of a sudden I felt incredibly hungry.. so I went to find the 24X7 Subway at Clarke Quay. I walked at a pace proportionate to my level of hunger, a bird's eye view of the sandwich at all times, and somewhere in that process, the friends I was walking with got left behind.

But I went on anyway. After all it was Singapore, not India. I hardly had anything to worry about

"Hullo?" "Hull-ooooo" "Hey there" "Hullllo"

My Delhi instincts told me not to turn back. But then it just got I did turn back.As expected, he was talking to me, and I kept ignoring him ( #indiangirllifelesson101)... Until about 5 minutes later, when I just lost it and asked him what his problem was. He laughed. It was more of a sneer actually. So after I'd retorted once, I decided to continue walking and not let him "get to me". Then out of nowhere this guy lunges forward, inches away from my face. I take a step back (and so does the woman holding his arm).. he says, and I quote...

"You're Indian, right? You're used to getting raped?"

For the first time in my life, I was speechless. I am ordinarily fairly confident in my ability to retaliate and call people out on their lack of rationality and judgement. But not this time. I was defenseless. I think maybe, I was weak. My instincts led me to be torn between the response of slapping the guy, and just crying out of sheer disbelief. 

And so I cursed him, attempting to sound as strong as I could, and then I ran...feeling possibly the smallest I have ever felt.

Deterrence, restitution and rehabilitation- the pillars of justice. But my mere discomfiture with  a situation entitled me to no restitution. My solace lies in being grateful that he didn't actually do anything. It's simple..Think about how much worse it could have been, sympathise with those gazillion other women, play it out in your head, and you'll feel better about your current circumstances. Counter-factual, but convincing. 

I wish I better knew where I was going with this. I don't entirely know. I am still trying to fathom the fact that someone insinuated they had a right to rape me because I'm Indian.. I am trying to digest the fact that I've grown up enough to be told such a thing...I'm trying to understand exactly when rape became a part of my  inheritance..when my national identity was reduced to a derisive, humiliating and primeval notion of women.

I am attempting to learn how to become...less Indian.

Until then... Vande Matram!

P.S.- He WAS Indian.

Monday, 2 June 2014


The world stops and turns,
at the behest of the green paper-

"It's wiser to choose the paper,
The trees are for free,"
- the mind proclaims fervently.

The heart makes a feeble attempt-
"But..the green of the wild--
 its power is miserably undermined!"

The venerable tussle of the heart and the head,
Has spared no soul alive;
"It's the choices we make that decide our fate;
they decide how we survive!"

But the fire in our belly is long gone..
extinguished by the ghost of insatiability;
What fuels the heft of our choices..
 is only the green of envy.

As jealousy strikes at both ends,
I am subsumed by all that's green--
Torn between the world's moorings
..and what best defines me.